Pathological gambling, compulsive gambling and a gambling addiction are described as an impulse control disorder which means it is almost impossible to control the urge to gamble. Gambling online is very common, varied and easy to do. It is also a way of secretly gambling so no one will know if you have heavy losses or how often the person is gambling. Another form of gambling addiction is compulsively betting on the lottery, sport or buying scratch cards. Help for a gambling addiction is readily available in the UK and organisations can give you all the information you need to recognise an addiction.
A gambling addiction and its effects can be as devastating as those of a drug addict or alcoholic. If the issue is left it will not get better and the ramifications are ruinous to relationships, finances and employment. Gambling addiction is a process addiction and is influenced by the reward part of the brain. In a substance addiction the brain is reacting to the substance, however, in a process addiction the brain is responding to the action such as binge eating, sex, porn and kleptomania. It is the action that triggers the brains reward system.
Risk of Addiction
On the hole gambling for most people is fun and exciting. Not everyone is at risk of addiction. For those people who are more susceptible to addiction taking up gambling as a pastime can result in a full blown addiction that causes pain and anguish for the gambler, their family and friends. The addiction starts when the person gambling is unable to stop and all they think about is gambling and getting the money to do it.
The obsession leads to negative impacts on time spent with family, responsibilities, time taken off work and their finances. The brain stops the normal release of dopamine and adapts and then relies on the constant stimulus of your chosen activity to get good buzz. While you are trying to stop gambling your brain will struggle to cope with the production of dopamine without the constant stimulus and you could experience withdrawal symptoms.
Popular Types of Gambling:
- Horse Racing
- Dog Racing
- Online Gambling
- Scratch Cards
- Slot Machines
- Sports Betting
How to Spot the Warning Signs
Check out the list below and if you or a loved one is experiencing 2 or more of the signs it could be an addiction:
- Spending more money on higher bets more often
- Anxious and restless when not gambling
- Cannot stop gambling
- Obsessed with gambling
- Broken relationships
- Missing work, school or family commitments
- Lying to gain money for gambling
- Mood swings
- Lying about how much you gamble
- Owing money
Consequences of Compulsive Gambling
A compulsive gamblers life is consumed by gambling and the person is obsessed. Fear, embarrassment and desperation can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Other addictions like alcohol and drugs are likely due to the stress and the environment you gamble in.