Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that you're willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value. Gambling can stimulate the brain's reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you're prone to compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.
Disease Statistics in Germany
Estimates of the number of pathological gamblers in Germany range from 103,000 to 290,000, corresponding to 0.2% to 0.6% of the population. The rate of inpatient treatment for pathological gambling tripled from 2000 to 2010. Most pathological gamblers are men (70%-80%). More than 90% of the patients suffer from more than one mental disturbance; 40% of them carry five different psychiatric diagnoses.
Treatment for compulsive gambling involves three main approaches: Psychotherapy. Psychological treatments, such as behavior therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, may be beneficial for compulsive gambling. Behavior therapy uses systematic exposure to the behavior you want to unlearn (gambling) and teaches you skills to reduce your urge to gamble. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying unhealthy, irrational and negative beliefs and replacing them with healthy, positive ones. Medications. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers may help treat problems that often go along with compulsive gambling — such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or ADHD — but not necessarily compulsive gambling itself. Medications called narcotic antagonists, which have been found useful in treating substance abuse, may help treat compulsive gambling. Self-help groups. Some people find self-help groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, a helpful part of treatment.