Gambling Addiction

(Also Known As: Gambling, Gambling Problem, Gaming, Gaming Addiction, Addiction, Compulsion, Impulse Control Disorder)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is considered to be a type of impulse-control disorder where an individual has a compulsion to gamble despite knowing it will lead to negative effects that can hurt their finances, social and personal relationships, and employment.

Gambling addiction is also considered to be problem gambling, which is defined according to the extent of harm experienced by gamblers or other persons, instead of the kind of behavior a gambler manifests.1 Even before gambling addiction develops, gambling can already pose a high risk for a gambler to experience negative effects. Gamblers exhibit a variety of personality and gambling styles and to a certain extent can lead to the development of pathological gambling, which is a condition traversing the realm of mental disorders.

Pathological Gambling involves a chronic, progressive mental disorder which is a psychiatric condition recognized in the DSM-IV with the following manic episodes:

  • Tolerance - the gambler experience the compulsion to place more and higher wagers in order to feel the rush of gambling excitement.
  • Pre-occupation – the gambler experiences frequent gambling thoughts.
  • Withdrawal – gambler experiences irritability or restlessness upon attempt to stop gambling.
  • Loss of control – The gambler has no success ceasing from gambling.
  • Escape – they gambler resort to gambling as a way to escape unpleasant conditions.
  • Chasing – the gambler tries to win back loses by gambling more.
  • Lying – gamblers engage in the habit of hiding their gambling activities from family and friends.
  • Illegal activities – the gambler breaks the law in order to find means to sustain their gambling activity or to help them recover from losses.
  • Bailout – where the gambler turns to third party financial assistance due their gambling activities.
  • Risked personal relationships – gambling activities compromise good relationship in society and family and other significant opportunities such as at work conditions

There are two basic profiles for compulsive gamblers with common manifested behavior but with different reasons for gambling:2

  1. Escape gamblers are those who gamble as a way to escape uncomfortable situations such as depression, loneliness, worries and pains.
  2. Action gamblers have the compulsion to experience the risk of gambling with the inclination to feel the rush of the risk taking activity of gambling.

Gambling Anonymous defines compulsive gambling as a kind of illness, with a progressive nature which cannot be cured but can be managed. 3

Could You Have Gambling Addiction?

Gambling Addiction Topics

Related Conditions

Alcohol Addiction – alcohol abuse, withdrawal, dipsomania, alcohol dependence, tolerance
Impulse Control Disorder – pathological gambling, compulsive gambling, obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder – extreme anger, uncontrolled rage, mood changes, sudden outbursts, impulsive behavior
Kleptomania – Urge to hoard things, inability to resist the urge to steal something, urge to commit theft, paranoia
Pyromania – impulsive desire to start fire to relieve tension, obtains self gratification after setting a fire, euphoria, psychosis