Pathological Gambling

Gambling is an activity that involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent to win a prize. While it is typically thought of as a casino-based activity, there are many ways to gamble, including sports betting, online gaming and scratch tickets. In addition, gambling can also occur in a variety of social settings, such as bar games and poker tournaments.

While most adults and adolescents have placed a bet, some people develop problems when they engage in this behavior. This is known as ‘pathological gambling’ and it can affect all aspects of an individual’s life, from work to relationships. People with pathological gambling can become withdrawn, irritable, depressed and anxious, and they may experience difficulty sleeping.

Some experts suggest that the development of gambling problems is related to a lack of impulse control. They note that the urge to gamble triggers an adrenaline response and increases dopamine levels in the brain. As a result, this can disrupt the normal function of the reward system and cause an addictive response to gambling.

This is why some people find it difficult to quit gambling. Others have a hard time recognizing that they have a problem and don’t know how to get help. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to those who struggle with this issue. There are online therapy services that can match you with a licensed, accredited therapist who can help you with your gambling addiction. BetterHelp, for example, can provide you with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.

Symptoms of gambling addiction may include secretiveness, lying to friends and family about how much you’re spending on gambling, feeling compelled to keep playing in order to ‘win back’ money you’ve already lost and engaging in risky behaviors like using credit cards or loans to fund your gambling habit. Other symptoms may include a desire to spend more time at the casino, frequent feelings of restlessness or boredom, increased isolation, stress and depression, and difficulty concentrating.

Gambling addiction can be complex, and it’s important to understand the specific factors that influence someone’s likelihood of developing a problem. These factors can include: an early big win, the size of that win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, use of escape coping, stressful life experiences and depression.

The first step to overcoming gambling addiction is admitting you have a problem. This can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships because of your gambling. But it’s essential to take this first step, and there are many resources available to those who are ready to quit. You can start by strengthening your support network, finding healthy and productive ways to relieve boredom and stress, or enrolling in an online therapy service like BetterHelp. You can also join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.

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