The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has published the results of a Harvard Medical School study on gambling addiction that found many gambling addicts recover from their addiction naturally without treatment.

The study, Stability and Progression of Disordered Gambling: Lessons From Longitudinal Studies, was commissioned by Vienna-listed online gambling group Bwin and found that problem gambling is a more dynamic phenomenon than was previously believed.

The published review covers five studies conducted by Harvard researchers and challenges conventional wisdom on problem gambling. Problem gambling bodies have long held the belief that addiction to gambling is a degenerative condition with victims betting more as the condition progresses and continued betting fuelling the addiction. However, researchers found that addicts do not necessarily get steadily worse over time and that they can fall in and out of problem gambling with some even recovering from the addiction on their own.

‘Although it might be tempting to assume that stability or progressive worsening characterises disordered gambling, longitudinal study of classification patterns does not support this conclusion,’ read the report.

In their findings, researchers pointed out that short and long-term follow-up periods indicated that individuals with some gambling problems could experience considerable movement in the levels of their disorder. Often, their condition ameliorates, moving them from more serious to less severe levels where they are able to keep from returning to serious levels.

‘These findings challenge many common beliefs about the course of gambling-related problems and disorders,’ read the study.

‘Correcting such misconceptions is particularly important to youthful fields of inquiry such as the study of disordered gambling.’