Pathological Gambling

Pathological gambling, also known as compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, is a behavioural addiction that prevents individuals from controlling their urge to gamble, leading to serious financial, social and psychological issues. As an impulse control disorder with similarities to substance addictions, it involves risking something valuable for a potential greater gain, requiring decision-making based on risk and reward. Common forms of gambling include lotteries, card games, racing, sports betting, slot machines and internet gambling, the latter of which is rapidly growing.

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The disorder typically starts in early adolescence for men and between 20 and 40 for women. Symptoms include an inability to resist the urge to gamble, feelings of shame, efforts to hide the problem and various harmful behaviors. These can include committing crimes for gambling money, restlessness, using gambling to escape negative emotions, chasing losses and sacrificing important opportunities or relationships. The behaviour, often beginning as occasional gambling, can develop into a habit intensified by stressful situations.

Recognised as a serious issue, pathological gambling is considered a form of addiction, described as a “process addiction” or “behavioural addiction” due to its repetitive nature and psychological impact. It provides a rush and excitement, creating a strong desire to continue gambling despite negative consequences. First documented in the early 1800s, it was classified as a disorder in 1980.

Treatment involves recognising the problem, often initiated by external pressure and includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), support groups like Gamblers Anonymous and possibly medications like antidepressants and opioid antagonists. Despite the chronic nature and risk of relapse, effective treatment can lead to significant improvement. The approach often combines therapy, support groups and medication with CBT addressing underlying causes and triggers, while support groups offer a community for shared experiences and guidance.

What is Pathological Gambling? - Gambling Addiction

Addiction to gambling or pathological gambling can be defined as the incessant failure to resist the urge to gamble. Get help from qualified counsellors.

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    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specialising in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance our organisation facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualised care that addresses the physical, mental and social needs of patients.

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