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April 22, 2016

Gambling Addiction

Pathological Gambling

Pathological gambling is believed to affect an estimated 3%-5% of adult Americans (Slutske, Jackson, and Sher, 2003). Nor are pathological gamblers exclusively male. Studies in Spain and the USA have consistently found 30% – 35% of excessive gamblers to be women. Pathological gambling may involve a neuro-chemical component: “Abnormalities in the dopamine system (which may account for the pleasurable consequences of gambling) and the serotonin system (involved in impulsive behaviour) have been found in some studies of pathological gamblers” (Scott, Hilty, and Brook, 2003).

Definition of Pathological Gambling

One definition of pathological gambling is that it is: An addictive illness in which the subject is driven by an overwhelming, uncontrollable, desire to gamble. The impulse progresses in intensity and urgency, consuming more and more of the individual’s time, energy, and emotional and material resources. Ultimately, it invades, undermines, and often destroys everything that is meaningful in his life.

Models that Attempt to Explain Gambling Addiction

There are a number of models that seek to explain problem gambling:

  1. Determinism: Psychoanalytic idea of gambling as the product of an unconscious ‘need to lose’ (Bergler, 1958).
  2. Voluntarism: Social scientists think of excessive gambling as lying on a continuum, and view as artifical any dividing line between a category such as pathological gambling and other forms of gambling (Orford, 2001).
  3. Disease Concept:  Gambling as an addictive disease. In the case of problem gambling, risk is part of life, and is not something, unlike alcohol, that can be abstained from.