Recognizing and Treating Gambling Addiction


Compulsive gambling is a relatively common problem that affects both men and women. Men are more likely to develop the problem than women, although women who gamble may become addicted more quickly. Increasingly, gambling patterns in men and women are becoming similar. Factors that may increase a person’s risk for compulsive gambling include family or friend influences, certain medications for restless legs syndrome, and personality characteristics. The information presented here is intended to help you recognize and treat your problem gambling.

Problem gambling

Problem gambling is an addictive behaviour that causes a person to spend more than he or she earns. The behavior may be minor at first, but can lead to a host of other problems, including financial, legal and emotional ones. It can develop gradually, ranging from an occasional spree to a disorder that limits the sufferer’s ability to work, live and play. Problem gambling was previously known as pathological gambling, or compulsive gambling, but is now known as Impulse Control Disorder (ICD).

The treatment for problem gambling varies, and there are several treatment options available. Behavioral analytic methods, such as activity scheduling, can be used to help individuals deal with their problem gambling. In addition to behavior changes, drugs such as SSRI paroxetine have shown some promise in the treatment of pathological gambling. Sustained-release lithium, which is an opioid antagonist, has recently been trialled to treat compulsive gambling. Another treatment option for problem gamblers is metacognitive training.


There are several signs of gambling addiction. While occasional gambling can be a fun pastime, it can quickly turn into a compulsion. The first step towards recognizing a gambling addiction is to identify the symptoms. Some signs include lying, staying out too late, and stealing. You may also feel compelled to lie about your whereabouts, and you may even resort to threatening or accusing others. In extreme cases, you may even kill someone to get more money to buy gambling chips.

The hallmark of a gambling addiction is an inability to stop. If the gambling is causing significant losses, the person may feel anxious about quitting. It’s best to seek professional help. If you notice one of these symptoms, it’s time to seek professional help. The following are some of the most common warning signs of gambling addiction. A person may have an unhealthy relationship with money and be ashamed of it. The person may also lie about their gambling habits.


Many people who engage in gambling also exhibit emotional symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia. These symptoms can also affect the physical body, causing muscle aches and chest tightness. These symptoms are often worse as the gambler begins the withdrawal process. To learn more about emotional gambling, read our article on the symptoms of addiction. In addition, be aware that the symptoms of addiction can vary by person. Here are the most common ones:

Disturbed thinking: Those suffering from gambling addiction often have distorted thinking patterns. They may be in denial about their behavior, have superstitions, or tend to minimize their losses. They may also become dependent on others for money, despite their inability to control their urges. Gambling symptoms may begin in adolescence or as late as an adult. Symptoms of addiction can vary widely, so it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible.


There are many different ways to deal with problem gambling. In some cases, it may be necessary to treat a co-existing condition, such as bipolar disorder, before a person can seek treatment for gambling addiction. Self-help and 12-Step programs may also be helpful, and you should look into them if you’re considering them. In some cases, medications for substance addiction are used to treat gambling addiction. Opioid antagonists, which inhibit the production of dopamine in the brain, may be used to reduce the urge to gamble. Other medications used to treat the disorder include anti-seizure medications and mood stabilizers.

Intensive outpatient programs can offer up to nine hours of structured therapy each week. This type of program may serve as a step down from residential treatment centers, and it may also prevent the patient from needing a higher level of care down the road. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is often used to treat gambling addiction. Both TMS and counseling help the patient develop skills necessary to stop gambling.