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 Sweden
The development and the social, psychological and cultural conditions of pathological gambling reported by 42 interviewed pathological gamblers were compared with data from 63 pathological gamblers identified by case-finding. The two studies gave similar results. Gambling on horse races, roulette and bingo were the only types showing a progressive increase in involvement over time. When gambling heavily 40% of the pathological gamblers regularily experienced a state of altered consciousness. When abstaining from gambling withdrawal-like symptoms were experienced by a third. Fifty-two percent reported at least one family member often gambling. Pathological gambling appears to be a secret behaviour, although there are collective features in its development.
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.