There could be thousands of reasons why people adopt gambling, and even psychologists don’t know why people gamble? It started as fun for some persons, and for some, it was meant to escape their sorrows. But in the end, the result was always the same; Gambling Stops Being a Diversion and Becomes Addiction. What keeps people stick with it? Why people love this game, which is designed to rob them of their happiness and wealth? Why is gambling the worse form of Addiction?
As an ex gambling addict and researcher, I sought to answer these questions, and from what I have learned, gambling is designed with several hooks attached to it. These hooks grab the addict and command his brain to compel the body for gambling. According to an expert,
Undoubtedly, gambling is an actual brain disease that is quite different from 20 years ago when people thought it as an issue of greed, lack of willpower, and morality. Gambling changes the behavior of brain activities, which explains why people can’t seem to stop.
Reference: Dr. Timothy Fong, Addiction Expert and Co-Director of UCLA Gambling Studies
Why Is Gambling So Addictive?
It’s common knowledge that when we involve in an activity that keeps us distracted from anxiety and troubles and helps us pass the time, our neurons squirt a chemical known as dopamine that provides us satisfaction and encourages our body to make it a habit. Drug addicts use a similar stimulus to trigger that response and release dopamine forcefully to get satisfactions. With time the brain adapts to these foreign chemicals and needs more significant doses to trigger dopamine or develop tolerance to drugs. In other words, these drugs rob the neurons of their power to induce euphoria, and they become less responsive to their effects.
So, the more an addict uses drugs, the harder it becomes for him to stop. Keeping this behavior as a base, the researchers study the habits of pathological gamblers and compulsive addicts. As a result of this research, it was observed that the gambling addicts share many similarities with reward-seeking addicts. Just as drug addicts need a bigger dose with time to stimulate dopamine, the compulsive gamblers take high riskier ventures.
Similarly, drug addicts and gamblers share withdrawal symptoms when separated from respected chemicals or thrill to gamble. As an ex-addict, I can assure you it is far worse than drug addiction because physical insertion of foreign elements may cause overdose or tripping point that will set you back and make you realize. But a gambler will always pursue the course until he became a drug addict and wreck his life. Let me rephrase a comment of a fellow gambling addict,
I started it as a fun and then realized I could not lose money fast enough in any other game. After six months of intense Addiction, I had lost thousands of dollars and went through my home equity line, all of my credit, and also borrowed money from anyone I could. For me, the money was a drug, and gambling was how I got high.
Reference: Kelvin Josh, Recovering Gambling Addict
How Is Body Conditioned for Gambling Habit?
Have any of you know about Pavlov Conditioning? It was based on the concept that,
Specific Stimulus Triggers a Specific Response
The conditioning was discovered by a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov. In his experiments, Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed his pets. This way, he paired the sound of a bell with the arrival of food or food time. After that, the pets adjusted or conditioned them with the bell, and now each time the bell rang, the pets know it’s time to eat.
So, what does this have to do with gambling addiction? Recall in the above experiment; the bell was a trigger that served as a cue for pets. Similarly, when a person gambles at regular intervals, he paired himself with the gambling habit. Each time he sees his beloved card game or gambling table, it served as a cue and forced him to gamble just the like the bell cued the pets of food. Such signals served as powerful cravings and frequently resulted in relapse. In such a way, the body is conditioned for gambling, not intentionally but by the repeated response.
What’s the Remedy?
Pavlov or classical conditioning may be the cause in the first place, but it can also be the salvation of compulsive addicts. Recall the first example in which Pavlov had conditioned the pets with the sound of a bell. It is observed if one rang the bell many times, the connection can be salvaged. Similarly, if a gambling addict stops using a specific gambling game that he/she preferred above others, it could be the first step to the recovery.
But it seems too easy, right? Yes! The withdrawal is not easy, and I can vouch for that, but we have to start somewhere.
The Bottom Line
Gambling addiction is increasing at an alarming rate. It is often described as an out of control habit, and you can quickly locate a gambler if he/she shows the following signs,
- Obsessive behavior about gambling
- Always in need of some extra cash
- Socially unstable relationships
- Prone to theft or fraud
- Feeling irritated or restless
More effective treatment techniques are needed to counter the devastating effects of gambling. The first step is to talk with others about your Addiction, and this is the hardest step. For this purpose, I have developed a platform, https://gambling-addictions.com/, where you can reach and share your story with fellow addicts and ex-addicts. This way, you can reach out and call for help. I urge you to share your recovery story with me and be a motivation for others.