Gambling Addiction

Overview

What is pathologic gambling?

People who are pathologic gamblers can’t control their impulses to gamble. They end up losing a lot of money and get into financial trouble. Gambling usually causes problems with their work, school or relationships. However, in spite of these problems, a pathologic gambler will continue to gamble. Men or women of any age can be pathologic gamblers. Depression, drinking and taking drugs often go along with pathologic gambling. Pathologic gamblers may also think about committing suicide.

Causes

What causes pathologic gambling?

Many experts think that pathologic gambling is an addiction because of the “rush” you feel when you win and lose money. A person’s experiences and personality type also play a large part.

Treatment

Can pathologic gambling be treated?

Yes. However, pathologic gambling can be hard to treat because you may not want to tell others about your problem. First, you have to admit you have a gambling problem by telling your family and friends. Second, you can join Gamblers Anonymous, a self-help group for problem gamblers. Your family and friends can join Gam-Anon. This is a group that helps family members and friends deal with a loved one who is a pathologic gambler. Your family doctor can work with you and your family during your treatment. It’s important to complete the treatment program. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health expert for more help. This help may involve talking about your gambling problem. It may also include advice about how to understand your gambling urges and how to handle them. Treatment for pathologic gambling may also include treatment for depression or substance abuse, if needed.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • How do I know if I have a problem with gambling?
  • What can I do about my gambling problem?
  • Is gambling addictive?
  • Can pathologic gambling be treated?
  • How do I know if my teen has a problem with gambling?
  • Can you recommend some support groups who help people who have a gambling problem?