A public health perspective on gambling

I published “Gambling with America’s Health? The public health costs of legal gambling” on the Pacific Standard and the 2x2 project.

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(Image: Jon Kalish)

Here’s the nut of it,

A debate over the social and health costs of legal gambling has largely been sidelined even as availability has expanded dramatically in the last 25 years. This is not because of a lack of merit, say experts and activists, but because of the political power of the gambling industry. They allege that the industry has employed tactics in the same spirit as those of tobacco companies, which for many years misled consumers about the addictive properties of cigarettes and advertised to young people and other vulnerable consumers.

but read the whole thing.

Another way to look at addiction

I have been reading  and talking to many people for an article I’m writing about gambling addiction. I came across this, in the New York Times from 2005:

Q. I gamble as a social outlet. I’d much rather do something to reform society, which is in a mess at the moment…If a healthy environment gave addicts the release they seek in drugs, there would be no addicts.

A. Dr. Timothy Fong

Your comment taps into the idea that recovery from addictive disorders is a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, self-care and citizenship. The reality is that our current environment is one that promotes consumption, recreation and instant rewards, all of which are very reinforcing and compelling to the brain.

It would be interesting if we invested as much energy into making our society one that promotes health, instead of just looking to treat the psychiatric side effects of that so many of us experience as a result of the way our society is organized.

On convictions

As I have gotten older, I have found that some of my convictions have softened with a growing awareness I feel about all of the things that I do not know, in some cases, cannot know. I have been more comfortable saying those words: “I don’t know.” On the one hand, I worry that if I lose convictions, my life will feel tepid. It will feel like I am not really alive, or that I don’t really believe in anything. But on the other, I feel a bit of relief. Because losing some of my convictions has meant that I’m less exhausted by the disappointment I have felt when the world does not act the way I had wished it would.

No one stops to question why we suffer through this demoralizing routine when only a small number of people—who have already been the beneficiaries of a system designed to ensure that those with the most are able to keep it and get more—actually enjoy the returns on all the make-work.

Rosen: In Defense of Pop Criticism

Sometimes it’s fun to read an article on a subject for which I have absolutely no dog in the fight, such as this.

Put another way: Steve Ballmer will be forgotten in a week. A good parent, on the other hand, contributes tremendously to the health and well- being of society, by raising decent, adjusted, well-loved kids. Which is, of course, excruciatingly hard work, far more trying than any executive. Irony!

Mark Morford, “Is Work-Life Balance a Lie?” SF Gate

Not sure what I think of this article, but I kind of enjoyed reading it.

Women are much more likely if they don’t like a job or they’re unhappy, there’s not enough meaning in what they’re doing, to stop…doing that and go do something else. They’re more willing to take those risks. The guys may equally not like working at large law firms or any place are much more likely to say ‘I gotta do it, I have to do it, I gotta support my family.’