Gambling is highly visible in American society, from blackjack tables in Vegas to horse races in Kentucky. For some, gambling is a casual pastime, often in conjunction with another enjoyable activity, like sports or card games. For others, however, gambling can become a compulsive behavior with serious consequences.
What is gambling addiction?
According to the Mayo Clinic, gambling addiction (also known as compulsive gambling) is “the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life.” Like drugs, gambling stimulates a dopamine response in the brain that can have an addictive quality. Compulsive gamblers will continue gambling beyond a reasonable limit in pursuit of that dopamine response.
Anyone can suffer from gambling addiction, but men are more likely to develop compulsive gambling than women. Gambling addiction is also often paired with other mental health conditions, such as substance use disorders or anxiety, among others.
What are the signs of gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction has several notable signs. A gambling addict might display all of these behaviors, or just one or two:
- Gambling in secret or lying to someone about gambling frequency.
- Gambling past the point of what a person can afford or needing to borrow money to finance gambling.
- Difficulty walking away from gambling, or endlessly trying to “win back” lost money.
- Gambling to feel happy or to forget about problems.
- Risking relationships, career, or school performance in favor of gambling.
What are the consequences of gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction can have consequences in all aspects of a person’s life. It has obvious financial consequences because compulsive gamblers tend to spend more than they can afford in pursuit of a win. Financial desperation can lead some people to borrow or steal money to continue gambling or to hide their addiction.
Gambling addiction can also have serious consequences in relationships. The time spent gambling, coupled with the secrecy and financial irresponsibility can put a strain on family life. Partners of a gambling addict may feel worried, stressed, or frustrated by their behavior.
Are there treatments for gambling addiction?
Many forms of treatment exist for gambling addiction, including residential programs, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and treatment for any underlying mental health conditions.
Anazao Community Partners provides treatment for problem gambling in Wayne and Holmes Counties. Their series of short videos provides a glimpse into the complexity of problem gambling.
Furthermore, The Counseling Center of Wayne & Holmes Counties offers therapy and psychiatric assistance for those who find themselves in crisis.
Even if you’re not sure you or someone you love has a gambling problem, reach out to a mental health professional for a consultation. Early intervention can help mitigate the problem before it has a serious impact on a person’s life.
Wayne/Holmes Mental Health & Recovery Board
We aim to improve awareness of and access to mental health and addiction treatment and prevention services in Wayne & Holmes Counties.
We provide leadership, support, and funding to community partners and agencies in the delivery of mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Our agencies provide addiction treatment programs, mental health counseling, suicide prevention programming, and more! Experience you can trust.