Compulsive Gambling

Compulsive gambling is an impulse control disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to gamble. In compulsive gambling, your life becomes dominated by gambling.

  • Causes

    It is not clear what causes compulsive gambling. There is some evidence that there may be a genetic component.

    Research has also shown that people who have a gambling addiction experience changes in their brain. These brain changes are like those that occur in people who are addicted to drugs.

    Frontal Lobe
    Frontal lobe
    Impulse control is believed to exist in this part of the brain.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Compulsive gambling is an impulse control disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming urge to gamble. In compulsive gambling, your life becomes dominated by gambling.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor may refer you to mental health therapist. The therapist will ask about your:

    • Medical history
    • Mental health history
    • Symptoms

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent compulsive gambling. But if you have a problem with impulse control, avoiding situations where there is gambling may prevent you from developing a problem.

  • Risk Factors

    Gambling addiction is more common in males. Factors that may increase the risk of compulsive gambling include:

    • Family history of gambling problems
    • Mood disorders
    • Personality disorders
    • Drug abuse
      or gambling at a young age
    • Certain traits, such as having a competitive character, being restless, and getting bored easily

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of compulsive gambling may include:

    • Gambling longer than you intended to
    • Taking time from work or family life to gamble
    • Feeling guilty after gambling
    • Lying to hide gambling
    • Not being able to sleep due to thoughts about gambling

    • Having financial problems due to gambling, such as:

      • Spending all of your money on gambling
      • Needing to borrow money for gambling
      • Trying to earn money through gambling to pay your bills
      • Being involved in illegal activities to get money for gambling
    • Trying to quit gambling but not being able to
    • Feeling depressed or suicidal due to gambling

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include: