Pathological gambling

Be Aware of Problematic Gambling

Pathological gambling can broadly be defined as an inability to resist the impulses to gamble, even if the results of gambling lead to severely negative consequences in your personal, professional and social lives. The onset of this problem is usually noticeable in men in their early adolescence, and woman between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, but can strike at any time. Whether it is at online or land based casinos, at horse, greyhound or dog races or any of the multitude of bookmakers available, if you are not able to control your betting you may have a problem.

People who exhibit traits of pathological gambling will display repetitive behaviours, but although this syndrome shares traits with obsessive compulsive disorder, it is not seen as the same condition. People suffering from this ailment will be nearly unable to resist or control the impulse to gamble, no matter what the results of their activities are. It can come about as a result of innocent, occasional gambling, and stressful situations cause its onset also.

The Symptoms of Pathological Gambling

People who suffer from pathological gambling are often overwhelmed with feelings of deep shame, and for this reason are unwilling to let other people know about their difficulty. The American Psychiatric Association has defined these types of gamblers as individuals who exhibit five or more of the following symptoms.

  1. Committing unlawful acts in order to get money for gambling.
  2. Feeling overwhelmed by irritability or restlessness when trying to curtail gambling or quit it altogether.
  3. Gambling in order to escape one’s problems, or in order to avoid feelings of anxiety or sadness.
  4. Losing a professional, romantic, career, or educational opportunity due to gambling.
  5. Lying about the amounts of time and money spent on gambling pastimes.
  6. Trying and failing to decrease the time spent gambling or quitting altogether.
  7. Having to borrow money in order to cover losses.
  8. Needing to gamble with larger and larger amounts of money in order to feel the same level of excitement one initially did.
  9. Spending a lot of time thinking about past gambling experiences, or planning future ones.

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Pathological Gambling

A psychiatric evaluation and history can be very useful when attempting to diagnose pathological gambling, and the 20 Questions available from Gamblers’ Anonymous can help too.

Although pharmacological treatment has not had a great deal of success in dealing with pathological gambling, cognitive behavioural therapy and support groups like Gamblers’ Anonymous have had some wonderful results for those who struggle with this disorder. Help is widely provided for online and many people have been able to combat this malady with this kind of assistance. If you feel that you or anyone you know may be succumbing to pathological gambling, get help now. You will be able to find the assistance you need at sympathetic support groups, and can put an end to the negative consequences you may be experiencing as soon as you decide to become an active part of the solution to this sadly very widespread problem.