Compulsive gambling is a term frequently used to describe someone who
has a gambling problem. The actual severity
of the gambling problem is not sited with this catch all term. The
term compulsive describes an act that someone must
do or they experience real anxiety and frustrations. I am sure we are
all aware of compulsive hand washers and the like.
Well compulsive gamblers have a compulsion to place bets and don"t
feel good unless they do this. So does a person who
is a compulsive gambler a gambling addict? The answer is probably more
yes than no.If an individual is truly engages in compulsive
gambling by the true sense of the word, they are also a
problem/pathological gambler as well.
When one examines the other compulsive behaviors in the same arena as
compulsive gambling, they are interesting. The other
compulsive behaviors in this group include; trichtilomania (hair
pulling, kleptomania , and pyromania. These compulsive behaviors
all have similarities and have been grouped together probably as a
convenience for the psychiatric professionals as anything.
In each case, the individual acts out the compulsion pull their hair,
steal, or set a fire. In the case of the compulsive gambler
they act out their compulsion by compulsive gambling. But there are
some differences of opinion as to whether or not compulsive gambling
is a compulsion or an addiction. experience.
Recent studies have shown that during compulsive gambling the brain of
the gambler releases dopamine into the pleasure center
of the brain. This dopamine has been measured by PET scans and the
results demonstrated that the amount of dopamine released
during compulsive gambling is similar to the amount of dopamine
released by crack addicts doing crack! This dopamine acts on
higher centers of the brain and reinforces the crack addict to do
crack or the compulsive gambler to continue the compulsive gambling.
The concept that compulsive gambling is a true addiction is gaining
steam in many professional circles. The data pints to significant
changes in the anatomy of the brain and levels of certain
neurotransmitters as well. The brain form and function will change
time with ongoing compulsive gambling. These changes are permanent and
serve as a reminder that addiction is a disease and
that there is no cure for the disease. Compulsive gambling needs to be
treated and the treatment should be patient specific. Men
and women who engage in compulsive gambling are usually different in
the type of gambling they do. Men usually like the action and
women like the escape. The compulsive gambling, be it a man or women,
requires treatment.This treatment can include behavioral/
cognitive therapy,counseling and or medical intervention. Recovery is
usually a life long process and relapse is common in these patients
Compulsive gambling will only increase is our current society. The bad
economic time and depression are fertile grounds for this
insidious addiction,The sad thing about many people who engage in
compulsive gambling is that they are frequently the people who can
least afford to loose the money. The lower socio economic groups and
the seniors.The problem is upon us and many people who
have a problem with compulsive gambling are not even aware of it!
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