Gambling by definition, is taking a risky action in the hope of a specific result. Taking risks is part of human nature and not everyone who gambles will go on to develop an addiction, but for some what at first seems like harmless fun, can turn into fixation.
All forms of gambling can become addictive, research shows that gambling activates the reward centre in the brain. This releases dopamine which results in a feeling of pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation.
A person suffering from addiction may continually chase this pleasurable feeling, often placing bets leading to losses or engaging in unsocial behaviour to facilitate their addiction. Complications resulting from a gambling addiction can often spill over into other aspects of the individual’s life, such as relationships, finances, legal problems, job loss and poor general health.
Exactly what causes a gambling addiction varies, in many cases the addiction is a result of multiple factors, and many times, there is no one factor to blame. To put it simply, the problem gambler is willing to risk something that they value… in the hope of winning something, that is in their opinion, of even greater value.
The first step in recovery is understanding the point at which a hobby becomes an addiction.
A gambling addiction can be identified in instances where the individual is unable to control their impulses. The person suffering from addiction must consider how gambling is affecting their life. If there are negative impacts on any aspect of their life stemming from gambling, and the individual continues to gamble, then the gambling quickly makes the transition from a hobby to a problem.
The problem gambler may begin to do things that they would not normally do such as spending more money than they can afford, being dishonest about their gambling habits or spending a lot of free time gambling.
The problem gambler does not necessarily have to gamble every day; however, they are often unable to stop gambling once they have started. The person suffering from addiction does not have to spend more money than they have. One individual may have more disposable income than another, but the frequency and intensity of gambling sessions can be just as concerning.
Problem gambling is not easy to identify, unlike other types of addiction it often goes unrecognised. The person suffering from addiction often becomes skilled in hiding and rationalizing their activities, while placing the blame on others.
The first step towards recovery is honesty, firstly it is important to admit to yourself that you need help. It is not embarrassing or shameful, the recovery process cannot begin without identification and acceptance of the problem.
Secondly, it is important for your actions to become transparent. When you stop hiding your behaviour from loved ones, you can take full responsibility for your actions. What might seem like over interest in your life can actually be your loved ones showing you that they care. It is important to use your support network as a shoulder to lean on during your battle against gambling addiction.
If you think you may be affected by a gambling addiction, then you should seek help sooner rather than later. It is important to remember that it is ok to ask for help. Remain confident in yourself, a common misconception is that the problem gambler is irresponsible, this is not the case. A gambling addiction can affect anyone, there is no rhythm or rhyme to the type of individual affected by addiction.
Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy and friendly environment. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t need to go through this alone.