Gambling: The Addiction and How

The Gamblers Anonymous group makes the point that they are not affiliated with any particular religion, but they have spiritual tenets within the structure of their recovery program. They also indicate that compulsive gambling is not a financial problem; its an “emotional problem” and along with the addiction the individual involved can begin experiencing problems with his or her marriage, with employment, with friends and with the law.

The Mayo Clinic says that compulsive gambling is an “impulse-control disorder.”

What that means is that the person involved is not able to “resist engaging in behavior thats harmful to you or to someone else.” (Mayo Clinic). Those with impulse-control disorder generally receive a feeling of “emotional arousal or excitement” prior to engaging in whatever behavior they are obsessed with. Following the emotional arousal and excitement, the person — when he or she actually begins physically engaging in gambling — gets a big dose of “pleasure and gratification” followed, in most cases, by “guilt” or “remorse” when the money is gone and no big winning is forthcoming (Mayo Clinic).

One of the predictable outcomes of being involved in compulsive gambling is denial. It is “almost always a characteristic of addictive behavior,” the Mayo Clinic explains. That having been said, the Mayo Clinic presents the list of things that tells a person his or her gambling is out of control. Your gambling is out of control if: a) it is affecting your relationships, your work life or your finances; b) if you devote more and more time to gambling; c) youve tried to stop but keep going back to it; d) you hide your gambling from family, friends, and your doctor; e) you start stealing or defrauding others to get money for your addiction; and f) you begin asking friends to “bail you out of financial woes because youve gambled money away” (Mayo Clinic, 2010, p. 3).

The Mayo Clinic explains that there are “certain medications” and in some cases “traumatic head injuries” that can change the function of the brain and by doing so can contribute to compulsive gambling.

When the orbitofrontal cortex is injured it can lead to poor decision-making and in turn become part of the reason a person gets involved in compulsive gambling, Mayo Clinic explains.


Are there cures for compulsive gambling? As for treatment, it can be “challenging” the Mayo Clinic explains because first the person must admit to being hooked. But once a person admits to being addicted, there are these potential remedies: a) psychotherapy (“cognitive behavior therapy”) can be effective, particularly in group therapy; b) medications (antidepressants and mood stabilizers can help “emotional issues” related to compulsive gambling); and c) “self-help groups” like Gamblers Anonymous can be helpful, albeit the Mayo Clinic says Gamblers Anonymous “doesnt have the track record of Alcoholics Anonymous”

Works Cited

Gamblers Anonymous. (2010). Questions and Answers. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2010, from

Little, Nan. (2007). “Chasing Losses Leads to Gambling.” Insight Journal. Retrieved Nov.

15, 2010, from

Mayo Clinic. (2010)

National Council on Problem Gambling. (2010). What is Problem Gambling? Retrieved Nov.

14, 2010, from

National Council on Problem Gambling, “What is Problem Gambling?” Retrieved Nov. 15, 2010, from

N. Little, “Chasing Losses Leads to Gambling Addiction,” Insight Journal. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2010, from

Gamblers Anonymous. Questions and Answers. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2010, from

Mayo Clinic. Compulsive Gambling. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2010,.

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