While gambling for most people is a relative harmless indulgence, one which most people go into realizing they will lose something. For some it is on the order of an addiction. For some people, the urge to gamble is compulsive and they will indulge in gambling to extremes. Losing money, property, and destroying their family lives and relationships with friends.
Gambling can actually stimulate the reward centers in the brains and physiologically change the way a person thinks. In ways that are similar to drugs and alcohol. People who suffer from a gambling addiction will squander all of their money. They can even resort to stealing and fraud to support their addiction. In this way, gambling addiction is no different than substance abuse and substance addiction.
One of the primary symptoms of gambling addiction is a constant preoccupation with gambling. Thinking about gambling to the exclusion of more important matters. Planning gambling trips and activities while one is doing things. Things that should keep their attention such as working or family, constantly thinking about finding the funds to support gambling. These are signs of a preoccupation with gambling which may signal an addiction.
When a person needs to keep upping the amount of money they gamble or needs to gamble more and more frequently, these are also sings of addictive behavior. Those who must increase the risk and frequency in their gambling activities are similar to a substance addict who must increase the dose to achieve the same effect.
If one is experiencing damage to relationships with family friends or employers, these too are signs of a gambling addiction. Lying to family members about gambling and the extent of ones gambling. Lying to employers and taking off excessively inn order to gamble, and avoiding home and work responsibilities are all signs of a gambling addiction.
Gambling in order to escape form stress, anxiety or depression is a sign of addictive behavior. When one uses gambling as a means of escape from personal stress and difficulty this is a sign of a pathological behavior.
Finally, if a person has resorted to stealing or some form of fraud in order to get money to support their gambling. Then they are almost certainly compulsive gamblers and gambling addicts.
In general, void-filling and thrill seeking are the types of behaviors most commonly linked to gambling addiction. People who are driven to fill the voids of loss and loneliness in their lives with unhealthy escapes rather than meaningful solutions. People who chase dangerous thrills for the same reasons are most likely to develop gambling addictions. Gambling provides a escape for those who need to fill a void. It certainly provides thrills for those who seek it. Relying on gambling excessively to meet these needs will lead to dependency in the same why that over-reliance on alcohol or drugs will lead to dependency.
Depression and anxiety can lead to gambling addiction. These conditions make sleeping and thinking more difficult and this in turn effects the way people process stress and other life management issues. Often, people with depression and anxiety turn to gambling as a means of escape. Because the problems that are driving their gambling are deeply psychologically rooted. The gambling becomes yet another problem they must deal with in addition to their other depression symptoms.
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