Gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling, is an impulse-control disorder, in which the gambler cannot control the impulse to gamble. Problem gambling is progressive in nature and can lead to financial and relationship problems. Addiction can take many forms including online poker, day trading, casino gambling, lottery, sports betting, etc.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Pathological Gambling [312.31] are listed below. Presence of at least 3 of the following signs or symptoms are sufficient for the diagnosis.
- Preoccupation Preoccupied with gambling (e.g., preoccupied with reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money to gamble)
- Tolerance Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
- Withdrawal Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
- Escape Gambles as a way of escaping from problems or relieving distress (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression)
- Chasing After losing money gambling Often returns another day in order to get even (“chasing one’s losses”). Chasing is a classical behavior pattern characterizing pathological gambling.
- Lying Lies to family members, therapists or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
- Illegal acts Has committed illegal acts (e.g., forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement) in order to finance gambling
- Risked significant relationship Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of gambling
- Bailout Has relied on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
- Loss of control Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling
Escape the addictive trap of gambling
Developing the skills and faculties to follow your path of greatest advantage rather than yield in the direction of least resistance is perhaps the most important and difficult challenge of your adult life. Success will surely make you stronger; failure may destroy you.
You may be reading this page because you observed yourself doing what you intended not to do. Relapsing or losing control can be a demoralizing and make you feel inept and hopeless. Take heart; do not accept a defeatist attitude. It looks different from my perspective as a clinician than it feels from your perspective as the one caught in the addictive trap.
You can achieve good outcome, if you do what it takes to succeed. This is a difficult passage, but you can benefit from the experiences of those who completed this passage before you. Even though everyone is unique, there are some commonalities to the challenges gamblers face as they switch from the path of least resistance to the path of greatest advantage.
Over the past three decades, I have accompanied many individuals though a passage similar to the one that you are about to undertake. The tools and methods that enabled them to act as intended during crises of stress and temptation will be useful to you. Links to exercises and practical methods to cope with crises are available on this web site. Please take advantage of them.
To help determine whether a 12-Step treatment program or a change strategy based on enhancing your ability to cope with stress and temptation is a better match for you, please take The Treatment Matching Test. This confidential assessment is scored on your computer and is available at no charge. If you find that our self-directed approach matches your attributes, you may begin your passage to good outcome by assessing your current vulnerabilities using the Trap Detector. The Trap Detector is a quick self-test that is scored on your computer and reveals which of the 6 addictive traps is most critical for you. You may then use this self-guided approach independently by following the appropriate links or in collaboration with Dr. Dubin via chat, email, or phone. (Clients who live in Austin or the Central Texas area have the option of a face-to-face collaboration). For information please call us at: (512) 343-8307.
If you find this approach to be well matched with your attributes and circumstances, you are likely to respond well to our treatment methods. Our self-guided treatment and relapse prevention manual: The Path of Greatest Advantage is available in paperback and e-book formats.