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Gambling Addiction Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 4th, 2019


Gambling is one of the most serious disorders that affect the gambler as well as his/her family and friends. Gambling is not a new problem as it dates back to 5000 B.C. and it is even mentioned in the Bible (Koié et al., 2009). It was regarded as a sin a hundred years ago, but now it is seen as a disorder which can and should be researched.

At present there are several approaches used to research the disorder. Each approach suggests specific facets to look at. Each approach also has specific advantages and downsides. It is possible to analyze three major models used to research the disorder: disease model, psychoanalytical model and biopsychosociospiritual model. A 12-step model should also be analyzed as it suggests a particular pattern to treat the disease.

The Disease Model

The disease model focuses on biological factors (like genetic peculiarities) and influence of environment. Thus, genetic studies report that pathological gamblers often “possess the dopamine D2A1 allele receptor gene” which allowed researchers to hypothesize that

a lack of D2 receptors cause individuals to seek pleasure-generating activities, placing them at high risk for multiple addictive, impulsive and compulsive behaviours. (Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002, p. 490)

Apart from this, twin research also confirms that there are specific genetic preconditions which can lead to the development of the disorder. Thus, numerous studies report that if a twin is reported to have the disorder, the other twin is also likely to have the same disorder (Inaba et al., 2011). Thus, it is hypothesized that pathological gambling is “biologically prescribed” though the individual has the choice to seek for other pleasures (Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002, p. 491).

It goes without saying that genetic studies provide valuable insights into the analysis of the disorder. For instance, researchers suggest that some patients can benefit from pharmacological treatment (Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002). However, the disease model is not confined to genetic analysis only.

As has been mentioned above the disease model presupposes analysis of such a factor as environment. Many pathological gamblers were subjected to certain circumstances which contributed greatly to the development of the disorder. Some individuals fall under someone’s influence, whereas some can simply start spending time (and money) just for fun, which eventually turns into a dangerous addiction.

The disease model has enabled researchers to come to the conclusion that there can be several groups of individuals. Thus, some gamblers can be treated pharmacologically, others should receive combined treatment (pharmacological and psychological support), and some may need psychological support only.

Therefore, it is possible to claim that the disease model is quite a comprehensive approach which covers several possible factors which lead to the development of the disorder. This comprehensiveness enables the researchers to find specific ways to develop treatment strategies to help gamblers.

The Psychoanalytic Model

The psychoanalytic model presupposes reliance on psychoanalysis (analysis of childhood experiences, environment, social interactions, possible traumas, etc.). Thus, psychological factors become the major focus of the study. Researchers relying on this approach resort to verbal interventions and verbal communication to treat the disorder (Inaba et al., 2011). Koié et al. (2009) analyze several particular cases that can illustrate peculiarities of the model.

For instance, Koié et al. (2009) comment upon the case of a 46-year-old male who addressed psychotherapist. The man underwent neurolinguistic treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Notably, his wife was present at many sessions and she was also trained in communication.

The psychotherapist managed to reveal the major reasons of the development of the disorder. The man also reported that he had started gambling as he had seen gambling as a way to earn extra money for his family. The outcome of the therapy was positive and the man ceased to gamble. However, he recidivated and this led to his alienation. His wife divorced him to secure her and her children’s financial position.

Koié et al. (2009) suggest that psychoanalysis can be a very effective way to help gamblers. The researchers claim that the major goal of the psychoanalytic approach “is not only to stop gambling”, but also to help the gambler to “be accepted and socially rehabilitated” (Koié et al., 2009, p. 969).

Thus, it is possible to note that the psychoanalytic model presupposes a lot of attention to psychological factors. One of the major advantages of the model is that gamblers receive thorough psychological treatment which does not simply address the problem itself, but helps people to recover their social life.

However, the model is rather limited as psychiatrists do not take into account biological factors which often play significant role in the development of the disorder. Thus, the model addresses psychological and social factors of the problem but ignores biological factors. This makes the model rather incomplete. As the case provided suggests, psychoanalytical treatment alone is not enough in many settings as some gamblers start gambling over and over again.

The 12-Step Model

The 12-step model can be regarded as similar to the psychoanalytical model. Though this model can also lead to recidivism, the model can be very effective. For instance, Ferentzy et al. (2009) state that the model can be effectively used to treat pathological gamblers. The researchers depict the pattern which is based on the treatment used to help substance addicts.

Thus, the model presupposes the following: admitting that there is a problem, recognizing that there is certain power which can help to get rid of the addiction, analyzing factors which led to the addiction, analyzing possible ways to start a new life, helping other addicts to overcome the addiction.

These steps have proved to be effective in many cases. It is possible to note that such kind of therapy is very effective as it presupposes sharing experience. Gamblers feel support on the part of people who managed to recover. Thus, many gamblers also manage to find ways to replace their addiction.

It is also necessary to point out that the 12-step model is more effective than the psychoanalytic model as the former is confined to a limited communication with a psychiatrist. Gamblers often keep ties and communicate with others who help them to their addiction. This integration into a specific social network makes the 12-step model so beneficial for patients.

The Biopsychosociospiritual Model

The biopsychosociospiritual model can be regarded as the most comprehensive approach as it presupposes analysis of all possible factors which contribute to the development of the disorder. Thus, researchers take into account biological and psychological factors, they also analyze such factor as environment. Many researchers have acknowledge benefits of the model which

accommodates and supports non-linear systems theories which place individuals and behaviours within contexts of biological, family and socio-cultural systems, and which view individuals as active participants in on-going system maintenance and change dynamics. (“Addictions Foundation of Manitoba,” 2000, p. 5)

It is important to note that patients often receive ‘combined’ treatment. Thus, patients can receive pharmacological treatment combined with neurolinguistic interventions and verbal communication which address problems associated with childhood experiences, social life of patients, etc. Admittedly, this model can be regarded as the most effective as it addresses all possible causes of the addiction.

The model enables researchers to use the latest advances in many fields. Thus, researchers are exposed to a vast amount of knowledge which can help to come up with effective strategies to treat the addiction and enable patients to be rehabilitated in their social life.


It is possible to conclude that the biopsychosociospiritual is the most appropriate model to address such disorder as pathological gambling. This approach presupposes a comprehensive therapy which addresses all possible causes of the disorder. Patients may receive combined treatment. The therapy is not confined to pharmacological and verbal interventions (like in disease model), or to verbal interventions like in (psychoanalytical model). It includes traits of the two models.

The model is based on various studies in the field of genetics and psychoanalysis. It is also important to note that this model can be also combined with the 12-step model which has proved to be effective as it enables patients to regain their social life. These two approaches contain various effective strategies which can be used in various settings. However, further research is still needed as even these effective models do not guarantee that the patient can refrain from gambling forever (or even for a long period of time).

Reference List

: A biopsychosocial model of addiction. (2000). Web.

Blaszczynski, A., & Nower, L. (2002). A pathways model of problem and pathological gambling. Addiction, 97, 487-499.

Ferentzy, P., Skinner, W., Antze, P. (2009). Gamblers Anonymous and the 12 steps: How an informal society has altered a recovery process in accordance with the special needs of problem gamblers. Journal of Gambling Issues, 23, 42-65.

Inaba, D.S., Cohen, W.E., Radics, E., Cholewa, E.K. (2011). Uppers, downers, all arounders: Physical and mental effects of psychoactive drugs. Medford, OR: Cns Productions.

Koié, E., Filaković, P., Djordjevic, V., Nadj, S. (2009). “Alea iacta est” (A case series report of problem and pathological gambling). Coll. Antropol., 33, 961-971.

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