What Are the Consequences of a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling is a popular pastime that can bring pleasure and excitement, as well as the chance to win big. However, it is not without its risks. Some people become addicted to gambling, and it can have negative impacts on their lives and those around them. Those with a problem are often unable to stop gambling, even when they know it is causing harm. The consequences of a gambling addiction can be severe and affect all areas of life, from financial to family and even physical health.

The onset of gambling problems can happen at any age, although they typically develop in adulthood. Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviour. Approximately 0.4% to 1.6% of Americans meet the criteria for a PG diagnosis, which can lead to a wide variety of problems. Those with a PG diagnosis have difficulty controlling their gambling behaviour, which can cause them to gamble more frequently or for longer periods of time. PG often occurs alongside other mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety.

While the majority of people who gamble do so for entertainment purposes, some are addicted to gambling and may not realize it. This is particularly true for those who gamble in a casino setting, where they often have access to food, drink and other amenities that can distract them from their gambling behaviour. In addition, gambling can be a social activity for those who enjoy it, and many groups of friends organize trips to casinos in the hopes of winning big.

The brain’s natural reward system is activated when one wins money, which is why it is so difficult for someone with a gambling problem to stop. When they win, their brain produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes them feel excited and happy. This explains why some people keep gambling after they have already won once or twice, and why they continue to gamble even when it becomes costly.

In addition, it is common for a gambler to try to “chase” their losses – spend more than they have won in an attempt to recover the money they lost. This behavior can result in serious repercussions, including bankruptcy and homelessness. It can also cause people to lie, embezzle, forgery and theft in order to finance their gambling activities.

The most significant step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. This can be a very hard decision, especially for those who have already suffered significant losses and strained or broken relationships as a result of their gambling habits. But it is important to remember that you are not alone, and there is help available. If you or a loved one has a gambling problem, talk to a therapist. You can be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours. Licensed, professional and vetted therapists are ready to help you. Click to get started.