Compulsive gambling; Addictive gambling
Problem gambling ruins the lives of millions of people every year. Some people gamble to escape from problems or to relievedepression. Others gamble for the excitement. Whatever the reasons for gambling, problem gamblers frequently end up having to lie to people they care for about how much they gamble or the consequences oftheir gambling.
Pathological gambling is the inability to resist impulses to gamble, leading to severe personal or social consequences. Affects 1-2% of adults, and up to 4% of adults living within 50miles of a casino. It typically begins in early adolescence in men and between ages 20 and 40 in women. Compulsive gambling is considered a “hidden addiction” because there are no outward warningsigns of a problem. Unlike other chemical dependencies, there are no breathalyzers or urinalysis to help determine a problem.
Pathological gambling is a brain disease that seems to be similar todisorders such as alcoholism and drug addiction. These disorders likely involve problems with the part of the brain associated with behaviors such as eating and sex. This part of the brain is sometimescalled the "pleasure center" or dopamine reward pathway. In people who develop pathological gambling, occasional gambling leads to habitual gambling. Stressful situations can make gambling problems moresevere.
The American Psychiatric Association defines pathological gambling as consisting of five or more of the following symptoms:
• Preoccupation with gambling (spending much of the time thinkingabout gambling, such as past experiences, or ways to get more money to gamble with)
• Needing to gamble larger amounts of money in order to feel excitement
• Repeated unsuccessful attempts to cutback or quit gambling
• Restlessness or irritability when trying to cut back or quit gambling
• Gambling to escape problems or feelings of sadness or anxiety
• Chasing losses (gambling larger...