There is an interesting article in the June, 2007 issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine entitled, "Pathological Gambling: A Nonsubstance, Substance-Related Disorder?" which provides an overview of the history of diagnosing and treating pathological gambling.
Lifetime prevalence rates for pathological gambling are between 1% and 2% of the population. The co-occurance of pathological gambling and other substance using disorders is about 50% for gamblers who also have substance use problems, and about 9% - 16% for people with substance use disorders who also have gambling problems.
With minor variations current treatment for pathological gambling is very similar to treatment for substance use disorders. There is no know effective medications.
With the rise in gambling opportunities in all states but Hawaii and Utah, it is predicted that the prevalence of pathological gambling disorder will increase over the next few years. It is also important for substance use treatment providers to screen clients for gambling problems as well as substance use disorders because the rate of pathological gambling among the chemically dependent is about 10 times the rate in the general population.
Pathological gambling leads to financial ruin, divorce, depression, criminal justice problems, and sometimes suicide. It often requires professional treatment and other assistance.
Unfortunately, the article is not available on line for free.