Gambling addiction is a physical and psychological inability to stop gambling, and one that can even cause both psychological and physical harm. In fact, compulsive gambling is also considered a chronic disease and this is something that affects both the brain and behavior of the person in much the same way that you might find with any other addiction.
But how or why does it happen?
Well, when a person is gambling obsessively, the biological process that causes addiction sends feel-good chemicals to the brain. Through addiction, other areas of the brain are affected and this can greatly impede in terms of a person’s self-control and it’s not just with gambling addiction that we can see this process in action.
For instance, obesity is a big problem in America and addiction to fast food is one of the main reasons for this issue. Similarly, shopping addiction is just as real and studies show that 6% of Americans suffer from compulsive spending. As if that’s not enough, people are even addicted to exercise as the brain releases endorphins that feel good!
Anyway, there are many reasons a person might become addicted to gambling. In some instances, gambling is an escape from stress, anxiety or reality. People are also enticed by the good feelings that come from winning or even just the thrill of playing.
At a time when people all over the country are self isolating and stuck inside due to coronavirus, it’s fair to say that online gambling will be an outlet for boredom. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what else you should know about gambling addiction:
1) Gambling Addiction is Caused by Changes in the Brain
In the past, addiction was often considered a form of weakness or moral failing. However, as studies progress, biological theories regarding addiction are widely accepted as being due to a “brain disease”. You see, the rewarding feelings and withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction are due to changes in the brain. With this in mind, many people cite casinos or race tracks as the cause of gambling addiction but a person’s inability to manage their habits is much closer to the cause. And just so you know, there are far less gambling addicts than people that gamble on occasion. In other words, if casinos and race tracks were the cause, why are there not more addicts?!
2) Gambling Addiction Leads to Serious Problems
For most people, gambling is just a bit of fun. However, for gambling addicts, this process is a way of life and something that can ruin lives. Now, before you think this is rather dramatic, let’s consider the following questions:
Can gambling make a person unhappy at home?
Can gambling cause a person to lie about how much they gamble?
Is gambling sometimes an escape from worries or problems?
Is borrowing money for the purpose of gambling a risky business?
Needless to say, all the above is possible. The truth is, statistics also show that gambling addiction can directly affect a person’s mental health. After all, more than 50% of gamblers experience a mood disorder from time to time. What’s more, over 40% experience anxiety, while a whopping 60+% have encountered a personality disorder.
Takeaway? Gambling addiction is detrimental to mental health and the quality of life.
3) Gambling Addiction is Often Overshadowed by Other Diseases
Recent studies show that more than 80% of Americans have gambled at least once in their lifetime. Further, at least 4% of this statistic has a gambling addiction which equates to an incredible 8 million people across the United States. Of course, gambling comes in many forms and these rates are only likely to increase with the introduction of online casinos and digital gambling in general. But that’s just part of the story…
Gambling addiction does not receive anywhere near the same amount of attention or support as alcohol and drug abuse. In some circles, it’s believed that just 1% of gambling addicts receive treatment, which further accelerates the growth of gamblers in the first place. That being said, there are some companies raising finance for health and wellness projects and even Howard Buffet recently announced a major pledge to help and support those suffering from gambling addiction.
4) Online Casinos and Betting has Increased the Risk of Gambling Addiction
Gambling is legal for the most part and not problematic for most people. On the other hand, there is no denying the amount of problems and risks associated with gambling addiction. As already mentioned, the number of people affected by such risks is also sure to increase with the accessibility of gambling platforms on the rise. That is to say, the emergence of online casinos and online betting has made it far easier for people to access. Unfortunately, this will also mean more people are likely to be affected in terms of compulsive gambling. It’s true, the advent of the online world will also have negative consequences for some people and this includes college students. You see, studies also show that gambling is increasingly popular with college students and some surveys show how more than 20% of students have admitted to gambling online.
Anyway, these numbers are on the rise and this is largely due to the online world.
5) Gambling Addiction is Not Easy to Spot
The truth is, it’s not always easy to spot when someone has a gambling addiction. After all, many people try to hide such habits and it’s rather difficult to admit to something that comes with so many negative connotations. For the sake of curiosity, let’s take a look at some common signs that one might display when they have a gambling addiction:
Always talking about gambling.
Spending more each time they gamble.
Gambling when feeling stressed.
Deny having a problem with gambling.
Experiencing a lot of debt.
Sure, these might seem obvious, but sometimes it takes another person to point out the most obvious things – even for a disease as serious as gambling addiction. In many ways, this future emphasizes the need for easy-to-access support such as telemedicine and virtual reality based software that can assist with important healthcare issues.
That being said, it should be mentioned that gambling addiction is not a sign that one is weak or incapable. Many people suffer with this same problem and even the most compulsive gamblers can overcome their addiction and find success on the other side.