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What is Gambling Addiction (Pathological, Compulsive Gambling)?

Comprehensive information about gambling addiction, compulsive gambling, including risk factors, signs and symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Comprehensive information about gambling addiction, compulsive gambling, including risk factors, signs and symptoms, causes, and treatments.

When it comes to gambling, you don't have to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City anymore. Gambling is available right in your hometown; even right in your home.

If you don't have a nearby casino, not to worry. There's the lottery, off-track betting (OTB), sports bookies, bingo, poker and more available just around the corner. Can't get out? Then get your gambling action online.

And it's not just adults who are gambling and have a gambling problem. Research shows that adolescents are about three times more likely than adults to become compulsive gamblers.

Pathological Gambling aka Gambling Addiction, Compulsive Gambling

Gambling is defined as playing a game of chance for stakes and, for most people, gambling isn't a problem. For others, pathological gambling is a progressive disease that devastates not only the gambler but everyone with whom he or she has a significant relationship. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association accepted pathological gambling as a "disorder of impulse control." It is an illness that is chronic and progressive, but it can be diagnosed and treated (learn about Gambling Addiction Treatment).

Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Addiction

  • Family history of addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Mental health professionals report that many times addictions are a way to self-medicate an anxiety disorder or depression.

Situations Which Kickstart Compulsive Gambling

  • Close personal loss
  • Stress, at home, at work
  • A considerable win early on
  • Debt

Sources:

  • Becona E, Del Carmen Lorenzo M, Fuentes MJ. (1996) Pathological gambling and depression. Psychological Reports, 78, 635-640
  • DSM IV, American Psychiatric Association

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next: Types of Gamblers
~ all gambling addiction articles
~ all articles on addictions

Last Updated: 21 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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