Progression Of The Disorder

Assessment of problem gamblers in less advanced stages is more difficult. Increased public awareness of the signs of pathological gambling coupled with more human services professionals receiving training in the disorder is resulting in detection of a gambling disorder early in its progression. Instruments that identify the degree of current problem and risk for developing pathological gambling are still needed.

Custer and Milt (1985) identified in clinical practice three stages in the progression of a gambling disorder (for almost exclusively male action gamblers).

Winning stage: Characterized by an initial large win.

Losing stage: Losses are chased with increased gambling until a major problem occurs which is temporarily resolved by a financial bailout, followed by a higher level of gambling and increased crises.

Desperation stage: The gambler further withdraws from family and work responsibilities into gambling, often resulting in criminal and suicidal behavior. Help may or may not be sought.

Hopelessness stage: Rosenthal added the fourth stage for some gamblers who no longer care and continue to gamble without hope of winning. Custer's (1985) chart below depicts the progression and recovery cycle for those who seek help.

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