Gambling Addictions

By: Rachael Komisar

My interest in the gambling addiction.

I have always been interested in finding out why people will continue to give money to others just for the sake of a game. In my life I tend to want to spend my money once I get it but have a hard time figuring out what to spend it on. So it confuses me to think about people being able to just throw it all on the table even though they know that they may lose it.

The History of Gambling

  • In the 1600's to the mid 1800's gambling was outlawed by the Puritans. Even possessing cards, dice and/or gaming tables were outlawed. Though English colonists saw gambling as an innocent game if used in the right way. It was legal for the English colonists because it was considered "suitable for gentlemen". Though it was once accepted it began to be the thing to blame when things in the colonies started to become "corrupt'.
  • In the mid 1800's and early 1900's gambling took off when the Gold Rush started in California. As gambling started to hit its highest point more diverse people started to show up so that they could gamble as well. some of the people that showed up were women, mainly black or Chinese. In general gambling was mostly popular in the west. But soon it was frowned upon and limits were given to it because of the way that people were acting. During the prohibition gambling was not completely destroyed but it was driven underground.
  • In the early 1930's to now gambling became a legal activity once again. When the Great Depression hit it became legalized because a lot of people had no way of making money. Even bingo was made into a "criminalized" activity. Then by 1933 betting on horse races seemed to have come back into style. Once they started to get to work on preventing illegal gambling a lot of mobsters moved o the west coast.
  • If you fast-forward through all of the acts of creating more legal and illegal forms of gambling you get to the most recent legalized form of gambling: the lottery. With this being the last form of gambling that has made a big difference there is always the question: what will happen next?

The Biology of the Gambling Addiction

With a lot of things having an addiction was and still is said to make a person look weak and powerless, but that is not the case at all. It has been said by a lot of addicts that willpower is not enough. With advancements studying, researchers have found that the common misconception that addictions were only a case with alcohol and drugs is simply not true. A prime example would be gambling or even sex. When a person is labeled as an addict there is usual a problem with their brain functioning. Something that is very interesting is that we do not actually become addicted to the substances or actions but we do become addicted to the chemicals that are released in our brains. Our genetics account for about 50% of our personalities and behavior. But our behaviors are not all based upon our biology. When you become addicted to something then your brain function changes. The changes are with things like your cerebral cortex. It will not function properly causing you to make more childish or unhealthy choices. So the "reward" that is received (which may only be winning five dollars) is felt to be much more worth the cost (the loss of family over addiction. When preforming the addictive action a chemical is released in your brain called Dopamine.This creates a good sensation that is always wanted. So in order to keep feeling this a person may continue to gamble.
Stop Gambling Addiction

Treatment Options

Below is a 21 day treatment plan from the Williamsville Wellness center.


Main Goal: Problem Assessment and Future Planning, with opportunities to learn and practice recovery management skills and address all areas of your individualized treatment plan.
Our 21 Day Gambling Program provides an in-depth focus on aspects of Compulsive Gambling and how to attain active recovery from gambling addiction. The program starts with sessions that focus on the root of the addiction, particularly its severity and potential triggers. We will also conduct mental health screening, psychological testing and provide a diagnosis before creating an individualized recovery plan for the client. Further psychological testing, as well as management of medical and mental health issues will give clients a chance to put their aftercare plan into practice prior to leaving.

What you can expect:

  • A total of around 60 individual sessions
  • To have about 45 group sessions
  • Includes Family/Partner sessions, on site or by phone

In the 21 Day Program we will focus on:

  • An in-depth assessment of your gambling history, severity, triggers, and signs of relapse
  • Screening for co-occurring mental health problems through psychological testing and psychiatric evaluation
  • Addressing mental health problems through therapy techniques aimed at teaching: coping skills, communication skills, motivation for change, emotion regulation, impulse control, reducing procrastination, and anger management
  • Providing education on the brain and body effects of gambling addiction, codependency, and assistance handling financial and legal problems
  • Introduction to the 12-Steps of Gamblers’ Anonymous and SMART Recovery
  • Emphasis on medical management issues
  • Physical health through massage, exercise, yoga, and nutrition planning
  • Helping you create an individualized recovery plan and aftercare appointments to continuing your success in recovery after discharge

Why Choose 21 Days?

  • If you have co-occurring mental health or other issues needing adequate time to address in treatment
  • Designed for people with medical management issues
  • Work in-depth on family issues
  • Receive adequate time to solidify your recovery and aftercare plan prior to leaving
Gambling Addiction Treatment

Withdrawal Symptoms

Some withdrawal symptoms that are the most apparent from gambling would include cravings, irritability, and restlessness. Some others are insomnia, headaches, and even diarrhea were experienced.
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" Lupu et al (2002) interviewed 500 school-teenagers from 3 different districts with a structured questionnaire that included the 20 questions of the American Anonymous Gambling Association. They found that 6.8% of the teenagers were pathological gamblers, with a male to female ratio of 4.6:1. The majority (82.4%) preferred group gambling. Gambling was responsible for school absenteeism in 64.7% and modest results at school in 52.9% of subjects." (W.H.O)

About 15% of Americans gamble at least once a week.

There have not been any deaths directly related to gambling. Some activities that may cause deaths are stealing, fighting, and even fire-setting all in the name of gambling.

I find it very interesting that according to a study, people in the US spend about $5 billion annually on gambling activities.

The Impacts of This Addiction

This addiction can cause the loss of family, relationships, money, and even homes. This addiction could make a person depressed at all times except for when they are gambling. Their mental processes are changed as well when they are gambling. As said before their cerebral cortex acts as though it is under-developed and causes the person to make unsafe decisions. It also releases the chemical called Dopamine into your brain which gives an instant feeling of relief and pleasure. This impacts a persons life because if they made the strong decision to quit gambling then they could go into withdrawal and with any type of addictive substance or action the symptoms could be unhealthy.
Gambling Addiction/effects on the marriage