Let me get this straight. Gambling in itself is not harmful. Many people who wager never once developed a gambling problem. We oftentimes meet gamblers who did not experience any problems with their finances, relationships, and work responsibilities. In other words, they are completely safe, responsible, and functional individuals who are aware of what they are doing.
From time to time, people may experience harmless fun. But when gambling behaviour becomes out of control, it starts to creep in, take over a person’s life, and may have adverse effects on some facets of an individual’s life such as personal relationship, performance at work, and even finances.
Exactly what causes a person to be addicted to gambling? Gambling addiction, often referred to as “compulsive gambling” is a behavioural addiction that is characterized by having a constant urge to gamble despite its negative effects on the person’s life.
Note that gambling addiction is not a monolithic condition. Hence, there are many ranges of the spectrum, few are listed below.
For someone with a gambling addiction, the feeling of gambling may be likened to using illegal substances. Many studies contend that gambling behaviour alters the person’s state of mind. For those who have addiction or in a spectrum, they use gambling as an avenue to seek relief from restlessness and irritability. Just like any habit-forming activities, it is associated with the release of dopamine which is 10 times greater than the normal. The release of dopamine tells the brain, “This feels good!” and “I want more.” A vicious cycle then develops. The person may keep on repeating the same behaviour in an attempt to achieve the same effects.
Some casual gamblers stop when they reach a loss limit. But persons who have compulsive gambling problem will keep on playing in the flimsy hope of recovering what they have lost. And if this practice becomes perennial – it may be destructive over time. They may run the risk of facing financial problems, including insolvency and bankruptcy. They have the tendency to borrowing money from a loved one, friend, even financial institutions just to recoup his losses.
When a person has a gambling problem, he is willing to risk even the most valuable and intimate part of his life – relationships. Compulsive gambling can have profound consequences on someone’s life. A person may endanger his relationship with his loved ones. Simply put, gambling problems causes negative effects on any area of the individual’s life.
People who have gambling addiction spend their last drop of penny until there is nothing to shed. They then move on to money they don’t have – the cash advance from their credit card, borrow from their loved ones or even to loan sharks, and worst steal just to sustain their addiction. This may lead to legal problems or imprisonment.
The earlier these signs and symptoms are recognized, the sooner we could address them so they won’t lead to anything serious such as addiction.
There is no sure-fire solutions to prevent or cure gambling problems. However, knowledge and educational programs may counter or address the signs and symptoms of an addiction. If you recognize your own behaviour from the list of signs, it may be high time to pause, contemplate, and seek ways to address these problems.