Box 2-1 Important Gambling Terms Used by the Committee

Compulsive gambling: The original lay term for pathological gambling, it is still used by Gamblers Anonymous and throughout much of the self-help treatment community.

Disordered gambling: Inspired by language in DSM pertaining to Disorders of Impulse Control and used by Shaffer et al. (1997) in their meta-analysis to serve as a conceptual container for the panoply of terms associated with gambling-related problems and pathology. The term is used occasionally in this report to describe the combination of problem and pathological gambling.

Excessive gambling: Reference to an amount of time or money spent gambling that exceeds an arbitrarily defined acceptable level.

Intemperate gambling: Synonymous with excessive gambling.

Level 0 gambling: No gambling at all.

Level 1 gambling: Social and/or recreational gambling (see below) with no appreciable harmful effects.

Level 2 gambling: Synonymous with problem gambling.

bling, or even discontinue gambling.2 In addition, the time involved in shifting from one level to another is commonly believed to be subject to extreme variance, although this has not been empirically demonstrated.


There is no direct empirical evidence supporting either the possibility that pathological gamblers can or cannot return to and remain in a state of social or recreational gambling. This pattern has been observed, however, among people with alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and other addictions (e.g., Shaffer and Jones, 1989). Nevertheless, the percentage of those who seek treatment and do return successfully to social or recreational gambling is likely to be so small that clinicians generally and accurately believe that it is not likely. Therefore, they are reluctant to consider this possibility as part of treatment efforts. In practice, pathological gamblers attending Gamblers Anonymous or undergoing forms of treatment other than self-help usually consider themselves as "recovering" from, but not ever cured of, their gambling disorder.

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