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Gambling is often glorified in our culture today. Movies and tv shows portray gamblers as powerful, wealthy, and satisfied, when this is sometimes far from the truth.
Gambling, like so many other activities in today’s world, can become addicting after just a few exposures. In our fast-paced world filled with instant gratification, many people are getting caught up with addictions. Gambling addiction is becoming a huge problem among college students, with an estimated 11% suffering from a serious gambling addiction, although it can affect any age.
Why Is Gambling Like a Drug?
Gambling addiction is very similar to drug addiction. A person experiences a feeling of euphoria from winning, which makes them want to gamble some more. The thrill of winning for a gambler can be just as powerful as a high for a drug addict. It leaves them wanting more. Other people that compulsively gamble do so in an effort to win back what they’ve lost. “Just one more time” goes through a gambler’s head over and over while they dwindle away their money.
Just like substance abuse, gambling can totally take over a person’s life. They become preoccupied with it, and it takes priority over other, more important things in their life, including family and work. Intense cravings lead them to spend more time and money than they should on gambling, usually at the expense of things that used to really matter to them.
The Hidden Addiction
Gambling is often called the hidden addiction, because you can’t detect it in a person’s body. While it affects their entire life and thinking, some gamblers are able to hide it from even loved ones for some time. Gambling addiction is also not viewed as being a serious addiction by many. But just because there is not a physical substance being craved by the body doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Any addiction that disrupts a person’s life is serious, and they may need professional help for it.
Compulsive gamblers can suffer from a number of other problems stemming from their addiction. Substance abuse and mental illness are both common for gambling addicts. The gambling problem can quickly lead to other problems, such as anxiety, unemployment, bankruptcy, and crime.
What Help Is Available for Gambling Addiction?
There is help for those with a gambling problem. Treatment is very similar to that for substance abuse. With the help of a behavioral counselor and therapy a person can overcome this addiction. Support groups and follow up treatment are useful to help a person maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Gambling should be treated with care. A person that wants to gamble recreationally should set limits of both time and money for this activity. Then they should be certain to stick to the limits, because it is easy to fall prey to this addiction.
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Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.