To people who don’t gamble, or more so to normal gamblers, the thought
that they will progress to compulsive gamblers is ridiculous. The start
of compulsive gambling may be incited by situations or circumstance. But
the conditions are real.
What’s the similarity between pathological gambling and chemical
The first distinct similarity is the inability to take control or stop
the addiction. The denials to the addiction accompanied by severe
depression are also similarities. Both diseases are progressive in nature
and goes through similar stages.
The first stage being the “chase”, looking for that high or win. The use
of the addiction to numb the pain brought about by problems. The
pathological gambler and a drug or alcohol dependent person are
preoccupied with nothing else except their addiction. They look for
immediate gratification and have very low self-esteem.
Pathological gambling not like chemical addiction is a disease not easily
noticeable. There are a lot of indicators that would identify a
chemically dependent person. But a gambler can exist normally for long
periods of time. The large debt that a gambler can incur requires
Pathological gamblers require crisis counseling at the start of their
treatment, mainly because pathological gamblers have a higher suicide
rate than persons addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Is the level of addiction for all types of gambling the same?
Forms of gambling that give immediate gratification are the worst kind.
The slot machine and video are prime examples of these. The use of the
instant gratification and effective reinforcement, gamblers that play
these machines often progress into pathological gamblers more often than
gamblers that play other games.
The time it takes to go from the first bet to a chronic addiction is
shortest for this form of gambling. Before it would take many years
before a person would be considered “sick” gambling in races, etc.
Nowadays, it is fairly common for a person to be addicted to a slot
machine or video poker with two to three years.
Is pathological gambling biological in nature?
Recent findings would indicate that pathological gambling is a dependency
quite similar to a chemical dependency. A study by a psychiatrist Alec
Roy, M.D. formerly of the NIAAA showed that compulsive gamblers have low
levels of norepinephrine compared to normal gamblers.
The chemical is secreted from the brain when stressed, aroused or
excited. A pathological gambler engages in his addiction to raise the
levels of norepinephrine.
The findings reinforce the assertion of Dr. Henry Lesieur that
pathological gamblers are “thrill seekers” who gamble for the excitement
brought about by the game and not the pursuit of money.