What is an addiction?

An addiction is a complex disease that can affect they way the brain and body function. An addiction is manifested by compulsive use that involves reward, motivation, and memory. When someone’s body craves a substance or behavior it creates a compulsion in pursuit of a “reward” with a lack of concern regarding consequences.

Overtime addictions can severely intervene with daily life. People experiencing addiction are more likely to experience relapse and remission periods. This meaning that individuals will cycle through intense to mild use. Typically addictions worsen over time and can lead to health complications from using substances or even bankruptcy for those with a gambling addiction.


Someone with an addiction will:

  • Display a lack of control
  • Have a preoccupation with addiction
  • Failed attempts at quitting, or withdrawing
  • Dismiss how their addiction may be causing problems
  • Have an increased desire for substance or behavior

Who Develops an addiction?

Anyone can develop an addiction however those individuals who engage in risky behaviors, may be more likely to develop an addiction. Along with those who engage in more risky behaviors than others, genetics play a large role as well in those who develop an addiction. Some additional risk factors include:

  • Certain brain characteristics can make someone more vulnerable than others
  • Psychological factors such as stress, personality traits, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders
  • Environmental influences such as exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or other trauma. Addiction in the family or among peers. Access to an addictive substance
  • Using substances or engaging in addictive behaviors at a young age.

These addictive risk factors does not mean someone will become addicted but that the odds for these individuals are much higher. The more risk factors that are present the more likely the individual will be to develop an addiction.

Examples of addiction

The most common types of addiction:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Gambling

**According to the American Psychological Association technology, sexual behaviors, work are not officially recognized as an addiction according to the most recent edition of the DSM.

Some habits or behaviors may look like an addiction but are not actually classified as one (due to lack of sufficient research). For example someone with an addiction a person will react negatively when they do not get their “reward”.

Alcohol Addiction

An alcohol addiction is characterized by uncontrollable drinking with a preoccupation of alcohol. Someone with an addiction to alcohol have a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. To learn more on alcohol addiction click here.

Substance Addiction

A drug addiction more commonly referred to as a Substance Use Disorder is characterized by an individual seeking out drugs in a way that is compulsive, and difficult to control. To learn more about Substance Use Disorder click here.

Gambling Addiction


Gambling problems, can happen to anyone, and can go from fun and harmless to an unhealthy obsession. Gambling can strain personal relationships, interfere with work, and can lead to financial downfall. Gamblers typically deny or minimize the problem other signs that you may have a gambling addiction:

  • Needing to be secretive about gambling such as lying about how much you gamble.
  • Having trouble controlling your gambling
  • Gambling when you don’t have the money
  • Having family and friends worried about gambling

Causes of gambling addiction

Many factors can contribute to a gambling addiction such as desperation for money, the thrills and highs of gambling, social status associated with being a successful gambler, and the entertaining gambling scene.

Self-Help for Gambling Addiction

Once an individual recognizes the addiction and wants to receive help they can start building a network with a strong support system, and form healthier choices. Feeling the urge to gamble is normal, here are some ways that one can do when a gambling craving strikes:

  • Avoid isolation: Call a family member, get together with a friend, or attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting
  • Postpone Gambling: wait 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour. As you wait the urge to gamble may pass or at this point may be weak enough to resist
  • Distract yourself: Go to the gym, watch a movie, practice relaxation techniques to help get your mind off the gambling craving.

Overcoming a gambling addiction takes tremendous strength and courage, it’s possible to break the habit but don’t go at it alone. Seek support from family and friends as you navigate through recovery. Below are some ways to help yourself during your gambling addiction recovery:

  • Learn to process emotions in a healthier way: Figure out the root of your gambling. Are you doing it because you’re bored or lonely? Do you go gambling after a stressful day at work or following an argument with a significant other? Gambling may be a way to self-soothe those emotions however there are more effective ways at managing these emotions. Take up a few new hobbies, get together with friends who don’t gamble, or exercising.
  • Strengthen support network: It’s hard to reach recovery alone. Reach out to family and friends, if your support network is limited there are new ways to make friends that don’t require going to the casino. Try reaching out to co-workers, joining a sports team, or volunteering.
  • Join a support group: Gambler’s Anonymous is an excellent way to meet others that are going through a similar experience, while receiving guidance and support.
  • Seek help: Going to therapy can be a great way to help you on your way to recovery. Gambling addiction can often co-occur with other mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or substance use. It is important to address any underlying mental health problems as well as the gambling addiction to help you on your way to recovery.