Pathological gambling has negative social, physical, and psychological consequences. It is a condition classified as an impulse control disorder. In addition to being detrimental to a person’s mental health, problem gambling also can result in a variety of physical problems, including migraine, intestinal disorders, and distress. Ultimately, this disorder can lead to feelings of despondency, helplessness, and even attempted suicide. For these reasons, help is needed if you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to gambling.
The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that 2.2% of U.S. adults are at risk for problem gambling. This number may seem high, but it is actually the opposite: it includes those who engage in problem gambling on a regular basis. This is an alarming number, as three of the CCPG’s employees are responsible for helping over 58,000 Connecticut residents. And each day, at least one person is in the path of a struggling addict.
Earlier studies have viewed problem gambling as an intractable condition, and early case studies documented success rates of less than half of the sampled individuals. But in the 1980s, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published a new set of criteria for the diagnosis of problem gambling based on the work of Robert Custer. In this third edition of the DSM, the criteria were updated based on more recent research, including surveys of 222 compulsive gamblers and 104 substance-abusing social gamblers. Researchers conducted cluster analyses to identify nine symptom criteria.
Signs of addiction
The main signs of an addiction to gambling are financial struggles, loss of job, and relationships. Problem gamblers often rely on other people to fund their gambling habit. They may even be unable to meet typical expenses. While some individuals may be unaware of these warning signs, early detection can help you get the help you need. There are also some psychological effects of excessive gambling that can be difficult to identify. In addition to financial difficulties, excessive gambling can ruin relationships and destroy family relationships.
One of the most common signs of addiction to gambling is the inability to stop. The desire to win money is often the underlying cause, but it can also stem from an obsession with a specific game. If you find yourself unable to stop gambling despite the obvious consequences, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. It can be difficult to break the cycle of complacency and emotional euphoria.
While professional help can be a valuable part of the recovery process, many people find that they can benefit from self-help interventions as well. Groups like Gamblers Anonymous meet regularly to support one another while attempting to stop gambling. Self-directed computer interventions and bibliotherapy have also become popular options in recent years. Both of these types of therapy are effective in reducing gambling addiction. However, professional help is important for a full recovery.
Therapy is often resistant for people suffering from gambling addiction, but it can help a person regain control of their behavior and heal damaged relationships and finances. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one form of therapy that may be particularly helpful. Family therapy may also be effective. The goal of therapy is to replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive ones. Some residential rehabs use a combination of therapy. However, treatment for gambling addiction varies widely between programs. The process for each type of treatment depends on the severity of the gambling addiction.
Symptoms of pathological gambling
Pathological gambling can be a serious mental disorder. Pathological gamblers may be social gamblers who have been losing money for a long time. Others may have begun gambling when they were younger, during a stressful period of their life. These individuals may also use other substances, including alcohol or drugs. Pathological gamblers often resort to crimes, including credit card fraud and prostitution. There is no known cure for pathological gambling, so seeking help early in the disorder is essential.
Pathological gamblers may experience restlessness, anxiety, or panic when they are attempting to reduce their spending. They may also gamble to distract themselves from other problems, or they may gamble large amounts to make up for losses in the past. They may lie about the amount of time they spend gambling. They may borrow money to cover losses or use it to finance their gambling. Lastly, they may feel that they cannot stop gambling.