Of the six types of gamblers explained in a previous article, the compulsive-pathological type is definitely the most concerning.
These gamblers are people who have lost any bit of control over their gambling habits, and thus are classified as having a pathological disorder.
To reiterate, the different types of gambler are not static, but are to be considered as phases. A Casual Social Gambler after some time can become a Relief and Escape Gambler, an Antisocial Personality Gambler can become Compulsive-Pathological, and so on.
Nobody starts with an addiction, and nobody should consider themselves completely immune. Although there are some personality traits (like impulsivity or risk seeking behaviours) that can make an individual more incline to addictions. As matter of fact, when gambling becomes an addiction the individual is highly likely to develop also other substance abuse habits, like drug and alcohol abuse. Or sometimes it is the other way around.
The addicted gambler typically experiences altered moods, guilty feelings and remorse about their habits, and often will link their self-worth to losses and wins. As you might have heard from stories of addicted gamblers, at this stage they enter in a spiral of dramatic consequences. As their money vanish, relationship conflits often arise, jobs can be lost, some start making debts they cannot repay, a few turn criminals to fund their habits. Self destructive and suicidal thoughts are not uncommon among these people, when their situations become unbearable.
In spite of all the negative consequences that arise from compulsive gambling, it is very unlikely that the individual will be able to break the cycle of addiction without proper treatment. Think about cigarette smokers – if you are one, how many times have you told yourself to stop? You have probably tried, gone without smoking for days or even weeks, but eventually always went back to your habits.
Self-exclusion – a voluntary act of banning – is an option offered by gambling providers, but it is not enough to cure this pathology. And it can be easily circumvented by addicts. Sure, it is a temporary (useful) barrier to avoid self-destructive behaviour. But it is not the solution for gambling addicts, who are in need of psychological support.