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If left untreated, a gambling addiction can negatively affect your financial situation, relationships, and other aspects of your life.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling , problem gambling affects more than 2 percent of Americans. If you have a gambling addiction, you may feel an uncontrollable urge to buy lottery tickets, visit casinos, play slot machines, bet on sports, or gamble online.
The specific type and frequency of your gambling behavior may vary. But in general, you will be unable to control that behavior.
You will continue gambling, even in the face of negative social, financial, or legal consequences. The majority of people with gambling addictions are men.
But this type of addiction can also affect women. People with addictions often try to hide their condition, but a gambling addiction can be difficult to conceal.
You may need frequent access to casinos or online gambling pools. Even if you gamble at home when no one is around, your addiction may begin to show itself in other areas of your life.
But when they do start gambling, they may be unable to stop. When you have a gambling addiction, an area of your brain called the insula may be overactive.
This hyperactive region may lead to distorted thinking. This content does not have an Arabic version. Overview Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life.
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Overview of gambling disorder. These addictions stem from two separate reward pathways in the brain that affect our behaviour - liking and wanting.
Liking describes the spontaneous delight of eating a chocolate biscuit. Wanting is our desire to have one when we see a packet of chocolate biscuits in the supermarket.
When people become addicted to gambling, or to drugs, these wanting and liking systems are no longer intertwined.
The wanting remains constant, but the feeling of liking what we get is reduced. The addicted person needs to engage in more of the behaviour or the drug to get the same pleasure.
Certain factors leave some people at greater risk of addiction. This can include having family members with addictions , or encountering high-level stress or adversity - experiences which relate to the way we are nurtured.
Nature can also play a part. A study using brain scans suggests problem gamblers may have lower impulse-control than the general population.
These machines have been described as the "crack cocaine of gambling" and had made it easy for users to lose a lot of money quickly.
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.
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