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Gambling Addiction
Author: Emile du Toit
Gambling-addiction

What Is A Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction or compulsive gambling is a behavioural addiction. Gambling addiction differs from gambling in the same way that controlled drinking differs from alcoholism. In gambling addiction, like any other addiction, gambling has reached a point where it is out of control, despite the damages being caused through the compulsive gambling.

Compulsive Gambling Has Become A Huge Problem For Society

Did you know that Americans annually spend more money on legal forms of gambling than on movies, music, sporting events, theme parks and video games combined!

Gambling revenue is a $73 billion+ industry nationwide, and approximately 3 million adults meet the criteria for pathological gambling each year.

Diagnosing Gambling Addiction (Compulsive Gambling)

The American Psychiatric Association defines pathological gambling as having five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Committing crimes to get money to gamble
  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling
  • Gambling to escape problems or feelings of sadness or anxiety
  • Gambling larger amounts of money to try to make back past losses
  • Losing a job, relationship, education, or career opportunity due to gambling
  • Lying about the amount of time or money spent gambling
  • Making many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling
  • Needing to borrow money due to gambling losses
  • Needing to gamble larger amounts of money in order to feel excitement
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about gambling, such as remembering past experiences or ways to get more money with which to gamble

Consequences Of Gambling Addiction

Compulsive gambling is a serious disorder, as exhibited by extraordinarily high rates of suicide, severe depression, alcohol abuse and crime.

Specific consequences of compulsive gambling may include the following:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse problems – as many as 50% of compulsive gamblers suffer from substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Depression – up to 76% of gambling addicts in treatment suffer from depression
  • Serious financial problems
  • Social problems including isolation, withdrawal and conflict
  • Domestic problems including relationship problems and family neglect, often resulting in divorce
  • Occupational problems such as declining work performance, job loss and work conflict
  • Criminal behaviours including theft, house breaking, robbery and fraud
  • Legal problems (including bankruptcy, divorce, jail)
  • Heart attacks (from the stress and excitement of gambling)
  • Suicidality

Treatment For Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction, like most other addictions is best treated by inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. Because the dynamics of addiction are the same it shares a strong commonality with drug addictions and gamblers normally frequent the same rehabs.

Many compulsive gamblers also have to pursue additional actions such as seeing a psychologist, getting themselves banned from casino’s so it makes relapse more difficult, restricting internet access or access to bank or credit cards, getting legal and financial advice and attending Gamblers Anonymous.

How do I get help for myself or my loved one?

The first step in getting help is finding out whether you have a problem. A psychologist with specific training in the treatment in this area can effectively perform a professional assessment and, if required, will recommend the most appropriate treatment. Read more about clinical psychologist Emile du Toit and how he is best suited to assist you in person or virtually online.

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