All About Gambling Addiction: Should You Be Worried?


Why is gambling addictive?

From a scientific point of view, gambling can dramatically affect the way our brain sends chemical messages. Placing a bet stimulates the brain’s reward system, much like drugs or alcohol. Problem gamblers experience dopamine releases of up to 10 times the normal amount as their bodies develop tolerance to natural dopamine levels. The gambling addict’s brain becomes conditioned to want more and more stimulation each time before triggering a rewarding pleasurable feeling. Experts believe that most compulsive gamblers have psychological or genetic predispositions that make them prone to addiction.

How can you tell if someone has a gambling problem?

While gambling behaviour is often well hidden, learning about gambling addiction symptoms can help you detect it. Be on the lookout for changes in the gambler’s finances, mood swings, and the way they spend their time.

In addition to money missing from bank accounts, financial warning signs include taking out loans, failing to pay bills, keeping food cupboards bare, and selling valuables and other household items.

Behavioural signs include a low performance at work, being withdrawn from social events, seeming upset for no reason, feeling depressed or frustrated, and trying to control or manipulate others.

In addition to spending more and more time gambling, a problem gambler may also be secretive about frequent absences, take a lot of sick days or time off, and run late even for important commitments.

Is gambling a mental illness?

No, but it can cause addiction. When discussing the effects of gambling on mental health, it’s important to understand the difference between sensible players and problem gamblers. People gamble for a variety of reasons – such as the adrenaline high, the competitive element, the potential financial reward, or an escape from stress and other worries. But we don’t all have the same psychological and genetic predispositions for developing addictions: While a minor percentage of players will eventually become problem gamblers, for most people, playing casino games or betting moderately will remain just a fun pastime.

How can I stop a gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction is a serious problem that can lead to financial ruin, debt, and even suicide. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, seek help as soon as possible. First off, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re unlikely to succeed in tackling the problem on your own. Be open about your gambling habit with your family and friends – you’ll need their support to overcome your addiction. If you live in the UK, there are several institutions that provide professional help to problem gamblers: GamCare, which runs the National Gambling Helpline, the National Centre for Gaming Disorders, the National Problem Gambling Clinic, and Gamblers Anonymous UK are just some of the organisations that can help you.