Compulsive Gambling as an Emotional Problem

Compulsive Gambling as an Emotional ProblemThe uncontrollable need to gamble is a behavioral addiction, similar to the psychological need to drink, use drugs or eat food. Compulsive gambling can become a disorder when the behavior begins to negatively affect or harm the individual’s wellbeing. Individuals addicted to gambling often continue this lifestyle, regardless of the adverse economic, social, legal, health and interpersonal consequences that may result.

Underlying Causes of Compulsive Gambling

Compulsive gambling often stems from social or recreational gambling and slowly develops into an addiction over time. Researchers believe that compulsive gambling may be an emotional problem that leads individuals to develop a need to experience the high associated with risk. The excitement and energy of the activity can alter one’s mood and act as an escape for those who are hurting, bored, restless, depressed or hopeless in their lives. The need to re-experience this high may encourage the onset of an obsession or addiction.

Gambling can also create a world of fantasy for the addict. Individuals who gamble often dream of how perfect their lives would be if they win and may become infatuated with seeking out this false reality. People often want to escape from the problems, stress and pressures of real life and travel into this alternate reality. This fictitious lifestyle created by the addict may be a way of coping with the harsh realities of life. Compulsive gambling is often triggered by a key life stressor such as job loss, divorce or death.

Problems that Result from Pathological Gambling

The numerous problems that may result from a gambling addiction do not only pertain to one’s finances. The consequences of pathological gambling can affect all areas of the addict’s life and may include the following:

  • Financial problems, such as bankruptcy, credit issues, debt, unpaid bills and homelessness
  • Risky behavior, such as lying, check forgery, credit card fraud and embezzlement in order to keep having the money to gamble
  • Relationship problems, such as gambling with family savings, being dishonest, isolating oneself, neglecting responsibility, acting out when upset and failing to meet the needs of others
  • Emotional problems, such as guilt, shame, depression and anxiety
  • Health concerns, such as difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, stress-related issues that can cause physical harm, ulcers, migraines, extreme weight gain or loss and bowel problems
  • Psychological issues, such as mood disorders, hopelessness, despair and increased risk of suicide
  • Substance abuse problems, such as reaching out to drugs or alcohol to act as a temporary fix or escape from problems

Finding Solutions for a Gambling Addiction

Treatment for compulsive gambling can help you stop gambling and also work to treat the underlying causes of your addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our addiction counselors can speak with you 24 hours a day about the treatment solutions available for addicted individuals. We are here to provide you with all the information you need, answer questions and even connect you to a treatment program of your choice, if you are ready to seek help. Please call now.