Also known as pathological gambling or gambling disorder, compulsive gambling is an uncontrollable urge to continue gambling regardless of the negative consequences it brings to your life and the people around you. Compulsive gamblers are willing to risk something they value with the hope to get more value out of it despite losing their savings and getting into more and more debts. They often hide their behavior from family and critics. Some of them even resort to fraud and theft as a way of supporting their behavior. Buying Lottery, Playing Slots, Poker, Casino Games, Cricket Betting or even day trading in cryptocurrency or stocks are all type of gambling activities.
The causes of pathological gambling aren’t often well known, but environmental, biological, and genetic causes have been suspected. For example, influence from others, age, sex, and mental health disorders have been cited as main victims. Whichever the cause, gambling disorder has serious effects on an individual’s life. And while treating it is a bit challenging, it’s possible with the intervention of an expert. Likewise, preventing the disorder is possible with expert help.
Why Gambling is Considered Addictive
Gambling is considered addictive because it triggers the brain’s reward system. Normally, the brain sends signals (via neurotransmitters) upon experiencing a reward like winning a game or sex. There are many neurotransmitters, but the main one for the rewarding system is dubbed dopamine. When the body experiences a rewarding experience, it triggers the brain to release more dopamine, which drives the underlying individual into pleasure and euphoria. Thus, s/he’s motivated to repeat the activity.
All rewarding experiences trigger the release of dopamine, but gambling seems to trigger more release. However, the majority of people aren’t often addicted to it, and this could spark a lot of questions about the explanation above. Well, scientists claim that several environmental and other factors influence addiction in different people.
How To Overcome Gambling Addiction
While it seems difficult to achieve, overcoming gambling is possible and once done, falling into the problem again is equally difficult. There are many suggested ways to overcome the disorder.
- Start By Understanding The Source
Without understanding the problem, you can’t devise the right solution for it. For example, if your friends are the main source of the trigger, you better is well-off without them if you want to keep off gambling.
- Find Alternative Things To Do
Like in alcoholism, a person struggling to stabilize after keeping gambling and its triggers away needs to fill their time with constructive stuff. For instance, you may choose to spend time with non-gamblers, engage in exercise, explore new hobbies, and do more.
- Avoid The Triggers
Keeping the places, people, and activities that cause one to have the thoughts and feelings of gambling at bay will help him/her away from gambling, too. For example, if passing by a friend’s house to gamble together after work is the problem, you can opt for another route after work.
- Join A Support Group
Gambling support groups work the same way as alcoholism support groups. They’re free to join and are run by people with the same problem. The members share their successes, strengths, and other experiences that can help keep one another away from the disorder. A popularly known support group is Gamblers Anonymous, which uses the same 12-step approach that’s used by other groups.
- Get Professional Assistance
People who’re deep into gambling disorders should seek a professional’s helping hand. Mental health experts are good at this, and the good news is that they’re globally available. They teach people how to effectively stay away from gambling, as well as improve their current attempts.
Did You Know That Winning Money Increases Your Chances of Becoming a Gambling Addict?
If your answer is NO, you now know. As explained earlier, the release of dopamine in a gambler’s brain increases with the increase of the underlying reward. Winning is the best reward a gambler can get from the activity. It will always trigger the release of dopamine; thus, easily leading to addiction. Likewise, viewing gambling as a source of income may motivate you to do it again, especially after winning. You increase your chances of becoming an addict when you gamble more times.
Consequences of a Compulsive Gambling Problem
Compulsive gambling has far-reaching consequences on the gambler and the people around him/her. Some of the repetitive social and personal consequences among different individuals include the following.
- Conflicts in a relationship brought about by either irritable secrecy or financial strains. For example, frequent calls from creditors may cause arguments that can set apart a family.
- Financial instability due to increased frequency in losses but with no sign of stopping the habit.
- Frequent fits of anger (especially after losing).
- Reduced productivity and or competence, which may lead to loss of jobs.
- Increased feelings of guilt, especially when the gambler doesn’t want others to discover that they lost.
- Neglect by parents due to being absorbed into gambling.
How To Help a Loved One Overcome
The effects of compulsive gambling extend beyond the individual to family members. If your family member’s gambling affects you, you have a significant role to play in helping them stay away from it. Some of the golden tips you can try out are as follows.
- Start With Yourself
It helps to start by controlling the effects you’re likely to suffer as a result of your loved one’s gambling effects. For example, you need to control your temper regardless of how the affected is pressuring you (e.g. for money). Also, be keen on how you talk to them about their problems. Don’t be rude.
- Seek Support
You may get overwhelmed by your loved one’s problem, and this is the right time to look for help from an expert. Experts will give you tips for handling the patient more cautiously and courteously. Furthermore, you’ll learn the fact that you’re not alone in it; many people are dealing with their partners’ gambling problems.
- Devise Better Money Management Strategies
If the loved one used to manage more money, consider taking over the management role. For example, if your husband is the patient, it helps to take over most of his financial management roles but only after making them understand. Please remember that you have to protect your money first.
The Bottom Line
We hope you’ve wrapped your head around the basic concepts of gambling by reading this content. You realize that it’s still possible to turn things around for a compulsive gambler, no matter how far the effects have reached. Take action now and keep away all the disorder’s undesirable negative effects on you.