Understanding Addiction and Compulsive Behaviour: Analysis of Gambing Addiction

2066 words (8 pages) Essay in Psychology

23/09/19 Psychology Reference this

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Understanding Addiction and Compulsive Behaviour


Factors and Events

Addiction is defined as an uncontrollable desire or routine the need to complete certain behaviour having no control over the addictive behaviour with physical emotional or psychological components, in spite of the negative consequences, for example taking or doing activities to the point where it becomes harmful to an individual health and wellbeing. Risk factors on gambling could be social emotional biological or environmental (Simmons L. Psy. D.2008). This embraces both substances missed used and behavioural problems, both psychological and psychical dimensions are present in addiction (Gwinnell M.D. Adamec 2006). 

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Gambling addiction is seen as a mental pathological disorder that affects the brain (Rush et al., 2008). Gambling provides action, trills and feeling of intense excitement, tension, power and anticipation (Rasmussen 2000). Depression and substance misuse are the major causes of problem gambling given that gambling contributes to depress individuals an alternative to stress (Hamidovic & Wienclaw, 2012). Other psychological factors leading to gambling include unprocessed death and losses, physical, social and sexual abuse and social stigma from illnesses and financial problems (WebMed, 2017). Following the addictive behaviour, the addicts face economic problems (Semester 1, 2015), divorce (Winkler, et al., 2017), loss of income/job (Langham, et al., 2016) and trauma among the children, relatives, spouses and the addicts (Imeprator, et al., 2017).

The Gambling Commission was established to reduce gambling-related harm since it affects the addicts and their relations (Gambling Commission, 2018). Finding by the Gambling Commission UK found that there are over 600,000 people living with gambling addiction or at risk of developing a problem. The subconscious addiction is biologically motivated by neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine which is released in the mid brain leads to addition such as gambling. (Scientifi American, 2018). Dopamine/pleasure circuit triggers excitement in the brain allowing for a momentary lapse, which then results in feelings of addiction (Parekh et al., 2015). The hedonism treadmill approach suggests that addicts feel more content with their lifestyles allowing for positive mental health (Hotchkiss, 2014).


Gambling addictions has three main treatment approaches which have been found to be beneficial. Medication such as antidepressant may be used to stabilise mood swings. Psychotherapy includes cognitive behavioural therapy and group therapy which looks at identifying faulty thinking which feeds the addiction by replacing with it with healthy thoughts. Gamblers Anonymous is another self-help approach which consists of a 12 step program where the addicts gather strengths and support from each other in the aim to recover from the addictions (Simmons L. Psy, D 2008). 


Lewis suggests that addiction is a disease only that neuroscience is young (2016) Volkow further supports the finding given that “addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease,” (Volkow 2017). However, the treatment processes for addiction problems is unlike other diseases’ diagnosis and prognosis processes, where self-help groups offer the most practical solutions (Ladouceur, et al., 2015) Self-help groups help the addicts establish a societal identity with other addicts (Marshall, et al., 2018). The self-help groups provide the addicts with practical risk relapse solutions given the new attachment (Ong, et al., 2018). 


  1. Theory of mind to dictates decoupling of behaviour where decoupled thoughts are representations of the world enabling the addicts to hypothesize thoughts (Ong et al., 2018). Murphy backs Stanovich by claiming that mental disorders are mechanical functions resulting from natural laws (Murphy, 2017).
  2. Behavioural addiction is founded on impulsive behaviour which also disregards the likely consequences (Robbins & Clark, 2015). The 5th Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies gambling as a behavioural disorder given the disregard of consequences and impaired human nature (Winther, et al., 2017).
  3. Theory of reasoned action the theory introduces a new perspective in addiction where attitudes act as the primary drivers for beliefs and actions (Mishra, et al., 2014). The attitude, in turn, affects the behavioural intentions such as in gambling where individuals disregard the consequences (Doane, et al., 2014).


The recognition of gambling as a form of addiction is minimal within mental health providers (Freimuth, 2017). The identification and integration of gambling addiction is important healthcare following recent research that reports “1 in 3 people are addicted to something,” (NHS, 2018). Relapse analysis requires cognitive and biological factors’ analysis to provide knowledge on the predisposing factors (Cochrane Library, 2017). The study will primarily focus on secondary resources to provide knowledge on past experiences among gambling addicts. Also, the research will consider the prevalence of the social groups between different communities to analyse the relevance of the groups (Brown, et al., 2014).

Coping style (CS) is a psychotherapy practice that monitors the progress of the addicts similar to patients. CS internalizes and externalizes the patients’ perceptions of their addictions in a bid to understand the, (Beutler, et al., 2018). The first initiative is to internalize the cause of the addiction behaviour (Earle, 2016). Research identifies that gambling, just like other addictions, is a secondary result of a social need (Matheson, et al., 2018). Therefore, the self-help groups require additional psychotherapy to guide the addicts into recovery and monitor possible relapse practices. Self-help groups allow the addicts to develop self-efficacy important in developing new societal perspectives (Ho, et al., 2015). The childhood attachment styles show that children are distressed whenever they do not feel secure (Marshall, et al., 2018). The self-help groups target mitigation of alexithymia from the motivation of individuals to recognize, process and regulate the emotions noted (Rick & Vanhueule, 2009).

Figure Representation of Gambling Addiction Symptoms (Hamrah, 2017)






Risky Behaviour



                                                Graph representation of the Gambling Community (Gambling Plex, 2014)

(Wardle, et al., 2011) 

Diagram of when Dopamine is release in addict’s brain

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