Gambling addiction, medically known as a gambling disorder, occurs when someone has an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite its negative effects.
Someone with a gambling addiction continues gambling even if they cannot afford it or they are driven to unethical or criminal acts to gamble. People with gambling addiction risk things in their life of great value, including financial well-being relationships, and safety to gamble.
Much like drugs and alcohol, gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system. Chasing the euphoric feeling that occurs when they win leads a gambling addict to spend their savings, borrow and steal, hide their gambling, and accumulate massive debt.
Like drug and alcohol addictions, gambling addiction destroys lives.
Developing a gambling addiction is a process.
For a gambling addiction to form, someone must be biologically vulnerable to addiction and be exposed to social stressors.
Compulsive gamblers must also have positive gambling exposure. Someone at risk of developing a gambling addiction who only ever loses is less likely to end up addicted because they don’t experience that surge of euphoria from winning.
Rehab facilities are open and accepting new patients
Some of the causes and risk factors of developing a gambling addiction include:
The signs and symptoms of gambling addiction include:
If you’re concerned about your gambling behavior or inability to stop gambling, or your loved ones have expressed concern over your gambling, you should seek professional support.
Problem gambling and gambling addiction are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing.
Both are on the same continuum and include unhealthy gambling behavior. But problem gambling doesn’t always lead to other problems in someone’s life.
Gambling addiction affects someone’s relationships and health. It disrupts their life. Problem gambling might cause these issues or might eventually develop into a full-blown addiction.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), problem gamblers are people who meet three or more out of 10 criteria for pathological gambling. Addicted gamblers are those who meet five more criteria on the list.
Everyone with a gambling addiction is a problem gambler, but not all problem gamblers have an addiction.
Someone with a full-blown gambling addiction will likely need professional addiction treatment to recover. However, there are many things they can do in addition to professional treatment to help with their addiction.
People with a gambling problem that have not yet or will never become addicts can also use these techniques to curb their gambling behavior.
Some alternatives to gambling include:
There’s no guaranteed tool or method for preventing gambling addiction. However, understanding your risk and knowing the symptoms of addiction reduces your risk. People who are at high risk of developing a gambling addiction are better off avoiding gambling.
If you suspect you have a gambling problem, even if it’s not a full-blown addiction, seek treatment as soon as possible. Gambling treatment is available for those in the earliest stages of problem gambling or addiction.
You might suspect you have a gambling addiction before ever speaking to a mental health professional about the issue. Should you address your concerns with a doctor or other health professional, they will likely:
There are several inpatient and outpatient treatment options available for those with compulsive gambling behaviors or gambling addiction. For example:
Some people find that certain exercises help them reduce gambling urges or avoid gambling activities. For example:
Some people find that talking to peers who share their concerns about gambling to be a helpful part of treatment. Your doctor or treatment provider can give you information about Gamblers Anonymous and support group resources.
You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
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