A long time ago, the idea of a person becoming addicted to gambling like a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol was a controversial subject. In some instances, gambling is not a full on addiction yet in others it becomes an uncontrollable urge which cannot be stopped without therapeutic intervention. Learn the true reality of online gambling addiction and how to seek help if gambling has become a problem.
In the past, pathological gambling was more of a compulsion than addiction, primarily motivated by relieving anxiety as opposed to craving intensely pleasurable feelings. Four in five Americans say gambling has happened at least once but when people do not need to leave the house to gamble anymore, the stigma is lowered and inhibitions fall by way of an internet connection. Nearly two million people in the United States are suspected of having a gambling addiction.
Neuroscience of Gambling
A series of circuits in the cranium known as the reward system link memory, movement, pleasure and motivation. When people engage in activities which produce a reward, the individual will continually seek the pleasurable activity to produce more of the reward. People with addiction build tolerance to a drug, needing more of the “drug” (gambling, in this case) in larger amounts or withdrawal occurs. Pathological gamblers and people with drug addiction share many genetic predispositions for impulsivity and reward seeking behavior. Compulsive gamblers will seek riskier ventures and continually higher stakes. A new understanding of compulsive gambling is helping scientists redefine addiction itself and its impact on the brain and body.
Anything a person does alters the brain. Physical changes can occur which alter a person’s perception of an experience and keep the individual locked into addiction. The following are some ways that people with gambling addiction have been helped.
Medication and Therapy
Therapists now believe pathological gamblers respond better to medication and therapy mostly used in addictions rather than strategies to change compulsions. Certain antidepressants may alleviate symptoms of impulse-control disorders but have not worked well for pathological gamblers. Medications used to treat substance abuse addictions seem to work more effectively.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
People who learn how to resist unwanted thoughts and habits can be successful in kicking an online gambling addiction. More than 80 percent of people with gambling addiction never seek treatment. Of those who do, up to 75 percent return to the habit. Learning how to resist temptation, putting it into practice and sticking with therapy can be helpful but is not a panacea for addiction to gambling.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and other community support groups can be helpful in providing a safe space to talk about addiction to gambling in a nonjudgmental place. A person with gambling addiction can speak openly, receive support and find ways that work for the individual to finally be free of addiction.
Gambling addiction can have serious financial and personal repercussions. If you are spending more money than you are able to on gambling or cannot control the urge to gamble on or offline, it may be time to seek help. Call Hired Power to see how we can help transform your life and help you kick addiction.