ABC Medical Center > Pathological gambling

What is Pathological gambling?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


The so-called gambling disorder refers to an irrepressible obsession to bet on games of chance regardless of the economic, family, or personal destruction that it implies.

Playing is the priority in the gambler’s life beyond any negative consequence that may cause them to do so. It is a powerful addiction similar to alcoholism or drug addiction since the gambler’s life becomes a constant pathological need to play and bet at all costs, so they can lose all their possessions, get into debt, steal, or cheat to satisfy their urge.

Although the exact cause of this compulsive gambling addiction is unknown, it is known to be due to genetic, biological, and psychosocial aspects.

Potential risks:

  • Being between 20 and 50 years old: although gambling can also occur at any age.
  • Being male: it is more common in men, although in recent years there has been an upturn in the percentage of female gamblers.
  • Social influence: when you have gambling relatives or friends, you are more likely to develop the same addiction.
  • Mental problems: various disorders have been identified that are usually present in gamblers, such as anxiety, depression, bipolarity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Hyperactivity, impulsiveness, competitiveness: these are factors that increase the risk of becoming a gambler.

Signs and symptoms Pathological gambling

  • Unsuccessful attempts to control or leave the game.
  • Irritability and restlessness at the impossibility of continuing to bet.
  • Use the game as an escape route from unworked emotions and life problems that you don’t want to face.
  • Obsession to recover the lost amount through new bets.
  • Mythomania developed by hiding the reality of your addiction from your family and friends.
  • Focusing your life on the game and devising a way to get more money to bet.
  • Progressively needing to bet larger amounts of money to achieve the same emotional satisfaction that was achieved at first with small bets.
  • Risking or losing relationships or jobs because of not being able to control the addiction.
  • Commit crimes to get more money to bet.
  • Indebtedness when requesting loans that you will not pay to continue betting.

Diagnosis and treatment Pathological gambling

If you realize that you could suffer from pathological gambling through the recognition of symptoms, you should see a mental health specialist, who will perform an evaluation in which they will ask you about your gambling habits and, with your authorization, will speak with your relatives to corroborate the information, will review your medical history and will perform a psychiatric exam.

As for treatment, it should be multifocal and include:

  • Behavioral therapy to decrease your compulsion and eventually control it.
  • Prescription of antidepressants and anxiolytics.
  • Help groups.
  • If your gambling problem is due to underlying mental disorders, these will also need to be treated alongside your gambling addiction.

At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly trained and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Our mission is to provide you with comprehensive and multidisciplinary care programs for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of nervous system diseases, always focusing our activities on your safety.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


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