Causes and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction


Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value, such as money or property, for the chance to win a prize. It can be done at casinos, racetracks, and even online. Generally, you win by guessing the outcome of a game of chance or skill. Some people who gamble get addicted to it, and the behavior can have serious consequences for their personal and professional lives.

Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder that causes you to lose control over your gambling activities. It can affect your work, family, and health. It’s also a leading cause of financial ruin and bankruptcy. It’s important to understand the causes of pathological gambling and find treatment for it.

Symptoms of gambling addiction include:

(1) losing control over your gambling activities; (2) lying to friends or family about how much you’re spending on gambling; (3) hiding evidence that you’ve been gambling; (4) making excuses to avoid going to work or other activities in order to gamble; (5) being preoccupied with thoughts or fantasies about gambling; and (6) feeling the urge to gamble even when you know it’s against your better judgment (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

The brain’s reward system is involved in many behaviors, including gambling. It’s thought that some people may have an underactive brain reward system or be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity, which makes them more likely to develop a gambling problem. Behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in treating pathological gambling, although different treatments have varying degrees of success.

People who gamble often feel a strong urge to do so because of the pleasure they receive from the game, and this is why it’s so hard to stop. When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel excited. This is why you feel good after winning and bad when you lose. This is known as partial reinforcement, and it’s one of the main reasons why people who gamble become addicted.

Some people use gambling to self-soothe unpleasant emotions or relieve boredom, but it’s important to find healthier ways of doing so. Try exercising, socialising with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

In addition to behavioural therapy, some people with gambling problems benefit from psychotherapy. This includes psychodynamic therapy, which looks at how unconscious processes influence your behaviour and can help you recognise when you’re gambling too much. It’s also helpful to seek family and marriage counselling, which can help you re-establish your relationships. If you have a severe gambling addiction, there are also inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programmes available to help you break the cycle of gambling. These are more intensive than outpatient treatments. However, they may have limited availability and are a more expensive option. Nonetheless, they can help you overcome your addiction and lead a happier, more stable life.