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The Psychology of Gambling, why do people have gambling addictions?

The gambling industry is one of the largest, dazzling, sparkly, successful industries in the world. In this industry, individuals and corporations make billions every single year, by offering their clientele lucrative hopes and dreams.

Most people who frequent casinos are well aware of the fact that they are unlikely to win, and yet, they keep coming back for more, over and over. A certain percentage develop a serious and destructive gambling addiction with detrimental effects on their everyday lives and of the lives of people around them.

So, if we know that the odds are stacked against players and that house always wins, what is it that is so  attractive, and what triggers the gambling addiction?

Underlying Causes of Gambling Addiction

Like with many other controversial issues, for a long time there was a disagreement in the scientific community if a gambling addiction was just a buzzword or an actual phenomenon. It took some time for people to finally acknowledge that gambling is a highly addictive activity.

Over the past couple of decades, many studies have come to the conclusion that gambling and drug addiction have many elements in common. Both influence the so-called reward system in our brains, which disperses the chemical messenger, dopamine. Dopamine creates short waves of pleasures running through our bodies and, in the simplest terms, it makes us feel good.

Over time, the brain starts to adapt. What happens with nearly all types of addiction is that increased stimulation is required for dopamine to be released, which leads to addicts increasing their intake of stimulants, be it drugs, gambling activities, or anything else that falls under the branches of addiction. They’re on the constant quest for the familiar pleasant feeling that becomes more and more elusive as brain starts to become numb to the stimulant.

Recognizing Signs of Gambling Addiction

Gambling is a socially acceptable activity, and many people who go to casinos can simply stop when the thrill is over. Because of this, when someone actually develops a problem, it is often hard to recognize it or distinguish a problem gambler from someone else, until it is too late.

However, like with every addiction, there are subtle (and not so subtle) signs that can be recognized with nearly all gambling addicts. Most people can even recognize these themselves. For example:

  • Do you feel the need to lie about your gambling losses?
  • Are your friends and family worried about your gambling habits?
  • Do you often lose more money than you intended or can afford?
  • Does gambling influence your usual daily activities or your health?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, perhaps it would be a good idea to seek further resources and look for tips to keep your gambling activities in check. While not every person displaying one or more of these symptoms can be categorized as a gambling addict, the studies have shown that these patterns lead to developing a full-fledged gambling addiction. The best way to prevent this from happening is by taking necessary steps ahead of time to stay in control.

Responsible Gambling

The interests of a casino and a player, are somewhat in conflict. Of course, harboring addicts is something that is not in their interests, however your repeated appearance and increased spending keeps the casinos afloat. It is in their best interest for a player to follow his or her impulses and play a little irresponsibly.

This is why it is essential for everyone who visits casinos fairly often to do their best to stay in control and develop a pattern where they won’t allow for addictive behavior to start taking over. When playing at land-based casinos, this means drinking moderately (or not at all) and having very strict rules about how much you are allowed to spend on any given visit.

When playing online, always look for online casinos with a good reputation. These places will provide you with the latest information about where you can seek help if you feel you’re losing control, and they’ll also make sure you can self-exclude quickly and easily.

 

Resources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-brain-gets-addicted-to-gambling/

http://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/blog/know-your-brain-reward-system

http://www.responsiblegambling.org/

http://www.psychguides.com/guides/compulsive-gambling-symptoms-causes-and-effects/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/gambling-addiction-and-problem-gambling.htm

http://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/gambling

About Giana Scaramucci

Giana Scaramucci is an influential health writer for Healthynewage magazine

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