Take a Gamble on Recovery

Online gambling is risky for those who are genetically predisposed to addiction. That doesn’t stop more than 11 percent of the British public from rolling the dice on internet casinos. With 75 percent of UK adults participating in some form of gambling, it’s no wonder that the number of people requiring gambling addiction support is increasing every year.

Researchers have discovered three categories of biological reasons for problem gamblers, including attention deficit, low endorphins, and chemical imbalances. Psychological reasons are the need for stimulation or mental problems, such as depression, insecurity, and guilt. Some scientists insist that compulsive gambling is a disease that requires lifetime treatment. In this instance, the “sick” gambler works towards recovery with medical and behavioural doctors.

Know the Symptoms and Consequences

People with gambling addictions may gamble frequently or infrequently. One common trait of an addict is when he or she starts gambling, it’s almost impossible to stop. Gambling becomes time consuming, with the addict taking bigger risks, lying, stealing, and neglecting responsibilities. Addicted gamblers may sell possessions, avoid work, or neglect bills.

Compulsive gamblers choose gambling as the centre of life. It becomes an obsession that causes the addict to lose interest in his or her regular daily activities. Gambling becomes more important than anything else, leading to other issues. Gambling addiction comes with a host of problems, including unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse, bankruptcy, and estranged relationships with friends and family.

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Compulsive gambling is similar to drug addiction because it also releases endorphins in the brain. These feel-good chemicals cause the brain to crave the high again and again. So, in the 1980’s, psychiatrists classified compulsive gambling as an addiction rather than a compulsion.

In the brain’s complex structure, humans receive a chemical infusion of dopamine that rewards the brain with feelings of pleasure for certain activities like sex, eating, and other life-sustaining activities. Addictive drugs help the brain to release extreme amounts of dopamine, causing the body to get used to the chemical and require more to fuel the same level of elation. In gambling, the reward system also creates feelings of satisfaction in the brain. Like a drug addict, when separated from the high of the experience, the gambler experiences withdrawal symptoms.

Treat the Addiction

Medication, support groups, and therapy are common treatments for gambling addiction. In a programme like Gambler’s Anonymous (GA), addicts work within a support group to abstain from all gambling activities. However, more than 75 percent of GA participants gamble again within their first year of participation. GA participants who are using other addiction prevention activities in recovery efforts, such as therapy, were more successful.

In therapy, a psychologist examines the thought patterns that led to the gambling addiction. The gambler may continue to chase a jackpot, hoping that it will resolve all financial worries. Once the main cause is identified, the therapist and the patient can work together on options for recovery. The underlying causes of gambling are addressed, allowing the addict to change his or her perception and refocus on activities that matter in life.