When we are gambling, the feeling we get promotes an illusion of being in control, believing our expert skills, over an outcome that is in reality defined by chance. It can become very addictive. Gambling is, by its very definition, a random event yet many gamblers passionately believe they can come up with a strategy or system to win.
The brain releases dopamine whenever we are participating in pleasurable activities such as sex, drugs, eating and when reward is uncertain, like backing a horse to win. The anticipation of risk taking is extremely powerful and causes the brain to change due to uncertainty and this can change the way we deal with losing. As a result, losing can set off the urge to keep on gambling, rather than facing the disappointment that often makes people walk away.
There are many reasons why people take up gambling. They may want to escape worries. They may love the buzz they get, the excitement, competitiveness trying to beat the odds. An adrenaline rush and often to solve financial problems. Some say there is no such thing as safe gambling and others argue it is like drinking, safe if you follow sensible rules. For the majority, gambling is harmless but for some gambling is a way of life, an addiction that can cause havoc and wreck lives.
Any compulsive behaviour has psychological and biological origins. It changes how we feel, allowing us to escape our normal lives and struggles short-term but remember we must come back and face the reality at some point. If you think you might have a gambling problem ask yourself some questions and answer these questions with honesty. The key to successful self therapy is asking yourself the correct questions and having the courage to answer yourself truthfully.
Is gambling making me unhappy? Is gambling making it hard to get a good night’s sleep? Are you losing concentration because you are worried about how much money you are losing? Are you gambling because you are running away from your problems? Are you lying to yourself about how much you are gambling? Are you borrowing money from others to feed your addiction?
If you have answered yes to these questions then you potentially have a problem and may need to get some help before you lose everything and end up with serious debt problems. Money problems can lead you to criminal behaviour or lying to those you love, even stealing from friends and family. If this is you and you have lost control, there are things you can do for yourself. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to over coming any addiction problem. Once you have admitted to yourself you have a problem, try talking to someone you trust about it and avoid any triggers or locations where you will be tempted to participate in gambling.
Take back some control in your life and learn to face up to your problems without escaping, taking one day at time without expecting instant miracles
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