Whether you’re in a twinkly casino or a noisy slot machine, it’s easy to get caught up in the dream of hitting the big jackpot. It’s a rush, a thrill and then it all goes away. The odds of winning are astronomical, and even a small win can create a vicious cycle.
The definition of gambling is risking something valuable on an event whose outcome is at least partly determined by chance in the hope of gaining more valuable than you’ve invested. While most people think of casinos or racetracks when they hear this word, gambling happens in many places like gas stations, churches, and sporting events. It also takes many forms including playing bingo, buying lottery tickets or scratch-offs and participating in office pools.
Gambling is a form of risk-taking that can be addictive because it activates the reward center in your brain, triggering a chemical response similar to that which occurs when you eat chocolate or spend time with friends. This can be particularly dangerous because you may feel a temporary high when you gamble, but this high does not last and it is often followed by feelings of shame, guilt or depression.
If you are struggling with a loved one’s gambling addiction, it is important to reach out for help. Speak up sooner rather than later and encourage them to call a helpline or therapist, see their doctor or healthcare provider, attend Gamblers Anonymous or another support group and/or seek treatment at a casino rehab. Other treatments for problem gambling include family therapy and marriage, career or credit counseling.