Monday, May 6, 2013


Addiction to gambling is an often heard word with lots of movies and serials based on this disorder. Yes it is a disorder and not a moral problem and has to be treated like any other medical ailment.

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction or pathological gambling as it is medically known as is an impulse control disorder. An impulse control disorder is characterized by sudden mounting tension and arousal with anticipatory relief after the act has been performed.
Aspects of gambling addiction are-
       1.      A preoccupation with gambling
       2.      A need to gamble with increasing amounts of money.
       3.      Repeated efforts to cut back on gambling.
       4.      Gambling as a way to escape from problems
       5.      Gambling to recover losses
       6.      Lying to hide the extent of loss in gambling
       7.      Doing illegal acts to finance it.
       8.      Risking personal relationships because of gambling.
       9.      Taking debts to pay debts.
There are four phases of pathological gambling
      1.      Winning phase-a big win kicks off the manifestation of this disorder.
      2.      Progressive loss phase-in this phase the gamblers start talking foolish risks and end loosing.
      3.      Desperate phase- in this phase the patient loses and gets into debt trap.
      4.      Helpless phase- the patient admits that the money lost cannot be won back but keeps gambling for excitement.
Last stage may occur after 15 years start until then gambler is ruined.

Treatment for gambling addiction

Medicinal treatment of pathological gambling is by-
Gamblers anonymous is a self-help group which helps people stay away from gambling. It is formed from gamblers which have left gambling.

Cognitive behavioraltherapy is of some use in the treatment of pathological gambling.
Family therapy also yields good results. Hospitalization may be necessary in some cases to make the patient stay away from the environment.

Wishing you a long and healthy life
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)

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