While most people enjoy casino gambling, sports betting, lottery, and bingo for the fun and excitement it provides, others may experience gambling as an addictive and distracting habit. Statistics show that while 85 percent of the adult population in the US enjoys some form of gambling each year, between 2 and 3 percent will develop a gambling problem and 1 percent of them are diagnosed as pathological gamblers.
Where can the line be drawn between harmless gambling and problem gambling? How can you tell if you or your friend are compulsive gamblers? Here you can find answers to these questions and other questions about problem gambling and gambling addiction.
What is the meaning of problem gambling?
Problematic gambling or compulsive gambling is defined as an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite the destructive effect of gambling on the lives of players and despite feelings of guilt and remorse. Problematic gambling tends to have a negative effect on the financial status, relationships, and daily lives of players. Severe cases of gambling can be defined as gambling.
Am I a compulsive gambler?
1) Do you play until the last penny runs out?
2) Do you gamble to recoup your previous losses or debts?
3) Have you ever had to borrow money to keep gambling?
4) Has your gambling habit ever made you lie to your friends or family?
5) Have you ever skipped work or other obligation to gamble?
6) Do you usually play to forget about your personal problems or to celebrate happy occasions?
7) Does gambling have a negative effect on your daily life or relationships?
If you have answered yes to at least one of the questions listed above, then you have a problem.
Can anyone become a compulsive gambler?
Theoretically, yes. Any player can develop a gambling problem regardless of the type of game they are engaged in, the amount of money and the time they are spending on the game. Research shows that slot machines found in bars and convenience stores are the most addictive type of gambling activity, while lottery draws and bingo games are at the other end of the scale. Gambling addiction is an emotional problem; its symptoms, causes, and treatments are similar to any other form of addiction.
How can I treat gambling addiction?
1) Group therapy:
Gamblers Anonymous offers a 12-step self-help program similar to that offered to alcohol addicts in Alcoholics Anonymous. Group therapy also offers gambling addicts counseling and support from professional counselors and other gambling addicts at different stages of their recovery process. Anonymous Gamer Centers are available at more than 1,200 locations throughout the state.
2) Individual therapy:
Cognitive or behavioral therapy can help gambling addicts identify their unconscious patterns of thinking and acting, leading to compulsive gambling and replacing them with healthier and more controllable ways of thinking.
3) Psychiatric medication:
It has recently been shown that antidepressant medications from the SSRI family, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be effective in treating gambling addicts.