Compulsive Disorder Gambling

Pathological gambling, as the part of obsessive-compulsive disorder, requires the higher doses of antidepressants as it usually required for depressive disorders. In cases where participants do not have or have minimal symptoms of anxiety or depression, antidepressants still have those effect. Compulsive gambling, known formally as pathological gambling, is a psychiatric disorder that involves a persistent fixation with gambling that continues in the face of seriously negative personal or social consequences. Along with a varied range of other conditions that feature impulsive behavior, it’s officially categorized as an “impulse disorder not otherwise specified.” Current. Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that you're willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.

Behavioral Health Services

Referrals: 612-672-2736
Toll-free: 800-233-7503

Compulsive Gambling Program

  • Video and telephone visits available
  • Immediate openings and same-day visits
  • Call 1-800-468-3120 to schedule

Compulsive Gambling is a progressive illness that is diagnosable and treatable. It can be as debilitating as alcoholism and drug addiction.
Often misdiagnosed, compulsive gamblers experience extreme euphoria and depression - depending on whether they are winning or losing. The suicide rate is four times higher in gamblers than non-gamblers.

How do I know if I’m a compulsive gambler?

Ask yourself these questions and then call us for an initial consultation:
  1. Do I ever feel remorse after gambling?
  2. Do I ever gamble to get money for paying debts or to otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  3. After losing, do I feel I must return as soon as possible and win back my losses?
  4. After I win, do I have a strong urge to return and win more?
  5. Do I often gamble until my last dollar is gone?
  6. Am I reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
  7. Do I ever gamble longer than I planned?
  8. Have I ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance my gambling?
  9. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within me an urge to gamble?
  10. Do I ever consider self-destruction as a result of my gambling?

Three phases

The winning phase is characterized by occasional gambling with excitement prior to and during gambling. Gambling becomes more frequent withincreased amounts bet because of unreasonable optimism. An early big win is often the fuel that propels the illness in pursuit of “the action.”

The losing phase happens as gambling continues and the losses mount forcing the gambler to hide his gambling from others. Frequent loans from family, banks, credit cards and employers may be necessary during this phase. The gambler may go through personality changes - being irritable, restless and withdrawn.

In the desperation phase, the gambler becomes obsessed with gambling to cover debts and spends increased time and money on gambling. Increased blaming of problems on others results in desperate attempts to get out from under the weight of the debt. When all attempts fail, the gambler may contemplate or attempt suicide as a way out.


Compulsive disorder gambling definitionWe offer in depth gambling assessments conducted by state certified counselors who specialize in evaluation and treatment of compulsive gambling. The goal of the assessment is to help clients identify the extent of their gambling issues and to recommend appropriate therapeutic options. We also provide Rule 82 Court Ordered assessments.
Assessments can be scheduled at 612-672-2736.

Our program

A separate program, the Fairview Recovery Services Compulsive Gambling Phase 1 program meets days a week for 24 sessions. Participants meet with counselors one-to-one, talk with other gamblers in group therapy, attend lectures and view films. The concurrent Family Program enables family members to receive helpful information, as well as counseling, during the six-week program.
Compulsive Disorder GamblingOur staff members are specially trained to help compulsive gamblers and their families. They include:

Compulsive Gambling Disorder Treatment

  • Primary counselors
  • Family specialists

Phase II

Our Phase II program begins immediately following primary treatment. It helps to ensure the success of stopping the gambling habit. Phase II Groups meet 2 days per week for 20 sessions and are led by a gambling-specific-trained counselor. Patients have the opportunity to continue into a Phase III program based on continued treatment needs.

Gambling while on vacation or buying the occasional lottery ticket poses little to no threat to a person’s overall quality of life. When done on a recreational basis, gambling can be a fun activity. Compulsive gambling, however, takes gambling activities to a whole other level.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, three percent of Americans will experience job loss, broken families, debt and legal problems as result of compulsive gambling behaviors. In effect, the word “compulsive” best depicts the disorder aspect of compulsive gambling.

More oftentimes than not, compulsive behaviors result from some form of obsession that overwhelms a person’s ability to control or manage the behavior. These characteristics most resemble addiction-type behaviors without the drug or alcohol component. Not unlike drug/alcohol addictions, compulsive gambling behaviors trigger physiological changes and behavioral changes, both of which have a noticeable impact on a person’s everyday quality of life.

Process-Based Addictions

Addiction describes a disorder characterized by a loss of control, so compulsive behavior becomes a key component within any form of addiction. Process-based addictions involve activities where a person loses control over his or her ability to walk away from further engagement. Compulsive gambling behaviors fall within the process-based addiction category.

Much like addictions to alcohol and drugs, a person may start out gambling on an infrequent basis as a form of recreation. For people with addiction tendencies, the fun or thrill of engaging in the activity becomes a force all its own, similar to how a drug “high” drives addicts to keep using.

Ultimately, someone with a compulsive gambling (addiction) disorder will exhibit the following characteristics –

  • Spending increasing amounts of time gambling
  • Disregard for negative consequences brought on by gambling behavior
  • An inability to limit or stop gambling behavior
  • Thinking about and anticipating the next time he or she gambles
  • An emotional tie with the activity

Gambling Effects in the Brain

Someone who cannot control their gambling may be said to have a gambling disorder.

Compulsive Disorder Gambling Anxiety

For people addicted to gambling, the act of gambling has become an obsession. Obsessions, in general, trigger certain emotional responses, which play a central role in perpetuating this condition.

Compulsive Disorder Gambling Addiction

Likewise, compulsive gamblers experience a “rush” or “high” that produces chemical changes in the brain, much like a drug or alcohol “high.” According to Scientific American, these chemical changes affect the same neurotransmitter chemicals that regulate emotions, learning, cognitive functions and motivation.

Over time, these chemical changes start to “rewire” how the brain works and eventually alter a person’s motivations, thoughts and behaviors. In effect, the more a person engages in gambling the more out of balance brain chemical processes become.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Gambling

Symptoms of Compulsive Gambling

Like drug and alcohol abuse disorders, a gambling disorder can wreak havoc in most every area of a person’s life. Symptoms of compulsive gambling disorder include –

  • Decline in personal appearance and/or hygiene
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Risk-taking
  • Financial difficulties
  • Changes in appetite
  • Legal problems
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Problems at work

Compulsive Disorder Gambling

Not surprisingly, these same symptoms can result from drug/alcohol addictions. As with any form of addiction, a person’s gambling behaviors will only get worse unless he or she gets needed treatment help.