Gambling Addiction

“Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational.” – National Council on Problem Gambling

Other names: compulsive gambling, pathological gambling 

DSM-IV Symptoms of Problem Gambling

May apply to three or more of the following categories:

  • Tolerance

  • Withdrawal

  • Larger amounts – After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even-chasing

  • Impaired control – neglect of relationships, career, preoccupation of gambling

  • Time spent

  • Continued use despite problems

Diagnostic Criteria

Must apply to five or more of the following:

  • Gambling preoccupation

  • Increasing amount of money gambled

  • Lack of success in halting gambling habits

  • Uses gambling as an escape

  • Lies to family members or significant other

  • At risk of losing career or education

  • Lost relationships of close friends/family to gambling

  • Bailout – Needs financial assistance from others

Consequences of Problem Gambling

  • Financial Debt

  • Increase in the likelihood of engaging in criminal activity

  • Possible suicide

  • About 0.5% of the US population have experienced pathological gambling

  • 0.9-2.3% experienced subclinical pathological gambling


  • Step-based programs

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • Antidepressants – SSRIs

  • Group Therapy