Gambling Addiction

The term gambling is used to describe any activity in which a person risks something of value on an event that has the potential to bring about a positive or negative outcome. Unlike sports, in which the player’s skill can influence the outcome, gambling involves events that are random. For this reason, it is impossible to know what the likelihood of winning a game will be in advance. In order to avoid falling prey to the temptation of gambling, it is essential that people set limits for themselves. One way to do this is by setting a fixed amount of money they are prepared to lose and not exceeding it, regardless of how well they are doing. It is also vital to understand that gambling is not a profitable way to make money and should be seen as an entertainment activity rather than a way to improve financial status.

Although many people enjoy gambling, for some it becomes an addiction. It’s important to recognise if you have a problem and seek help. There are several different organisations that provide support, assistance and counselling for those affected by gambling addiction. The most common form of treatment is outpatient care, however some people may benefit from inpatient or residential programmes. In addition to gambling addiction, it is essential to seek help for any underlying mood disorders that could be contributing to or being made worse by gambling behaviour.

Gambling can be addictive because it activates a reward system in the brain. The excitement of a win or a series of wins produces a rush of dopamine, which can cause an individual to continue gambling. This is because they want to experience the euphoria again and again, even when it means losing money. The inability to control impulses is a key characteristic of pathological gambling and can be seen in the lack of ability to stop even when losses mount.

Many people become addicted to gambling for a variety of reasons. These can include social reasons – to enjoy the company of friends, to have fun, or to be entertained – and for financial reasons – because they think they are ‘due’ a win or that they can ‘get back their losses’ if they keep gambling. This thinking is known as the gambler’s fallacy. It is a misunderstanding of probability and the way that reinforcement works.

It is crucial to realise that a successful rehabilitation from gambling addiction requires addressing the issues that caused the problem in the first place, such as underlying mood disorders like depression or anxiety. If you are struggling with a gambling problem, BetterHelp can connect you to licensed therapists who can help. Get started with a free assessment and be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.