Having a flutter once a week may not be a serious issue, but it could develop into something more severe. Every day, people struggle with quitting gambling – not knowing enough about the issue and why it has them so tightly in its hold.
To beat a gambling addiction, you should understand it and what resources are out there to help you.
Understanding Gambling Addiction
Behavioural addictions are now taken more seriously and treated as an illness, with gaming addiction now being considered a big issue.
Gambling addiction is such a behavioural problem, based solely on a recurring behaviour that becomes a compulsion. A gambling addiction can be recognised and diagnosed by your healthcare provider and presents itself most obviously as a need to gamble despite the negative impact it is having on your life.
The Psychology Behind Gambling
So, why is gambling addictive?
There are reward systems in your brain. When you do something enjoyable, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes you feel good. This exact response can also occur when we play video games or engage with dating apps. So, as you gamble more, your dopamine levels increase – flooding your brain with more pleasure and motivation to keep doing the activity.
Eventually, your brain becomes more conditioned to the raised pleasure levels – requiring you to do the activity more and more to feel the same effects.
Oddly, the pleasure of gambling comes more from the anticipation, rather than the reward. More dopamine is released before the outcome is revealed and can explain why people gamble even when they are on a losing streak.
Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Addiction
It is hard to pin down why gambling is addictive, as everyone’s journey with addiction is unique. However, several known factors can increase the risk of developing a serious addiction.
Men are at a much higher risk of developing a gambling addiction. If there is addiction in your family, then that will only increase the risk. Some people have naturally more addictive personalities, so it can make you more susceptible to being further drawn into addiction, despite the negative consequences. You may also possess personality characteristics such as competitiveness, impulsivity and getting bored easily that put you at risk of getting addicted to gambling.
If friends and family around you gamble regularly, you may be more likely to gamble just to fit in. You could also be immersed in a sporting environment, like going to the football every week, where gambling is not only accepted but greatly encouraged by sponsors affiliated with the game.
If you suffer from mental health issues such as depression, you may use gambling as a way to escape emotional pain. It could be used as an activity to relieve stress and anxiety that becomes less effective over time. Eventually, gambling will only compound the mental health issues you face, catching you in a destructive cycle.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Being aware of the signs of gambling addiction can help you know if you have a problem that needs to be dealt with. There are many symptoms, and they can be wide-reaching and long-lasting.
- Sleep problems
- Changes in appetite
- Mood swings
- Increased irritation
- Poor judgement
- Worsening mental health problems
- Feeling defensive
- Becoming preoccupied with gambling
- Continuing to gamble despite negative effects
- Gambling when you have no money
- Gambling for longer than intended
- Denying you have a gambling problem
Perhaps one of the clearest signs of gambling addiction is the loss of control when it comes to gambling and dedicating more of your life to it. When you can no longer control the urge to gamble and cannot curb it, then it is clear you need help for gambling problems.
The Impact of Gambling Addiction
A gambling addiction has the potential to impact every part of your life, leaving a wake of destruction that can be hard to recover from.
Gambling can lead to mental health issues. Increased stress and anxiety can affect you physically, causing heart issues and problems with digestion, leaving you more likely to get ill. Worsening mental health may lead you to drink or take drugs and perhaps make suicide a more desirable option than facing up to your problems.
Problem gambling will lead you to lose friends and damage relationships. Many people who gamble lose marriages as they break the trust of those closest to them. These issues may be due to money problems or the stress of the addiction, causing rifts in the family. Emotional and physical abuse may be consequences of gambling addiction as you struggle to cope with the pressure.
The most obvious impact on your life is financial. If you are losing money, then that will impact your life. It could result in missed payments, loss of employment, owing money to people and resorting to criminal activities to raise money for gambling or to cover losses.
Seeking Help and Treatment Options
There are many avenues for help you can take to deal with a gambling addiction.
Talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are a preferred gambling addiction treatment option. This type of therapy is based on examining thought patterns and emotional responses that affect the way you feel. You are given the tools to change these thoughts and behaviours that lead to destructive behaviour patterns.
Support groups are also a great resource. In group settings, you can connect with people that know what you going through. This sense of community is important to ease the feelings of isolation you may be experiencing. Support groups can offer guidance in difficult moments and hold you to account when needed.
Your problem may be severe enough that you need to go to rehab. Places like Cassiobury Court offer personalised treatment plans that are built around you. This approach to treatment gives the greatest chance of succeeding as it is tailored to your needs.
Beyond professional treatment, there are many resources dedicated to gambling addiction recovery. They include:
Get Help with Gambling Now
If you are worried about your own gambling or someone else’s, then you should seek professional help. Here at Cassiobury Court, we offer help for gambling addiction, providing gambling addiction rehabilitation that gives our clients the best chance of achieving long-term recovery.