According to a recent article published by The Fix online magazine, problem gambling may be more difficult to treat for those who also have a personality disorder.
A personality disorder is considered to be a mental illness in which there are long-lasting unhealthy behaviors, thought patterns, and inner experiences, which seem to hold true across many areas of a person’s life and are not usually well accepted in the culture.
These patterns tend to develop early and are typically unchanging or inflexible, bringing about significant distress in life.
The Fix article described a study done by Meredith Brown of Monash University in Australia, which explored the relationships between gambling addiction and personality disorders.
Her research found that those who are addicted to gambling also tend to exhibit traits of antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders.
Of these personality disorders, her research found that borderline personality disorder (BPD) seemed to contribute the most to gambling addiction.
BPD is the most common type of personality disorder. It’s characterized by unstable relationships, erratic emotions, self-harm, impulsivity, unpredictable aggressive behavior, excessive sexual behavior, a strong fear of being alone, and easily triggered into anger. However, it is the impulsivity that plays a large role for chronic gamblers.
The other three personality disorders described in the study and that may contribute to gambling addiction include:
Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)
– Someone displaying traits of this personality disorder might be overly dramatic, attention-seeking, easily angered, seductive, extremely dependent on others, vain, shallow, manipulative, and displaying intense but false emotions.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
– Someone with NPD might be grandiose in his or her thinking, crave the admiration and attention of others, extremely self-centered, in some way feel privileged and special, expecting favors from others, and possessing erratic emotions.
Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD)
Those with APD tend to display aggression to people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, lying, or stealing, and serious violations of rules. They tend to lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. They may have an inflated, arrogant, and excessively opinionated. they tend to be glib and superficial but possess a charismatic charm. Approximately, 3% of the population, or about 8,100,000 individuals in the United States have Antisocial Personality Disorder. Interestingly, those with APD frequently tend to experience addiction. This disorder is sometimes also referred to as psychopathy or sociopathy in popular culture.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week, and approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling.
This translates to around 6 million adults. The financial rewards of gambling can lead to a gradual loss of control over gambling behavior. When people lose their ability to limit their playing and spending habits, an addiction might be setting in.
Meredith Brown, the primary researcher of the study, reported that problem gambling and high levels of psychopathology often go together. And because of this, clinicians can use this information to assess and treat those who experience gambling addiction.
Brown acknowledged that clinicians might ask gamblers who engage in treatment to undergo an assessment of personality disorder.
Although those who suffer from personality disorders and who also have a gambling addiction might make addiction treatment more difficult, at least treatment providers will know ahead of time.
Typically, treatment for gambling includes psychotherapy, support groups, and possibly group therapy. Fortunately, medication is not necessary as with drug and alcohol addiction where there may be physical withdrawal symptoms when the addiction comes to an end.
Certainly, addiction is treatable with the right treatment measures, and this includes an addiction to gambling. However, with the presence of a personality disorder, treatment can become more complex.
This is particularly true because a personality disorder is an illness in which there are long-lasting unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns.
As mentioned earlier, these patterns tend to be unchanging and inflexible, making treatment difficult. Yet, with the recent research, its findings may be used to improve treatment and assessment of gambling addiction.
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