Gambling addiction is a terrible mental illness that has the potential to destroy lives. Despite the fact that treating a gambling addiction can be difficult, many gambling addicts have managed to recover successfully by seeking the right treatment program.
What Does It Mean to Have a Gambling Addiction
Around two million people in the United States are thought to be addicted to gambling, with up to 20 million of them reporting that their addiction is interfering with their job and social lives.
When someone gambles, they risk losing something valuable in the hopes of winning something even more valuable. Gambling addiction is defined as an irrepressible need to keep gambling despite the negative consequences.
Gambling is addictive because it activates the reward system of the brain in the same way that drugs or alcohol do. Gambling addiction is, in reality, the most widespread impulse control issue on the planet.
Desperation for money and the rush that comes from the excitement of betting are all elements that might contribute to the development of gambling addiction.
In the past, the psychiatric profession saw gambling as a compulsion rather than an addiction, meaning that it was seen as a behavior driven by a strong desire rather than a medical need.
The American Psychiatric Association decided to officially recognize gambling as an addiction in 2013 after studies revealed that gambling addiction is far more similar to drug addiction and alcoholism than previously thought.
The Effects of Gambling on the Brain
Gambling addiction is linked to the release of dopamine in the brain, just as is experienced with the use of addictive drugs like meth and cocaine.
Addictive drugs alter the reward system in the brain, causing it to release up to ten times the normal amount of dopamine.
The body develops a tolerance to the stimulating drug as natural dopamine production is suppressed, and the body requires more and more of the stimulating substance to get the same thrill.Gambling addicts seek riskier enterprises and gamble ever bigger sums of money to obtain the same pleasure they formerly enjoyed, much as individuals suffering from drug use disorders demand increasingly powerful doses to feel high or increasingly larger amounts of alcohol to become intoxicated.
Pathological gamblers and drug users share many of the same genetic predispositions for impulsivity and reward-seeking. When attempting to quit, both people with drug abuse issues and compulsive gamblers experience withdrawal symptoms.
Gambling Addiction Signs and Symptoms
Gambling addiction is defined as a person becoming totally involved in certain gambling activities and then pursuing them compulsively, despite the risk of negative outcomes.
People with a gambling addiction frequently experience a sensation of loss of control, believing they are powerless to resist or stop playing.
Here are some of the most common indicators of gambling addiction:
- Compulsively wanting to gable
- Needing to wager with greater quantities of money to experience the same pleasure
- Attempting unsuccessfully to regulate, limit, or halt gambling
- Feeling restless or angry when unable to gamble
- Gambling to get away from issues or relieve helplessness, guilt, worry, or despair
- Trying to recoup lost funds by gambling more
- Putting crucial connections or school/work prospects in jeopardy or losing them due to gambling
- Using theft or deception to get gaming funds
People addicted to gambling, unlike casual gamblers, cannot simply quit when they lose or establish a loss limit; they are forced to keep playing in order to recoup their losses.
In many situations, the individual loses more money than they expected, feels guilty about it, and then attempts to make up for it by gambling even more, which leads to even more money lost.
This vicious cycle has several negative effects and may have a significant influence on a person’s physical, mental, and financial well-being.
The Consequences of Gambling Addiction
To support their addiction, many problem gamblers will turn to criminal acts such as theft or fraud. Those who cannot pay their bills are compelled to file for bankruptcy and may lose their houses.
This type of financial strain is extremely stressful for both the family and the person. As a result of problem gambling, many family ties fall apart, and children are frequently the unwitting victims of the emotional turmoil that occurs in the home.
Gamblers also suffer from physical health problems such as stomach problems in the form of ulcers, migraines, and sleeplessness as a result of their stress. Problem gamblers are also more prone to abuse drugs and alcohol, which can have much more catastrophic consequences.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
Therapists have discovered that compulsive gamblers respond well to medical and psychological therapy, just like other behavioral addictions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be particularly successful in treating gambling addictions since it teaches relapse prevention techniques and how to modify patterns, as well as recognizing the root of the problem.
Assistance groups and 12-step programs, such as Gamblers Anonymous, are also beneficial since they provide nonjudgmental support for other recovering gamblers.
Get Help for Gambling Addiction Today
If you or a loved one thinks they may have a gambling problem, get help now. There is no excuse to suffer from addiction for another day.
There are a plethora of treatment centers dedicated to helping people with gambling addictions. To discover more about your choices, contact us for guidance today.