Compulsive Gambling and Treatment
The prevalence of compulsive gamblers increases as the gambling industry expands. This is the subject of concern among community leaders who recognize the existence of compulsive gambling as a psychological illness. Compulsive gambling is also widely called as pathologic gambling because of the underlying pathological condition that affects human behavior with disturbing effects and deleterious consequences.
To diagnose the presence of compulsive gambling, the gambler should meet the category of manifesting maladaptive behaviors that threatens to disrupt their personal relationships, social functions and daily activities that are not caused by any manic episodes. Specific symptoms for compulsive gambling episodes include repetitive gambling to reach the heights of excitement from gambling activities, persistent spending despite bankruptcy and making more loans and credits from friends and other sources to finance their gambling urge. They often experience restlessness in an effort of stopping their gambling activities resulting to extreme depression. Some compulsive gamblers resort to gambling as the only means to escape and relieve their grievances and anxiety. They would chase money that was lost in an effort to gain control of their game. Such disturbing behaviors can lead to felony activities, physical and/or verbal abuse to spouse and children and sacrificing employment and social relationships.
Compulsive gamblers seek the excitement from euphoric gambling, not going after the money but with the surge of power to control their game. They often express denial about their behavioral gambling-related problem which increases the chance of overlooking the presence of an underlying pathologic behavior. Once the condition of a pathological gambler is neglected, the suicidal tendency for these individuals is high.
Compulsive gambling is usually addressed as a psychiatric disorder that leads to addiction. The addiction experienced can be likened to substance abuse where withdrawal symptoms are manifested such as major depression and mood swings. Depressions are highly correlated with compulsive gambling and compulsive gamblers often counteract depression through repetitive gambling and get high with uncontrolled spending. Compulsive gamblers shut their family, employment, financial responsibilities and other supposedly important things in their life. Everything is sacrificed over their gambling addiction with catastrophic results.
The ideal approach of treatment for compulsive gamblers is to help them acknowledge the existence of their gambling-related problems. Support should be provided in the withdrawal attempt from their gambling addiction. The most successful approach to compulsive gambling is behavioral and cognitive therapy. Psychotherapeutic approach helps to cease disturbed behavior manifestations and support the gambler to confront and get over their depression. Desensitization skills are taught to overcome compulsive behavior. Compulsive gamblers are guided to a rational line of thinking until they fully regain the normal state of their psychological behavior.