Welcome to Empowered Recovery Center

Signs and Effects of a Gambling Addiction

Drugs and alcohol affect the brain’s reward system, fueling addiction, and gambling addiction is thought to affect the brain similarly. Addiction can wreak havoc on the life of the individual who is struggling, resulting in long-lasting impacts on different areas in their life. Knowing the signs and how addiction to gambling can affect a person can be beneficial to ensure proper care is received. The right care and support can be crucial to preventing further impacts and being able to regain control of the individual’s life. 

Understanding Gambling Addiction

Behavioral addictions, such as gambling, are characterized by a lack of impulse control surrounding the activity. Despite the negative consequences, individuals who struggle with a gambling addiction often continue on a path of self-destruction, even if it destroys different aspects of their lives. Finances, career, and family are often impacted by the compulsion experienced with addiction. Gambling has become a top priority, above family, work, and even social activities. 

Regular Gambling vs Problem Gambling

Much like addictive substances, gambling causes changes in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, can be released causing a person to feel good, and in turn, continue the behavior to feel the reward. Now, not everyone ends up with a gambling addiction. Different factors can play into the reasoning behind this, but understanding the difference between regular gambling and problem gambling is important.

Regular gambling can result in a pleasurable time, loss, or gain, and not impact the individual in other aspects of their life. Problematic gambling is the opposite. When gambling becomes a problem, the individual could begin facing financial hardship, and obsessions surrounding gambling, and the priority has shifted from regular life to participating in these behaviors. 

Effects of Gambling Addiction

The effects that this behavioral addiction can have on someone can be severe. From financial hardship to difficulty in the workplace as well as friction within the family unit. In its essence, gambling is an activity in which a person can either gain or lose financially. Those who struggle with gambling addiction often place their livelihood on the line. Thereby, ruining their financial status and making it difficult to pay everyday bills.

This then leads to a deterioration of the family structure. Friction between spouses and lack of trust result from struggles with addiction. While the causes of behavioral addictions, like gambling vary, the effects can be extremely detrimental.

Financial Loss

Financial hardship is prevalent in many communities across the country. However, add in a person with an addiction, and the financial impact is much greater. Gambling addiction can lead to financial ruin and debt compiling in the individual’s life, leading to impacts in other areas. The nature of addiction is obsession and compulsion.

Compulsive gambling can result in spending money that cannot be afforded to spend, borrowing or stealing money, and neglecting financial responsibilities to gamble. Loss of job and lower income are common effects of addiction to gambling, resulting in financial hardship. 

Time Away from Family and Friends

The strain placed on family relationships and friendships as a result of gambling can be severe. The time spent away from those who are important, to participate in detrimental behaviors, causes strain on the relationships.

Gambling addiction can result in deterioration within the connections with the individuals. It leads to a loss of trust as the loved ones realize the gravity of the addiction. Learning positive coping skills can help to combat the addiction, and fuel regrowth within the relationships.

How Gambling Addiction Impacts the Brain

Those who have gambled know the excitement surrounding a win. However, those struggling with gambling addiction have a hard time controlling their desire to feel that excitement. The excitement triggers a release of dopamine in the brain, which can result in continued action to experience this release.

Inevitably, this may lead to addiction. The surge in dopamine can reinforce the behaviors of gambling, which leads to an obsession and compulsion surrounding the behavior, leading to severe impacts on overall wellness.

Unhealed Trauma and Gambling Addiction

Trauma affects the brain in different ways. Many people turn to other things outside of themselves to cope with unresolved, or unhealed, traumas. Drugs and alcohol are common coping mechanisms. However, behaviors such as gambling can also be used to cope.

Trauma can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety to become prevalent, and with the reward caused by gambling, it can seemingly cause relief from these symptoms when participating in the behavior.

In addition, this can lead to relying on gambling to alleviate the symptoms. Gambling addiction, much like alcohol and drug addiction, will eventually only exacerbate these symptoms. During the highs of gambling addiction, when winning is more common than losing, can create a sense of peace and excitement. Then when the lows, or losses occur, depression and anxiety become more prevalent. 

Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Treating gambling addiction can help to bring more positive ways of coping to the individual’s life. Therapies such as CBT and DBT aim to help those who are struggling with gambling addiction to learn healthier ways of coping or feeling rewarded. These therapies help to identify negative behavioral and thought patterns that are detrimental and implement better, healthier ones in their place. 

Regaining Control

Struggling with addiction of any kind is a major struggle, and gambling is no different from other addictions. The impacts that gambling addiction can have on an individual and their lifestyle can be just as damaging as drug and alcohol addiction.

Often, professional intervention is needed to regain control of life. If you or a loved one are struggling with gambling addiction, we can help. At Empowered Recovery Center, behavioral addictions such as gambling can be targeted and treated with a tailored care plan.

Call us today to begin your recovery journey.

It’s time to reclaim your life

Contact our team to find out how we can help you

Connect With Us

  • Empowered Recovery Center
    3651 Canton Road,
    Marietta, GA 30066

© 2023 Empowered Recovery Center