The Life Experiences of Old Women Diagnosed with a Gambling Disorder

Noa Levinson, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The goal of the current study was to describe the experiences, drawn from their life stories, of old women who suffer and have or are being treated for gambling disorder. The study was carried out through semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 15 women, aged 60 and over. Analysis of the findings revealed four narratives that described four types of women, who can be distinguished across a spectrum of central life experiences: (a) a life experience of feeling distinctly different from other women gamblers, (b) a life experience of concealment, (c) the experience of a wasted life, and (d) the experience of living on the edge. These life experiences were characterized by the light of four recurring themes: (1) the reason for gambling, (2) intimate relationships, (3) the attitude of the women toward old age, and (4) the therapeutic experience. The four types of life experiences can be placed on a continuum, according to the severity of the harm done to the self. With the transition from the first identified life experience to the last, the women are increasingly distanced from social norms, their emotional intensity increases, and with it, the level of risk to themselves. This study highlights the diversity in these women’s experiences and points to potentially different needs and expectations from treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-403
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Addiction
  • Gambling
  • Older adults
  • Recovery
  • Seniors
  • Therapy


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