Occurring in many forms, but most commonly; lotteries, casinos, bookmaking, card rooms and bingo, gambling is defined as betting something of value when the outcome is uncertain. Compulsive gambling or gambling addiction is characterized as an impulse control disorder with features similar to other addictive disorders, without involving the use of an intoxicating drug.
The effects of a gambling addiction range, not only affecting the gambler itself but their family, employer, and community. As the gambler goes through different phases of the addiction, they tend to spend less time with their family and yet, more of the family’s money on gambling. In a professional setting, the gambler misuses company time in order to gamble has difficulty concentrating and finishes projects and can sometimes engage in employee theft or embezzlement. In desperation, the gambler may experience hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and attempts, trouble with the law and marital problems.
It is estimated, that the number of people who gamble socially qualify for being diagnosed with a gambling addiction range from 2%-5%. Although this may not seem like a high number, in the United States alone, it translates to affecting millions of people.
A gambling addiction generally means gambling involves more than one symptom, but less than five required to qualify for the diagnosis of compulsive or pathological gambling. Commonly, gambling addiction, like most other emotional conditions, is said to be the result of a combination of biological vulnerabilities, ways of thinking and social stressors.
Signs and symptoms of gambling addiction are vast and include:
– A return to gambling after a loss in an effort to recoup
– Gambling to try to escape problems, relieve sadness or anxiety
– Becoming easily irritated when trying to reduce or stop gambling
Diagnosis of gambling addiction requires a few steps, the first of which is a complete physical and psychological evaluation. A diagnostic evaluation includes a mental status examination to determine if speech, thought pattern or memory has been affected. Currently, there are no lab tests, blood tests or x-ray that can diagnose this or any other mental disorder.
Addiction treatment in Florida is available. The Delray Center for Healing can help those struggling with a gambling disorder as well as many other disorders and addictions. With both inpatient and outpatient options, the choice is yours.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.