Considered a disorder of impulse control, compulsive gambling has been recognized by the World Health Organization in its International Classification of Diseases in 1992. It was also qualified as a mental disorder in the Classification Manual of Mental Disorders by WHO and similarly defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Compulsive gambling or pathological gambling is a behavior that is characterized by the inability of a person to control or refrain from the activity of gambling. Recurring features in people with this problem is the inability to resist the urge to play, the growing sense of excitement and tension before commencing to play and a pleasurable experience or relief at the time of play. All of these behaviors gradually generate in the gambler alterations and consequences in different areas of their life such as education, career, finances, family and social relationships.
Why is Compulsive Gambling an Addiction?
Compulsive Gambling and/or Pathological Gambling is a non-conventional addiction, also called a process addiction. Compulsive gambling as a process addiction has immense and important similarities to conventional addictions of substance. However, it also has great and significant differences. This is why it requires professional treatment that specializes solely in gambling addiction.
Characteristics of Pathological Gambling
• It is an unmanageable urge to play, despite being aware of its consequences and a desire to stop.
• There is an ongoing obsession to play and get money to continue playing.
• Tends to play greater amounts or for longer periods of time than were originally planned before initiating play.
• Has the need to increase the amount or frequency of bets to achieve the desired satisfaction.
• Feeling restless or irritable when unable to play.
• Constantly loses money in the game and comes back the next day to try to recover.
• Sacrifices an important social, professional or recreational activity to devote more time for playing.
• Often uses gambling as an alternative to escape problems.
• Resorts to dishonesty with family members or others to conceal the extent of the problema associated with attempting to control the gambling.
•Commits illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance gambling.
What Generates It?
• It is difficult for a compulsive gambler to stop gambling without help, regardless of how much willpower they have or claim to have.
•Compulsive gambling rarely has a single cause or circumstance that generates it, therefore requiring the intervention of specialists.
• Often, the gambler has certain characteristics of an immature personality, fears, and feelings of inferiority and lack of accountability.
• The family must understand that it is a disease and assume the responsibility to accompany and assist the patient in the treatment process.
• It is important to note that a person does not become a compulsive or pathological gambler from the beginning. And that is a fact that nobody starts playing with that intention.
• To become a pathological gambler, like a drug addiction, it is generated in a progressive manner.
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