Pathological gambling

Understanding Pathological Gambling

Gambling problems have become increasingly common over the years and with easy accessibility to online casinos, the prevalence of addiction has become even greater. Online casinos do however promote responsible gambling, but if you are predisposed to this condition the control measures that can be put in place may have little to no effect.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the development of an addiction or pathological gambling habit. Impulsive nature, personality traits, genetics and family history are all contributing factors, as are environmental stresses, socio-economic and cultural elements. In some countries gambling is a way of life, whilst in others it is considered an activity enjoyed only by those who are well off, and this can also greatly affect whether or not a person is inclined to develop an addiction.

Generally, men are more susceptible to developing pathological gambling problems as they are exposed to wagering activities from a young age, but increasingly women over the age of 25 are showing signs of addiction as bingo and slots games have become so readily available and so popular.

Symptoms of Pathological Gambling

The moment gambling starts negatively affecting your life or those around you, you have a clear cut problem. For many gamblers the signs of addiction may creep up slowly but once compulsive gambling becomes an issue it is far harder to curb the habit. Understanding the personality traits that can lead to a pathological gambling problem is essential and the following factors all make a person high risk:

Impulsiveness

Pathological gambling is essentially a loss of impulse control and if someone is prone to impulsivity or they suffer from other impulse-control disorders they are more likely to develop a problem. Impulsiveness and the quest for instant gratification are two key issues for gambling addicts and whilst an impulsive personality does not automatically lend itself to an addiction, it is more likely to be  contributing factor than not.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Antisocial behaviour is often linked to an impulse control disorder and if pathological gambling is a problem it’s likely that these tendencies will be displayed. Anti-social behaviour is often a coping mechanism employed by an addict in an effort to avoid confrontation over their activities or to cut themselves off from those who may pick up that their behaviour is due to an underlying addiction.

Depression

Those prone to depression may look for an outlet for their feelings or something to make them feel good about themselves. Pathological gambling can them become a problem as a player looks for their next ‘fix’ rather than addressing the cause of their depression or seeking help for an illness which is being exacerbated by another condition.

Lack of Coping Strategy

Not being able to cope with what is happening in the world around you may force gamblers to look for an escape. Pathological gambling is thus a form of escapism and a place where coping strategies need not come in to play. Gamblers feel safe whilst playing and any negative consequences that may arise are completely negated as a feeling of well-being is attained.

Pathological gambling can be successfully treated and there are many options for those who feel they may have a problem. This type of addiction is treated in much the same way as alcoholism and requires a commitment from the player to ensure they stay on track with their treatment program.