The nomenclature of gambling is a complicated issue because it must consider a variety of perspectives. Different groups with various stakes and interests have formulated various world views and paradigms. In some instances, the act of gambling has been considered a form of recreational interest, a sign of diminished mathematical skills, or poor judgment, while in others, it may indicate mental illness or moral turpitude. Regardless of the perspective, it is vital that the term “gambling” reflect the wide range of perceptions of the activity.
In clinical diagnosis, pathological gambling is classified according to the presence of specific symptoms. There are several possible diagnoses, but the DSM-IV has specific diagnostic criteria that a pathological gambler must meet. Pathological gamblers often exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia, a broad spectrum of mental disorders with characteristics of pathological gambling. Some pathological gamblers experience hallucinations or hear voices, and believe that their thoughts are controlled. Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness with symptoms of both schizophrenia and manic-depressive disorder.
Unlike disordered gambling, pathological gambling is often associated with other mental health problems, including depression and substance abuse. Men are more likely to develop pathological gambling than women, and the disorder usually develops during adolescence. Pathological gambling is more common in men than in women, and is more likely to occur in minority groups. While men are more likely to develop pathological gambling symptoms, women are often more mature when they first become engaged in the behavior.
If you’re having financial problems that are affecting your quality of life, treatment options for gambling addiction may be in order. Some facilities specialize in gambling addiction and others deal exclusively with mental health issues. Whatever the case, a treatment program tailored to your specific needs is an excellent place to start. Psychotherapy, a type of therapy that focuses on changing harmful beliefs and behaviors, may help you overcome the problem. It may also be beneficial to consider family therapy.
Psychotherapy combines cognitive behavioral therapy with self-help interventions to help people overcome their gambling habits. These interventions can be self-guided or accompanied by a scheduled support call from a trained provider. Some treatments are based on cognitive approaches such as motivational interviewing, self-directed computer interventions, and bibliotherapy. Fortunately, there are a variety of self-help interventions for gambling, and the benefits of these approaches are well documented.
While there is no single factor that directly leads to increased risk of gambling, several factors have been found to increase the likelihood of gambling problems. These include body mass index (BMI), cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption. Among these factors, alcohol consumption is associated with higher levels of gambling harm than with overall gambling participation. The link between alcohol consumption and gambling is strongest in problem and at-risk gambling. In addition, risky gambling is associated with high levels of psychological distress.
Research focusing on the early life stage of players has shown that the age at which people begin gambling behavior is considerably lower than the age at which they develop addictions. Increasing accessibility to gambling has resulted in a lower age at which people develop addictions to gambling. This has led to studies of the younger population in hopes of identifying specific risk factors that contribute to the onset of gambling. Further studies are needed to better understand how young people can distinguish between games and gambling.