Compulsive Gambling / Pathological Gambling

Compulsive Gambling / Pathological Gambling

Compulsive gambling is the uncontrollable urge to continue gambling despite the risks, negative consequences, financial problems, the toll it takes on your life without a desire to stop. Compulsive gamblers may continually gamble resulting in high social and family costs, lie or hide their behavior, and resort to theft or fraud to support their addiction.

The definition of pathological or compulsive gambling by the University of Maryland Medical Center is “being unable to resist impulses to gamble, which can lead to severe personal or social consequences.” The condition is classified as an impulse control disorder, with the sufferers exhibiting many similarities to those who have substance addictions. Although the term gambling addiction or compulsive gambling addiction may be used in the recovery movement, pathological or compulsive gambling is considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be an impulse control disorder rather than an addiction.

Compulsive Gambling / Pathological Gambling Symptoms

Only when the gambling occurs independent of other impulsive, mood, or thought disorders is it considered its own diagnosis. As mentioned in “Pathological Gambling”[ National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 4, 2012 ] an individual must have at least five of the following symptoms in order to be diagnosed:

  • Preoccupation. The subject continually has frequent thoughts about gambling, either previous experiences or imaginary.
  • Tolerance. The subject requires larger wagers and more frequent wages to feel the same “rush”.larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same “rush”.
  • Withdrawal. The subject feels anxious when limiting gambling or stopping.
  • Escape. The subject gambles to feel better about themselves or their situation.
  • Chasing. The subject after losing increases the wager or frequency with the idea they can win back their bet.
  • Lying. The subject continually tries to hide the extent of their problem and monetary loss.
  • Loss of control. The subject cannot curtail or reduce their gambling.
  • Illegal acts. The subject may resort to illegal acts to finance their gambling problem.
  • Risked significant relationship. The subject risks or losing a relationship, family relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.
  • Bailout. The subject turns to relationships to finance their gambling problem.