Whether buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on sports or using the pokies, gambling is a risky activity. It can also be quite addictive. While it is possible to gamble responsibly, many people do experience problems and this can have serious ramifications for their health and wellbeing. But the first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. If you’re struggling, there are plenty of resources available, and some very inspiring stories from others who have overcome gambling addiction.
In general, gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome and with the primary intent to win additional money or materials. This can include activities like lottery, casino games, sports betting and online gambling. Gambling can lead to a number of psychological and social issues, such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. It can also affect families and relationships.
The most common symptom of gambling disorder is compulsive gambling, which involves an intense desire to gamble even when the risk of loss is high. Symptoms can start as early as adolescence or later in adulthood. They can be triggered by stressors such as job loss, relationship conflicts and financial difficulties. They can also be influenced by genetics and family history, as well as by trauma and social inequality, particularly in women.
Some research has suggested that a specific gene may make some people more prone to gambling disorders. It has been linked to differences in how the brain processes rewards, control impulses and weighs risk. However, more research is needed to understand why some people are at risk of developing gambling disorders.
A key reason why some people become addicted to gambling is because of the euphoria that they feel when winning. This ‘high’ is thought to be caused by the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is released when engaging in pleasurable activities such as eating and sex. The dopamine high is particularly strong when an outcome is uncertain, which explains why gambling is so appealing.
Another factor is that gambling provides a sense of control. It can be a way to escape from everyday stresses and pressures, and some people see it as a good way to socialise or to develop their skills. This makes it very difficult to stop, even when the negative consequences become obvious.
It is important to understand the reasons why a loved one might be gambling, and to be aware of what risks they are taking. This is especially important for those who are attempting to help them. The biggest challenge for anyone with a gambling problem is recognising that they have a problem, and this can be very hard to do. Getting professional help is essential. There are many different types of therapy available to help with gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapies. Get matched with an experienced, licensed and vetted therapist today.