In 2013, the American Psychological Association made a move that would extend further help for compulsive gamblers in the US. The APA released the 5th Edition of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This key reference finally reclassified gambling addiction from its previous definition as an impulse control disorder. The move from disorder to addiction may seem like a small one, but this will bring about so many benefits to those suffering from compulsive gambling.
Removing the Stigma
The shift from impulse control disorder to addiction can improve the way people see compulsive gambling. Instead of viewing gambling on par with pyromania and kleptomania—both of which are classified as impulse disorders—it is now seen as an addiction similar to substance abuse. In the latter case, sufferers are seen as victims of a mental illness instead of behavioral preconditions. Compulsive gambling can now be thought of as a disease, which can and should be cured with help from professionals. Individuals with this condition will be more likely to seek aid now that they are seen as victims of their disease (something they cannot control) and not slaves to their impulses, which society deems they should be strong enough to resist.
Providing More Information
This change should also bring about more exposure to gambling addiction, and people who may be suffering from it would more likely strive to educate themselves about their condition. Learning institutions may also increase research into the problem, now that it is generating interest. While some parties are expected to disprove the data that the APA used to approve the change in classification, it still serves the purpose as the public gains more information about the disease.
Developing More Effective Diagnostic Tests
One of the key changes from the DSM-IV to the DSM-V is the revamp of the diagnostic tests used to define a person as a compulsive gambler. Some important improvements include removing the criterion about illegal acts and adding that gamblers need not be occupied with gambling all of the time to be diagnosed as suffering from a gambling disorder. These, along with a few more amendments, should allow more effective diagnosis of the condition.
Thanks to the APA’s bold move, more and more people will be able to catch gambling addiction in its early stages and seek guidance from treatment facilities. The DSM-V will be a helpful tool in redefining what gambling disorder really is and how to combat it. Learn more about recovering from compulsive gambling by browsing our different programs.