Causes of Gambling Addiction


Gambling is an activity where individuals risk something of value in order to predict the outcome of a random event (for example, betting on a football match or buying a scratchcard). This prediction can be done with money (either cash or another item of value) and involves some element of skill. It is an impulsive behavior and can cause problems for some people.

There are many reasons why people gamble. It can be for fun, to socialize with friends, or even as a way to relieve stress. Regardless of the motive, gambling can lead to addiction. It is important to understand the causes of gambling addiction so that it can be treated.

Behavioral research shows that when people have an emotional problem they will often turn to gambling. Whether it is for excitement, to make up for past losses or to avoid responsibilities, gambling can be a dangerous coping mechanism. People with mental health disorders are at an increased risk for developing gambling problems. This is largely because they tend to have a more difficult time controlling their emotions and impulses.

In addition, people with emotional problems tend to be less able to recognise their own problems or to get help. This can make it harder for them to stop gambling or seek treatment.

People may also gamble to escape from other problems they are facing. Problem gambling isn’t just about money – it can have serious consequences for an individual’s relationships, work and mental health. It can even result in legal issues and debts.

How much money does a person need to lose before gambling becomes problematic? This is not a simple question to answer. Unlike other addictions, such as alcohol or drugs, it is not possible to simply “stop gambling”. Gambling behaviour changes the way that brain sends chemical messages and some people develop a psychological dependency on this activity.

Psychiatrists recognise that pathological gambling is a disorder and should be treated like other addictive behaviors. However, it has been difficult to define the exact criteria that indicate a diagnosis of pathological gambling. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association published a new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It now includes 10 criterion that are organised into three clusters: damage or disruption, loss of control, and dependence.

Some of the criterion include: a feeling of being out of control, a desire to win back money lost, hiding or lying about gambling activities, and a preoccupation with gambling. In addition, some behavioural therapists suggest that some individuals with gambling problems may benefit from peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous.

The most common signs of problem gambling are secretive behaviour, lying about how much you gamble, and making excuses for your actions. If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s gambling habits, it is important to seek help straight away. This can be done by talking to your GP, seeing a psychologist or joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous.