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Pathological gambling: causes and symptoms of gambling addiction

Pathological gambling: causes and symptoms of gambling addiction

July 14, 2024

The pathological It is one of the most common addictions in the western world. But what exactly do we know about pathological gambling? Are we prepared for this growing form of psychological disorder?

Gambling or addiction to gambling: a form of addiction without drugs

Neither the game, nor its associated problems, are something new in our society. The game for pleasure, leisure or community goals are present from our most primitive essays. As old as the game is the pathological game ; the latter is understood as the loss of control over games of chance in which bets are made, such as slot machines, bingos, casinos or coupons, sports betting and private-type games.


Fernandez-Montalvo and López-Goñi (2012) describe the pathological player as an emotional dependent of the game, with loss of control and its corresponding negative impact on their daily lives. This dependence may be generated by the false expectation of winning to recover the lost; cognitive distortion or wrong thinking that keeps the spiral of the game . The lies and the concealment of the game is another great observable characteristic in this disorder.

Being the game a normalized social behavior, in the pathological player or gambling it increases both in frequency of episodes (newspapers normally) and fortune bet (mainly economic); involved in gambling, destroying his family and work life . Indeed, the word gadopathy comes from the Latin ludus, 'game', and from the Greek patheia, 'suffering' or 'affection'; that is to say "pathological game" (Capetillo-Ventura, Jalil-Pérez, 2014).


Pathological gambling is a relatively common disorder, since it is estimated approximately that 5% of adults they will experience problems with the game (A.P.A, 1980). Epidemiological data indicate that four out of five adults (78.4%) have gambled at least once in their lives. 27.1% have bet more than 100 times; and 10.1% more than 1000 (Kesseler et al., 2008). The pathological game has been studied mainly in men, since approximately two thirds of people with this disorder are men (A.P.A., 2002). However, until 1980, pathological gambling as a mental disorder was not recognized by the American Psychiatric Society (A.P.A.), in the DSM-III (Potenza, 2008, Albiach, 2006, Fernandez-Montalvo and López-Goñi, 2012). So it is a relatively new disorder in the field of research compared to substance use disorders (Carragher and McWilliams, 2010). In addition to its recognition, it may be one of the most studied disorders in recent decades (Fernandez-Montalvo and López-Goñi, 2012).


Slot machine: the game that has ruined the most lives

The slot machines , is par excellence the most played gambling in Spain. This is due, according to Fernández-Montalvo and Echeburúa (1997) to:

  1. The Widespread of slot machines.
  2. The possibility of bet little money Y win a lot in proportion to what was wagered.
  3. The short interval between the bet and the result.
  4. Manipulate the machine personally generating a false sense of control .
  5. The striking elements of noise and lights that generate psychophysiological alteration .

The course of pathological gambling tends to chronify and , so it is difficult to refer, that is, the person stops playing, if not with psychological intervention (Fernández-Montalvo and López-Goñi, 2012). As in other addiction disorders without substance (food, internet, work), the person has the false belief to control their problem, and be able to leave without help.

Gambling: a look into the future

It is possible that the growing interest in this problem is due to an increase in gamblers; the seriousness of the problems derived from pathological gambling; and its expansion to new technologies through the internet thus generating a greater accessibility . Regarding this last point, highlight the multiple on-line games that arise every day, both via PC (for example: through the famous flashy mini-games of Facebook) and via video game console (new games and yet incomplete with dlc or downloadable content ). We still do not know to what extent the player's investments will increase by obtaining the 'dlc or improvements' in these types of games, but we do expect that the gaming industries invest time in generating in their clients the need to pay to obtain those' improvements'.

Nor should we forget the games called 'aza games r 'That are also available via online.The novelty here is that these games are available to minors, unlike years ago, where there was no such game-payment modality and during the game more payments (previously you paid your entire game only once). Could it be a new cause precedent to pathological gambling in the coming years? Young people who normalize the payment to play . Can the technology of slot machines improve dramatically and people continue to be addicted to gambling? And, can people end up seeing 'normal' that other people gamble or invest in their games a bulk of their economy, as has been happening with the excessive use of mobile phones?

As we see, it is not just a matter of money, but of time spent on it. It is a matter of stopping performing your daily tasks, stop attending to your partner, friends, work or other fundamental aspects to prioritize the game in your life.

The Department of Health indicates that 95% of adolescents older than 15 years of the Valencian Community has mobile with Internet, thus favoring the addictive behavior associated with gambling addiction. Tomás (2014) states in this regard: "there is a fact that we would like to denounce from the Valencian Institute of Ludopatía - the first specialized in the subject in Spain-. We think it is very serious that you let minors bet in bars where there are betting machines. We know that the situation occurs and can not be allowed ». With more and more adolescents coming to treatment for problems with gambling (Fernández-Montalvo and López-Goñi, 2012), this is a sufficient reason to encourage good use and control of new technologies as an effective intervention.

Testimony of a gambler

In a report made by EiTB, the valuable testimony of José Manuel, a Spaniard who suffered addiction to the game and who explains how he lived gambling in his own flesh and how he managed to disengage. Here we leave the video.


NIH, on the Inside: Gambling Addiction (July 2024).


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