Pathological Gambling and psychological changes

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In this article, we tried to collect the most important information related to pathological gambling addiction, its symptoms, development, consequences and the methods of treatment for gambling addiction

Pathological  gambling is a disease

Pathological gamblingAs a behavior disorder pathological gambling is introduced to all international  disease classifications.   Gambling meets all criteria of addiction as well as  alcoholism or drug addiction.

Development of pathological gambling has the following phases:


  • Phase of winning: occasional gambling; expectations of winnings; rising rates;  big wins.
  • Phase of losing: gambling alone, unauthorized leaving the work, large loans, unpaid debts, encumbrance, a lie.
  • Phase of despair: spoiled reputation, break with a family, friends, remorse, shifting responsibility,  blaming on others, panic attacks, job loss, illegal actions, criminal activity.
  • Terminal phase: hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicides,  drugs / alcohol use, emotional wreckage, signs of insanity, problems with a law.



Signs of gambling addiction

  • A person is preoccupied  with a game (recalling and re-living the previous games, planning theGambling addiction signs future stakes,  searching  money for the up coming game);
  • While gambling,  a person feels extreme excitement and raises the stakes;
  • A person experiences difficulties  to stop  the game or to keep it under control;
  • A person feels irritation when it is necessary to limit the stakes or stop the game;
  • A person uses gambling as a means to escape psychological problems, elevate the mood (attempts to escape feeling of guilt, anxiety, depression);
  • person attempts to win back the next day after a loss;
  • A person cheats family members or therapist to conceal the true extent of gambling involvement
  • A person commits such illegal acts as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance  gambling;
  • A person gambles due to passion to risk.  Risks of losing the job, close friends, possibility of missing job promotion or further education;
  • A person reborows money from friends, acquaintances and relatives to pay off the debts.

Consequences of pathological  gambling

effects of gambling addictionThere are changes in personality, changes in system of values. Dependent is getting less interested in a career, family welfare, children's success, common recreation. All these every day duties, interests, responsibilities are suppressed by the need to feel the game trance. The patient becomes focused on personal feelings, is getting closed, irritable, manipulative. Diminished moral standards inevitably result in loss of job, family, other people`s trust, in permanent conflicts, accusations, in endless promises that nobody believes. Man eventually becomes a pariah.

Psychological changes of a pathological gambler

Continued stress leads to nervousness, irritability, severe depression. Bad gambling  can provoke  aggressiveness to level of uncontrollable, violent behavior  victims of which  can be slot machines or other people. Panic attacks, sleeping problems, nightmares, unpaid debts, lack of volitional mechanisms, desocialization, suicide thoughts are chasing the pathological gambler. However, at the first opportunity he starts gambling again and nobody and nothing can stop him.
Main psychological changes are: Irregular meals, insomnia, drug abuse, alcohol, uncontrolled use of sedatives and other psychoactive substances  lead to cardiovascular problems, metabolic disorders, immune system deficit, hormonal imbalance, physical and emotional exhaustion.

Pathological gambler becomes unable to carry out  his office, family, social duties. He isn’t able to focus on doing his work. He abuses office money, neglects discipline, and eventually loses the job. He poses a constant danger to his loved ones who have to share his debts. He isn’t  engaged in  household chores, parenting. By his addictive behavior he makes his love ones so upset that eventually after numerous unsuccessful attempts to keep him away from gambling they prefer to leave him rather than  tolerate his abusive behavior any longer. 

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