Gambling addiction

How to Spot Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction is also known as ludomania, and has been characterised as a disorder of impulse control in which a person lays bets of different types, whether at horseraces, casinos or bookmakers, which compromises, unsettles or injures their family, professional and personal lives. To date no pharmacologic intervention has proven successful in mitigating ludomania, although Gamblers’ Anonymous, a 12 step programme modelled along the lines of Alcoholics’ Anonymous, has made a huge difference in many peoples’ lives.

How Gambling Disorders are Classified

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, or DSM 5, published by the American Psychiatric Association, has reclassified gambling addiction as an addictive disorder relatively recently, as sufferers are seen to exhibit many of the same behaviours as those suffering from substance addiction. Although long considered to be a problem of impulse control rather than an addiction, this is no longer the case.

Governments in Australia make use of a definition based on research which does not make use of diagnostic criteria. In this country it is seen to be distinguished by an individual experiencing trouble in limiting money and time as far as gambling goes, no matter what sort of negative consequences are subsequently experienced by the gambler or those around him or her as a result of these actions.

How Gambling Addiction is Diagnosed

Thanks to the fact that the individual suffering from gambling addiction will register symptomatology very similar to one undergoing addiction to various substances, gambling addiction has been listed as a disorder under the addictive and substance related disorders rather than those more along the lines of impulse control disorders. In order to be seen as suffering from gambling addiction an individual would have to display at least four of the following symptoms over the period of a year.

  1. A need to gamble with larger and larger sums of money in order to achieve the desired level of excitement.
  2. Restlessness or irritability being shown when any attempts to either cut down or stop gambling are made.
  3. Repeated efforts are made to control, reduce or stop gambling altogether, none of which are successful.
  4. A preoccupation with gambling being displayed, in which persistent thoughts concerned with reliving previous gambling experiences, or planning future ones, as well as trying to think of ways in which money can be found with which to gamble.
  5. Gambling through negative feelings like helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression relating to the activity itself.
  6. Continuing to gamble, or returning at another time, in order to make up for gambling losses.
  7. Lying to conceal the extent of time and money spent gambling, or trying to hide the level of involvement in the activity.
  8. Having placed a significant job, relationship, career or educational opportunity in jeopardy, or having lost it entirely, because of gambling.
  9. Reliance place on those around the gamble to keep providing money to relieve fraught financial situations that has come about as a result of gambling activity.

If you or anyone you know is displaying four or more of these symptoms of gambling addiction reach out to one of the many support systems available online. Help is available, and you are not alone.