Gambling is an addictive process
Many people find that pastimes such as online gaming, slot machines, blackjack, horseracing or a visit to the casino are forms of enjoyment.
However, what often begins as a frivolous hobby can develop into pathological gambling, which is a progressive illness that can destroy not just the sufferer, but also those around them. A pathological gambler becomes addicted to the thrill of betting larger and larger amounts and taking greater risks, often with catastrophic results.
Individuals who experience problems with gambling can be totally preoccupied with betting and may become extremely restless and irritable if they attempt to stop.
The human toll of problem gambling
Pathological gambling can cause severe harm to physical and mental health and may lead to financial ruin and / or death. A joint study by Yale University and the “CT Council on Problem Gambling” found that one in five gamblers who called a helpline had previously attempted suicide.
There are estimated to be around 8 million* people in the U.S. alone who experience problems with gambling, of which about a quarter are severely affected. This equates to around 2.5% of the population.
Pathological gamblers suffer from a similar loss of control, denial and compulsive behaviour as individuals who are addicted to substances such as drugs or alcohol.
The causes of pathological gambling
It is important to recognise that pathological gambling can develop from a combination of psychological, genetic, physical and social causes.
Due to the compulsive nature of the disorder, the sufferer has very little control over their actions and it can be impossible for them to cease through willpower alone. Factors that can contribute to the underlying causes of addiction to gambling include mood disorders, biochemical and neurochemical imbalances, stressful life events and childhood abuse.
Addressing these issues can be a complex and difficult process and it is therefore advisable to seek medical advice for the best chances of successful recovery. Thankfully, with care and support it is possible to overcome pathological gambling. For further details please contact us.
National Council on Problem Gambling (FAQs and statistics)