It's fun to gamble but not when it becomes an addiction destroying the best things in one's life. Compulsive gamblers often lose their life savings, homes, businesses, families, friends, and more as they are driven by their addiction. Gambling addiction is another self-destruction addictive pattern, that can be cured with professional help.
Studies show that though many people participate in gambling as a form of recreation or even as a means to gain an income, gambling, like any behavior which involves variation in brain chemistry, can become a psychologically addictive and harmful behavior in some people. Reinforcement schedules may also make gamblers persist in gambling even after repeated losses.
The Russian writer Dostoevsky (himself a problem gambler) portrays in his novella The Gambler the psychological implications of gambling and how gambling can affect gamblers. He also associates gambling and the idea of "getting rich quick", suggesting that Russians may have a particular affinity for gambling. Dostoevsky shows the effect of betting money for the chance of gaining more in 19th-century Europe. The association between Russians and gambling has fed legends of the origins of Russian roulette.
Evolutionary psychology suggests that women more than men tend to select mating partners based on their resources. Thus, from an evolutionary perspective men may have had more to gain from a large increase in resources than women have had, which may be one explanation for why men, and especially poor men, tend to gamble more than women.
Problem gambling (ludomania) is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler's behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria. Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs. The condition is classified as an impulse control disorder, with sufferers exhibiting many similarities to those who have substance addictions. Although the term gambling addiction is used in the recovery movement, pathological gambling is considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be an impulse control disorder rather than an addiction. However, for the DSM 5.0 Pathological Gambling is being considered as an Addictive Disorder as opposed to an impulse-control disorder.
Research by governments in Australia led to a universal definition for that country which appears to be the only research-based definition not to use diagnostic criteria: "Problem gambling is characterized by many difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others, or for the community. The University of Maryland Medical Center defines pathological gambling as "being unable to resist impulses to gamble, which can lead to severe personal or social consequences."
Most other definitions of problem gambling can usually be simplified to any gambling that causes harm to the gambler or someone else in any way; however, these definitions are usually coupled with descriptions of the type of harm or the use of diagnostic criteria. According to DSM-IV, pathological gambling is now defined as separate from a manic episode. Only when the gambling occurs independent of other impulsive, mood, or thought disorders is it considered its own diagnosis. In order to be diagnosed, an individual must have at least five of the following symptoms:
Tolerance. As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same "rush".
Withdrawal. Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.
Escape. The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.
Chasing. The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.
Lying. The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.
Loss of control. The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.
Illegal acts. The person has broken the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses. This may include acts of theft, embezzlement, fraud, or forgery.
Risked significant relationship. The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.
Bailout. The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling.
According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, evidence indicates that pathological gambling is an addiction similar to chemical addiction. It has been seen that some pathological gamblers have lower levels of norepinephrine than normal gamblers. According to a study conducted by Alec Roy, formerly at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, norepinephrine is secreted under stress, arousal, or thrill, so pathological gamblers gamble to make up for their under-dosage.
Further to this, according to a report from the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions there was an experiment constructed where test subjects were presented with situations where they could win, lose, or break even in a casino-like environment. Subjects' reactions were measured using fMRI, a neuro-imaging technique very similar to MRI. And according to Hans Breiter, M.D., co-director of the motivation and Emotion Neuroscience Centre at the Massachusetts General Hospital, "Monetary reward in a gambling-like experiment produces brain activation very similar to that observed in a cocaine addict receiving an infusion of cocaine." However, studies have compared gamblers to substance-dependent addicts, concluding that addicted gamblers display more physical symptoms during withdrawal.
Deficiencies in serotonin might also contribute to compulsive behavior, including a gambling addictions.
It is believed that gambling addiction may, in part, be influenced by the gambler's own erroneous beliefs about the nature of probability. If gamblers approach gambling with the intent of winning and they initially end up losing, the only way for them to break even or win in the long run is to keep playing.
Some problem gamblers have the erroneous belief that if they keep playing, they will eventually win.While it is logically correct to say that more trials of a probabilistic event increase the likelihood of the event occurring at least once, some hold the fallacious belief that previous failures influence the likelihood of future successes. If individual incidences of probabilistic events are independent of each other, then this belief is incorrect. To hold such a belief is to commit the gambler's fallacy.
As an example, there is a 63.3% chance that a Vegas-style slot machine with a 1:100 likelihood of paying out each pull will have paid out once or more after 100 pulls. There is a 39.5% chance that this same machine will have paid out at least once after 50 pulls.A problem gambler that is susceptible to the gambler's fallacy would believe that, if after 50 pulls the slot machine has not paid out, there is a 63.3% likelihood that the machine will pay out within the next 50 pulls, because there is a 63.3% chance of the machine paying out within any particular block of 100 trials. In reality, the likelihood that the machine will pay out in the next 50 pulls is still 39.5%.
The oversight made here is that independent probabilistic events do not actually influence one another. Gamblers are equating a posteriori probability with a priori probability. Gamblers believe that if there is a certain likelihood of a probabilistic event occurring after a certain number of trials, then as the number of past failures increases, the likelihood of the event occurring in future trials increases. The reality of the situation is that once a particular trial has been deemed a failure, we know a posteriori that there is a 0% chance of that event occurring, even if a priori there is a 1% chance of the event occurring. Within a particular set of 100 pulls, after 50 pulls we are no longer in a block of 100 1:100 events, but a block of 50 0:100 events and 50 1:100 events.
Relation to other problems
Pathological gambling is similar to many other impulse control disorders such as kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania. Other mental diseases that also exhibit impulse control disorder include such mental disorders as antisocial personality disorder, or schizophrenia.
According to evidence from both community- and clinic-based studies, individuals who have pathological gambling are highly likely to exhibit other psychiatric problems at the same time, including substance use disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, or personality disorders.
As debts build up people turn to other sources of money such as theft, or the sale of drugs. Much of this pressure comes from bookies or loan sharks on whom people rely for gambling capital.
In a 1995 survey of 184 Gamblers Anonymous members in Illinois, Illinois State Professor Henry Lesieur found that 56 percent admitted to some illegal act to obtain money to gamble. Fifty-eight percent admitted they wrote bad checks, while 44 percent said they stole or embezzled money from their employer.
Compulsive gambling can affect personal relationships. In a 1991 study of relationships of American men, it was found that 10% of compulsive gamblers had been married more than twice. Only 2% of men who did not gamble were married more than twice.
Child abuse is also common in homes where pathological gambling is present. Growing up in such a situation can lead to improper emotional development and increased risk of falling prey to problem gambling behavior.
A gambler who does not receive treatment for pathological gambling when in his or her desperation phase may contemplate suicide. Problem gambling is often associated with increased suicidal ideation and attempts compared to the general population.
Early onset of problem gambling increases the lifetime risk of suicide. However, gambling-related suicide attempts are usually made by older people with problem gambling. Both comorbid substance use and comorbid mental disorders increase the risk of suicide in people with problem gambling.
A 2010 Australian hospital study found that 17% of suicidal patients admitted to the Alfred Hospital's emergency department were problem gamblers.
A report by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. The Council also said suicide rates among pathological gamblers are higher than any other addictive disorder.
Dr. David Phillips, a sociologist from University of California-San Diego found "visitors to and residents of gaming communities experience significantly elevated suicide levels." According to him, Las Vegas, the largest gaming market in the United States, "displays the highest levels of suicide in the nation, both for residents of Las Vegas and for visitors to that setting." In Atlantic City, the second-largest gaming market, he found "abnormally high suicide levels for visitors and residents appeared only after gambling casinos were opened."
In Europe, the rate of problem gambling is typically 0.5 to 3 percent. The "British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007", conducted by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, found approximately 0.6 percent of the adult population had problem gambling issues - the same percentage as in 1999. The highest prevalence of problem gambling was found among those who participated in spread betting (14.7%), fixed odds betting terminals (11.2%) and betting exchanges (9.8%). In Norway, a December 2007 study showed the amount of present problem gamblers was 0.7 percent.
In the United States, the percentage of pathological gamblers was 0.6 percent, and the percentage of problem gamblers was 2.3 percent in 2008. Studies commissioned by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission has shown the prevalence rate ranges from 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent. Nevada has the highest percentage of pathological gambling; a 2002 report estimated 2.2 to 3.6 percent of Nevada residents over the age of 18 could be called problem gamblers. Also, 2.7 to 4.3 percent could be called probable pathological gamblers.
According to a 1997 meta-analysis by Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions, 1.1 percent of the adult population of the United States and Canada could be called pathological gamblers. A 1996 study estimated 1.2 to 1.9 percent of adults in Canada are pathological. In Ontario, a 2006 report showed 2.6 percent of residents experienced "moderate gambling problems" and 0.8 percent had "severe gambling problems". In Quebec, an estimated 0.8 percent of the adult population were pathological gamblers in 2002.
The most common instrument used to screen for "probable pathological gambling" behavior is the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) developed by Lesieur and Blume (1987) at the South Oaks Hospital in New York City. This screen is undoubtedly the most cited instrument in psychological research literature. In recent years the use of SOGS has declined due to a number of criticisms, including that it overestimates false positives.
The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria presented as a checklist is an alternative to SOGS, it focuses on the psychological motivations underpinning problem gambling and was developed by the American Psychiatric Association. It consists of ten diagnostic criteria. One frequently used screening measure based upon the DSM-IV criteria is the National Opinion Research Center DSM Screen for Gambling Problems (NODS). The Canadian Problem Gambling Inventory (CPGI) is another newer assessment measure. The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is composed of nine items from the longer CPGI. The PGSI focuses on the harms and consequences associated with problem gambling.
Most treatment for problem gambling involves counseling, step-based programs, self-help, peer-support, medication, or a combination of these. However, no one treatment is considered to be most efficacious and no medications have been approved for the treatment of pathological gambling by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a commonly used treatment for gambling problems. Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, GA uses a 12-step model that emphasizes a mutual-support approach.
One form of counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to reduce symptoms and gambling-related urges. This type of therapy focuses on the identification of gambling-related thought processes, mood and cognitive distortions that increase oneีs vulnerability to out-of-control gambling. Additionally, CBT approaches frequently utilize skill-building techniques geared toward relapse prevention, assertiveness and gambling refusal, problem solving and reinforcement of gambling-inconsistent activities and interests.
As to behavioral treatment, some recent research supports the use of both activity scheduling and desensitization in the treatment of gambling problems. In general, behavior analytic research in this area is growing
There is evidence that the SSRI paroxetine is efficient in the treatment of pathological gambling. Additionally, for patients suffering from both pathological gambling and a comorbid bipolar spectrum condition, sustained release lithium has shown efficacy in a preliminary trial. The opiate antagonist drug nalmefene has also been trialled quite successfully for the treatment of compulsive gambling.
One step-based program for gambling issues is Gamblers Anonymous. Gamblers Anonymous uses a 12-step program adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and also places an emphasis on peer support.
Other step-based programs are specific to gambling and generic to healing addiction, creating financial health, and improving mental wellness. Commercial alternatives that are designed for clinical intervention using the best of health science and applied education practices, have been used as patient centered tools for intervention since 2007. They include measured efficacy and resulting recovery metrics.
Motivational interviewing is one of the treatment of compulsive gambling. The motivational interviewing's basic goal is promoting readiness to change through thinking and resolving mixed feelings. Avoiding aggressive confrontation, argument, labeling, blaming, and direct persuasion, the interviewer supplies empathy and advice to compulsive gamblers define their goal. Also the important point is promoting freedom of choice and encouraging confidence in the ability to change.
A growing method of treatment is peer support. With the advancement of online gambling, many gamblers experiencing issues use various online peer-support groups to aid their recovery. This protects their anonymity while allowing them to attempt recovery on their own, often without having to disclose their issues to loved ones.
Research into self-help for problem gamblers has shown benefits. A study by Dr. Wendy Slutske of the University of Missouri-Columbia concluded one-third of pathological gamblers overcome it by natural recovery.
Gambling Problems Wikipedia
Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
Did gambling affect your reputation?
Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.
Pathological gambling caused by excessive optimism PhysOrg - April 30, 2013
A growing number of gamblers suffer from pathological gambling, a disease that is usually characterized as either a loss of impulse control or a behavioral addiction. It results in an inability to limit the frequency of gambling and the amount of money wagered. This increasingly common psychiatric disorder creates financial, professional and personal hardships that can have severe consequences for the patients and the people around them. The mechanisms responsible for its emergence and development remain largely unknown, which limits the clinician's ability to proceed with a diagnosis, prognosis or effective treatment for this condition.
Gambling addicts arise from mix of flawed thinking, brain chemistry and habitual behavior Cleveland.com - May, 16. 2011
B.F. Skinner, the legendary Harvard psychologist, was so certain he understood the gambling addiction process that he once bragged he could turn a bird into a betting fiend. No biological or emotional explanations were needed, Skinner insisted. Getting hooked was merely a learned behavior, the result of repetition and reward. "A pigeon can become a pathological gambler, just as a person can," the late Skinner, who famously trained birds to guide World War II missiles to their targets, once assured an interviewer. "We don't say that the human subject gambles excessively to punish himself, as the Freudians might say, or gambles because he feels excited when he does so -- nothing of the sort," Skinner said. "People gamble because of the schedule of the reinforcement that follows."
Brain Challenges for Compulsive Gamblers Psych Central - March 27, 2008
A new research study finds that gambling addicts do not learn from their mistakes. The finding suggests differences in the prefrontal cortex of the brain may explain the development of impulsive or compulsive behavior that can lead to pathological gambling. The discovery implicates a biological origin for the mental rigidity that leads to harmful compulsive behavior in sufferers.
Donatella Marazziti of the University of Pisa and colleagues explain that pathological gambling revolves around the uncontrolled impulse to gamble, with serious consequences for the individual and their family. Its cause, however, is unclear. Scientists have suggested that environmental factors and a genetic predisposition play a part, affecting chemical signals in the brain. In order to home in on the underlying cause, the Pisa team evaluated a group of 15 male and 5 female pathological gamblers. They carried out various neuropsychological tests in order to explore which areas of the brain are related to the disorder.
The tests included the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Wechsler Memory Scale revised (WMS-R) and the Verbal Associative Fluency Test (FAS). Each of which can assess particular problem-solving abilities. They compared the results with those of healthy individuals.
They found that the pathological gamblers scored well in all tests except the card sorting. In this test, the patients had great difficulty in finding different ways to solve each problem in the test as they worked through them, whereas the healthy individuals got better with practice. Findings show that in spite of normal intellectual, linguistic and visual-spatial abilities, the pathological gamblers could not learn from their mistakes to look for alternative solutions in the WCST. This suggests that there are differences in the part of the brain involved in this kind of problem solving, the prefrontal region. These differences might provoke a sort of cognitive rigidity that predisposes a person to the development of impulsive or compulsive behavior, leading to pathological gambling.
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