Many Canadians love playing casino games and betting on their lucky numbers, but what happens when gambling is the only thing on your mind?
Like gaming and drug use, gambling can become an addiction that threatens more than just your wallet.
People caught in the wave of gambling addiction often refuse to acknowledge it because of guilt, fear, or disgust towards themselves. Left untreated, it can lead to theft, family loss, mental health problems, bankruptcy, etc.
This is why it’s essential to learn about gambling and its illusions from credible sources with solid knowledge on the matter.
Lucking out at a gambling table or in online casinos always leaves you craving more. But what is the science behind it? Find out how gambling addiction works, what to do about it, and how to enjoy it in a healthy way!
Developing an addiction
Although we use legitimate sites while writing this article, please refer to a specialist for an official diagnosis.
Nowadays, there are thousands of ways Canadians can become addicted to gambling. You can approach this service not only through slot machines in real contexts but also through online providers.
This ease of access means more individuals get exposed to the risk of addiction.
What are the signs?
- Feeling overwhelming excitement when thinking of gambling or doing it.
- Feeling irritable or distressed when trying to stop gambling.
- Lack of self-control over gambling.
- Frequent or obsessive thoughts about gambling – past gambling experiences or planning future ones tempt you to gamble.
- Stress or anxiety pushes you to bet more.
- The presence of a “loss-chasing” tendency – you are tempted to risk more, hoping to get even after a losing streak.
- Feeling the need to lie about gambling activities.
- Sacrificing a job, a school, or a close relationship for gambling.
- Borrowing money or financially relying on other people to satisfy your need for gambling.
Remember that these signs may also lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental issues.
Your brain’s perspective of dependency
Demystifying brain triggers and compulsions is a big challenge for neuroscientists. However, progress towards understanding how our brain works is constantly being made. In this light, we now know a bit more about what makes and breaks addiction!
According to researchers at UBC’s psychology department, gambling and drug addictions are far more similar than we thought. They both seem to be connected to the same part of our brain called “the insula.”
So, when triggers like images of slot machines, their sounds, or their flashing lights are shown to gambling addicts, “the insula” flares up instantly.
This region can make it hard to resist addiction due to its intense reaction when anticipating rewards. Although not every aspect of the insula is fully uncovered, we can now understand a bit more about what happens when craving something. The insula is expecting a reward!
Dealing with a gambling addiction
There’s no easy way to deal with addictions of any kind. The process one goes through when recovering from gambling dependency takes time and effort to complete.
Luckily, Canadian citizens are encouraged to seek help through official channels. The Canada Safety Council offers multiple helplines for people needing counseling or starting the withdrawal process.
As the CSC puts it, seeking help is the “first step to regaining control of the problems that gambling has caused.” The treatment and counseling are free, so you shouldn’t worry about “losing more money.”
If you or your loved ones suffer from gambling addiction, taking action early on is recommended.
Celebrities with gambling addictions
It’s no secret that stars love spending their money. However, some enter a rabbit hole of addiction that leads to defamation, mental health issues, and bankruptcy. There’s no guarantee that fame and money protect you from developing an addiction.
If you happen to suffer from gambling dependency, you should know that the people we look up to are also vulnerable to it.
For example, we found out that Pamela Anderson lost $250,000 during a single night in Vegas. Another reference is Ben Affleck, a famous and beloved actor who lost $400,000 to his gambling pleasures.
Of course, there are even bigger losses on record. Tiger Woods reportedly lost $58.5 million within seven years of gambling. American rapper 50 Cent joined the big-spending category with a $1 million loss on a boxing match bet in 2007. Charlie Sheen is in the same boat, with a $2.5 million loss in three months.
Gambling in a healthy way
Aside from creating long-term fixations, you can enjoy gambling as “just a game.” There are many practices one can adopt to continue enjoying betting. Here are some of them!
- Keep the gamble time to a minimum. A recommended amount is four days per month.
- When gambling, use no more than 1% of the total household income per month (before taxes).
- Keep away from gambling more than two types of slots/games at once.
- Avoid thinking of gambling as a way to make money.
- Refrain from gambling when feeling stressed, anxious, or angry.
- Do set a time limit before engaging in gambling.
You can always discover more ways to enjoy slot machines or table games without spiraling. Good resources come from psychotherapists and helplines specialized in the subject.
Be assured that specialists won’t judge you or diminish you for your dependencies. All that matters is regaining the feeling of control over yourself!