Is Gambling Addiction A Behavioral Problem?

Behavioral problems are most often associated with children. However, they are also common in adults and they can manifest in many different types of ways. Broadly speaking, behavioral problems are classified into:

  • Emotional disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Impulse control disorders.
  • Disruptive disorders and
  • Dissociative disorders.

Addiction is also considered a behavioral problem and one of the most common forms of addiction is gambling.

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling is a form of recreation until it crosses a line. Like any addiction, gambling becomes a problem when the person addicted to it stops caring about:

  • Financial toll.
  • Social stigma.
  • Disruption to work and family and
  • Even normal functional ability.

Is it just a behavioral problem?

The answer is yes and no. almost anybody can fall prey to gambling addiction but the people who are more at risk than others are those who want instant gratification and those who do not care too much about the long term consequences of their actions.

But, gambling addiction can also prevail upon people who have chemical imbalances. For instance, someone one who has low levels of serotonin could be more susceptible to gambling addiction than someone who has normal levels of this neurotransmitter.

Impulse control

Gambling addiction is also classified as an impulse control disorder. The compulsion to gamble can override everything else in life. Even if the person has no money, the need to gamble will be felt as strongly as ever. And this, as anyone can see, leads to major problems.

Vicious circle

Gambling addiction also has a cause and effect relationship with behavioral problems. If you were to delve deeper into the psyche of a gambler, you are almost sure to find mood and behavior disorders such as:

  • Depression,
  • Stress,
  • Substance abuse and even
  • Bipolar disorder.

It therefore becomes vital to locate and correct the underlying issues with gambling addiction. In this quest, it is also important to seek out behavioral issues that are plaguing the individual concerned.

Impulse control

It boils down to impulse control and when an individual has problem gambling, then it becomes all about helping the person control his or her impulse and realizing that there are certain triggers that lead to gambling. Some of these triggers could be something as ‘simple’ as job related stress. While almost everybody deals with such stress, to an individual prone to behavioral addiction, it can become crippling and gambling can become the chosen form of escape.

So, gambling can become the path to:

  • Feel excitement.
  • Stress-relief.
  • Obsessive preoccupation with the activity and
  • Thinking that it is the best way to get out of financial doldrums.

Treatment path

Gambling addiction often needs almost the same kind of treatment methodology as behavioral addiction or problems. There is CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, group therapy and structured recovery programs. All of these paths can help a person deal with the triggers that cause behavioral changes and that can in turn lead to the need to gamble obsessively.


Addiction can occur in many forms and most often, it is the byproduct of behavioral imbalances.