Gambling Addiction (cont.)
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is a gambling addiction?
- What are causes and risk factors for gambling addiction?
- What are symptoms and signs of a gambling addiction?
- How is a gambling addiction diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for gambling addiction?
- What are complications and negative effects of gambling addiction?
- Where can people get support for gambling addiction?
- Where can people find more information about gambling addiction?
- Gambling Addiction At A Glance
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What are symptoms and signs of a gambling addiction?
Pathological gambling involves persistent and recurring problem gambling that includes several of the following symptoms and are not the result of another mental-health problem, like during a manic episode:
- A preoccupation with gambling, either by reliving past gambling, planning for future gambling experiences, and/or thinking of ways to secure money to finance gambling
- Needing more and more money for gambling in order to achieve the desired level of gambling enjoyment
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop or reduce betting behaviors
- Becoming uneasy or easily irritated when trying to reduce or stop gambling
- Gambling for the purpose of escaping problems or to relieve sadness or anxiety
- Returning to gambling after losing money in an effort to recoup losses
- Lying to family or other loved ones, mental-health professionals, or others in an effort to hide the extent of the gambling behavior
- Committing crimes (for example, stealing, fraud, or forgery) in an effort to finance gambling
- Risking important relationships, employment, or other opportunities due to gambling
- Depending on others for money to resolve dire financial situations that are the result of gambling.
How is a gambling addiction diagnosed?
The first step to obtaining appropriate treatment is accurate diagnosis, which requires a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person may have a gambling addiction. Since some medical conditions, can cause an individual to develop erratic, impulsive behaviors, including problem gambling, the examining physician should rule out (exclude) these possibilities through an interview, physical examination, and applicable laboratory tests, as well as implementing a full mental-health evaluation. A thorough diagnostic evaluation includes a complete history of the patient's symptoms, during which time the practitioner might ask the following questions:
1. How old were you when you gambled for the
2. How much time (how often and for how long each time) do you spend gambling
or thinking about gambling?
3. How much money do you lose/spend gambling?
4. What kinds of things do you do to finance gambling?
5. Do you have irresistible urges to gamble?
The doctor usually asks about alcohol and drug use and whether the patient has had thoughts about death or suicide. Further, the history often includes questions about whether other family members have had a gambling problem, and if treated, what treatments they received and which were effective.
A diagnostic evaluation also includes a mental-status examination to determine if the patient's speech, thought pattern, or memory has been affected, as often happens in the case of a many forms of mental illness. As of today, there is no laboratory test, blood test, or X-ray that can diagnose this or any other mental disorder.
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