gambling addiction

Gambling Addiction: When All Bets Are Off

When you think of addiction, your first thought may be a dependence on drugs or alcohol. It’s a widely known fact that substance abuse is a huge problem worldwide. You may be able to see how someone can be addicted to a substance, especially a substance like heroin or alcohol, which produces a physical dependence. But what about an addiction that has nothing to do with a substance, such as a gambling addiction? Is it the same thing?

Process Addictions Just As Powerful As Substance Addictions

When a person is addicted to a behavior or an action, it is known as a process addiction, or a behavioral addiction. Common process addictions include sex, shopping, internet activities and gambling.

Substance Addiction and Process Addiction: Are They Different?

Not really. As far as the brain is concerned, gambling triggers the same feelings of reward as using a drug. The only real difference is the absence of a mind-altering substance. Because the brain responds to the reward it gets from the activity of gambling, it becomes reinforced. This causes changes in the brain that take the behavior from an occasional, recreational activity to a compulsive need to gamble at all costs.

When a person becomes addicted to gambling, it takes control of them. While they may be able to manage their gambling and their lives at first, over time it becomes a bigger problem. This is due to the progressive nature of addiction. Gambling can be every bit as destructive as substance abuse, and many people have lost their homes, jobs, families and reputation as a result of their addiction. In some cases, people who have lost control of their gambling and faced devastating consequences have even committed suicide.

As the addiction progresses, the stakes get higher. Gambling demands more of the person’s time and begins to require more money. Even when the individual isn’t gambling, they are thinking about gambling and anticipating the next time they will be able to engage in the activity.

How Do You Know If You Have a Gambling Problem?

If you aren’t sure whether you have a problem or not, there are questions you can ask yourself to help you determine that. There are usually red flags that indicate a problem with gambling addiction.

  • Is gambling interfering with normal activities like going to work, spending time with your family or tending to other responsibilities?
  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed after you gamble?
  • Do you ever tell yourself you aren’t going to gamble, but do it anyway?
  • Do you regularly spend more money on gambling than you intended?
  • Have family or friends expressed concern over your gambling?
  • Do you feel anxious, depressed or agitated when you can’t gamble, or when you try to quit?
  • When you gamble and lose, do you feel you must make your money back?
  • Are you forgoing activities that used to bring you pleasure so you can spend more time gambling?
  • Are you spending less time with your loved ones so you can gamble?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it’s likely that gambling has become a problem for you.

Who Develops a Gambling Addiction?

Anyone can develop this problem, even teenagers. Like any other addiction, gambling addiction doesn’t restrict itself to any one “type” of person. Men and women, young and old, rich or poor can become addicted, regardless of education or status.

There are certain risk factors, however, that may make you more vulnerable to a gambling addiction. If you have a previous addiction problem, you may be more likely to have a gambling problem. For instance, people in recovery from substance abuse disorder may be more likely to develop a process addiction after they get into recovery. Addiction can manifest itself in many ways, so if you are in recovery, it’s always a good idea to be cautious when engaging in activities that can become potentially addictive.

If you have a family history of addiction, that is another risk factor. Often, gambling problems result in people who are overly stressed or going through emotional difficulties. Gambling may start out as a way to escape stress and problems. It can quickly become a problem, especially if there are other risk factors.

How Do You Deal With a Gambling Problem?

If you have tried to quit gambling but have had no success, the next step is to get help. There are several options for recovering from a gambling addiction. You can choose to attend twelve step meetings or seek counseling. If you aren’t able to stop then you can also attend either in inpatient or outpatient treatment center that specializes in process addictions like gambling. These programs help by teaching you coping skills and strategies that can help you deal with the very real “cravings” you will get when you stop gambling. You will also receive individual and group counseling that will allow you to discover and work through some of the issues that may be contributing to your problem.

Need Help?

Drug Treatment Center Finder can help you or your loved one find a treatment center that address gambling addiction and substance addiction. The sooner you call us, the sooner you can start feeling better. Call us now at 1-855-619-8070.