What is the Psychology Behind Gambling Addiction?


Gambling involves placing a wager on an event of chance – such as betting on a football team to win a game, or playing a scratchcard – with the hope that you will get something back, like money. The amount you win is based on how well you predict the outcome of the event.

People gamble for many reasons – for social and financial gain, to relieve boredom or stress, or as an escape from everyday problems or difficulties. For some, gambling is a habit that they find difficult to break and can cause serious harm to their physical and mental health, family and relationships, employment and education, and leave them in debt or even homeless.

Problem gambling affects all types of people – rich and poor, young and old, men and women, from small towns and big cities, with every race, religion and educational background. Problem gambling can lead to suicide, so it’s important to seek help if you suspect someone is struggling.

What is the psychology behind gambling addiction? It’s a complex issue, but there are some key factors that contribute to gambling addiction. People who struggle with gambling are usually impulsive, meaning they often make decisions on impulse, and have difficulty thinking about the long-term consequences of their actions. They also tend to have genetic or psychological predispositions that can trigger an addictive gambling response.

Having a strong support network can be essential to helping you overcome problem gambling. Try reaching out to friends and family, joining a book club or sports team, enrolling in an education class, volunteering for a charity, or finding ways to make new connections that do not involve visiting casinos or online gambling sites. You can also join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

It can be hard to recognise that you have a problem and admit it to others, especially if your gambling has caused harm. You may try to hide your behaviour or lie about how much time and money you are spending on it, feeling that others won’t understand, or that you can always change your ways.

Getting help can be challenging, but it’s worth it – you can recover from a gambling addiction, and start rebuilding your life in the process. It’s also important to remember that you are not alone – there are many other people who have overcome gambling addiction, and have rebuilt their lives. If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, BetterHelp is here to help. Take our free assessment, and we’ll match you with a therapist who can help. Start your recovery journey today.