Gambling addiction is a major concern around the world, as more and more people are embracing the tables and cards as a means of stress relief. The emergence of online casinos has not helped curb the growing statistics of people becoming addicted to gambling. The availability of casino games and the allure of the easy money has the potential to rapidly go from stress relief to full-blown addiction. There are some that would argue that people with pathological gambling disorder are merely exceptionally greedy. Others, though, would argue that these people are suffering from a mental health disorder and need to be taken away from the tables and put into counseling as soon as possible. Currently, there appear to be no signs of either side achieving any sort of common ground or consensus. So while the debate rages on, people continue to become addicted to roulette, blackjack, and the slots.
Pathological gambling is basically differentiated from the norm by one simple factor. Addicts are in such an ill state of mental health that they are either incapable of seeing their problem or are simply ignoring the consequences of their actions. This can include everything from how much damage their next week-long session at the roulette table is going to cost them, to ignoring the threat of a spouse divorcing them if they don't stop. The problem has gotten to the point where the thrill of the “action” has taken control of the person's mind. There are some mental health experts that argue that gambling addicts are no longer in full control of their actions. While there is some evidence provided by the increase of certain chemicals in the nervous system during gambling, this is not considered adequate proof.
To some degree, another sign of pathological gambling comes in the form of separation anxiety. The addiction tends to get to a point where the addict cannot stop thinking about gambling. Scenarios are played out in the mind constantly, bordering on delusions. This preoccupation, when combined with the possibility of being withdrawn from a casino, can sometimes lead to separation anxiety. In some cases, the person exhibits symptoms similar to drug withdrawal if they are deprived of their gambling “fix.”
If data taken from counseling sessions with gambling addicts is to be considered, it is arguable than addicts also develop a tolerance for gambling. According to studies, the person's mental health adapts to the amounts being gambled such that the addict needs to bet more and more. This is similar to what happens to drug addicts and alcoholics. As the mind develops a tolerance for the regular amounts that the person bets, the mind develops a need to increase the bet spread to attain that same sense of euphoria. According to some reports, a person's mental health and finances can be put under serious strain if this behavior is left untreated for an extended period.
Arguably, a person may also develop a mild form of antisocial personality disorder if the gambling problem is left untreated. This occurs when the addiction has gotten to the point where the person has become desperate to cover up losses incurred through gambling. The person's mental health can warp into a state where the typical consideration for social norms and rules is discarded in favor of alleviating the person's perceived problems. While taking loans or money from relatives is the common means of doing this, there are some cases where it gets to the point where illegal activity is the only means of supporting the addiction.
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