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What Happens In Your Brain While Gambling

What Happens In Your Brain While Gambling

Online betting sites can hook betting lovers with their fun and thrilling gambling aura. Besides, many consider gambling as a source of passive income. But sometimes, people have that uncontrollable urge to gamble once more. So how much gambling is too much? There is a link between compulsive gambling and changes in the brain. You may be wondering how is gambling an addiction of the mind? Well, several scientific studies back this connection.

Let’s find out is there a science to gambling.

Table of content

  • What does gambling do to your brain? 
  • What makes gambling so addictive?
  • Mental health problems associated with compulsive gambling
  • Diagnosis of problem gambling 
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Four tips to avoid and control problem gambling 
  • Final thoughts

What does gambling do to your brain? 

The brain releases the mood-uplifting chemical dopamine when a gambler wins a stake. This dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system, linked to the pleasure you get while gambling. According to research, betting experience stimulates this reward system like substance addiction. 

Thus, players love to gamble more often to reexperience that dopamine rush, and gambling wins. 

What makes gambling so addictive?

When you gamble frequently, the brain starts building up a tolerance for dopamine. Gambling becomes an addiction for such gamblers to experience the euphoria again. But eventually, you won’t feel the same pleasure in winning the exact amount due to the overuse of the brain’s reward system. It’s a significant reason gamblers can’t walk away after a few betting sessions.

So a person will take bigger risks as they crave more dopamine. The higher dopamine release in the body leads to poor impulse control and reduces inhibition of risky decisions among the players. Impulsivity becomes the nature of problem gamblers, making it difficult for them to evaluate the long-term effect of their short-term decisions. 

Hence, neuroscience categorizes such players as compulsive gamblers. Casual gamblers usually set a betting limit or stop instantly after losing a few bets. On the other hand, players with compulsive gambling disorder continue playing with the hope of recovering the lost money or winning more. 

Mental health problems associated with compulsive gambling 

Is gambling a mental illness? Yes, compulsive gamblers generally suffer from substance misuse problems, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and personality disorders. Besides, it may cause other severe psychological conditions in the long run. It includes Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Diagnosis of problem gambling

Look out for the following signs to diagnose problem gambling:

  • Irresistible urge to gamble more
  • Spending utility bills money on gambling
  • Relationship problems
  • Lying to family and friends about gambling
  • Stealing
  • Rising debts due to gambling
  • Willing to take more risk
  • Skipping work
  • Guilt of betting

Withdrawal symptoms

Compulsive bettors can experience similar after-effects as alcohol or drug addicts. The withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Depression or anxiety

However, withdrawal symptoms are not permanent. They will tone down with time. Making some lifestyle adjustments can help your brain readjust to betting free life.

Four tips to avoid and control problem gambling 

Combatting compulsive gambling habits can be challenging. However, it doesn’t mean there is no way out. The sooner a gamblers get treatment, the easier it is to alleviate the gambling disorder. Check out the effective strategies to enjoy betting without addiction.

  1. Responsible gambling

As the adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” So playing responsibly right from the beginning can prevent you from getting into problem gambling. Even the most trusted and reliable online casinos encourage responsible gambling. 

Stick to your goal of limiting your betting activities. You must learn how to stop gambling when you’re winning or losing alike. Expect to lose, and stop chasing lost money. Besides, leave the casino site on winning enough. You can also enroll in a voluntary self-exclusion program to limit gambling habits.

How casinos enable gambling addicts? The operators will share a link to support groups on their homepage. So whenever you get a hint of problem gambling, you can contact any of these organizations.

  1. Therapies

Like any other mental health condition, getting early medical support is a key to treating gambling addiction. As per studies, cognitive-behavior therapy is one of the best treatments for betting addicts. It trains compulsive gamblers to identify and control irrational thought patterns, such as a fourth bet after three losses can lead to a big win. Further, the therapist helps replace them with a healthier thought process.

Talk therapy can also help identify hidden triggers and what makes people gamble more. With this, a counselor can recommend the right recovery plan based on the gambler’s specific vulnerabilities to avoid relapse. The mental health practitioner will prescribe medication to treat the condition if a compulsive gambler also suffers from another psychological problem.

  1. Lifestyle changes

You can also boost the dopamine in your brain through lifestyle changes. Add meditation, yoga, and exercises to your daily routine. These activities will even help compulsive gamblers relax during withdrawal symptoms.

Further, switch to your favorite hobbies that will provide a similar pleasure and feel-good chemicals like when you gamble. Again, a therapist can help you if it’s too difficult to concentrate on activities.

  1. Join gambling support groups

You’ll find a plethora of online channels that help treat problem gambling, such as the National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous. Besides, you can join the Reddit communities to read testimonials and stories from past addicts. Inspiration stories of others can also encourage you to quit the habit.

Final thoughts

Accepting that you have a problem is the first step toward breaking the shackles. If not, compulsive gambling development can destroy your regular life with time, including financial condition, relationships, career, and health. So to prevent gambling addiction from worsening, seek help as soon as possible. You may go through roadblocks initially, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
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