Gambling disorder is also known as compulsive gambling. It’s the insatiable desire to gamble despite the negative effects it has on your life. Gambling is when you are willing to take on risk in order to get something that’s even more valuable.
Gambling can trigger the brain’s reward system, much in the same way that drugs and alcohol can. This can lead to addiction. Compulsive gambling can lead to you losing your savings, creating debt, and making more bets. To support your gambling addiction, you may try to hide your behavior or resort to fraud and theft.
Compulsive gambling can be a dangerous condition that can lead to the end of lives. While compulsive gamblers can be difficult to treat, professional treatment is available for many.
Compulsive gambling (also known as gambling disorder) may present with the following signs and symptoms:
- Gambling obsession, including the constant planning of gambling activities and how you can get more gambling cash.
- To get the same thrill, you will need to gamble with increasing amounts.
- Without success, trying to stop, control or cut back on gambling.
- You feel restless and irritable if you cut down on your gambling
- Gambling is a way to escape from problems, or to relieve feelings of helplessness or guilt.
- Gambling more to try and get back money (chasing losses).
- To hide your gambling activities from family members and friends
- Gambling can lead to the loss of important relationships, jobs, school, or work opportunities, as well as risking your job.
- Asking for help from others to get you out of financial difficulties because you have gambled away your money
Casual gamblers either stop losing money or limit the amount they are willing to lose. People with compulsive gambling problems are forced to continue playing in order to recover their money. This pattern can become increasingly destructive. To get their gambling money, some people might resort to fraud or theft.
People with compulsive gambling problems may experience periods of remission. This is when they are able to gamble less or none at all. However, remission is not usually permanent without treatment.
When should you see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional?
Are there any family members, friends, or co-workers who are concerned about your gambling habits? Listen to those who are concerned about your gambling. It may be hard to recognize that you have a problem because denial is almost always an indicator of compulsive, addictive behavior.
It is not clear what causes compulsive gambling. Compulsive gambling, like many other problems, may be caused by a combination biological, genetic, and environmental factors.
While most people who gamble or play cards never have a problem with gambling, there are certain factors that can be more closely associated with compulsive gambling.
- Mental health issues. Gamblers compulsively may have personality disorders, substance misuse problems, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Compulsive gambling may also be associated with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Age. Younger and older people are more likely to be compulsive gamblers. Compulsive gambling can be developed by playing during childhood and teen years. Compulsive gambling can also affect older adults.
- Sex. Compulsive gambling is more common among men than it is for women. Gambling is more common in women than it is for men. Gambling patterns between men and women are becoming more similar.
- Influence from family and friends There are higher chances that your friends or family have a gambling problem than you do.
- The use of medication to treat Parkinson’s disease or restless legs syndrome. Dopamine agonists may have a rare side effect, which can cause compulsive behavior, such as gambling, in some individuals.
- Certain personality traits are more common than others. Compulsive gambling can be triggered by certain personality traits, such as being competitive, impulsive and restless, or being impulsive.
Compulsive gambling can have long-lasting and devastating effects on your life.
- Problems in relationships
- Financial problems, including bankruptcy
- Intention or legal problems
- Low work performance and job loss
- Poor general health
- Suicide, suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts
While there is no way to stop gambling addiction, education programs that target high-risk groups and individuals may be beneficial.
Compulsive gambling is a condition that can lead to compulsive gambling. You should avoid gambling and gamblers. To prevent gambling problems from getting worse, seek treatment as soon as possible.
Talk to your doctor if you suspect you might have a gambling problem.
Your mental or health provider can help you evaluate the problem of gambling.
- Ask about your gambling habits. You may be asked by your provider to give permission for you to talk with friends and family. Your provider cannot share any information without your permission due to confidentiality laws.
- Check your medical records. Rare side effects can cause compulsive behavior, such as gambling, with some drugs. Compulsive gambling can sometimes be linked to health problems.
- Conduct a mental health assessment. The assessment will ask about your thoughts, feelings, and gambling behavior. Your symptoms and signs may indicate that you might have a mental disorder related to excessive gambling.
It can be difficult to treat compulsive gamblers. This is partly due to the fact that most people are reluctant to admit they have a problem. Recognizing that you are compulsive gambler is a key part of treatment.
You may resist treatment if your family or employer has pressured you to go to therapy. However, treating a gambling problem may help you regain control and help to heal financial or relationship problems.
These are some possible treatments for compulsive gamblers:
Therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral therapy are possible options. Behavioral therapy involves exposing yourself to the behavior that you wish to change and teaching you how to control your urge to gamble. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a method that identifies and replaces negative, unhealthy and irrational beliefs with healthier, more positive ones. Family therapy may also be beneficial.
Medications. Medications. Some antidepressants can be used to reduce gambling behavior. Compulsive gambling may be treated with narcotic antagonists.
Self-help groups. Talking with other people who have gambling problems can be helpful. Ask your mental or health professional for information about self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous.
Compulsive gambling treatment may include an outpatient program, an inpatient program, or a residential program depending on your resources and needs. Some people may also be able to access self-help options such as structured internet programs or telephone consultations with a mental healthcare professional.
Compulsive gambling treatment may include treatment for substance misuse, depression or anxiety.
Prevention of relapse
You may relapse even after treatment. This is especially true if you are surrounded by gamblers or work in a gambling environment. To prevent a relapse, you should immediately contact your sponsor or mental health provider if you suspect you will start gambling again.