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How People Develop a problem with gambling

Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family How People Develop a problem with gambling

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  • #2758
    Clarity
    Keymaster

    In our experience…….

    Problem gambling is like any other addiction because it’s a learnt behaviour.  The behaviour could have been learnt from another individual or self-taught but it doesn’t spontaneously appear in the way that an illness would. The addiction is borne out of a combination of events, circumstances and situations and various approaches exist on how to overcome it.

    When a PG (problem gambler) starts gambling they may initially reap positive rewards such as winning money, feeling popular or important or “forgetting about problems” for a while, they may also experience negatives such as losing money or feeling ashamed or stupid which supports an opinion that they already hold about themselves.   It may sound strange to a non PG but a PG is as likely to seek the negative experiences as they are to seek the positive rewards because it’s human nature to look for evidence to support our self perception good or bad!

    PG’s often refer to the feeling they get when gambling as either “a buzz” or “numbness” and, as with drug or alcohol misuse, the level of exposure required to obtain the same feelings often increases over time.  This means that time and money spent on gambling will often go up as the addiction develops.  Often PG’s are reluctant to stop when their addiction reaches this stage as they feel they have “invested” too much and they are only one big win away from recouping their losses and solving all of their problems which is sure to be just around the corner!  Inevitably the big win does not materialise, or the big win is not enough and a bigger win is required and the cycle continues. 

    As with any addiction, if a PG stops gambling they often experience withdrawal.  This can consist of intense urges or “cravings” to gamble, physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating etc and emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression.  This may be difficult to comprehend as no substance has been ingested but any addiction affects the brains natural chemistry and changes tolerance levels to triggers such as stress and fear prompting an intense response to its removal.  The brain needs time to acclimatise to working within a more “normal” range of stimulation which can take a while.  To put it in more simple terms, if you had spent hours on a roller coaster and adjusted to such a high level of stimulation your head would spin for quite some time after you had disembarked!

    Feel free to add your thoughts on this information to your own forum post if you’d like to explore the subject further.

     

    Take care

    The Gambling Therapy Team

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