By Gustavo Santiago, MMA Artist, Bettor, and Writer
As fun and entertaining as gambling may be, there’s no denying that it also has a much darker side! According to research, 5 out of every 100 (that’s 20% of) gamblers in the world today are suffering from some form of serious gambling addiction. For these people, the endorphin-boosting thrill of a jackpot win is just as addictive as alcohol or hard drugs, yet, unlike the latter, it is entirely legal and widely available almost everywhere.
With this in mind, we have decided to create an article that explores gambling addiction in more detail to raise awareness and provide valuable information for anyone who feels they may be falling victim to this terrible disorder.
Gambling addiction is a medical disorder
Many make the mistake of assuming that because gamblers aren’t putting a needle in their arms or filling their body with illicit chemicals, they are less likely to become addicts. However, though gamblers aren’t consuming a drug, the activity itself impacts the human brain in a very similar way. Much like cocaine or heroin, a win when gambling can give the player a massive rush that they will continue to chase time and time again until they have lost everything.
In fact, so powerful and damaging are the effects of gambling addiction that the American Psychiatric Association recently decided to add gambling disorder to their diagnostic manual (DSM-5). Though this manual was once reserved for substance-related and addictive disorders alone, now behavioral addictions like gambling disorder are included and recognized as severe conditions that require urgent psychological treatment.
Where does gambling addiction come from?
Gambling problems have existed throughout history, yet the idea that problem gambling is not a moral defect but a psychological disorder that requires medical treatment is still a relatively new concept. Unlike before where gamblers were looked upon unfavorably and with little sympathy, most medical professionals now consider gambling addiction as a legitimate biological, cognitive, and behavioral disorder that should be treated seriously.
Aside from the thrill it creates, it is believed that gambling addiction can be caused by genetics, erroneous thought patterns, impulse control disorders, as well as poverty or negative personal experiences from the past that the player is trying to block out.
Gambling addiction myths & facts
Denial plays a vital role in addiction, and many lies exist so that gambling addicts can ignore the truth. Rather than accept the harsh realities of their addiction, gambling addicts choose to believe a set of myths that enable them to continue gambling without experiencing feelings of fear, guilt or any other negative emotion. Below we have created an infographic of some of the most popular gambling myths, along with the facts needed to dispel them.
Do you need help?
If you are concerned that your gambling habit may be getting out of control and want to know if you have a problem with gambling addiction, try asking yourself some of the following questions:
- Over the last year, have you experienced feelings of restlessness, anxiety, distress or anger when trying to reduce or stop gambling?
- Over the last year, have you felt ashamed about gambling or kept your gambling activities a secret from friends or family?
- Over the last year, have you missed work or lost a job due to your gambling habits?
- Over the last year, have you experienced any financial troubles as a result of your gambling?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, we implore you to go and seek help from friends and family or contact The National Council on Problem Gambling Helpline which provides 24/7 support for gambling addicts. The most important thing to remember if you are worried about gambling addiction is that you are not alone and there are many people out there who are willing to help you if you let them.