When a friend or family member suffers from a gambling addiction it can take some time to fully understand their condition. To someone who is not addicted it seems like very expensive entertainment and it’s easy to rationalize choosing something else to do with ones money. While it is very easy to judge their lack of discernment, it is important to resist the urge to judge and instead seek to understand their gambling addiction, their condition as they experience it.
Sympathy for a Gambler
One of the things that makes gambling addiction often times more difficult to sympathize with than substance addiction because it seems like there is no chemical component. Most people can relate to ‘needing caffeine’ or ‘craving chocolate’ and make the jump to feeling driven to drugs. But because it feels like the decision to gamble is such a voluntary action it is hard to relate to those internal instinctual drives.
In reality though it is the exact same processes in the brain that drive both substance and behavioral addiction. An addictive disorder causes the brain’s reward seeking drive to become hyper attuned to a specific stimulus to the point where it requires that stimulus to produce certain neurotransmitters. The stimulus dependency is what defines addiction, not the source of the stimulus. In this way, gambling addiction is every bit as much of a chemical issue as any substance abuse addiction.
Supporting a Gambling Addict
The important thing, as with anyone in your life who suffers from addiction, is to have compassion for the person struggling, especially if they are actively seeking out support and help for gambling addiction.
Even if you don’t fully comprehend or identify with their struggles or motivations, they are very real and often devastating to them. They are likely aware of the irrationality of their actions and ashamed of the consequences of their choices, and heartbroken anyone else is affected. It is important to try to compassionately listen to their experiences and not dismiss them. Everyone’s brain works in different ways, and the sooner you accept that your loved one faces struggles that you do not, the better you can support them in their rehabilitation.
To help your loved one go through the hard work of recovery and get gambling addiction help, talk to them about attending a gambling addiction rehab center. Speak with our specialists for help with getting treatment by calling (855) 441-2449.