Gambling Addiction

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. Instances of strategy are discounted, which means that the chance of winning is much lower than would be suggested by the odds of an event occurring. Gambling can be done in a variety of settings, and many countries have legalized gambling to provide significant tax revenues. Gambling is usually a form of entertainment, but it can also be a source of excitement and thrill-seeking. People are more sensitive to losses than gains of equal value, which can make it even more tempting to keep betting in an effort to win back the money lost.

It’s important to understand that gambling addiction isn’t just about greed, it’s a compulsion that is driven by a need to relieve anxiety. It’s similar to other impulse-control disorders, such as kleptomania or pyromania. In fact, pathological gambling was recently moved from the psychiatric literature’s compulsive behaviors section to the addictions disorder chapter of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

There are many factors that can contribute to an addictive tendency to gamble, including genetic predispositions, boredom susceptibility, use of escape coping mechanisms, impulsivity, and stressors in one’s life. In addition, the behavior of gambling activates the brain’s reward system, which can lead to a high level of dopamine activation. This can be reinforced by the positive reinforcement received when a person wins.

People with a gambling problem often hide their spending from others and lie about how much they are gambling. They may feel that if they do not admit their addiction to anyone, it will be easier for them to stop. In reality, hiding the truth only makes it harder for them to break free of their addiction.

Another factor that can lead to gambling addiction is a false sense of control. Humans want to feel in control, so it’s easy for people with a gambling addiction to convince themselves that they can gain control over their gambling by doing things like throwing dice in a certain way or wearing a lucky shirt. In reality, however, gambling is random and there is no such thing as control over the outcome of a game.

Addiction to gambling can cause many problems, from financial ruin to strained or broken relationships. The biggest step is realizing that a person has a gambling problem. Once this is accomplished, there are many resources available to help them break free of their gambling addiction and rebuild their lives. Some of these resources include peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which uses a 12-step recovery program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, online counseling services such as BetterHelp can match you with a licensed, accredited therapist who can help with depression, anxiety, and relationships. Take the assessment and be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.