Gambling is a popular pastime and can give people a rush of excitement when they win money. However, if a person has an unhealthy relationship with gambling, it can become dangerous and impact their life in negative ways. Some signs of a problem include lying to loved ones about gambling behavior, relying on others to fund your betting and continuing to gamble even when it negatively affects work, school or personal relationships. Some people also have genetic or psychological predispositions to become heavily involved with gambling.
Humans are biologically driven to seek rewards. When we do things like spend time with friends, eat a delicious meal or gamble, our brains are activated in the reward center and produce a chemical called dopamine. Over time, this can cause us to seek these experiences more often. This can lead to a vicious cycle, where we begin to feel we need the reward more than ever and can’t control our impulses to throw the dice or pull the lever one more time.
A big first step in dealing with a gambling addiction is admitting you have a problem. It can be a difficult thing to do, especially for someone who has lost large sums of money or has strained or broken relationships as a result of their gambling disorder. There are many treatment options available, including psychotherapy. This involves talking to a mental health professional and identifying unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that need to be changed. Psychotherapy can be individualized for each person, depending on their needs and may include psychodynamic therapy or group therapy.