Pathological Gambling As an Addictive Disorder


Gambling is an activity in which participants make a wager on an event with uncertain outcome. It involves betting money or something of value (such as a car) against odds, and can be done on a number of different activities including sports, horse racing and casino games. It can also be carried out online, with scratchcards and video poker. There are many reasons why people gamble, such as for fun, to socialise or win big prizes. However, for some it becomes a dangerous and life-threatening addiction.

Until recently, the psychiatric community regarded pathological gambling as a form of impulse control disorder rather than an addictive condition. However, in an effort to increase credibility as a psychiatric condition and encourage awareness and screening for those who may be at risk, the American Psychiatric Association reclassified pathological gambling as an addictive disorder in its latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The reclassification was made to recognize that there are similarities between pathological gambling and other impulse-control disorders such as kleptomania and pyromania, and it aims to promote more research into effective treatment options. In addition, the DSM-5 removes the criterion that a person must engage in illegal activities to be diagnosed with pathological gambling.

In addition to its negative financial impact, pathological gambling can have serious psychological and social consequences for individuals who suffer from it. Individuals with this condition often lie to family members, therapists or employers in order to conceal the extent of their involvement with gambling. Moreover, those with a problem often feel helpless and guilty about their gambling behavior. In some cases, they even begin to believe that their problem is a genetic disease.

It is estimated that up to 4% of the US population has a gambling disorder. This is a significant percentage of the population, and it represents a substantial financial and emotional cost to society as a whole. In addition, many people with a gambling disorder are at higher risk for substance abuse and other behavioral problems.

Those who struggle with an addiction to gambling can get the help they need through a variety of counseling and treatment programs. These include individual and group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy. In addition, residential treatment and rehab programs are available for those with a severe gambling addiction who require round-the-clock support.

To avoid a gambling relapse, you can start by controlling your money. This means not spending more than you can afford to lose and setting a budget for how much time you want to spend gambling. It is also important to avoid places where you used to gamble, such as TABs and casinos. Lastly, try to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. If you need more help, Better Health Channel counselors are ready to listen and provide confidential, nonjudgmental support. Just call us or chat online now.

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