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Pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or problem gambling is a psychological or disorder that makes one dependent on gambling. It is mostly called pathological gambling in a psychiatric context. Pathological gambling is a form of impulse control disorder, kleptomania and pyromania can also fall under this umbrella.

As with other impulse control disorders, problem gamblers can have general symptoms of substance dependence: for example, it is common to need to gamble with increasing amounts to achieve the same “high” and some gambling experts also tell of withdrawal-like symptoms, such as restlessness and irritability .

Types of games that are considered extra strongly related to gambling are fast-paced games in which the time between effort and profit is short. This includes pokies of various kinds, as pokies, poker machines, Vegas slots can easily make the time go by quickly while driving an impulse to gamble.

Problem gambling is considered to have been around a long time, but became a psychiatric diagnosis in 1980 when DSM-III was published and introduced the term pathological gambling. The criteria was worked through, however, the DSM-IV.


Pathological gambling is categorized in ICD-10 under “impulse control disorders”, along with intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, pyromania, trichotillomania, and impulse control disorder not otherwise specified. Another name for impulse control disorders are habit disorders (habit disorders).

To regularly engage in gambling is not necessarily pathological gambling, even if it is a high-risk behavior, it may be part of a lifestyle. Gambling is pathological, that is an illness, according to ICD-10 when it takes up a big part of her life, and her life becomes ruined because of gambling. Reliance is also characterized by the person as the games giving a characterized increased voltage. When the gambler is experiencing the hit a “kick,” and afterwards a relief. Gambling can be justified in that it provides self-fulfillment (for profit), but for those who have a gambling addiction, gambling is in itself more important than profits.

Game addiction may lead to the person lying about debts and the person becomes aggressive when gambling and its consequences are not questioned, and that the impulse to play is not being controlled – the game has taken over the will, the will cannot control the impulse to gamble.

People with mood disorders may have similar manias. For these people are not playing in the foundation of the disease – when a person with a mood disorder stops playing the impulse may subside. For a person that is a problem gambler however, the person is cured when the person stops playing forver. Similarly, individuals with antisocial personality disorders gamble away money, but these individuals can lack the sense of guilt that problem gamblers may face.

As with other impulse control disorders, pathological gambling may be due to inhibited drives, such aggression.


A report from the Institute of Public Health presents the following overview:

The latest scientific research on gambling and problem gambling was conducted in Sweden ten years ago. According to this, approximately two percent of the population aged 15-74 compulsive gambling and an additional 7.8 percent risky gambling habits. This corresponded to approximately 128,000 problem gamblers, who have difficulty controlling their gambling and where gambling had serious consequences. Of these, 38 000 people who had been so serious at gambling that they could be described as problem gamblers. Over half a million had risky gambling habits with more transient or temporary negative impacts.

According to the national public health survey, the Institute of Public Health programs each year, the proportion of risky gambling habits between 3.5 and 3.9 percent during 2004-2006. The results of the public health survey is, however, difficult to compare with the previous survey from the 1997/98 because different methods were used.

Similar figures exist in other countries, in the USA, the National Council on Problem Gambling to about 1% of the population is affected by problem gambling (“pathological gambling”) and that approximately 2-3% are problems with magnificent gaming.


Various forms of treatment and help for problem gambling are available. There are few treatment centers exclusively dedicated to the treatment of addiction. Others mix clients with various addictions, which is negative for the problem gambler. The problem can also be treated similarly to other dependencies: for example there are Gamblers Anonymous groups with the same twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Anyone who needs care can turn to other social programs in their community. It is possible to request financial assistance in some countries as well.

Many techniques based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), including a CBT-based self-help method developed at Uppsala University. There are also so-called peer associations and GA groups (“Gamblers Anonymous”, Gamblers Anonymous) at several locations.

Added by on May 15, 2013 · 0 Comments 

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