Compulsive Gambling Now Labeled Behavioral Addiction by Psychiatrists

Beginning in May, psychiatrists will begin labeling compulsive gambling as a behavioral  addiction when the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) comes out. The DSM is the psychiatry reference most used by doctors, insurance companies and courts.

This is not simply semantics. “It’s a meaningful move,” Dr. Marc N. Potenza, pathological gambling expert, told this month. “I’m hopeful that more people will recognize the importance of identifying people with gambling problems,” he explained.

Psychiatrists now know that compulsive or pathological gambling is very much like a drug addiction-with gambling replacing the drug.

Former San Diego mayor Maureen O’Connor knows that all too well. “Electronic heroin” is the term O’Connor dubbed video poker games and casino gambling machines in an interview with CBS News’ Bill Whitaker. “You know, the more you did, the more you needed and the more it wasn’t satisfied.”

Once a high society matron in California, O’Connor inherited the Jack-in-the-Box fast food chain fortune from her late husband, Robert Peterson. After she retired as major, she began playing video poker machines and gambling in Las Vegas and California.

It is estimated O’Connor had won and lost $1 billion on her descent into bankruptcy. Things got even worse when it was discovered she had taken more than $2 million dollars from a charitable foundation to keep gambling. She has made a deal with prosecutors to get treatment for her addiction and to repay the stolen funds.

Like drug addicts who will do anything to score their next hit, gambling addicts experience the same desperation to keep gambling.

If you find your gambling impulses out of control, it is important to get help from a person with substance use disorderion professional or treatment center that recognizes gambling addiction as a behavioral issue and can provide adequate treatment.

When you recognize harmful patterns and seek treatment, you can increase your chances of leading a healthier life. Cliffside Malibu is here to support you in your search for an alcohol-free life. We believe you deserve to have a private, comfortable and luxurious environment as you navigate your journey to a sober life. Our center allows you to explore your mental health needs, creates a treatment plan that is unique to you and allows you to discover beneficial coping skills. To learn more about alcohol treatment at Cliffside Malibu, call (855) 403-5641.