sent only 2%-4% of the population of Gamblers Anonymous. This may be a function of the greater stigma attached to female gamblers.


The limited data available suggest that the prevalence of Pathological Gambling may be as high as 1%-3% of the adult population.


Pathological Gambling typically begins in early adolescence in males and later in life in females. Although a few individuals are "hooked" with their very first bet, for most the course is more insidious. There may be years of social gambling followed by an abrupt onset that may be precipitated by greater exposure to gambling or by a stressor. The gambling pattern may be regular or episodic, and the course of the disorder is typically chronic. There is generally a progression in the frequency of gambling, the amount wagered, and the preoccupation with gambling and obtaining money with which to gamble. The urge to gamble and gambling activity generally increase during periods of stress or depression.

Familial Pattern

Pathological Gambling and Alcohol Dependence are both more common among the parents of individuals with Pathological Gambling than among the general population.

Differential Diagnosis

Pathological Gambling must be distinguished from social gambling and professional gambling. Social gambling typically occurs with friends or colleagues and lasts for a limited period of time, with predetermined acceptable losses. In professional gambling, risks are limited and discipline is central. Some individuals can experience problems associated with their gambling (e.g.,

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