Pathological gambling is a progressive behavioural disorder in which the person feels an overwhelming urge to gamble, disregarding any negative consequences. It is an addiction where no substance is consumed, although it is sometimes accompanied by substances such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs. This is known as co-morbidity.
Pathological gambling occurs when a person’s gambling leads to serious problems. They think, live and act in terms of the game, neglecting all other pursuits. A non-substance addiction is repetitive behaviour that is pleasurable, at least at the beginning; it leads to a loss of control in the person, in addition to the appearance of tolerance, an escalation of behaviour to obtain the desired effects; it seriously interferes in their family, social and work life and, if the behaviour is interrupted, withdrawal syndrome appears.
They deceivefamily, friends...
They gamble again to win back the money they have lost.
They use gambling as a strategy toevade other problems.
They are restless, irritablewhen they are not gambling.
They need to gamble increasing amounts of money.
They are highly concerned about gambling.
The consequences of pathological gambling are many, affecting several aspects, as detailed below:
Default on payments, impoverishment…
Constant lies and a climate of mistrust.
Breakdown of communication.
The commission of unlawful acts.
Theft and burglary.
Serious legal issues.
Apathy and depression.
Low self-esteem, feelings of guilt.
Stress, anxiety, irritability and suicidal thoughts.
Isolation, lack of hobbies and interests…
Withdrawal from friendships, loss of relationships.
Lack of appetite.
Headaches, stomach aches, neck pains…
Decreased attention and concentration.
Reduced performance at work.
Missed opportunities and promotions.
Pathological gambling was officially recognised as a mental health condition in 1980 when the American Psychological Society (APA) first included it as a disorder in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III).
It was recognised again as a disorderin the DSM-V and is the only non-substance addiction to be considered as such.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises pathological gambling as a disorder classified in ICD-10 under Habit and Impulse Control Disorders.
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