Gambling addiction

The majority of us are hesitant in repeatedly engaging in risk-taking behaviour, yet when it comes to gambling it can be difficult to cease the behaviour. This is a result of it being highly addictive despite the high-risk potential it is attached to. Addiction can be defined as a persistent inability to stop consuming a substance or activity regardless of the adverse effects it has on the individual (Goodman, 1990). Whilst gambling may seem perhaps a less severe form of addiction, in comparison to drugs such as heroin, it can be extremely debilitating. What enables gambling to be an addiction disorder is the dysfunction it causes the individual in their daily lives.

The lack of money causes an immense amount of stress disrupting social relationships, the inability to concentrate on other aspects of life such as work and an individual subjective hierarchy, suggestive of what they deem high priority within their lives. Subsequently, gambling has been associated with an increased risk of homelessness (Sharman, Butler and Roberts, 2019)

The inability to stop gambling, regardless of the financial risk in place, is the addictive feelings that it induces. The temporary high that winning causes those addicted to gambling mimics that of those who are substance-dependent (Li et al, 2020). This is a result of the same reward processing being activated when engaging in this behaviour and the intense heightened dopamine response they experience. As a result, gambling behaviours have been found to have ranging prevalence rates from 1% to 10.4% (Sharman, Butler and Roberts, 2019)


Li, Y., Ramoz, N., Derrington, E., & Dreher, J. C. (2020). Hormonal responses in gambling versus alcohol abuse: a review of human studies. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry100, 109880.

Sharman, S., Butler, K., & Roberts, A. (2019). Psychosocial risk factors in disordered gambling: a descriptive systematic overview of vulnerable populations. Addictive behaviors99, 106071.

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