Is Gambling an Addiction?

Ten years ago, the idea that someone could become addicted to a habit like gambling the way they can be hooked on a drug was controversial. Today, experts agree that for some people, gambling can be a real addiction. The main issue with gambling is that it often enables individuals to escape from or cope with problems that are bothering them in their life. It can also be a way to socialise with friends and family.

Some individuals have a healthy motive for gambling and use it as an enjoyable leisure activity. Others have darker motives and gamble out of control and end up in financial trouble. Pathological gamblers are fully in the grip of addiction and their unhealthy motives overshadow their enjoyment of the game.

The problem is that the rewards from gambling are not sustainable and it is often a vicious cycle. It can become difficult to break the habit because of the emotional attachment that develops. The good news is that there are ways to help stop gambling. The first step is to recognise that there is a problem. This can be a very hard step, especially if you have lost a lot of money and have damaged your relationships with loved ones.

If you realise that you have a problem, there are organisations who can provide support and advice. There are also a number of inpatient and residential treatment programs that can help with the recovery process. Some of these programs are aimed at families who are affected by a loved one’s addiction to gambling. It can be very stressful coping with someone who is a problem gambler and it may be tempting to rationalise their requests for “just this one last time”.

Those with a gambling disorder have an overactive reward system in the brain and they are predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity. Genetic factors may also play a role, as they can influence how your brain processes reward information and controls impulses. In addition to these biological factors, your culture can influence your view of risk and what is acceptable gambling behaviour.

For some, it is not the excitement of winning that drives them to gamble, but a sense of entitlement and ego-boosting. The media portrays gambling as glamorous and sexy, making it an ideal pastime for those who are bored, depressed or simply feel that their lives are meaningless. For many, it is a means to escape their troubles and surround themselves with different sights, sounds and emotions.

Gambling is an incredibly popular pastime that has grown more socially accepted and accessible than ever before. It is possible to gamble at home, on your mobile phone or even in virtual casinos online. With so many choices, it is no wonder that over two million Americans have a gambling addiction and for many it interferes with their work and life. If you think you have a gambling problem, it is important to seek help as soon as you can.