Gambling is a fun and exciting form of entertainment that often has a social element with players out with friends at the races or at a casino. The potential for a win releases dopamine which creates the feeling of excitement which is harmless fun for most. For others, this buzz or thrill can lead to some people struggling to recognise when to stop gambling. This leads to problem gambling in which players chase losses, which over time can grow into an addiction that causes problems in all areas of their life from finance to relationships.
Not everyone will develop a gambling addiction
Many factors can put an individual at risk of developing a gambling addiction. Whilst significant growth forecast for new casinos online, this does not mean that more people will develop a gambling problem, From problem is created through other issues like environment, available resources, age, mood disorders, substance abuse, cultural background and socioeconomic status.
A mental health issue
Problem gambling is harmful to mental and physical health and can lead to depression, migraine and anxiety-related problems. The frustration of not being able to stop, even when begged to by those closest to them, can lead many gambling addicts to feel shame and guilt over their behaviour which is known to increase the risk of suicide attempts.
Symptoms of gambling addiction
Gambling addiction is when individuals cannot stop gaming. If a gambler cannot stop, even if they want to, they have a gambling addiction. It is an emotional problem with financial consequences that can cost people their own home, even if they are the sole earner in a young family. This is because addicts will prioritise gambling over all responsibilities. This could mean being absent from work or missing a child’s sports day or other important family events.
Effects on the body
Research has shown that some people, have an underactive brain reward system, making them genetically predisposed for thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity and process reward information, control impulses and weigh risk differently.
As the need to create a high is only possible through increased gambling, problem gamblers begin to chase their losses to win back money lost. This leads to a compulsion to gamble that individuals progressively have no defence again and once gambling, they are taken over by an obsession to continue. This leads to effects on the person’s life that are not just psychological, but also personal, physical, social and professional.
Emotion and finance
A gambling addiction is not related to how many times people gamble or the amount they lose but to the emotional and financial consequences. This means that those who have odd binges of gambling can be as affected as a daily gambler.
Help for those with a gambling addiction
There are free tests online that will use answers to a series of questions to assess whether an individual may be an addict. A medical professional can provide a detailed assessment and suggest an individual treatment plan. The plan can include behaviour therapy to help an individual change the way they feel about gambling to stop the harmful behaviour. The use of medication to reduce the physical symptoms experienced by compulsive gamblers can help as well as sharing experiences with others in a similar situation via self-help support groups.