Gambling Addiction - Dream Health

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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Gambling Addiction

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment for Pathological Gambling


Gambling Addiction
Betting on sports, buying scratch cards and lottery tickets, betting on poker or slots or other card games, either online or outside, problem gambling strains relationships, interferes with one’s work and leads to an irreversible financial catastrophe. Problem gambling which is also known as ludomania is a constant urge to continuously gamble although being constantly terrified yet feeling helpless with regard to the harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop the behavior. Addiction to gambling is a mental health problem and is one of the impulse control disorders a person may suffer from.

Gambling addiction is also known as compulsive gambling and is a disorder characterized by the inability to control the impulse to gamble. The person is unable to take their mind off it and they keep gambling whether they are winning or losing or whether they can afford it or not. This behavior disrupts their life and when one is preoccupied with gambling, is spending more and more time and money on it then a person has a gambling problem.

When a person contemplates on why people gamble, it is vital to know and understand that there is no specific cause for pathological gambling. Like most emotional disorders, gambling can be understood to be a combination of biological vulnerabilities, social stressors and ways of thinking. These elements may increase the likelihood of a person developing a gambling addiction. Some of the other risk factors for developing pathological gambling are mood problems, substance abuse disorders, schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorders.

A persistent and recurrent problem, gambling includes various symptoms such as a preoccupation with gambling due to reliving past gambling or planning future gambling experiences and thinking of ways to secure money to enable oneself to finance gambling. The person may also seek the need for more money to achieve the desired level of enjoyment and may have repetitive unsuccessful attempts at stopping or reducing the behavior.A person may also become uneasy or irritated when they try to stop or reduce the behavior. They may lie to friends and family and may commit crimes such as stealing or forgery to finance their gambling. They may end up risking relationships, work and other opportunities. They may also depend on others for money to resolve their financial situation or may try to return to gambling in order to recoup losses.
There is no standardized treatment available for pathological gambling but many participants of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) show that there is an 8% one year abstinence rate for improvement when coupled with psychotherapy. Medications like mood stabilizers and those used to address addiction may help to decrease the urge and the thrill to gamble. Yet, psychotherapy seems to be more effective than medication as financial/debt counseling and self-help interventions are important aspects of the care which is provided to people with gambling addiction. It has been seen than more than 70% of the people with this disorder have another psychiatric problem so it is important to treat the coexisting mental health condition and not just gambling.

It is thus important to be aware of these symptoms and behaviors in order to deal with problem gambling. It is a challenge to stay in recovery and commit to stay away from gambling. it is possible by surrounding oneself with people who are accountable, avoiding tempting environments and initially giving up control of finances and to find more enjoyable activities to replace the problem of gambling. Changing one’s lifestyle and making healthier choices is one way to stop the problem. One should stop doing what they are doing, think about the consequences, tell oneself to stop thinking about gambling and find something else to do. One should let someone else they trust be in charge of their money for some time. One should also make sure to schedule enjoyable recreational time for oneself and find time for relaxation. One should seek professional help as recovery and quitting gambling may bring up issues like depression, loneliness and boredom which need to be addressed. One should reach out for support, give oneself a reality check and avoid isolation to beat this impulse control disorder.

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