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The Science Behind Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences. Although it is considered a disorder, gambling addiction is often overlooked and not well understood.

However, the science behind gambling addiction is beginning to shed light on this problem and help people understand why it occurs.

What is a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is an irresistible urge to gamble despite the negative consequences and impact on others. It is a progressive disorder that can ruin lives and cause financial ruin.

People with gambling addiction are unable to control their impulses and quite often become preoccupied with it. They will often gamble even when they cannot afford to lose money, and this can lead to serious financial problems.

What Makes Gambling So Addictive?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to gambling addiction, including genetics, personality type, and stress levels. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors.


Some research suggests that gambling addiction may be hereditary. If you have close relatives who suffer from gambling addiction, you may be more susceptible to the condition yourself.

Personality Type

Certain personality types are also more prone to developing gambling habits. People who are impulsive, easily bored, and seek out thrills and excitement are more likely to become addicted.

Stress Levels

People who gamble to escape from their problems or to relieve stress are also more likely to develop an addiction. It can provide a temporary distraction from life's stresses, but is often used as a way to avoid dealing with those problems.

What are the 3 Types of Gamblers?

There are three general types of gamblers: social, recreational, and problem.

  1. Those who gamble socially do so for fun and typically don't experience any negative consequences as a result. 
  2. Recreational gamblers also gamble for fun but may do so more frequently than social gamblers. They may also spend more money on these activities than they can afford to lose.
  3. Problem gamblers, on the other hand, gamble compulsively and often to the point where it causes significant financial, legal, or relationship problems.

What Happens to the Brain During Gambling?

Some researchers believe that gambling alters the brain in a way that is similar to the way that drugs and alcohol can alter the brain. It can cause changes in the areas of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, and decision-making, which can lead to problems with impulse control and decision-making, and make it difficult for someone to stop gambling whether they want to or not.

Gambling can also trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that are associated with pleasure and reward thus reinforcing the behaviour and making it even more difficult to resist gambling. Over time, this can lead to addiction.

What Chemical is Released When You Gamble?

Some of the chemicals that have been linked with gambling include dopamine, endorphins, and seratonin, all of which produce feelings of pleasure and excitement, which may help to explain why gambling can be so addictive.

The Most Common Symptoms

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. The most common symptoms of gambling addiction include:

  1. Preoccupation with gambling.
  2. Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same rush.
  3. Chasing losses by gambling more money in an attempt to win back what was lost.
  4. Lying about gambling habits.
  5. Missing work or school due to gambling.
  6. Stealing money to gamble or pay off debts from gambling.
  7. Neglecting family and friends in favor of gambling.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Gambling addiction is a treatable problem, but the longer it goes on, the more damage it can cause.

Why is Gambling Hard to Stop?

There are a number of reasons why gambling can be difficult to stop. For one, gambling can be addictive and people can develop a gambling addiction. When someone becomes addicted, they will quite likely feel the need to gamble continuously in order to get their «fix». This can make it very hard for them to stop gambling, even if they want to.

Additionally, some people may gamble because they are trying to make money. If they have been successful in the past, they may keep gambling in the hope of winning even more money which can be a dangerous cycle to fall in to as it may ultimately lead to them losing everything in the long run.

How Gambling Addiction Can Be Treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for gambling addiction, but there are effective treatments available. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one type of treatment that has been shown to be effective in treating gambling addiction. CBT helps people to recognise and change the thoughts and behaviours that contribute to their gambling problem. Medication, such as antidepressants, can also be helpful in treating gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction is a serious problem that requires professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, there are resources available to help. Seek out a qualified therapist who can provide guidance and support on the road to recovery.

Resources for Further Information

If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, there is help available. Here are some resources for further information on gambling addiction and treatment:

Oliver Campbell
Oliver Campbell
1 December 2022 13:11