Can I Get Addicted to Playing the Lottery?

Can I Get Addicted to Playing the Lottery?A wide range of psychological functions are controlled by a sensitive, intricate system of chemicals in the brain. Imbalances in this system, even subtle ones, can have serious behavioral, emotional and even physiological repercussions. As unlikely as it may seem, even something as seemingly innocuous as playing the lottery can become a compulsive behavior with devastating results.

How Gambling Addiction Happens

The reward center of the brain is central to many of the most important and powerful psychological functions, including the following:

  • Impulse control
  • The formation of behavioral patterns and habits
  • Emotional regulation
  • The formation and recall of memories
  • Anxiety management

Certain behaviors cause spikes in brain chemicals that stimulate this part of the brain. In much the same way as drugs or alcohol, these behaviors trigger this reward system by releasing chemicals such as endorphins and adrenaline. Some of the behaviors that cause these stimulations in the brain include the following:

  • Sexual activity
  • Athletic activity
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Self-harm (cutting, etc)
  • Tattooing
  • Thrill-seeking (racing, skydiving, etc)
  • Gambling

Gambling seems to have a particularly strong effect in some people because it includes both the risk of loss (the thrill) with the occasional reward of winning. In this way gambling appeals directly to the emotional aspect of the brain rather than the rational one. The emotional core forms habits and behaviors much more strongly than the rational core, which makes it quite difficult – if not impossible – to quit an addiction even when the disease has cost someone all of her money, relationships and even her health. Behavioral addiction can be every bit as difficult to conquer as drug or alcohol addiction.

The lottery, of course, is just another way to gamble. Lottery tickets are sold in high-traffic areas that are especially powerful as impulse purchases. Millions of people are addicted to playing the lottery. Unfortunately most of them are the ones who can least afford it.

How to Treat Gambling Addiction

Treatment for gambling addiction is similar to treatment for substance abuse. There are essentially two main aspects to the treatment: physical and psychological. Just like a drug addict going through detox, the gambling addict needs a safe, monitored and accountable environment in which to stop gambling and deal with the physiological and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Unlike drugs or alcohol, gambling withdrawal doesn’t lead to physical symptoms like fevers or nausea, but the symptoms are powerful nonetheless. Some of the symptoms of gambling withdrawal include the following:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Denial, dishonesty and desperation

Gambling cravings can be a real problem for months or even years following treatment. Learning how to manage cravings and how to welcome accountability are crucial steps in the recovery process, and they greatly increase the likelihood of long-term gambling sobriety.

Gambling or Lottery Addiction Help

If you have tried to quit playing the lottery but keep going back to it, you may need professional help. Call our toll-free helpline; we are open 24 hours a day. Our counselors will answer any questions and walk you through the recovery process. Gambling addiction is real and powerful. Millions have lost their careers, their savings, their financial stability, their relationships and even their lives due to this disease. Get the help you need. Call today.