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 or alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many people who struggle with compulsive gambling have found help through professional treatment.
Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) include:
• Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money
• Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
• Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
• Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
• Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
• Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
• Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
• Jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
• Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money
• Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away
Unlike most casual gamblers who stop when losing or set a loss limit, people with a compulsive gambling problem are compelled to keep playing to recover their money — a pattern that becomes increasingly destructive over time.
Some people with a compulsive gambling problem may have remission where they gamble less or not at all for a period of time. However, without treatment, the remission usually isn’t permanent.
Compulsive gambling can have profound and long-lasting consequences for your life, such as:
• Relationship problems
• Financial problems, including bankruptcy
• Legal problems or imprisonment
• Poor work performance or job loss
• Poor general health
• Suicide, suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts
apy.« Back to Glossary Index