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What is Gambling Disorder?

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Addiction has multiple distinguishing characteristics, including:

Persistence in a behavior despite negative consequences

Loss of control over a habit

Compulsive conduct

An appetitive drive or yearning state before an activity

The Latin word (addicere), from which the word "addiction" was derived, did not initially have this connotation, even though for a while the term was almost solely used to describe excessive and disruptive patterns of alcohol and drug use. Recently, researchers and others have realized that some behaviors mirror alcohol and drug dependence, and they have compiled data showing that these behaviors should be taken into account as "behavioral" or non-substance addictions. The irrepressible drive to continue gambling despite the negative effects it has on your life is known as Compulsive Gambling, often known as Gambling Disorder. Gambling puts something one values at risk in the hopes of winning something even more valuable.


Addictions may manifest as excessive involvement in activities including gambling, internet use, video game playing, sex, eating, and shopping. A sizeable number of people who engage in such extreme conduct do so out of habit or compulsiveness. In terms of clinical manifestation (such as seeking, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms), comorbidity, neurobiological profile, heredity, and treatment, several convergent lines of evidence reveal an overlap between these diseases and drug dependence.

Phases of Gambling Addiction

Impact of Gambling Addiction

Gambling, which is defined by betting/wagering mechanisms and monetization aspects, is seen as a form of entertainment in many nations and jurisdictions. Similar to gaming, compulsive gambling behaviour has the potential to develop into a disorder that causes suffering or impairment. The effects of a gambling disorder extend beyond the person, including the family and the community. Psychosomatic symptoms (cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, etc.) and mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and personality disorders are common in those with gambling issues. It affects the gambler's and his/hers family's finances, frequently resulting in debts, poverty, bankruptcy, and occasionally criminal activity. Additionally, since gambling is a more "hidden" addiction in contrast to chemical addictions, which have more "obvious" (physical) consequences, the interpersonal costs (relationship issues, family neglect, domestic violence, and child abuse) and societal costs are more challenging.

Identification and classification of behavioural addictions are better aided by establishing terminology and criteria for them. Pathological gambling, now known as "disordered gambling," has been moved from the "Impulse Control Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified" category to the new "Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders" category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) fifth edition, which was just published. The diagnostic criteria, that need to be met before the diagnosis of

Symptoms of Gambling Disorder include

Gambling Disorder have the following symptoms listed, according to DSM 5: (The duration criteria states the presence of these symptoms for at least 1 year.)

Pathological gambling

  • Need to gamble with increasing amounts to achieve the desired excitement.

  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.

  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on or stop gambling.

  • Frequent thoughts about gambling (such as reliving past gambling or planning future gambling).

  • Often gambling when feeling distressed.

  • After losing money gambling, often returning to get even. (This is referred to as "chasing" one's losses.)

  • Lying to hide gambling activity.

  • Risking or losing a close relationship, a job, or a school or job opportunity because of gambling.

  • Dependence on others to help with financial problems caused as a result of gambling

Gambling is a popular pastime all around the world. While many people gamble recreationally without observable detrimental effects on their lives, some persons experience maladaptive disordered gambling symptoms that may eventually evolve into full gambling disorder (also known as pathological gambling), which is defined by functional impairment.

The longer-term effects of gambling disorder include poorer quality of life, increased risk of divorce, financial problems (bankruptcy/insolvency), and jail.

Pathological Gambling Treatment

Treatment of Pathological gambling varies according to the individual case and based on severity. Different ways that gambling affects people exist. For different people, certain strategies might be more effective. Gambling problems are treated with a variety of therapy modalities, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.

Counseling can assist persons in comprehending gambling and considering how it impacts them and their families. It also aids the gambler in problem-solving and the consideration of choices. Comorbid conditions of Gambling addiction like Anxiety disorder and Depression may be treated using pharmacotherapy. A healthy support system is essential to a person's gambling addiction treatment. However, the decision to quit the habits rests solely with the individual. Therapy can help with improving family relations, trying to curb the craving to gamble, and the stress caused by not gambling.

Counseling can help:

● Gain control over your gambling.

● Heal family relationships.

● Deal with your urge to gamble.

● Handle stress and other problems.

● Find other things to do with your time.

● Put your finances in order.

● Maintain recovery and avoid triggers.

In summary, non-substance addiction is an under-researched yet extremely debilitating and common condition. In India gambling has been accepted as a leisure activity that enables a road to addiction. Comorbidities of gambling disorder such as anxiety disorder, depression, substance use disorder, etc can make the recovery process even more complicated. Counseling and social support are extremely important to improve the condition of a person with a gambling addiction and in such cases, support groups have also been found to be beneficial. Visiting the closest available mental health professional as soon as the symptoms are visible is vital for early intervention.


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