If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it’s essential to be aware of the different stages of addiction. Gambling addiction can progress from occasional betting to a severe addiction that can ruin lives. In this article, we’ll discuss gambling addiction’s different stages.
Phase 1: The ecstasy of winning
It is important for all gamblers to be aware that there is a phase in which they experience winnings. This phase may occur at any time during their gambling career, but the most common occurrence occurs when they are on a winning streak. Interestingly, a winning streak is usually experienced at the beginning of a gambling career when the novice player wins on the slot machine or at the poker table. The feeling of getting easy money sucks the novice into the game.
Your optimism and confidence will be high during the winning phase. You will believe that you can’t lose and that each bet is a sure thing. You may even start taking significant risks, hoping to increase your winnings. It is enjoyable to gain a lot of wealth without having to work hard.
This phase is dangerous because it can lead to careless gambling and significant losses. During the winning phase, you must remain cautious and avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. No streak lasts forever, and you may still lose even when you are on a winning streak.
Phase 2: The frustrating, demoralizing experience of losing money
Much psychological and financial strain can be associated with the losing phase of gambling.
During the losing phase, gamblers may feel like they are stuck in a never-ending cycle of losses. A feeling of frustration, depression, or guilt can result from this situation.
In the losing phase, players lose more money than they can afford and begin to make risky decisions in an attempt to recoup what they have lost. As their losses mount, they experience a decrease in their self-esteem until they feel like nothing but a failure. They may borrow money from family or friends, sell possessions or even steal to keep gambling.
During this stage, the addict begins to lose control of their addiction. They may start to gamble more and more in an attempt to win back what they have lost, but this only leads to further financial losses. Gambling can also negatively affect personal relationships, causing tension and conflict within families and friendships.
Phase 3: Gambling addiction consumes life, leaving empty and regretful.
In desperation, gamblers often do whatever it takes to win money. The stress, shame, and despair force them to rebound from losses. They will do anything to win cash and need even more money to do that.
The desire to keep gambling can lead to dangerous behavior, such as stealing or borrowing money. A person may also try to hide gambling from family and friends. Desperate gamblers may resort to criminal activity to acquire money.
People in the desperation phase are often very anxious and stressed. They may feel like they are going crazy and that there is no way out.
Phase 4: The dark and dreary phase of gambling in which all hope is lost
It’s often at this point that they realize they have a problem and are addicted. This phase can be especially devastating for gambling addicts. They may feel like they are doomed to a life of addiction and misery. They may feel powerless to change their situation and unable to overcome their addiction.
Addicts may isolate themselves from family and friends and lose interest in activities they once loved.
This sense of hopelessness can trigger depression and anxiety. The addict may feel like they are in over their heads and that there is no way out. They may feel trapped in an addiction cycle they can’t escape. In these times, it is easy for the addict to give up on themselves and their recovery.
How does gambling affect the brain?
As a result of gambling, the brain releases a substance called dopamine, which is associated with pleasure. Furthermore, gambling can cause anxiety and stress, particularly if a person loses money. Gambling can become addictive as people seek the dopamine rush repeatedly. Dopamine is also released as the brain attempts to deal with negative emotions.
How do you know if gambling has escalated?
Several signs may indicate that someone’s gambling behavior is escalating. The following may indicate that assistance is necessary:
- Overspending or gambling more frequently than planned.
- It is common for gamblers to tell lies about their gambling funds or time.
- When they cannot gamble, their mood changes dramatically (e.g., they become angry, agitated, or depressed).
- The gambler borrows money or sells possessions to gamble.
- They neglect important responsibilities (e.g., work, school, family duties) to gamble.
Having a gambling addiction can ruin your life. It can ruin relationships, your finances, and even criminal activity. However, you are not alone. You can recover. The following steps will assist you in getting back on track:
- Admitting a problem and seeking assistance are the first steps to overcoming it.
- Make sure you acknowledge the negative consequences of your gambling and take action to remedy them.
- Keep your commitment to recovery.
- Seek the assistance of a professional if necessary.
- Participate in self-help groups or counseling sessions.
- Don’t allow yourself to fall prey to gambling temptations.