Gambling addiction, now reclassified as gambling disorder, is marked by a consistent inability to control urges to gamble, despite negative consequences or a desire to stop. Sufferers are preoccupied with thoughts about gambling and obtaining funding for it. They tend to wager progressively larger amounts or to pursue ever greater risks. They persist with the behaviour, regardless of financial losses and a variety of extended problems caused by it.
We can help with gambling disorder
If you are reading this, you probably need our professional experience to resolve a gambling disorder. We can help.
People with gambling disorder do not gamble because of the normal desire for wealth or need for money. They do it to get a “kick” from it. They have dysfunctional neural connections that force them to create excitement in order to feel good. The competitive spirit, thrill of the chase, dramatic expectations, and overall excitement generated by gambling, stimulate the release of natural hormones that provide feelings of wellbeing.
Compulsive gamblers rationalise to justify gambling. They often claim to have unique “systems” to predict the outcome of events. Also, after a string of losses, they argue that – if they keep betting – the law of averages will even things out. When they win, they nurture it as proof of success. In real life, their arguments are delusional. The odds are always against them and they tend to ignore their accumulated losses.
Gamblers often promise to solve their problem by simply quitting. However, there are usually underlying issues driving their behaviour. Unless it is resolved, the risk of relapsing or shifting to other escapism disorders remains high. Gamblers also rationalise that the disorder does not justify rehab treatment. In reality, it is just as severe and complicated as any other disorder and therapy is the only viable long term recovery option.
How the gambling cookie crumbles
Gambling is the act of risking the loss of an asset, based on an unpredictable outcome, in the hope of gaining a greater asset in return. Most people take occasional chances and usually it does not mean that they have behaviour problems. However, some people are predisposed to developing gambling disorder (also known as ludomania) that invariably leads to significant problems.
Gambling disorder is about more than just frequently betting and losing money. It undermines a host of personal, interpersonal and other elements of life. Research shows that people suffering from it also tend to have, or acquire, other psychiatric disruptions, including personality, anxiety and stress disorders.
In professional health circles gambling disorder is acknowledged as an overwhelming, involuntary emotional condition. It is not due to weakness of character or poor intellect. It is rooted in neural pathways that have been distorted by environmental influences, genetics and emotional trauma that existed prior to the start of the gambling behaviour.
When the neural circuits that feed the brain’s reward system underperform, the brain urges sufferers into taking risks, in order to stimulate the release of the natural chemicals that create the feelings of reward. Just like certain drugs, it develops tolerance, which means victims need progressively more gambling thrills to achieve the same level of reward.
Persons with gambling disorder can have tranquil periods when the urges subside and gambling does not appear to be a problem, interspersed by periods of obsessive indulgence. If the sufferer resists or stops their gambling behaviour when the impulses are active, they experience withdrawals, including irritability, anxiety and depression.
Potential damage resulting from gambling disorder includes relationship and vocational problems, financial strain, fraud, theft, substance abuse disorder and other comorbidities. When the consequences of the disorder eventually culminate in desperation, there is a significant danger of suicide.
Advice about gambling issues
If you have uncertainties about gambling disorder issues, just pick up your phone and dial our number. It’s that easy to get guidance from a friendly, experienced counsellor.
We will emphatically listen, assess your problem, focus on your specific issues and advise you. We can diagnose mental disorders and comorbidities, design and implement peronalised treatment plans based on motivational interviewing and advanced cognitive therapy. We conduct more individual therapy sessions than most centres. We also offer partner, family and employee intervention.
Public platforms provide generalised information. People with gambling disorder must obtain personal advice, relevant to their specific circumstances, from a professional health counselor.