Gambling disorder

What is it?

Gambling disorder is a type of behavioural addiction that affects 0.5% of the population in the United States. Someone with a gambling disorder will show a consistent obsession with the act of gambling that is usually paired with distress or some type of impairment. To be classed as a disorder, an individual needs to show four or more symptoms that are related to it. These include being preoccupied with gambling whether this is physically or mentally, turning to gambling in times of distress, always trying to get even when they have lost money, and relying on others to make up finances that they lose through gambling (Potenza et al., 2019).


There are many issues that come with any addiction, and those that go hand in hand with a gambling disorder are mainly focused on the loss of money. However, those who have a gambling addiction can also experience problems with their relationships, problems with their job as their performance at work decreases, suicidal thoughts, legal issues, and even bankruptcy (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016). Luckily, there is treatment available for those who have an addiction to gambling that can help them to avoid all of these problems.


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been proven as a successful method of treating a gambling disorder. In a study done on participants with the addiction, 28 out of 35 patients reported abstinence after receiving CBT, and 27 even after a 6-month period (Grant et al., 2009). For those who don’t necessarily have access to professional treatment, internet interventions and peer support work have also been affecting in helping those with the addiction (Rash & Petry, 2014). Despite the fact that medication has not been significant in decreasing the addiction, some opioid-receptor antagonists have been proven to provide some help in recovery from the disorder (Potenza et al., 2019).

Potenza, M. N., Balodis, I. M., Derevensky, J., Grant, J. E., Petry, N. M., Verdejo-Garcia, A., & Yip, S. W. (2019). Gambling disorder. Nature reviews Disease primers5(1), 1-21

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Compulsive gambling - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 15 January 2022, from

Grant, J. E., Donahue, C. B., Odlaug, B. L., Kim, S. W., Miller, M. J., & Petry, N. M. (2009). Imaginal desensitisation plus motivational interviewing for pathological gambling: randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry195(3), 266-267

Rash, C., & Petry, N. (2014). Psychological treatments for gambling disorder. Psychology Research And Behavior Management, 285.

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