There’s a difference between compulsion and addiction. Processing disorders, or impulse-control disorders are the categories where pathological gambling live. Gambling has always been seen as a compulsive issue. Compulsivity can be defined as “a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will”. Using this definition, how a compulsion functions is not much different from addiction. Addiction compels a person to ‘perform’ the act of seeking, obtaining, and using harmful substances. Regardless of the negative consequences, including death, an addict continues to engage in their behaviors. Much of the addict’s compulsion has to do with pleasure. Other compulsions may have nothing to do with pleasure. For many years, this is how gambling was perceived: a compulsion, rather than an addiction to irrational pleasure.
Are People Really Addicted to Gambling?
May of 2016 saw the official diagnosis of pathological gambling moved to the category of addiction. Gambling is officially a neurobiological addiction, like addiction to drugs or alcohol. Both substance addiction and gambling addiction create the production of dopamine. A neurotransmitter in the brain, dopamine lets the brain know what is necessary for survival based on pleasure. It does this by communicating with the rewards center of the brain. Gambling is rewarding. Even the loss, debt, and stress associated with gambling addiction creates pleasure. It might be the risk, the process, or the prospect of winning. Either way, whatever gambling creates in the mind gets translated into pleasure.
How prevalent is gambling addiction?
Gambling used to be reserved for casinos. There is heavy psychological manipulation tactics used in the construction of casinos. For example, there is fresh oxygen pumped onto casino floors to keep patrons awake. No clocks are present, so patrons will lose their sense of time. The very sounds are neurologically stimulating: coins dropping, wheels spinning, crowds cheering, electronic noises. Bright lights and flowing alcohol add to the appeal. However, gambling isn’t reserved for off site locations anymore. Today more than ever is a prevalence in remote gambling. Internet gambling is easy to access with just a wifi connection and a credit card. People can participate in the thrill of gambling without leaving bed.