Problem gambling is usually being referred to as “gambling addiction” or “compulsive gambling” is an urge to gamble continuously despite the harmful negative consequences or the 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 that relationship between problem gambling and obsessive-compulsive disorder, largely because the behaviors in problem gambling and most primary substance use disorders (i.e., those not resulting from a desire to “self-medicate” for another condition such as depression) seek to activate the brain’s reward mechanisms while the behaviors characterizing obsessive-compulsive disorder are prompted by overactive and misplaced signals from the brain’s fear mechanisms.