Signs and Symptoms of Pathological Gambling

The core concept of gambling is that you risk something of value in the expectation of getting back something of even greater value. Though gambling is a socially acceptable recreational activity, for a small but significant number of people, gambling negatively impacts their whole life and that of their loved ones. 

Pathological gambling, also called as compulsive gambling or gambling disorder is characterized by an irrepressible impulse to gamble ignoring the serious consequences. 

According to scientists, gambling, similar to alcohol and drugs, stimulates the brain’s reward system with a potential for addiction. A person with compulsive gambling problem is likely to constantly chase stakes that lead to losses, drain savings, amass huge debt, or even choose to resort to theft or fraud to keep the habit going.

Exactly what causes gambling addiction is not yet fully understood. However, understanding and acknowledging the problem helps people seek help through professional treatment.

Signs that you or a loved one may have a gambling problem:

  • Restlessness and irritability when trying to cut down on gambling
  • Preoccupation including excessive thinking and planning for the next game of gambling
  • Increasing urge and use of more and more money to get the same level of thrill
  • Trying to regain lost money by betting higher stakes 
  • Gambling as a way of relief from problems or feelings of guilt, anxiety or depression
  • Neglecting family, job or school work because of gambling
  • Resorting to illegal behavior, theft or fraud to continue gambling

Risk factors

Anyone can develop pathological gambling problem but there are some factors that make people more vulnerable to this addiction. These include:

Mental health disorders: It is observed that who are dealing with have substance abuse issues, depression or anxiety and other mental health disorders could also develop a compulsion to gamble.

Age: Addiction to gambling is more common in younger and middle-aged people though it could be seen the older adult population also. Gambling Another societal factor is that it is 

Men and women: A study to understand gambling behavior differences based on sex noted associations of specific gambling activities for both genders. For example, problem gambling was strongly associated with gambling machines among women, whereas it was related to sports betting, poker and casino games among men.

Influence of others: If your family members or friends have a gambling problem, the chances are greater that you will, too.

Compulsive gambling may result from a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors. Sometimes people with a compulsive gambling problem may have remission where they reduce the number of times they gamble less for some time. However, without treatment, the remission usually isn’t permanent.

If you recognize your own behavior from the list of signs and symptoms for compulsive gambling, seek professional help.

For additional information and resources check out: 

How the Brain Function is Affected in Gambling Addiction

Addiction to gambling is somewhat unique among other addiction related problems because it could go unnoticed for a long time.  

Similar to alcohol consumption, gambling in general is a socially accepted entertainment in the western culture. Whether it is lottery, scratch cards, casino games, bingo, slot machines, internet poker, or sports betting, it is considered as a recreational activity. 

Because of this, addiction problems to this seemingly fun activity generally goes under the guise of a harmless indulgence. However, for some people, it could progress into a serious problem with behavioural, emotional, financial or health consequences. 

Gambling addiction in an individual can manifest into desperation for money, compulsion to win at any cost for the thrill of it and an intense desire to achieve the social status of a winner.  

Experts indicate that gambling can run in families with other addictions. For example, if you have family members with alcoholism or drug use disorders, there is an increased likelihood that you are at a higher risk for gambling disorder. 

Recently, researchers and mental health specialists classified problem gambling as a behavioral addiction, adding it to the category of disorders that includes substance abuse issues. This decision is based on findings from neuroscience research which showed how people addicted to gambling exhibited many behaviors seen in drug and alcohol addicts, including changes in behavior and brain activity.

Research that justifies the classification of gambling disorder with other addictions is based on tests related to brain imaging and neurologic responses. For example, studies confirm the common patterns between substance abuse and gambling in the way brain reacts to certain cues tagged to reward system.

After studying brain scans, scientists explain this further saying that people predisposed to addiction have an underactive reward system reaction in their brain. Because of this, they are attracted to activities and substances such as gambling and drugs that stimulate their reward pathways.

One region in the brain that is associated both with gambling and substance use disorders is the prefrontal cortex. It is not surprising since this is the area that is linked to our decision-making, impulse control, and cognitive regulation. 

Scientists who study problem gambling acknowledge the complexity of the underlying neuroscience. A better comprehension could help to tailor treatments because people might inherently have variations in brain function that might be predisposing them to gambling problems. As researchers try to figure out the exact mechanism for gambling addiction, just understanding potential vulnerabilities could help people to be extra careful when considering recreational gambling related activities. 

For research on pathological gambling check out: 


It is important for people to know that gamblers or addicted gamblers are not really capable of helping themselves out of the addiction, they need help from the people who claim they love them. Gambling addiction is a compulsive attraction and engagement that is psychologically created towards consistent gambling, regardless of the consequences that would come after.


The problems which gambling cause can be very severe, and they are capable of having serious impact on the emotional, mental, physical and financial health of people who engage in it. If a loved one or someone close is addicted to gambling, it would be important to be of help to ensure they recover from the addiction.

There are therapeutic treatments that are recommended for gambling addiction, to suppress and cure the urge of betting to make money, and is also available for other addictions, since they are all psychological disorders.
However, the treatments available for gambling addiction is not a one-way directional remedy as gambling addiction can come in different forms, depending on the cause.


The treatments which are available for the addiction is specifically based on what resulted to the addiction. So, for the treatments to be effective, it is important that the cause of the addiction is clearly diagnosed and spelt out to the therapist, for the sake of getting prompt and effective remedy to it.

Some therapeutic treatments which a therapist will give might seem unbelievable, and at the same time difficult to do, because as an addict you will always have the question of why it is hard to quit. Families and loved ones of addicts should take note of the reasons why that question keeps popping up, in order to provide quality advice and guidance for them.


1. You wish to regain all that you have lost, so that you will not seem stupid to have started.
2. You still have the hope that you would one day hit a jackpot and show everyone that you have succeeded.
3. It is quite difficult for you to admit your mistakes and humble yourself to ask your loved ones for assistance.
4. You are of the opinion that, you only need one more chance to win. That chance may not eventually come, it is better to seek advice.
5. It might even be that you are too proud to allow people interfere in your affairs, because you feel it is to be kept private, and not to be relayed to the general public.
Problems are not meant to be kept private, reach out for help!



Gambling is basically an agreement between two or more persons that requires staking or betting with the use of money, or any other valuable substance with the primary aim and intent of winning money or material valuables. It usually consists of three basic elements, which are consideration, chance and prize. It could be referred to as gaming in the case whereby it is permitted by the law, but cannot be contractual because it deals with uncertainty.


It is an activity that could be carried out with the aim of just deriving pleasure or for fun purpose. However, it is quite unfortunate that gamblers usually get too carried away with the benefits that are being derived from the game, and soon become compulsive, obsessed and addicted to staking their money and other valuables, to get in return, higher quantity of money or more material goods, which are not guaranteed. It can be in form of a dice game, coin toss, card games and other games that deals with uncertainty and vagueness.


The causes of gambling addiction are not far-fetched, they will always be traced back to psychological changes and character reconfiguration. Addiction itself is a brain disorder that is being characterized by an obsessive and compulsive attachment to an activity regardless of the consequences, whether good or bad.

Addiction comes into play when there is an involuntary attraction with a will, irrespective of the end result of such act. Most times gambling addiction is caused by desperate financial need and peer group influence. It is a psychological obsessive disorder that is propelled by repeated contacts and exposure to them.


The treatment for such compulsive and obsessive disorder is not a one-time remedy, it requires a conscious and gradual withdrawal from it. It is also not a one-size-fit-all proposition, there are different approaches to curing gambling addictions, depending on the cause of the addiction. So the first thing that is needed to be known for sure, is for the person that is being addicted to realize that he or she has an addiction, and after that the cause of such addiction should be diagnosed to know the treatment that is needed.

Peer-group influenced addiction can be corrected with the family therapy. In such situations, gamblers really need the help of their family members to help and guide them on how to abstain from such friends that serves as proponents of the addiction. Therapists are also available for counselling and recommendations on such addictions.



Gambling in ordinary terms is the staking or risking of money or other valuables for something else, that is usually more valuable that what is being used as the collateral, the outcome for such act or bet is not certain. It is an illegal agreement between two or more people to pull their valuables together in an event of winning or losing, based on the agreed criteria, terms and conditions. It could also be regarded as being legal if the terms and conditions are clearly permitted by the law, and it will then be termed as gaming.

Gaming in this context is an agreement that offers a medium for legal gambling activity to the public. There are a number of the types of gambling that are usually considered to be legal in the ordinary sense of it, some of them are casino games, keno, bingo, video poker, pachinko, card games, coin toss, shell game, dice based games amongst others, as the agreements may permit.


However, as much as these games are being played for money, they could also be played for fun. In the case where they are played for money there is a very high probability that they will become addictive due to the fact that it is a win or lose event.

Whenever people are in desperate need of money especially when they are of the opinion of gaining back all that they have lost, there is a high tendency of engaging in gambling, and such an addiction can only be consciously controlled when the person reaches out and explains to someone who can help, or making a conscious and deliberate effort to stop.

Basically gamblers who are desperate for money do not always come close to profit or break-even, they keep losing with the hope of winning in the future.


There are general signs and symptoms of gambling addiction that could serve as a method of identifying gambling addiction, they are listed as follows:

1. When there is a feeling or impression that gambling has to be secretive
2. When gambling is leading to anxiety, depression and also suicidal thoughts
3. Having issues with controlling one’s gambling habit
4. It could lead to other addictions like alcohol, drug, and other substance addictions
5. Sleep deprivation, weight loss, deep thoughts, pale skin etc.


A lot of people that we see and make contact with day after day are being faced with gambling addiction. It could be quite difficult to detect, due to the fact that gamblers usually feel the need to make it secretive and hide their regrets in order to cover their shame.

Gambling is simply the act of wagering and betting. The addiction arises when a person persistently gambles regardless of the negative effect that it may have on their finances, relationship, character, attitude and well-being.

Gambling addiction has to do with a compulsive and obsessive need to bet, wager, or gamble with a little assurance of winning. Sometimes, the end result could be severely disastrous and devastating for the gambler and related persons such as family and friends. Due to the uncertainty, gamblers could keep losing with the hope of winning a jackpot in the future to cover their previous losses, which may not happen eventually.

The secrecy involved in the addiction makes it very difficult for the addict to recover, and it also induces other addictions such as drug, alcohol amongst others, if not duly controlled and corrected. These are the only preliminary effects of gambling addiction, as there are a lot of consequences still involved.


1. Gambling is a channel for making money for those who win, and for those who rarely win, it could affect their finances adversely, leading to bankruptcy in the long run if not checked
2. When gambling hits the brim, it can result to increased drug and alcohol abuse, which is very detrimental to a society.
3. Gambling is also capable of increasing the rate of theft, fraud and forgery cases in the society due to the compelling need for money.
4. For those who cannot steal, they will have to resort to selling off their properties and belongings to suit their unquenchable desire.


1. Financial crisis and bankruptcy is quite unavoidable. Gamblers will go to any length to make sure they have money to gamble even while they are losing.
2. Job loss is very common among gambling addicts. Addicts will most likely miss work in order to gamble and can also become distracted at work because of their stakes.
3. It also strains the relationship between family and friends
4. It also causes mental and physical health issues


In recent times, gambling has become a way of life for a lot of people all across the world now. Many teenagers and adults now rely on gambling to provide their daily bread, and to also suffice for their daily upkeep. Some literatures, journals, books and articles, refer to gambling as a way through which people desire to get rich quickly, which is not healthy for the people and also the society.

In simple terms, gambling is the staking or wagering of money or other things that are of value, in a bid to get more money or material substance.

It is usually referred to as gaming when it has a legal permit (i.e. when it is permitted by law), but asides that, it is an illegal activity that people are to abstain from to avoid being addicted. It is not a contractual agreement because it is based on risk and uncertainty, but it is binding on the parties that are involved. It is a mere agreement to win or lose money or other valuables based on the terms and conditions.


The ability of gambling to enrich people and give them a better life when they eventually win, makes people get addicted. Gambling addiction occurs when a person has an obsessive urge to always bet even when he or she is not financially buoyant. People often get addicted to gambling when they are in desperate need of money.

When people are desperately in need of money and they venture into gambling, they keep investing into it with the impression that they are building a life savings and soon in the future, they will regain all that they have invested in a huge way. Most gamblers do not eventually attain their hopes of making profit or breaking-even and mostly end up being poor and wretched. However, very little persons get to make it big.


It is quite difficult to admit that one is addicted to gambling, but here are some pointers and indicators of gambling addiction:

1. Sudden pressure or compelling force to gamble for the sake of making money
2. Persistent gambling even when you cannot financially afford it
3. When gambling is making one depressed, anxious and even have suicidal thoughts
4. Gradual upgrade to other addictions like drug and alcohol addiction
5. Impression of keeping gambling a secret from friends and family