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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 available—as 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

Hello DailyStrength Members! The new site is coming very soon. We have a preview version of the site available now for you to explore if you’re interested in seeing how the new site will look. We’ve made some recent changes and updates to the preview site too, making it easier to do all of the things you love about ... Read More »
Prescription drugs are being tremendously overprescribed and abused throughout our country today. So much so that prescription opioid addiction and deaths due to overdose has now reached epidemic levels. So perhaps due to sheer ignorance of its highly addictive nature, physicians continue to prescribe an opioid for everything from back strain ... Read More »
Twenty years ago, most people who suffered from a substance use disorder were addicted to illegal drugs. Today, although street drugs such as cocaine and meth remain in the equation, it is prescription drugs that pose the greatest threat to the public at large, with licensed physicians serving as the most dangerous dealers. Abuse of legal drugs is ... Read More »

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Dr. Kimberly Dennis
Psychiatrist,
Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center