Gambling might be really fun and it IS fun unless it stops being a way of entertaining yourself from time to time and becomes an addiction.Unfortunately, we are not perfect and sometimes, the thing we were thinking could never happen to us starts to ruin our life and relationships with friends and family. Luckily, there is always a way out.

Responsible gambling is what should be pursued and promoted but if you or some of your loved ones have failed — know that you’re not alone and dive deep into our guide to gambling addiction where you’ll find all the necessary information and helpful resources.

Gambling Addiction Causes

No one can clearly say what is the exact reason of gambling addiction and it can hardly be limited to just one, actually. In most cases, it’s a combination of factors that make a person stop controlling themselves and get involved in the problem gambling. Here are the most common of them.

Biological

All our brains are different and that’s the beauty. Some of us get excited from painting, some adore watching old movies made in the 40s, and some get super-excited when they get a winning combination in slots. Their brains usually don’t produce the necessary amount of serotonin and norepinephrine — hormones linked to stress and happiness — so they need to boost them by playing gambling games.

Studies by scientists and researchers from Imperial College London suggested that the brains of gambling addicts respond to gambling activities just like the drug addicts’ response to getting a drug. And even though gambling addiction doesn’t damage your physical health that much, it’s still pretty dangerous. Besides, there are some hypotheses that gambling addiction can be genetically conditioned. So if you know that your grandma was really keen on poker — better be careful with casinos.

Psychological

The reason for gambling addiction to appear might also be more psychological than biological. The addict’s brain can be working perfectly on the physical side but the way a person thinks might be completely distorted. That includes various weird superstitions (like throwing a coin a number of times waiting for it to flip on the specific side and thinking that it can affect the result of the game). People with a gambling addiction can be super-confident in what they are doing and while it’s usually a great thing that helps you achieve success in your job or personal life, that’s not useful while playing gambling games. The winning doesn’t really depend on how confident you are when pulling a lever of the one-arm bandit or while playing another round of blackjack but it can seriously affect how much money you spend at the end of the day.

Social

Social causes might be the most important and the most widespread ones in gambling addiction case and they include all the outside factors that can influence the person’s behaviour and psychological state. The addiction can be triggered by problems at work or in personal life, for example.

Some people believe that gambling can solve their financial situation and only make it worse. We can’t stress this more — gambling, whether online or offline, should be treated as a way to have fun or unwind after a long day but it can’t be a source of income unless you are a professional poker player winning the world’s tournaments. Excessive stress or loneliness, death in the family and other difficult life events, complicated relationships with S.O. or family members — all of these factors can ignite gambling addiction though it doesn’t mean every person struggling through a difficult period will definitely become addicted to gambling games.

Problem Gambling Signs and Symptoms

The first step towards the solution of the problem is to admit that the problem exists. But how do you know that you or someone you care about is addicted to gambling? Well, there are some signs that can show it. If you observe several of them or even just one — consider talking about it to a specialist or contacting one of the helpful resources we’ll mention later in this article.

Your positive emotions are substituted with negative ones

What you should get from gambling games is fun, thrill, and a controlled feeling of excitement. But what if all those emotions are left far behind and now gambling games affect your mental state in a negative way? People with gambling addiction start feeling sad, anxious and stressed. We all can get slightly upset when losing a round in the favorite game but that feeling goes to extremes when you are an addict.

Gambling becomes a priority

There is nothing bad in playing gambling games in your spare time but you should be concerned when it becomes the one and only activity you want to get involved in. Preferring gambling to other important things like work, hobbies, time with friends or family is one of the main symptoms of addiction.

Entertainment is no more a goal

One more signal of addiction is that a person stops playing games to have fun and starts doing it for some other reasons. It can be a way to run from real-life problems, escape anxiety, or whatever else. It’s important to remember that games can’t solve any of your issues — it’s only you who can.

You start chasing losses

It’s impossible to win constantly — every frequent player knows it very well. There is a house edge you just can’t beat, there are losing streaks, there is Mercury in retrograde that just can’t let you get that jackpot. And the best solution here is to put the game aside and try your luck next time. But not when you are a gambling addict. People with a gambling addiction will play more and more, trying to recover the losses they got and thus putting themselves even in a deeper hole.

Money problems occur

In most cases, people start their way to the world of gambling games with small bets. But with the time being, that amount can significantly increase and continue rising. It’s probably not a big deal when you are a millionaire but if you start playing with money set aside for more important things like paying bills, buying your mum’s birthday present, or going on a holiday — that’s a clear sign of the addiction.

You just can’t stop

When you are a responsible player, you know when it’s time to say “stop”, get out of the casino or close a laptop and go do some other stuff. When you are a compulsive gambler, there is not really such a thing as “getting bored of games”. You just play and play and can’t stop even if you feel like you want to.

Understanding the Phases of Compulsive Gambling

A person doesn’t just fall in addiction in one day — it’s a continuous process with things slowly getting worse with time. In most cases, specialists define four main stages: