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21 / 04 / 2018
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Addiction Gambling


Addictions & Substance Use

Screening and diagnosis

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) classifies compulsive gambling as an impulse-control disorder. To meet the APA's diagnostic criteria for compulsive gambling, a person must show persistent gambling behavior as indicated by at least five of the following criteria:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling (for example, reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)

  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve desired excitement

  • Having repeated unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop gambling

  • Being restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling

  • Gambling as a way to escape problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood (feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)

  • After losing money gambling, often returning another day to get even ("chasing" one's losses)

  • Lying to family members, therapists or others to conceal extent of involvement with gambling

  • Having committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance gambling

  • Having jeopardized or lost an important relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling

  • Relying on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling


Like other addictive behaviors, compulsive gambling can affect many areas of your life, possibly causing:

  • Estrangement of family and friends

  • Financial problems

  • Legal problems, as you may resort to illegal activities to fund your addictive behavior

  • Workplace problems

  • Development of associated problems, such as excessive alcohol consumption or drug abuse


Treatment for compulsive gambling is similar to therapies for other forms of addiction. Your doctor or mental health professional may use these approaches:

  • Psychotherapy. A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy focuses on identifying unhealthy, irrational and negative beliefs and having you replace them with healthy, positive ones. Group therapy may be another approach. In group therapy, you're able to tap into the advice, feedback and support from other people on how to deal with a gambling addiction.

  • Medications. Antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be effective in treating compulsive gambling. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa). Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) may be effective for pathological gamblers with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder. Naltrexone (ReVia), a narcotic antagonist used to treat alcohol or narcotic addiction, has shown some promise as an effective treatment for compulsive gambling, but more research is needed.

Coping skills

Gamblers Anonymous provides a 12-step program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. For people who wonder whether they may have a gambling problem, Gamblers Anonymous publishes a list of 20 questions as a screening tool and provides a list of local chapters.

Your doctor or counselor may be able to refer you to a Gamblers Anonymous group.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.

In no event will the be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.
Contact Information
Dr. Eddy Bettermann M.D.

Mob: +60.17 545 1784         +66.89 8550 5066





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