Compulsive gamblers are people who have trouble controlling their impulses.
They are also people who are more likely to take risks in their lives and are more dependent on alcohol and drugs, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Their problem isn’t that they’re gambling, but that they are doing it without knowing how to do so safely.
“Compulsive gamers may not be able to do things the right way or be confident in their decision making, and that’s part of the problem,” says Amy C. O’Malley, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“I think there’s a lot of stigma around compulsive gamethrowing, and it can be very hard for people to get help.
There’s also a lot more stigma surrounding gambling than it is for alcoholism or drug addiction.”
In addition to being at high risk for problems like gambling and substance abuse, compulsive givers also tend to be more likely than non-compulsive gamists to report experiencing anxiety, depression and social isolation.
“There’s a very big difference between having a compulsion to gamble and gambling with anxiety,” says O’Neill.
“It’s the compulsive, and then the anxiety is caused by a problem with the compulsion.
So the compulsiveness is part of it.”
That compulsive tendency to gamble is one reason that researchers are seeing a big increase in cases of compulsive gaming in recent years.
But even though these compulsive gamers are a relatively new phenomenon, they’re not a new problem.
The idea that compulsive people are at higher risk for addiction to alcohol and other drugs, as well as gambling, was first raised by a 2012 article in The New England Journal of Medicine, in which researchers analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
“In that article, researchers found that among people who said they were compulsive and had tried to get hooked on alcohol or drugs, one-third were not only at increased risk of future addiction, but were also more likely overall to have used alcohol or other drugs,” O’Reilly says.
The researchers also found that women were much more likely among those who had tried alcohol or drug use to be at increased odds of future drug and alcohol use, as compared to men.
So while compulsive use is more common among women, it’s still fairly common among men.
It’s a big problem, O’Mara says, and research is trying to figure out how to best treat people with compulsive behavior.
That includes things like cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves teaching people how to change their compulsive behaviors.
The treatment focuses on working with a person’s problem, rather than trying to prevent them from ever doing it in the first place.
Osterman is one of the researchers that focuses on compulsive games, and she says her treatment for compulsive players has focused on making them aware of their problem and helping them manage their urges and emotions.
“Our goal is to be able them recognize the compulsion and the triggers that are causing their compulsion, and to be willing to have an honest discussion with them about how to break them down,” Ostermann says.
In addition, Ostermans team has developed a “compulsive gaming awareness program” for compulsives to try and change their behavior.
Oosterman says her team also offers a therapy called the “compulsive gaming therapy program” that includes a cognitive behavioral approach.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on developing new ways to break down the compressive behaviors and the stress they cause.
The focus is not to get rid of compulsivity, but rather to change how they process their feelings and behaviors.
“What we want to do is create a healthy and balanced state where people can express themselves freely and feel that they have control over their life,” Oostmann says, adding that she hopes to expand her program to more compulsive types as well.
“We want to help them understand that compulsive games are just as dangerous as alcohol and drug use.”
But some experts say that when people have compulsive-type gambling problems, they should still talk to their doctor about other treatments.
“If a compulsivist gambler has a history of compressive gambling, and their behavior has been stable over time, they may not need treatment to break the cycle,” says Dr. David B. Fossella, director of clinical research for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Fissella adds that some compulsive personalities may also be more vulnerable to relapse.
But if they do relapse, they can take medication to reduce their alcohol and/or drug use, which can reduce their chance of re-emerging.
And if they’re already on medication, it can help to keep them on it longer, since it helps them cope with their compulsions.
“That’s what a lot people don’t know about, that compulsion is not just about compulsive aggression