The Science Behind Gambling Addiction

The addictive condition is known as gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling is characterized by the compulsive desire to gamble constantly. As we know, when someone risks something valuable for the possibility of gaining something more valuable, it is called gambling. Gambling in most cases involves the wagering of money, but it can also include the wagering of items of value or property. Usually, you can engage in gambling via site playing different games (for instance, poker or roulette), lottery tickets, slot machines, scratch cards, or betting (to name a few, fixed-odds, sports, spread, and virtual).

Once addicted, there is an irresistible urge to keep gambling irrespective of the harmful influences it has on one’s life. The brain’s reward system is stimulated by gambling, just as it is by drugs or alcohol, leading to extreme obsession. An addiction to compulsive gambling can lead you to chase bets that only lead to losses, put on false pretence, exhaust all your savings, fall into debt, and in the worst-case scenario, take recourse to steal and deception to finance your addiction.

The Way Addictive Gambling Befalls on Someone’s Head

It is quite frequent that the gambling industry itself enables and perpetuates gambling behaviour and addiction. Online and social media marketing strategies, television, newspaper ads, billboards, and sponsorships are all avenues for gambling advertising to attract both new and consistent players. Due to the ability to target demographics and interests online, online advertising is particularly effective. A couple of clicks of the mouse can, therefore, induce the ad-viewer to participate in online gambling.

Another very common marketing strategy is to offer incentives to attract new gamblers with ‘welcome incentives,’ which usually apply to online gambling. No matter how attractive they may seem, these offers often come with concealed terms and conditions which obligate the participant to keep gambling. Moreover, the process of registering and depositing money on online gambling sites is simple, but withdrawing winnings is more challenging. As a result, the person is less likely to withdraw and instead continue to gamble. 

What Makes Gambling Addictive

The addictive nature of gambling can be very similar to that of drug addiction. Boosting the reward pathway in the brain results in satisfaction in both circumstances. It is believed that stimulation of the reward pathway causes the release of dopamine, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling associated with it. In addition to the ease and speed of play that is made possible by easy and fast gambling products, such as fixed odds, near wins – losses disguised as wins – can also be addictive. 

The brain adapts and uses less dopamine to respond to gambling, leading to an eventual tolerance that causes the brain’s neurons to adapt. Gamblers who cannot resist their urge to gamble often engage in more risky ventures to create the same feeling of satisfaction, which often makes it difficult for them to stop gambling.

The Most Common Symptoms

The compulsion to gamble (gambling disorder) is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Constantly brainstorming ways to increase your gambling money, which can be interpreted as being obsessed with gambling.
  • To get the same thrill, you must increase your bet size. 
  • A feeling of restlessness or irritability when you try to reduce gambling.
  • Gambling away your hard-earned money and asking for others to bail you out.
  • To get money for gambling, you resort to theft or fraud.

The Diagnosis of Gambling Addiction

Obtaining information about gambling habits, medical history, and mental health status can help determine whether one is addicted to gambling. These data can help to improve the science behind gambling addiction. 

When reviewing one’s medical history, it may be possible to discover medications or health concerns that are contributing to compulsive behaviour. In addition to a psychological evaluation, a psychiatric evaluation may be required to determine if any mental health problems may be implicated in excessive gambling. 

Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Admitting that you have a gambling addiction is the first step in receiving treatment for it. Compulsion gamblers often find it difficult to recognize they have a problem, and this can make treatment more difficult. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers, including medications used to treat mental disorders, may significantly reduce gambling behaviours in some people. 

Behavioural changes and support are usually the focus of long-term treatment to overcome gambling addiction. Psychotherapy, whether behavioural or cognitive, is often beneficial. In spite of treatment, it’s important to realize that relapse is still possible, especially if subject to gambling environments or other gamblers.

Gambling addiction will not only cost you but also the ones that surround your very presence. If you think you are falling victim to gambling addiction as per the symptoms mentioned above, just know it is never too late to turn your life around. One step at a time, everything is attainable. 

Written by Austin Crane

Austin is the principle web director for Untamed Science and Stone Age Man. He is also the web-director of the series for the High School biology, Middle Grades Science and Elementary Science content. When Austin isn't making amazing content for the web, he's out on his mountain bike or in a canoe.

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