‘Problem’ and ‘Pathological’ gambling are the two most common terms described as harmful gambling. Problem gambling is defined as “difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler.” The term ‘pathological gambling ‘refers to the psychiatric or medical definition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), and implies the existence of a diagnosable disorder that is usually defined in terms of a combination of elements considered central to impulse control disorders and traditional addictions, including tolerance, withdrawal, craving, and impaired control, as well as significant disruptions to normal everyday functioning.

Gambling can give rise to different types and levels of harm. These can be personal, social, vocational, financial and legal. The most obvious harm is financial, and this is clearly related to many of the other harms. In terms of psychological harm, it has been found that 40-60% of problem gamblers in treatment samples experience clinical depression.

Motivation to Gamble

There are many reasons why people gamble. Two of the major reasons are the desire for positively reinforcing subjective excitement and arousal; and the desire for the negatively reinforcing relief or escape from stress or negative emotional states. Gambling represents an opportunity to win money, and subject to the potential size of the prize, to change one’s lifestyle. Gambling is also a means of overcoming boredom.

Many individuals use gambling as a maladaptive coping strategy to deal with problems and emotional distress. Gamblers often report that gambling represents distraction from worry, demands and responsibilities, and confronting problems.

Acknowledging the problem is the first step. Growth Psychology Consulting Liverpool provides psychological treatment based on the Cognitive Behavioural Framework. If you feel that your gambling habits are causing a negative impact on you and/or your family, contact Growth Psychology Consulting Liverpool and let us assist you.