Gambling Addiction & Recovery – Everything You Should Know

gambling-addictionGambling is one of the best activities for you during your leisure time. However, the highs and lows of wagering can become addictive. And it may seriously affect you and your loved ones. A compulsive gambler can lose millions of dollars in a few hours, days, or weeks because it’s difficult to stop. After winning, players can be so exhilarated that they’ll begin to crave those feeling again. When they lose, they’ll do everything they can to recover the loss. However, this doesn’t happen most of the time since casino games have been designed to favor the house. Spending too much time in a casino or on your phone playing online casino games can be addictive.

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Warning signs of addiction

How do you know if you are a gambling addict? It’s not always easy to tell if one is an addict since most gamblers are usually in denial. Here are a few common symptoms of a gambling addict:

  • Giving up recreational activities, hobbies, or important family events to play online casino games
  • Applying for credit cards or opening a new account without any necessary need for money
  • Spending huge amounts of money in a casino
  • Having conflicts at work or home due to gambling
  • Loss of control over how much money you spend in a casino
  • Resorting to fraud or theft to get money to gamble
  • Attempting to recover losses by placing more wagers.

Unlike gamblers who play their favorite games to have fun and win, addicted gamblers never know when they should stop. As they play they are compelled to try to recover their losses. In most cases, the person who loses more than they expected usually feels terrible and tries to recover the losses by placing higher wagers. And this leads to losing more money. This cycle can harm an individual’s financial, physical, and emotional health.

Gambling and the brain

Studies have shown that gambling addiction involves the release of dopamine in the brain. Addictive substances affect the reward system of the brain and stimulate the release of this hormone by ten times more than the usual amount. Gambling addicts will place high and risky wagers to experience the joy of receiving the large amounts of money they once received. Further, people who suffer from compulsive gambling usually suffer the symptoms of withdrawal when they try to quit.

Effects of gambling addiction

One of the most common effects of gambling addiction is the huge debt that an individual accumulates over time. Studies show that the average debt that an addict accumulates ranges between $40000 to $70000. Gambling addicts also lose their jobs because they end up neglecting their duties or missing work to gamble. Most gamblers will resort to fraud or theft to fund their gambling activities. Those who will have a hard time paying their debts will be forced to declare themselves bankrupt.

Financial stress not only burdens the individual but also their families. Loved ones end up separating and children are usually the innocent victims of emotional chaos at home. Apart from financial stress, gambling addicts have to endure headaches, ulcers, and insomnia due to high levels of stress. Gambling addicts are likely to consume excessive alcohol and other drugs which can lead to devastating effects.

Treating gambling addiction

Just like other addictions, medical experts have discovered that compulsive gamblers usually respond positively to psychosocial and pharmacological treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is quite effective in solving gambling issues. It develops prevention skills and helps the individual identify underlying addiction issues. Gambling addicts need to:

  • Understand the issue: It’s quite difficult to solve a problem that you don’t understand. To avoid gambling issues, you have to acknowledge that you have problems with gambling. Honesty is key here.
  • Join a support group: After recognizing your problem, you need to seek help from a support group. Support groups are comprised of people who have similar experiences to you. You can also look for online groups if you don’t feel comfortable socializing.

Avoid temptations: To fully recover, you need to avoid places, people, and activities that are linked to gambling completely. When you avoid these triggers, it will be difficult for you to have thoughts or feelings about gambling.

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