Gambling Addiction

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction, sometimes called “problem gambling” is an impulsive control disorder. Compulsive gamblers cannot control the urge to gamble, even when they know it has negative consequences that will hurt themselves or others. Quite often, negative consequences result in strained relationships with family members, friends and work relationships. Unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, loneness, fear and anxiety can trigger the disorder.

Gambling addiction facts

  • Compulsive gambling affects 2%-3% of Americans. It can evolve in a variety of ways and places to bet and symptoms may differ somewhat between males and females, as well as teenagers versus adults.
  • Although men tend to develop a gambling addiction at a higher rate and at younger ages that women, women now make up more than one-quarter of all compulsive gamblers. Women’s symptoms tend to worsen faster once compulsive gambling develops.
  • Risk factors for pathological gambling include schizophrenia, mood problems, antisocial personality disorder, alcohol or cocaine addiction.
  • The diagnosis involves identifying poor impulse control.
  • Accurate diagnosis requires a complete physical and psychological evaluation, including mental-status examination and appropriate laboratory tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.
  • The treatment of compulsive gambling uses more than one approach that include psychotherapy, medication, financial counseling, support groups, 12-Step programs and self-help techniques.
  Man Gambling  

Signs and symptoms of gambling addiction

  • A preoccupation with gambling, either by reliving past gambling, planning for future gambling experiences, and/or thinking of ways to secure money to finance gambling.
  • Needing more and more money for gambling in order to achieve the desired level of gambling enjoyment.
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop or reduce betting behaviors.
  • Becoming uneasy or easily irritated when trying to reduce or stop gambling.
  • Gambling for the purpose of escaping problems or to relieve sadness or anxiety.
  • Returning to gambling after losing money in an effort to recoup losses.
  • Lying to family or other loved ones, mental-health professionals, or others in an effort to hide the extent of the gambling behavior.
  • Committing crimes (for example, stealing, fraud, or forgery) in an effort to finance gambling.
  • Risking important relationships, employment or other opportunities due to gambling.
Brain and Gambling

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