Gambling addiction, or “Problem Gambling” as it is commonly known, is an impulse control disorder. Similar to other addictions, problem gambling releases large quantities of dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain. Gamblers may spend a lot of time imagining the wonderful things they can do as soon as they make the big win.
The harshest reality for compulsive gamblers is the constant threat of overwhelming debt. Debt often brings on ‘chasing,’ which is attempting to win back gambling losses with more gambling.
Gamblers Anonymous suggests that you may have a compulsive gambling problem if you meet about 7 or more of these characteristics.
- You have lost time from work or school because of gambling.
- Gambling has made your home life unhappy.
- Gambling has affected your reputation.
- You have sold possessions to finance gambling.
- You have gambled to get money for paying debts or solve financial difficulties.
- Gambling has caused a decrease in your ambition or efficiency.
- After losing, you feel like you have to return as soon as possible and win back your losses.
- After a win, you have a strong urge to return and win more.
- You often gamble until your last dollar is gone.
- Gambling has caused you to consider self-destruction or even suicide.
- You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
- You are reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenses..
- You have become careless of the welfare of yourself or your family because of gambling.
- You gamble longer than you had planned.
- You will gamble to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness.
- You have committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling.
- Gambling causes sleeping problems for you.
- You get an urge to gamble after arguments, disappointments or frustrations.
- You want to celebrate any good fortune by gambling.
Food: Emotional or Binge Eating
Overeating and binge eating are problems where a person eats unusually large amounts of food on a regular basis. They often eat quickly and do other things while they eat (like watch TV or do homework), and don’t stop when they’re full. It is a condition where the person overeats frequently and the compulsion to eat is driven by by psychological factors rather than hunger. Like many other addictions, compulsive overeating is often used as a coping mechanism to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
The following list is a set of characteristics common to overeating behaviors. If you relate to several of these, you may have a problem with compulsive eating.
- You eat when you’re not hungry.
- Have eating binges for no apparent reason, sometimes eating until I’m stuffed or even feel sick.
- You have feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment about your weight or the way you eat.
- You fast or severely restrict food intake to control weight.
- Eating is affecting your health or the way you live life.
- You turn to food when in emotional situations.
- Your eating behaviors make you or someone else unhappy.
- You have used laxatives, vomiting, diuretics, excessive exercise, diet pills, shots or other medical interventions (including surgery) to try to control your weight.
- You fantasize about how much better life would be if you were a different size or weight.
- You need to chew or have something in your mouth all the time such as food, gum, mints, candies or beverages.
- You have eaten food that is burned, frozen or spoiled; directly from containers; or out of the garbage.
- There are certain foods you can’t stop eating after having the first bite.
- You have lost weight with a diet or “period of control” only to be followed by periods of uncontrolled eating and/or weight gain.
- You spend too much time thinking about food, arguing with yourself about whether or what to eat, planning the next diet or exercise cure, or counting calories.
Video games can become addicting because of the positive rewards system involved. The gamer completes a task, and they are gratified by winning. Winning reinforces the brain’s pleasure centers, encouraging a cycle of playing and advancing. This feel-good response is what keeps the player coming back for more as they continuously try to beat the previous score.
The following list is a set of common characteristics of compulsive gaming behaviors. If you relate to several of these, you may have a problem with gaming.
- You are irritable when you can’t play or someone interrupts your game.
- Your game playing is more important than hanging out with friends.
- Sometimes you refer to yourself as the character from your game.
- You spend real money to purchase fictional items in the games.
- Online friends or characters in the game have become more important than real friends and family.
- You encourage friends and family to play too, so that you can play more often.
- You avoid meals and forego personal hygiene for the sake of playing.
- You have lied to family, friends or therapists about how often you play a game.
- You are defensive when others question your gaming habits.
- You will go online expecting to spend only 15 or 20 minutes but end up spending hours online and sometimes play all night.
- You have tried to stop playing on your own–only to begin again.
- You spend too much money on the software, hardware and accessories needed for gaming.