The thrill of the gambling experience is shared. Though not everyone may be as equally enticed by the promise of a big win, most people respond to gambling the same way biologically and psychologically. The heart starts racing, the mind is stimulated, and win or lose there is a surge in the production of dopamine, thrilled by the anticipation of making a big win. Most people are able to walk away from gambling when they feel their luck has run out, they lose interest, are too tired, or want to go home. Despite the manipulative techniques of gambling areas- no clocks, flowing alcohol, pumping fresh oxygen, stimulating sights and sounds, most people can stop. Addiction is characterized by an inability to stop. For gambling addicts, the win is never big enough, the promise of the next win is too good, and the negative consequences which build over time are never enough to stop gambling.
Getting addicted to gambling is not an experience that everyone can understand. Researchers aren’t sure if the gambling addict is predisposed to gambling addiction specifically. What they have concluded is that gambling is a compulsive behavioral issue and the empirical data into gambling legitimizes it as an addiction, not just a compulsion. Here are four other things you might want to know about gambling addiction if you think your loved one might be a gambling addict.
- It starts with a win: Every addiction starts with just one. A drug addict has their first experience with drugs. An alcoholic has their first drink. For the gambling addict, they have their first big thrilling win. Creating a hyperproduction in dopamine, the neurotransmitter which produces feelings of pleasure, the brain immediately makes an attachment between pleasure and gambling.
- The hope of winning is greater than the fear of losing: Loss after loss, the fear of losing again doesn’t phase someone who is addicted to gambling. It is likely they will think about it and even more likely they will experience debilitating shame or guilt about it. Still, the hope of winning will surpass.
- There is delusion about winning: Winning is no longer a matter of stakes, logic, or mathematics. Gambling becomes a personal quest and part of the identity. Winning has nothing to do with chance, but everything to do with entitlement. As problems have grown worse for the gambling addict, their addiction to gambling gets worse. The promise of winning is enough to convince the gambling addict that the next win could fix everything. Deserving of that win, of a second chance, and knowing the stakes could be in their favor, they continue to gamble.
- Gambling addicts can’t just stop. Gambling addiction has been compared to a chemical addiction. From friendly car games to illegal betting rings, the stakes get higher and higher. Like an individual addicted to drugs and alcohol, someone who is addicted to gambling cannot just stop gambling. There is no “detox” for gambling, but it is common for gambling addicts to experience “withdrawal” symptoms.
Hired Power can help you and your family find recovery from gambling addiction. From intervention to recovery monitoring, our dynamic team of experienced recovery professionals are here to support you every step of the way. For information, call us today at 800-910-9299.