Gambling Addiction 1: How serious is it?

Gambling addiction is considered an impulse control disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association).  It is the person failing to regulate their impulses and acting on them without much regard to the consequences.  Other such disorders in this category (impulse control disorder) include substance addiction, pyromania (impulse to set things on fire), and kleptomania (impulse to ‘take’ things) to name a few.  In the case of gambling addiction, the sufferer simply cannot stop their gambling/betting behavior.  They just have to place a bet every time to convince themselves that they are doing something to increase their wealth; be it on the casino tables, the lottery, the slot machines, in sports betting, or even petty bets with their friends.  To stop them from placing a bet will be experienced by the sufferer as an opportunity lost and will be met by tremendous amount of anxiety.

Gambling addiction is one of the more destructive psychological disorders because it affects a whole lot of people for a very long time.  On the personal level, gambling addiction or problem gambling will affect the sufferer directly from the decline in their general health, decline in their social activity, and of course, decline of their bank account balance.  I’ve seen gamblers in casinos sit on their chairs and play for nearly two days straight!  If they hadn’t won anything by then, I don’t think they ever would!

The sadder and more dangerous thing about gambling problems is that most of its negative effects don’t only affect the gambler but their innocent families when they start: losing their jobs, filing for divorce, committing crimes and getting arrested, and of course, owing money and losing them all till bankruptcy.  It is no longer a surprise in the counselling field to encounter cases where families had to sell their houses because of a compulsive gambler within the family.  Some younger people had to become drug mules and ruin their legal integrity in society just to pay off their debts from the local loan sharks.  This of course, also includes having their whole family and household harassed by these people.

Because of the rising trend of gambling addiction, we at Grace Counselling Centre will publish more and more articles to increase our awareness on gambling addiction and its consequences and how to help the victims and their families.

If you are worried about yourself or someone you care about to have gambling problems, do consult a professional counsellor/psychologist or visit our Free Consultation services.  It will not hurt to ask.

Next on Gambling Addiction: Signs of Problem Gambling