There are many different forms of gambling and opportunities continue to grow. Problem gambling can strain relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial catastrophe. Compulsive gambling arises out of an uncontrollable urge to experience the natural anticipation and thrill of making large bets and potentially gaining large returns. Treatment however can prevent a gambling addiction from escalating and although it can be difficult for sufferers to admit to their problem and seek help, those who do have a good chance of regaining control of their lives.

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Signs and symptoms of compulsive (pathologic) gambling include:

  • Gaining a thrill from taking big gambling risks
  • Taking increasingly bigger gambling risks
  • Preoccupation with gambling
  • Reliving past gambling experiences
  • Gambling as a way to escape problems or feelings of helplessness, guilt or depression
  • Taking time from work or family life to gamble
  • Concealing or lying about gambling
  • Feeling guilt or remorse after gambling
  • Borrowing money or stealing to gamble
  • Failed efforts to cut back on gambling
Types of Gambling Addiction

Type I - 'Disorganised and emotionally unstable' - This type is characterised by schizotypal personality traits, high degrees of impulsiveness, alcohol and substance abuse, psychopathological alterations and early onset age.

Type II - which is a schizoid type, exhibits high levels of harm avoidance, social distancing, and alcohol abuse.

Type III - Reward-sensitive - This type of addiction is characterised by high levels of sensation-seeking and impulsiveness, although without any psychopathological alterations.

Type IV - This addiction type is a high functioning, globally-adapted personality type, without any disorders relating to substance abuse, and no associated psychopathological alterations.

Who is at risk?

As with many other conditions and diseases, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person. Your genes, mental health, family and social environment can all play a role in addiction. Risk factors that increase your vulnerability include:

  • Family history of addiction
  • Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood
  • Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety

Compulsive gamblers are at risk of:

  • Other behavior or mood disorders. People who gamble compulsively often have substance abuse problems, mood or personality disorders, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many compulsive gamblers abuse alcohol, and many experience major depression.
  • Age. Compulsive gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people.
  • Sex. Compulsive gambling is more common in men than in women. Women who gamble typically start later in life, are more apt to have depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders, and may become addicted more quickly. But gambling patterns among men and women have become increasingly similar.
  • Family influence. If one of your parents had a gambling problem, the chances are greater that you will, too.
  • Medications used to treat Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome. Medications called dopamine agonists have a rare side effect that results in compulsive behaviors, including gambling, in some people.
  • Certain personality characteristics. Being highly competitive, a workaholic, restless or easily bored may increase your risk.
Treatment

Many patients require individual sessions with an addiction specialist. Dr de Silva would conduct a comprehensive assessment and explain her conclusions to you .She would discuss the treatment options taking into consideration your views and what she considers the optimum treatment for you. Treatment would generally include medication, or individual therapy or both. Dr de Silva can also make a referral to a psychologist or psychotherapist to look the psychological aspects of the addiction as well as trying to address the underlying causes. You would be reviewed regularly by Dr de Silva to monitor your progress.

If you require more intense treatment and to be away from the familiar environment, which may be contributing to the addiction, Dr de Silva can arrange for admission to treatment centre where you would stay for the duration of their treatment. Treatment at one of the centres would usually include medication management, individual psychological sessions as well as group psychological work. There is often specific focus on understanding the nature of addiction and relapse prevention. If an admission to a treatment centre is recommended Dr de Silva would be able to help identify the most appropriate treatment centre for you.

Types of addictions catered for:

Many people think of addictions as purely alcohol or illegal drug addiction, however there are many other forms including:

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