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Disorder or addiction: the tricky business of classifying problem gambling

Every once in a loooong while, the American Psychological Association updates its tome known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. One of the biggest changes in the new edition, due out in 2013, is reclassifying pathological gambling from an impulse control disorder to a full-blown addiction with neurochemical roots. This could be a big deal. It reflects a major shift in how we understand the condition, writes one commentator -- who happens to be a recovering addict himself:

I used to gamble. Back when I did, I was also an active alcoholic and a chain smoker. Camel filters, if you’re wondering. And we had a running joke, my wife and I, although the humor leaked out of it for her pretty quickly. We would breach the doors of the gambling palace, and plunge into the dark, icy interior of a casino at Las Vegas or Tahoe, and stand on the edge of the gaming room, taking it all in for a moment. “Ah,” I would say, surveying the roomful of cigarette smokers with drinks in their hands, making bets or hitting buttons at one o’clock in the morning, “my kind of people.”

As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.