Many people who have a gambling addiction do not understand the psychology behind their addiction. They simply know that their craving to gamble is overwhelming. What they do not realize is that it is not the gambling itself that is addictive. It is the risk taking element. Taking risks is part of human nature. There are healthy risks to take and unhealthy risks to take. Those who are addicted to gambling are addicted to risk taking, regardless of how calculated the risk is. Risk is exciting and creates the pleasure chemical dopamine, which a person will attempt to generate again and again despite negative consequences.
We all know that taking risks is exciting. Taking risks is in our psychological make up. We are meant to get a thrill from taking risks that are calculated in a healthy, moral frame of mind. However, some people discover the pleasure that can be found in risk taking and lose all ability to exercise control over it. They love the rush they receive from it and begin to take risks that are purely motivated by pleasure seeking, lacking any intelligence or foresight.
The reason that risk taking gives people such pleasure and excitement is because it produces dopamine. Dopamine is the brain chemical that is released when people discover a substance or process that gives them pleasure. When people who are prone to addiction discover something that rewards them with dopamine, they quickly become hooked on it. Dopamine is something that everyone should be able to enjoy in moderation, but it is problematic for people who struggle with addiction.
These types of people tend to become addicted to gambling when they discover it. Despite it being too great a risk, people will invest everything they own into it and end up losing it all, which frequently jeopardizes their careers, reputations and relationships. Gambling is an addiction that can unravel your life and even end it if you borrow money to gamble with from the wrong people. If you or someone you care about are addicted to gambling, do not hesitate to receive treatment.
Not all gambling is done at a craps table. Gambling can be done with any assets a person possesses, both personal and corporate, and sometimes gambling is even done under the guise of business. People with wealth and power can and do gamble with their personal and corporate assets, even if other people’s investments are tied to them, which is both unethical and unlawful. The fact of the matter is that we know how to identify a gambling addict who is of a simple nature, playing the slot machines and tables in Vegas. But we do not know how to identify high functioning gamblers who put their professional and personal assets on the line for the sake of a thrill.
When someone gambles with their personal assets, they typically leverage things such as houses, vehicles, boats and other major investments. They gamble with these assets in a number of money making efforts, such as flipping houses, betting on the stock market and making deals with other investors. Anywhere someone stands to make a financial gain, there is risk involved. Where there is risk involved, people need to put something of value on the line. For high rolling gamblers, this can easily include their life investments.
It is one thing for a person to gamble with their personal assets, but some gamblers take it to the next level and gamble with their corporate assets. These are people who are executors of company accounts and stocks. It is unethical and often illegal to tie these assets up in risky ventures, but it is done regardless. Some of these gambles are made with an appropriate amount of calculated risk, while others are driven by compulsive gambling tendencies. When a compulsive gambler makes their way into a position of power, they are undoubtedly going to make poor financial decisions with money that many people depend on.
The thrill of gambling is a legitimate addiction that requires treatment, regardless of what level it is carried out at. A compulsive gambler in front of a slot machine has just as much of a problem as a person with far more money and assets to gamble with.
A gambling addiction is not something that is unheard of. The term draws to mind images of a disheveled, red-eyed person nervously going back and forth between a bank machine and a blackjack table, sorrowfully losing their kid’s college money to a casino. However, this is not the only face of a gambling addiction. Gambling, by definition, is deliberately taking a risk in hopes of a desired result; something that creates an ample amount of dopamine (the chemical that tells us we are having fun) within the brains of certain types of people. For the stereotypical addict, a slot machine or card table is enough of a draw. For a white collar addict, much larger scale financial investments are required.
The stigma of an addict as a broken person remains in our culture even as psychology identifies that some of the most successful personality types are prone to addiction. When people cannot stop themselves from pulling the handle of a slot machine, they are labeled addicts. When a wealthy man cannot take his attention away from the stock market rising and falling, he is labeled as a smart investor. In fact, there are many avenues for a gambling addiction to rear its head among the wealthy: getting thrills from risky business mergers, addictively flipping houses, obsessively trading stocks and so on. Any risk taking behavior that consumes a person is a type of gambling or adrenaline addiction and should be addressed for what it is.
Addiction is identified by certain signs and symptoms that indicate an unhealthy immersion into an activity or substance. A life of balance is healthy where as a life of obsession and addiction is unhealthy. If you believe that you or someone you care about is addicted to gambling, despite their outwardly successful appearance, reach out for help to a gambling addiction counselor or a gambling addiction treatment.