What is gambling addiction?
6 min left

What is gambling addiction?

Like any behavioral disorder, gambling addiction is the result of an addiction to an activity. It can be described as "risky" or develop into a pathology. Addiction is established when the person is no longer able to do without gambling in his or her daily life and when the pleasure of gambling becomes a sickly or even unhealthy obligation. The gambling activity, which is supposed to be recreational, then often no longer brings well-being and becomes excessive. From being a simple hobby, gambling becomes a necessity, an obsession in all aspects of the gambler's life, an uncontrollable need at the center of his or her concerns. To the point of thinking only about it, living only around it, and carrying out actions only in connection with the desire to gamble.

No substance that alters the capacities comes into play in this addiction but a manipulation of a neuropsychological nature with very increased 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 not aware of the addiction and is unable to get out of the spiral into which he or she has fallen. They then need outside help to avoid getting bogged down in this 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 dependency can have many negative effects on the individual. Starting with fairly severe behavioral problems. The so-called "at-risk" or even pathological gamblers often can't stop gambling until they win or try to make up for their losses. Different feelings come into play: obsession, compulsive behavior, or a loss of sense of reality. This can include excessive stress, disrupted landmarks, eating and sleeping disorders, and even aggression in some cases.

Thus, dependent gamblers may suffer from a form of social isolation. Many people cut themselves off from those around them, their family and friends, either because of a lack of time or because of misunderstandings related to their compulsive gambling. The same is true in the professional sphere. Absenteeism decreased productivity, loss of concentration and interest, etc., can all weigh on the problem gambler.

Finally, gambling addiction can lead to serious financial difficulties. If the gambler initially invests a fixed amount of money in gambling, the addictive behavior will gradually lead him or her to devote larger amounts of money to this activity until the money he or she needs for daily living is put into play. He or she may then spend all of his or her income, or even that of his or her family, to satisfy his or her passion for gambling and thus jeopardize his or her financial health. In some extreme cases, addiction can lead to indebtedness to those around them or to a third party organization, or even to the use of illegal resources such as embezzlement or theft.

Is it possible to get help?

It is obviously possible to get help and is even strongly recommended. In addition to the call to one's close circle or to a health professional such as a psychologist, there are various platforms in charge of preventing gambling addiction, helping and accompanying pathological gamblers in their social and financial difficulties. Among these are Joueurs Info Service or SOS Joueurs who inform and refer people who request it.

Initially, the psychological support of his entourage seems to be essential. In the event of social isolation, the dependent gambler may turn to specialized discussion groups and/or associations around excessive gambling. In the second stage, he or she may also call on health professionals. Consultation with an addiction specialist for individualized care is still the recommended solution for starting behavioral therapy or even medication. These specialists in all types of addictions offer specialized support, particularly in the CSAPA (Center for Care, Support and Prevention in Addictology) or in hospital addiction units in the case of more serious pathologies. The first step towards social and professional reintegration assistance.

How can gambling addiction be prevented?

Above all, prevention is essential. The family, the gambler's close circle of friends and family, but also opinion leaders and influencers have an important role to play, especially with young people who are not very well informed. 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 fundamental. A simple rule may be to remind the gambler of the realities of gambling, including the notion of prevailing chance, before making him or her aware of possible addiction problems.

There seems to be a need to set clear rules before any gambling activity takes place. Whether in terms of the amount of time devoted to one's passion, or the amount of money involved, clear limits must be established that must be respected and not exceeded so that gambling remains above all a pleasure.

To help the gambler in this process, there are various tools available in the casinos and gaming places or on the online sites directly. The player can set limitations in terms of hours of play, the number of deposits that can be made, or the number of bets that can be placed. He can even prohibit himself from gambling on a type of activity, a period of time, or for life. It is also possible to self-exclude oneself, causing the blocking of one's player account and the impossibility to create a new one. Self-exclusion, just like the voluntary ban on gambling, is the result of a carefully considered individual action that cannot be taken by a third party. The last resort in the event of loss of control.

Indispensable numbers and addresses

Joueurs Info Service : by chat or by phone at 09 74 75 13 13, 7d/7 from 8am to 2am, anonymous and non surcharged call.

SOS Joueurs : by phone at 09 69 39 55 12 (non surcharged call), on the self-help forum or by e-mail [email protected]

Centre de Référence sur le Jeu Excessif : DREFAC - Pôle universitaire d’addictologie et psychiatrie - CHU Hôp. Saint-Jacques Bâtiment Louis Philippe - Section O 85 rue Saint-Jacques 44093 Nantes cedex 1 By phone at 02 40 84 76 18

About the authorMelanie Cazenave
63 articles
✅ Reviewed by Head of Content
Expertise :
Casino is not her strong point, but proofreading is. 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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