What is Addicted Compulsive Gambling & Is There A Cure?


What is compulsive addicted gambling? Is there any cure for this devastating disease? Yes, I said DISEASE. And NO, there is no cure or miracle pill to get better. But it can only be arrested in recovery…



There are so many opinions, facts and myths about gambling addiction, so I thought I would share a little of how it is represented on the web.  And tell you my personal experiences and more expert information about it from wonderful people who work in the field to help those suffering and their families.  We can learn to recover and live a well-balanced life from gambling addiction.  Let’s me first see what the dictionary definition of a problem and addicted gambling is.

Problem and Addicted Gambling ~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Problem gambling (or ludomania, but usually referred to as gambling addiction) is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling is often defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria. Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs.

The DSM-5 has re-classified the condition as an addictive disorder, with sufferers exhibiting many similarities to those who have substance addictions. The term “gambling addiction” has long been used in the recovery movement. Pathological gambling was long considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be an impulse control disorder rather than an addiction. However, data suggest a closer relationship between pathological gambling and substance use disorders than exists between PG and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Research by governments in Australia led to a universal definition for that country which appears to be the only research-based definition not to use diagnostic criteria: “Problem gambling is characterized by many difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others, or for the community. “The University of Maryland Medical Center defines pathological gambling as “being unable to resist impulses to gamble, which can lead to severe personal or social consequences”.

Most other definitions of problem gambling can usually be simplified to any gambling that causes harm to the gambler or someone else in any way; however, these definitions are usually coupled with descriptions of the type of harm or the use of diagnostic criteria. The DSM-V has since reclassified Pathological Gambling as Gambling Disorder and has listed the disorder under Substance-related and Addictive Disorders rather than Impulse-Control Disorders. This is due to the symptomatology of the disorder resembling an addiction not dissimilar to that of substance abuse. In order to be diagnosed, an individual must have at least four of the following symptoms in a 12-month period.

  1. Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
  2. Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
  3. Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
  4. Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
  5. Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
  6. After losing money from gambling often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses).
  7. Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
  8. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
  9. Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

And there is way much more of the wiki definition so you may want to go read the whole page. So now how do you know you if you are a problem or addicted gambler? Let us look at this list below to see if YOU or SOMEONE you know or love may be a problem or addicted gambler. . .

You may have a gambling problem or in the process of getting addicted if you have one or more symptoms below:

1. Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling activity ———— You start to lie or want to keep a secret on how much you gamble because you feel other people will not understand it or you want to surprise them with a big win.

2. Fail to control your greedy and emotion when gambling —————— Once you started gambling, you will compel to gamble until you have spent your last dollar, keep doubling your bet amount just to win lost money back.

3. You believe you can earn a luxury living easily from gambling ———- Although there are people living with money won from a casino, most players lose money at a casino in the long run. If you start to have a thinking of earning your living at the casino, you are at risk of getting addicted to gambling.

4. Gamble, even though you don’t have the money ———————- Gambling is a form of entertainment for people who have money that they can afford to lose. Players who gamble with money they can’t afford to lose will get addicted to gambling easily because they want to win the lost money back by playing in wild and greedy mode.

5. Family and friends are worried about you ————- If you find that friends and family are worried about your gambling behavior, take a hard look at how gambling is affecting your life. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help if you really need one. Remember, the earlier you face the gambling problem, the easy you make the changes for the better!

Here is what specialists say in the field of treating addicted compulsive gambling:

“Compulsive gambling is a progressive disorder causing disruptions in every area of a person’s life – psychological, physical, social, and vocational.”


In order to understand compulsive gambling, it is first important to recognize that gambling is anytime a person places something of value (money, possessions, pride or prestige) at risk on an uncertain outcome. Compulsive gambling is when a person continues to participate in betting activities despite adverse consequences.

  • Compulsive gambling is referred to as the “hidden illness” because there are no physical or visual symptoms. There is no “telltale” smell on the breath, no stumbling when walking, or slurring of speech.
  • The effects of compulsive gambling can be as devastating or worse as alcohol and drug addiction and can result in both financial and personal destruction. Unlike alcohol and drugs, this disorder has no saturation point, and persons can continue the behavior as long as the money or credit lasts. No pills, liquid, needles, or substance required!


The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines pathological (commonly referred to as compulsive) gambling as a mental health disorder of impulse control. The APA outlines the following 10 criteria, which serve as the basis for diagnoses:

1. Thinks constantly about gambling  2. Increases bets to sustain thrill   3. Exhibits agitation when cutting back   4.Gambles as an escape   5. Chases losses   6. Lies to conceal activity   7. Financial bets through illegal acts    8. Jeopardizes significant relationships    9. Relies on financial bailouts   10. Fails in the effort to control or stop.

Compulsive gambling is a progressive disorder.  One to two signs classify a person as “at-risk,” three to four as a “problem gambler,” and five or more meet the diagnosis of “pathological” or “compulsive”.

The Effects:

“The impacts of a gambling problem affect individuals, families, and communities, with costs extending from creditors to the criminal justice system.”


Most people who gamble can do so safely and without difficulty.  However, gambling is not a risk-free activity.  When gambling in excess, the onset of an addiction can result in serious to severe short and long-term difficulties.  In addition to affecting an individual’s home life, financial status, career, education, social relationships, physical and emotional health, gambling problems also impact upon those closest to the gambler.

Moreover, businesses, local communities, the criminal justice system, social service organizations, and society as a whole are also significantly affected by the problem and compulsive gambling.  Divorce, employee loss of productivity, bankruptcy, and crime are only a few of the many consequences that can occur.

While gambling may begin as a social activity, for many, it can be a mental health illness that progresses to at-risk, problem and pathological levels, each associated with varying degrees of difficulty. However, the positive news is that compulsive gambling is treatable for those who seek it.

For those who seek Help?

That is the 1st Step to Freedom! Many people who become addicted to gambling have a whole host of OPTIONS as to how they want to recover. The is Gamblers anonymous, who believe in a Unity & Fellowship way of recovery Life. Here’s a bit about what they do …


Locate a meeting near you Talk to someone now: 1-888-GA-HELPS

About Us

GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. There are no dues or fees for Gamblers Anonymous membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. Gamblers Anonymous is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause. Our primary purpose is to stop gambling and to help other compulsive gamblers do the same.

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real problem gamblers. No one likes to think they are different from their fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our gambling careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could gamble like other people. The idea that somehow, someday, we will control our gambling is the great obsession of every compulsive gambler. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of prison, insanity or death.

We learned we had to concede fully to our innermost selves that we are compulsive gamblers. This is the first step in our recovery. With reference to gambling, the delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. We have lost the ability to control our gambling. We know that no real compulsive gambler ever regains control.

All of us felt at times we were regaining control, but such intervals – usually brief were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced that gamblers of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period of time, we get worse, never better.

Therefore, in order to lead normal happy lives, we try to practice to the best of our ability, certain principles in our daily affairs.

Women are the higher percentage of addicted gamblers. . .

A Personal Story of Women:

I have learned a great deal about myself since beginning my own journey of recovery from compulsive gambling in 1996. Bolstered by a self-help group and counseling, I’ve also been blessed with a life far beyond any I could have imagined!

Learning about me, however, didn’t truly involve learning about the disease of compulsive gambling – what makes certain individuals more susceptible, how the brain of a compulsive gambler is “wired differently,” or how prevalent the disease itself is… until January 2010, when I felt the impact of compulsive gambling through the lives of others and realized my own life’s purpose:  To be of service to the gambler who still suffers and to impact social change.

In June 2008, my beloved sister Lanie died as a result of an accidental overdose of anti-depressants due to her struggle with compulsive gambling. Her family, including me, though she was in recovery – she was not. She was doing what we gamblers do – hiding, keeping secrets and stuffing her feelings into slot machines until she could no longer face the pain and shame.

My sister was in a coma for five days before she died. After her doctors learned of her gambling disorder they literally asked me if she had “Won!” After my initial anger at their insensitivity, I realized they had NO idea of what compulsive or pathological gambling is – a disease that can destroy lives – and once the line to compulsive gambling is crossed, there is no going back…no choice…and certainly no “Win.”  I vowed to address the American Medical Association, and anyone else willing to listen, to educate them about the true nature of compulsive gambling…well someday I would, once I retired from the business world.

January 2010 found me once again confronted with the fallout of a pathological gambler in action. As a member of a professional board, I discovered, along with the other members, that the organization was bankrupt. A board member with access to the organization’s funds had embezzled the entire treasury due to gambling addiction.  At that moment I knew I could no longer stay silent – someday had come.  Telling my peers that I, too, am a compulsive gambler, I explained that I am in recovery and offered to help them better understand this insidious disease.

Scientists, researchers, and mental health experts recognize pathological gambling as a diagnosable and treatable disorder, yet compulsive gambling is generally seen by society as a lack of character, or moral weakness, versus the disease that it is.  My sister’s attending physicians surely meant no harm.  I’ve since come to understand that the cavalier question, “Did she Win?” was a reflex response from a doctor who was probably tired from late night rounds, and more than likely, had little or no training in how to recognize or help patients or family members impacted by compulsive gambling.

I’ve also realized that compulsive gambling is too often a ‘faceless’ issue in our society and thus our mission begins. Empathy, understanding, and hope for recovery are lost when those of us who have been afflicted or affected by compulsive gambling remain silent.

Through Lanie’s Hope, we can use our stories and our voice to humanize and destigmatize the disease of compulsive gambling while illuminating society’s need to more effectively recognize and treat this disorder.

Love, light, and blessings,
Bea Aikens, Grateful recovering compulsive gambler . . .


This is the biggest reason why I wrote my book, was to share my personal HELL with addicted gambling like Bea’s sister. I had learned that sharing one’s story can be a very powerful tool to keep me in recovery, and hopefully others can learn from my own story as well.

I also wanted help to educate, inform, and raise awareness of just how easy it is to become addicted. In essence, show how hard it is to stop once a person crosses that line into uncontrolled addicted compulsive gambling.

To help show that addicted gambling is a real addiction & disease for many! Currently, many don’t know that gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate than any other addiction. So, while you are here visiting, please see my Recovery Resources Page that has wonderful places to visit for help and HOPE.


I wish you all much happiness and success in your recovery journey and thank you for visiting!

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate.

My Books Are Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million!

‘Addicted To Dimes” Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat – Now $2.99

“Ten The Hard Way” ~ Voices of Recovery.

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)        Ten the Hard Way: True Stories of Addiction and Recovery (Ten the Hard Way; True

Gambling Recovery Expert Cat Lyon


5 thoughts on “What is Addicted Compulsive Gambling & Is There A Cure?

  1. Pingback: Reblog “Gambling Recovery” | writerchristophfischer

    • Hello Christopher,
      I appreciate the share, and your right, gambling addiction is never “funny” as it devastated my life. I too hope your friend gets help. It is a big reason why I wrote this post.

      So others can come anonymously and get the info to at least know if they do have a gambling problem. With now 1% of our entire population now Problem Gamblers? We need to share where they CAN get help . . . “-) Thanks for sharing The Message



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