What is gambling addiction?
5 min left

What is gambling addiction?

Like any behavioral disorder, gambling addiction is the result of a dependence on an activity. It can be qualified as "risky" or develop into a pathology. Addiction is established when a person is no longer able to function without gambling in his or her daily life, and when the pleasure of gambling turns into a sickly, even unhealthy obligation.  

The activity, which is supposed to be recreational, often no longer brings any sense of pleasure and becomes excessive. From a simple hobby, gambling becomes a must, an obsession in every aspect of the gambler's life, an uncontrollable need at the center of his preoccupations. This continues until it's all they think about, all they live for, and all they do is play. 

There are no capacity-altering substances involved in this addiction, but neuropsychological manipulation with heightened sensitivity to the reward mechanism. The pleasure of winning and the disappointment of losing are multiplied. 

In some severe forms of addiction, the person is unaware of their dependence, and finds themselves unable to break the spiral they are in. They then need outside help to avoid getting bogged down in their compulsive behavior. Like other forms of addiction (alcohol, drugs, etc.), gambling addiction can have dramatic consequences for the individual. 

What are the consequences of gambling addiction? 

This physical and psychological dependence can have many harmful repercussions on the individual. Starting with serious behavioral problems. At-risk" or even pathological gamblers often can't stop playing until they've won or tried to make up for their losses. Various feelings come into play: obsession, compulsive behavior, and loss of a sense of reality. The result is inordinate stress, disrupted reference points, eating and sleeping disorders, and, in some cases, even aggression. 

Gambling addicts can suffer from a form of social isolation. Whether for lack of time or because of the incomprehension linked to their compulsive gambling activity, many cut themselves off from their entourage, their family, and their circle of friends. The same applies to the professional sphere. Absenteeism, reduced productivity, loss of concentration and interest... can all be factors weighing on the excessive gambler. 

Finally, gambling addiction can lead to serious financial difficulties. Initially, the gambler invests a fixed sum of money in gambling, but their addictive behavior will gradually lead them to devote larger amounts to this activity, to the point of gambling away the money they require to live from one day to the next.  

He may then spend his entire income, or even that of his family, to indulge his passion for gambling, thereby jeopardizing his financial health. In extreme cases, addiction can lead to indebtedness to family and friends or third parties, or even to the use of illegal resources such as embezzlement or theft. 

Is it possible to get help? 

It is, of course, possible to get help, and is even highly recommended.  

In addition to seeking help from friends and family, or a health professional such as a psychologist, there are a number of platforms dedicated to preventing gambling addiction and helping pathological gamblers with their social and financial problems.  

These include Joueurs Info Service and SOS Joueurs, which provide information and guidance to those who request it. 

In the first instance, psychological support from those around him or her seems to be essential. In the event of social isolation, the gambling addict can turn to specialized discussion groups and/or associations concerned with excessive gambling.  

As a second step, they can also turn to healthcare professionals. Consulting a specialist in addictology for personalized care remains the recommended solution for initiating behavioral or even drug therapy.  

These specialists in addictions of all kinds offer specialized support, notably in CSAPA (Centre de Soins, d'Accompagnement et de Prévention en Addictologie) or, in the case of more serious pathologies, in hospital addictology units.  

This constitutes the first step towards social and professional reintegration. 

How can gambling addiction be prevented? 

First and foremost, prevention is essential. Not only the gambler's family and close circle of friends, but also opinion leaders and influencers have an important role to play, particularly with young, unwary people.  

But addiction problems affect all segments of the population. The ease of access to gambling, especially online, has accentuated the phenomenon of addiction, making prevention on the Internet essential.  

A simple rule of thumb is to remind players of the realities of gambling and, in particular, the importance of the notion of chance, before making them aware of any potential addiction problems. 

It seems essential to set clear rules before engaging in any gambling activity. Whether in terms of the amount of time devoted to your passion, or the sums involved, you need to establish clear limits that must be respected and not exceeded.  

In this way, gambling will remain, above all, a pleasure. 

To help players in this process, there are many tools available that can be accessed from casinos and gaming houses, or directly from online sites. Players can set limits on the number of hours they can play, the amount they can deposit, or the amount they can wager.  

They can even ban themselves from playing a certain type of game category, for a certain period, or for life. It's also possible to self-exclude, resulting in your player account being blocked and you being unable to create a new one.  

Both self-exclusion and voluntary banning are the result of a carefully considered individual decision, which cannot be taken by a third party. A last resort in the event of loss of control. 

Essential numbers and addresses 

The National Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-522-4700 is available 24/7 and is 100% confidential. 

Gambling Help and Referral: By phone 24 hours / 7 days. Montreal area: 514 527-0140 and everywhere in Quebec: 1 800 461-0140. 

ConnexOntario: Call 1-866-531-2600 or go to ConnexOntario.ca 

About the authorMelanie Cazenave
63 articles
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A specialist in online casinos, she also loves proofreading. With her, it's impossible for mistakes to slip through the cracks. A true lover of letters, she binds articles and retouches them to make them as perfect as possible.

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