All types of gambling affects your brain the same way as alcohol and drugs does.
Normally our reward system controls what happens in the brain when we are happy. But if you are addicted, gambling will dominate what normally makes you feel good and can be perceived as the only thing making you happy.
Some types of games have bigger effects on the reward system than others. Those are called high risk games. Games with a fast turnaround time between wager and results are believed to increase the risk of addiction. Slot machines, online poker and online casino games are examples of high risk games.
Gambling has existed for a long time. But the increased availability makes gambling steadily increase. According to Finder.com 46% of Brits have gambled in some way in the last 4 weeks.
Being addicted to gambling means your gambling has negative consequences on your life and might have affect relations, economy and work. Gambling can suppress anxiety and stress but increases the risk for mental illness long term.
The diagnose gambling addiction, or gambling syndrome, is based on nine criteria of which at least four must be fulfilled;
- Thinking about gambling constantly: past and coming gambling sessions and how to finance it.
- Increasing wagers to maintain the same kicks.
- You have tried and failed multiple times to limit or quit gambling.
- Trying to limit your gambling makes you irritated and restless.
- Gambling momentarily suppresses anxiety.
- You hide your gambling and lie about the extent from family and friends.
- Trying to win back lost money.
- You risk losing important relations, employment, education or career due to gambling.
- In case of financial crisis you rely on others to fund continued gambling.
There are various self tests online if you suspect you have a gambling problem: Gamblers Anonymous.
Help and Support
If you have an addiction or feel you have lost control of your gambling there are multiple alternatives available for support;