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Gambling Addiction & Recovery Information

Compulsive gambling is an urge or addiction to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. A preferred term among many professionals is problem gambling, as few people described by the term experience true compulsions in the clinical sense of the word. Problem gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others rather than by the gambler's behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria.

Extreme cases of problem gambling may cross over into the realm of mental disorders. Pathological gambling was recognized as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM-III, but the criteria were significantly reworked based on large-scale studies and statistical methods for the DSM-IV. As defined by American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder that is a chronic and progressive mental illness.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, incidence of problem gambling is 2-3% and pathological gambling is 1% in the United States, though this may vary by country. By contrast, 86% of Americans have gambled in their lives and 60% gamble in a given year.

Available research seems to indicate that problem gambling is an internal tendency, and that problem gamblers will tend to risk money on whatever game is availableŚas opposed to the availability of a particular game inducing problem gambling in otherwise "normal" individuals. However research also indicates that problem gamblers tend to risk money on fast-paced games. Thus a problem gambler is much more likely to lose a lot of money on poker or slot machines, where rounds end quickly and there is a constant temptation to play again or increase bets, as opposed to a state lottery where the gambler must wait until the next drawing to see results.

Health Blogs

Whether addiction is a disease is a hotly debated issue. Some clinicians argue that it is, citing the similarity in success rates for the treatment of addiction and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. For them, calling addiction a disease also has pragmatic implications, because it means that insurance companies have to ... Read More ┬╗
A person who wonders if they are addicted to something probably has a reason for their query. Usually, there is some innate suspicion, concern or fear. This is no different from a person who knows the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and may be having periodic chest pain. There is hope that the person will seek medical attention promptly in ... Read More ┬╗
General: Most experts agree that a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors may predispose certain individuals to developing addictions. Substance abuse: Initially, individuals may abuse drugs to get high. This desire to get high may stem from underlying causes, such as depression, bipolar disorder, stress, or low ... Read More ┬╗

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Dr. Kimberly Dennis
Psychiatrist,
Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

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