Gambling Addiction: How Is It Different From Other Addictions

The word “Addiction” is characterized by many people as being a negative compulsion. A person with an addiction is unable to stop doing the thing they are addicted to.

Not all addictions are the same, and even though we are focusing more on gambling addiction, we also want to touch on other addictions that can overtake a person’s life.

What Are The Different Type of Addictions?

There are basically three categories for addictions:

1. Substance
2. Impulse/Emotional
3. Behavioral

Most people relate substance addiction to drugs, but it can also be related to: alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and inhalants.

Impulsive/emotional types include: gambling, stealing, and pyromaniacs (setting fires).

Behavioral types include: eating, shopping, pornography, working, and perfectionism.

The one thing all of these addictions have in common is – control. A person with an addiction, gambling or otherwise, is in bondage to their addiction. The crazy thing about this problem is – they don’t overlap most times. A person addicted to gambling will not have any desire to set fires and a pyromaniac won’t be tempted to gamble.

Taking a Closer Look at Gambling Addiction

There’s a distinct difference between a gambling and substance addiction. Gambling is triggered at an emotional level and substance addictions are craving some type of chemical relief.

The gambling atmosphere is all about “emotions” and “excitement” but alcohol, smoking, stress, anxiety, and many other vices are all part of the casino experience. This is one instance where the initial addiction can lead a person into multiple other addictions.

Casinos spend millions of dollars each year studying the habits of gamblers. Gambling is different from other addictions because of money. Money is the fuel for gambling and the emotional rush comes from having your money on the line.

Slot machines are designed so that the colors and sounds attract people to play; at that point money loses its value. The tables convert cash into chips. By doing this the player loses their sense of value for money; the casino knows exactly what they are doing.

Pathological gambling destroys relationships, it devastates finances, and it can even cause a person to commit suicide. So, what can cause a person to become a gambling addict?

Since gambling is categorized as an emotional/impulsive addiction, we have to look at other emotions that can trigger it. The experts have listed a few:

- Anxiety
- Depression
- Stress (work/family)
- Personal Loss
- Debt

We also have to include the “beginners luck” syndrome. There’s a natural attraction to easy money and lotteries are one example of this fact. The multimillion dollar lottery pools are a reflection of the hope of getting rich, and this is what drives a person to the point of becoming a gambling addict.

When gambling becomes an addiction it goes beyond just winning, it’s more about just playing. People who are addicted can be winning thousands of dollars and not quit, why?

The reason is – love. The love of gambling. The phase of losing and desperation comes next, and this is when the addiction can turn into a monster. Fortunately there is help, and there are help centers waiting to help.

Gambling Addiction and Its Behavioral Effects

Gambling addiction is a serious mental health disorder, which can be identified in two ways: a person either a) continuously bet on things using money or objects that hold value even though negative consequences arise as a result, or, b) they cannot stop gambling even if they desired to. People suffering from gambling addiction often display a strong urge to bet on a wide-range of gambling mediums-from sports games to poker, to choosing lottery numbers and throwing dice. And although friends and family members of compulsive gamblers don’t see the symptoms physically, like they often do with alcoholics or drug abusers, the consequences gambling addiction has serious implications on their lives as well as the lives of their friends and families. Not realizing its severity or taking it too lightly can be devastating for the addicted gambler in the long run. Gamblers can reach a point of literally losing everything, from cars, to homes, to businesses, and even respect from those they care about.

It’s well-known that Florida is notorious for providing “the hotspot” for gamblers all over the world, as well as its residents. But how many gamblers actually endure financial problems? A recent survey by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling shed light on card playing, reporting that 70% of these people had trouble paying their bills. But here’s the worst part, which is known to be a side-effect of excessive gambling–1 in 3 of these card players admitted to having participated in illicit activities in order to finance their gambling. Playing cards isn’t as harmless as we thought; criminal activity is still a cause for concern.

Gambling addicts are not always obvious about their situation; sometimes they don’t even realize it themselves. They don’t dwell on what has been lost as a result of their destructive activities and behaviors. Instead, compulsive gamblers only focus on the gains, or the supposed investment aspect of the games they play. And unlike drug or alcohol addiction, a person addicted to gambling will not display symptoms such as heavy fatigue, sickness, loss of energy or dizziness; instead, other factors are apparent, such as falling into deep financial trouble, losing quality time with the ones they love, and heightening the chances of entering into drug or alcohol addiction.

It’s difficult to establish who has a gambling problem and who doesn’t. Where is the threshold between social gamblers, and abusive gamblers? Are there any red flags? The answer is yes. Pathological gamblers often display one or more of the following signs: negligent of family get-togethers, acts on criminal behavior in order to acquire more stuff to bet on, would rather gamble then hang out with friends, talk excessively about gambling and winning money, use drugs or alcohol to distract them from wanting to gamble more, become irritated when not gambling, neglect vital responsibilities for gambling time, and lying to family and friends about going out gambling. A combination of these signs should be a red flag when identifying a compulsive gambler. But remember, none of these signs mention the amount of times a person gambles in a period of time. It’s not about “quantity.” A person can gamble every day and it may not affect his life. Also, gambling addiction isn’t OK if you’re wealthy; rich gamblers can still have issues like neglecting their loved ones and other vital responsibilities.

Florida is well-known for its casinos, entertainment arenas and cruise ship gambling. But environmental factors such as these may cause people to be more susceptible to the development of gambling addiction. Gambling addiction isn’t a problem that stands alone-it may lead to criminal behavior, psychological distress and depression, and fuel other more dangerous addictions. As stated earlier, a person may fall into drug or alcohol addiction in order to supplement or replace their gambling behavior. The combination of multiple addictions can be devastating and more difficult to treat; it would be like tangling a web of loose strings and trying to unravel them all at once.

Addiction specialists and counselors use a variety of methods in treating gambling addiction effectively, including: helping the addict understand what drives him or her to gamble, replacing their betting habits with more productive activities, understanding how it affects the people they care about, and finally, strengthening one’s will to live a more productive lifestyle. If you notice warning signs that you or your loved one is suffering from gambling addiction, it is crucial to intervene and find treatment before it is too late. Doctors treat gambling addiction as a serious brain disease, and people suffering from it are also prone to drug addiction. The importance of acquiring immediate treatment can be the difference between losing everything, and saving someone’s life.