What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling involves risking something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. In some cases, this can be a physical item or money, while in others it can mean a game of chance, such as the roll of a dice or the outcome of a horse race. Gambling is often associated with a desire to escape from daily life stressors, or a need for social connections. People who have a gambling disorder may experience many negative consequences from the behaviour including harm to family and friends, debt and even homelessness.

In the case of gambling addiction, the disorder is a result of many factors, including underlying mental health issues and the way the brain learns. When someone begins gambling, their brain is learning to associate the activity with rewards. As they continue to gamble, the brain becomes more and more dependent on these rewards to feel ‘normal’. This change in the brain’s reward system is referred to as partial reinforcement and causes someone to keep gambling even after they have had multiple losses.

When a person experiences a win, their brain will be activated by the reward circuit, giving them the feeling of euphoria and pleasure. This is why it can be difficult for someone who has a gambling problem to stop, even when they are losing large amounts of money. They will continue to gamble, hoping for a big win to come their way and they will find ways to increase the chances of that happening such as wearing lucky clothes or throwing the dice in a certain way.

Many people who struggle with gambling do not know that they have a problem until it is too late. For some, the problems with their gambling become so serious that they are in danger of losing everything and they need help. If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, seek support from friends and family, call a helpline or attend a self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous.

Gambling can have some positive effects, including socialization and mental development. However, most of the benefits of gambling are only felt if it is done in moderation. When gambling becomes an addiction, it is important to seek help and get treatment immediately. The sooner you address the issue, the better for you and your loved ones.