Gambling Addiction

How Compulsive Gambling Develops

Gambling addiction, also referred to as compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, is a serious condition recognized widely by psychologists. It’s surprisingly common, especially among younger and middle aged men.

Perhaps what started out as a fun, social activity is now a dependency. As with many addictions, you might stop enjoying it completely, yet you still feel compelled to do it. And so you continue.

Money isn’t the only appeal. In fact, compulsive gamblers are often drawn to the activity more for excitement or escape than for possible financial gain. These activities may take up tremendous amounts of time and put significant strain on relationships, eventually tearing families apart and causing lasting damage that’s difficult–if not impossible–to repair.

There are several factors that make a gambling addiction unique–and which might be particularly difficult to solve. To begin with, compulsive gambling is an addiction to a behavior rather than a substance, which may impact people’s perception of how serious it is. For another, the compulsion has a tendency to rack up debt, and it’s tempting to think you’ll gamble your way out, however hopeless things really are.

Do Not Minimize Your Gambling Addiction

Minimizing a serious gambling problem is a grave mistake. Compulsive gambling can impact your daily life. It can screw up your relationships. And no matter how much money you start out with (or how wealthy you are), it can even ruin your financial health.

You might only realize your gambling issue is serious once you can no longer afford your losses. Regardless, if you find yourself stealing or lying to perpetuate your gambling disorder, or risking big money or betting things you don’t actually own, consider calling us   888-288-2062 at any time to talk through your compulsions. Your options are varied–and your confidentiality completely guaranteed.

Gambling Disorder: The Underlying Causes

Every person’s struggle with addiction is different, and the causes are unique to them. However, looking broadly at compulsive gambling, we can see that many gamblers share certain reasons for gambling.

To begin with, there is a thrill involved, especially in placing particularly large or risky bets. This feeling of excitement and pleasure is related to the brain’s reward system and may actually be very similar to the feelings experienced by those struggling with substance abuse.

But gambling is also a way of escaping the pressures of life. If you or your loved one is experiencing stress from work, relationships, or family, gambling may provide a means to unwind, enjoy oneself, and forget one’s other problems. But much like drug use, as a gambler continues to do this more and more, gambling itself becomes the problem–and can no longer serve as an effective escape.

Compulsive gambling may also be a way of dealing with underlying depression, anxiety, or mood disorders. Though gambling may help with these problems in the short term, compulsive gambling is not a healthy or effective way of dealing with mental health problems.

Taking Steps Toward Recovery

Taking a step back from one’s compulsive behaviors and recognizing the seriousness of the problem is not easy, but it’s the first step toward successful recovery. Though treatment of a compulsive gambling problem is different from substance abuse treatment, many of the same principles apply. Compulsive gamblers may be in denial about their problems, or may not believe they’re as serious as they really are. In some cases, a loved one or partner may need to intervene to show them that their gambling is causing harm.