Addiction Issues Specific to Gamblers

Addiction Issues Specific to GamblersNot all gamblers are addicts, nor will they fall into some form of addiction in their lifetime. However, gambling can develop into a compulsive behavior and addiction if people are not careful. The brain chemistry of a gambling addict differs from a non-addictive gambler, just like the brain of a drug addict differs from a non-drug user.

The major idea behind gambling addiction lies in the brain’s production of dopamine, the chemical that regulates behavior by activating the brain’s reward center. For gamblers, the excitement, anticipation and energy of gambling comes from the release of dopamine. Overtime the brain releases the chemical when it identifies a symbol that represents a behavior. Because the brain associates specific images and activities with excitement and pleasure, seeing these cues will produce dopamine, so addicts will feel the need to gamble. In short, a gambling addict does not gamble because it is enjoyable, but because she craves the effects of dopamine. This chemical response is almost identical to the chemical dependence for drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviors.

How Mental Health Affects Gambling Addiction

Both mental and emotional health play an important role in the manifestation and progression of addiction. The energy, excitement and pleasure of gambling can entice individuals suffering from mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. The increased production of dopamine will relieve or minimize the negative symptoms of these mood disorders.

Gambling can also distract or numb people to other stressors and life problems. Gambling can act as a coping mechanism for individuals who cannot deal with negative issues and emotions. These same addictive tendencies are seen in both drug and alcohol addicts.

On the other end, mental health and emotional problems are common effects of gambling and other addictions. As addiction disrupts the brain’s chemical balance, imbalanced levels may remain. This can cause mood and other mental health disorders. In addition, any addiction will cause numerous career, relationship, legal and financial problems that overwhelm people and lead to negative feelings and emotions. Furthermore, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety may also develop.

Are Gamblers at a Higher Risk for Addiction?

It is easy to fall into the world of gambling. It is a high-risk activity, and those willing to participate are eager candidates for even riskier behaviors. Losing money, owing bookies, falling into debt and having to steal or borrow from others are all common issues that result from habitual gambling. While the brain strongly affects compulsive gambling, the effects of compulsive gambling make people susceptible to other addictive behaviors. Many gamblers fall into substance abuse and addiction to cope with the possible tragedies that can result from heavy gambling.

Gambling Addiction Treatment

If you struggle with gambling-related issues like addiction, substance abuse, mental health problems or mood disorders, we can help you find treatment if you call our toll-free helpline. Our addiction counselors are available 24 hours a day to speak with you about your options of effective treatment and recovery services. Counselors can answer your questions, provide you with information and help you find the individualized treatment that is right for you recovery. If you are ready to end to your addiction, we can help.