How the Brain Gets Addicted to Gambling - Scientific American

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Gambling addiction

How the Brain Gets Addicted to Gambling


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Postby Nikojinn В» 28.05.2019

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For many people, gambling is harmless fun, but it can become a problem. A gambling addiction is a progressive addiction that can have many negative psychological, physical, and social repercussions. It is classed as an impulse-control disorder. Problem gambling is harmful to psychological and physical health. People who live with this addiction may experience depression , migraine , distress, intestinal disorders, and other anxiety-related problems.

As with other addictions, the consequences of gambling can lead to feelings of despondency and helplessness. In some cases, this can lead to attempts at suicide. The rate of problem gambling has risen globally over the last few years.

In the United States in , around 5. Because of its harmful consequences, gambling addiction has become a significant public health concern in many countries.

It also impacts the way in which the person with the disorder relates to his or her family and friends. For instance, they may miss important events in the family, or they might miss work. For a diagnosis of gambling addiction, The DSM-5 states that a person must show or experience at least four of the following during the past 12 months:. Gambling can lead to a range of problems, but the addiction can happen to anyone. No one can predict who will develop an addiction to gambling.

The activity can be described on a spectrum , ranging from abstinence through recreational gambling to problem gambling. Gambling behavior becomes a problem when it cannot be controlled and when it interferes with finances, relationships, and the workplace. The individual may not realize they have a problem for some time. Many people who develop a gambling addiction are considered responsible and dependable people, but some factors can lead to a change in behavior. Studies have suggested that people with a tendency to one addiction may be more at risk of developing another.

Genetic and neurological factors may play a role. Some people who are affected by gambling may also have a problem with alcohol or drugs, possibly due to a predisposition for addiction. The use of some medications has been linked to a higher risk of compulsive gambling. Secondary addictions can also occur in an effort to reduce the negative feelings created by the gambling addiction. However, some people who gamble never experience any other addiction.

For someone with a gambling addiction, the feeling of gambling is equivalent to taking a drug or having a drink. As the person becomes used to this feeling, they keep repeating the behavior, attempting to achieve that same effect. In other addictions, alcohol, for instance, the person starts developing a tolerance. A vicious circle develops, and an increased craving for the activity. At the same time, the ability to resist drops. As the craving grows in intensity and frequency, the ability to control the urge to gamble is weakened.

Neither the frequency of gambling nor the amount lost will determine whether gambling is a problem for an individual. Some people engage in periodic gambling binges rather than regularly, but the emotional and financial consequences will be the same.

Casinos and lotteries provide the opportunity to gamble. A gambling addiction occurs when a person can no longer control the compulsive behavior. Any type of gambling — whether racing, bingo, card games, dice games, lottery, slots, and sports betting — can become problematic. However, some types of gambling have particular characteristics that may intensify the problem and the consequences.

Reports indicate that a significant risk factor may be a fast speed of play. Types of games where there is a short time between placing a bet and seeing the results present a higher risk for players. This happens with slot machines, for instance. Gambling is widespread. Increased accessibility, for example, through online gambling, calls for greater awareness and appropriate legislation.

Anyone who provides gambling services has a responsibility to develop policies and programs to address underage and gambling addictions. If a person suspects they might have a gambling problem, there are a variety of self-tests available on the internet. Those tests will not give a diagnosis and do not replace a face-to-face evaluation with a trained clinical professional, but they can help people decide whether to seek formal evaluation of their gambling behavior.

Anyone who suspects that they have a gambling addiction should seek help. A health provider will be able to refer the person to an appropriate treatment provider. Advice from the APA for those who care for a person with a gambling addiction includes the following :.

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What is depression and what can I do about it? Legg, PhD, PsyD.

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