Gambling is silly fun for many people but can become a concern for others but it can develop into a form of compulsive behavior.

Gambling addiction is a mental health issue that is considered to be an urge and has several resemblances to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. People from all walks of life can have gambling problems. Your gambling goes from a fun and harmless to a seriously unhealthy obsession.

Gambling is taking a stake of interest in games that involve money. A person puts a certain amount of money up in a game in hopes of gaining more. This is what’s referred to as betting. Betting is highly unpredictable, causing gambling to have unforeseeable outcomes, for the most part. Many people convince themselves that they can predict the outcomes of games but mostly fail. Even with the knowledge of uncertainty, people continue to gamble and spend their money recklessly. But, why? On the off chance that they do win something, the happiness and excitement they get from winning essentially encourages them to continue gambling. However, this is not the only factor that further enforces an addiction.

What causes gambling addiction?

There is a wide range of factors that make gambling addiction possible, including financial desperation, the desire to experience fun and anticipation, the social status of actively playing games, and the exciting environment of the gambling scene. Unfortunately, it is difficult to break the loop once a gambling addiction takes hold. Severe mental health problems can take hold if somebody feels financially desperate and wants to reverse their losses. 

There is no single reason for addiction to gambling, but the usual suspects can be divided into four basic groups. The four categories are as follows:

Biological causes

An individual’s genes can cause them to be more susceptible to developing this kind of addiction. A person can easily develop an addictive personality because of their family history. If they had family members that suffered from addiction in the past, they can be predisposed to developing one themselves. Which addiction they develop can vary, but in this case, we are talking about gambling. The rush a person gets from winning a bet can become addictive and give the individual a sense of euphoria. Some people are able to control their impulses better than others, while some have a hereditary vulnerability to giving in to their impulses and desires. 

Psychological causes

Psychology also helps us understand how gambling addiction develops. Psychological research has helped us understand why people repeat some activities and that repetition, in this matter, can be detrimental. Some people can have psychological issues that make it hard to control their impulses or even seek out productive coping mechanisms. For some gambling addicts, they can fall on hard times and make themselves believe that gambling can save them from their debt. However, this is far from the truth. Some people develop gambling addictions for these reasons as well: 

  • stress reduction
  • relief from boredom
  • pleasurable sensations
  • coping with negative feelings or situations
  • simply the benefit of avoiding withdrawal symptoms. 

You read that right, withdrawal symptoms are very real for gambling addicts. Though the symptoms are not nearly as severe as someone with a drug or alcohol dependency, they can still experience a sense of withdrawal from their behavioral addictions.

Socio-cultural causes

The creation of this kind of addiction is frequently brought about through socio-cultural influences. The word culture describes, for our purposes, the pattern of values and beliefs learned and shared by a group. These values and convictions guide the behavior and social interactions of groups. The social interaction of human beings is strongly needed. Considering the fact that there is a whole city in the U.S. that is dedicated to gambling and betting (Las Vegas), it’s no shock that there is a massive cultural influence when it comes to gambling as a habit. 

The social acceptation of a habit is another cultural component of gambling addiction. In certain countries, districts, or regions, the lottery is something that millions of people participate in. This is another form of gambling because you are betting on the chances of winning money. The chances of winning the lottery, however, are slim-to-none. This just goes to show that this activity is a culturally accepted habit, even though it can be detrimental to those who cannot control themselves.

What are the symptoms?

Some of the signs and symptoms of problem gambling include:

  • A person may start to gamble even if they don’t have the money to do so.
  • A person may not have enough money to meet basic needs.
  • A person may start asking friends or family to let them borrow some money.
  • A person hides their “hobby”.

Naturally, the sign of a gambling problem, like any other addiction, is that you do not feel you can beat the habit. You may be addicted to a game if you feel like you just need to try again or if you feel anxiety when thinking about quitting. When you suspect a gambling addiction will influence you and your loved one, call and chat about the symptoms so you can better understand what it really is.

What is at risk?

Since gambling is likely to cause stress and anxiety, it’s no surprise that gambling addiction can cause other mental/physical health issues. Depression and anxiety can lead to sleep loss and this may lead to pale skin, weight gain or loss of weight, acne and dark eye circles or even suicidal thoughts if the mental state of a person gets bad enough.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is related to many other short and long-term effects. Gambling addiction also triggers other addictions that serve as an adjustment mechanism for people who are suffering from something like depression, often brought about by gambling. Most participants use medications, liquor, and other behaviors to relieve the anxiety caused by gambling or to help them focus. Gambling addiction can also cause some serious turmoil in your financial, professional, and relational aspects of life. It can lead to financial trouble, lack of trust in relationships, and the workplace.

Quitting is Possible

When you find that you have an issue with gambling/betting, question whether or not this habit is benefiting you in any way. If you start to feel nervous at the thought of stopping or feel as though your habit is not an issue, you may have developed an addiction. Don’t be afraid to admit defeat, ask for help. We all stumble sometimes but the important thing is that we get back up however we can. It is not an easy task to quit gambling, but it can be achieved. 

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.