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Pathologic Gambling: Biological and Clinical Considerations

Topf, Jocelyn L. BA; Yip, Sarah W. MSc; Potenza, Marc N. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e31819b7bff
Review Article

Pathologic gambling (PG) is categorized as an impulse control disorder. Phenomenologic, neurobiologic, and pharmacologic data suggest similarities in the pathophysiologies of substance use disorders and PG. Both behavioral and pharmacologic approaches, including those that have been empirically validated for substance use disorders, have shown promise in the treatment of PG. Findings from biologic studies of PG are reviewed, and treatment approaches based on controlled studies are summarized.

From the Departments of Psychiatry and Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven, CT.

Received for publication October 24, 2008; accepted January 7, 2009.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Marc N. Potenza, MD, PhD, CMHC, SAC, Room S-104, 34 Park Street, New Haven, CT 06519. E-mail:

Supported by the VA VISN1 MIRECC and REAP, Women’s Health Research at Yale, and the following grants from the National Institutes of Health and its Office of Research on Women’s Health: P50-DA16556, P50-DA9241, P50-AA15632, RL1-AA017539, and R01 DA019039.

Ms. Topf and Ms. Yip have no disclosures to declare. Dr. Potenza has received financial support or compensation for the following: Dr. Potenza consults for and is an advisor to Boehringer Ingelheim; has consulted for and has financial interests in Somaxon; has received research support from the National Institutes of Health, Veteran’s Administration, Mohegan Sun, and Forest Laboratories, Ortho-McNeil and Oy-Control/Biotie pharmaceuticals; has participated in surveys, mailings or telephone consultations related to drug addiction, impulse control disorders or other health topics; has consulted for law offices and the federal public defender’s office in issues related to impulse control disorders; has performed grant reviews for the National Institutes of Health and other agencies; has given academic lectures in grand rounds, CME events and other clinical or scientific venues; has generated books or book chapters for publishers of mental health texts; and provides clinical care in the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Problem Gambling Services Program.

The first two authors contributed equally to the generation of the manuscript.

© 2009 American Society of Addiction Medicine