Sports Betting Addiction: A Behavioral Disorder
Sports betting addiction, often referred to as “Sports Betting Addiction,” occurs when individuals compulsively place wagers on various sporting events such as football, basketball, tennis, rugby, volleyball, and cricket. This behavioral disorder is a subset of gambling addiction, and it can have severe consequences on both mental health and financial stability.
How Does Sports Betting Addiction Develop?
Some individuals may initially engage in sports betting with small wagers, perceiving it as an enjoyable pastime or even a potential source of extra income. They may say, “I want to add excitement to my life while supporting my favorite team. I’m confident they’ll win, and I can double my enjoyment by betting on their success.”
On the contrary, there are cases where people have lost substantial portions of their financial assets due to sports gambling, even though they started with modest bets. Sports betting addicts find it challenging to control their urge to bet, and this loss of control is the hallmark of addiction. They often accumulate significant debts because they continuously place bets on sporting events. Even if they momentarily stop betting, the compulsion can return.
For many, sports betting gradually becomes an all-consuming part of their lives. They dedicate entire days to analyzing sports competitions, researching upcoming events, securing funds for betting, and tracking their bets. Because sports events occur across different time zones worldwide, addicted individuals often stay awake for extended periods to follow these events.
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For example, a sports betting addict might wake up early in the morning (assuming they reside in the Eurozone) to place bets on the Japan League. After the Japanese League concludes, they transition to betting on the Australian League, which begins immediately afterward. As the Australian League ends, European leagues, including the English Premier League, German, Turkish, Italian, and Spanish leagues, commence. Subsequently, South American leagues and the NBA take center stage. After betting on the NBA until late at night, the addicted person sleeps for only a few hours before repeating the cycle the next day.
Sports betting, with its 24-hour accessibility and global reach, exacerbates addiction. As this cycle persists, addicted individuals often neglect their relationships with spouses, children, family members, and friends. This neglect results in failing to meet responsibilities in family, social, and professional life.
Consequently, addiction strains family relationships and gradually erodes interpersonal connections. Moreover, addicted individuals may resort to illegal activities to finance their gambling cravings or cover their losses. Dealing with lawsuits due to debts to banks and facing life-threatening dangers due to loan debts also become commonplace. This not only leads to financial problems but also causes a breakdown in the individual’s character, as they resort to deception to secure funds.
They typically hide their actual debts from their families, as they insist on handling the situation themselves by placing higher bets, which only exacerbates their problems. Debts pile up, and when the due date arrives, they are unable to find the money, leading to risking essential expenses such as rent, electricity bills, weekly groceries, or medical bills. They keep betting, which only deepens their debt.
If you or someone you know exhibits most of the following symptoms, seeking help from a mental health professional is crucial:
- Making significant lies to secure funds for betting.
- Becoming increasingly aggressive when not gambling.
- Avoiding social contact, even with family members.
- Isolating oneself, preferring solitude over social interaction.
- Losing the ability to find joy and happiness outside of sports betting.
- Constantly worrying about debts.
- Experiencing persistent anxiety, fear of the future, and sadness.
- Finding comfort and happiness through sports bets.
- Heightened excitement when winning, despite overall losses.
- Strong desire to bet while watching football or NBA matches.
- Taking more pleasure in betting amounts than in supporting their favorite teams.
Contrary to common beliefs, sports betting addiction can be treated much like gambling addiction. Treatment typically begins with consulting a psychologist and participating in psychotherapy to receive psychological support. This is vital because individuals may experience depression when they stop betting.
When addicted individuals can no longer derive the same pleasure from betting as before, they may become unhappy, restless, nervous, and hesitant when away from gambling. These symptoms resemble those of depression, which may necessitate treatment. Unless individuals can overcome their depressive state, the risk of relapse into betting remains high. Sports betting addiction is also a behavioral addiction, requiring a shift in thought patterns that trigger gambling.
Since winning a bet can intensify gambling addiction, individuals often focus on their wins while ignoring their losses. They consistently bet with the hope of winning each time, disregarding the overall impact of gambling on their financial and mental well-being.
The key to successful treatment is changing the addicted person’s mindset regarding the hope of winning. All gamblers live in a utopia created by the brain’s reward system, which gives them excitement even before gambling. An expert psychologist, along with family support and possibly medication, can bring about successful results through face-to-face sessions.
Conclusion: Don’t Underestimate Sports Betting Addiction
Sports betting addiction is a serious behavioral disorder that can cause individuals to lose control over their lives. In most cases, individuals who end up in this difficult situation did not anticipate it when they initially started with small bets, thinking it was just for “fun.” Many have seen their lives, relationships, finances, and mental health deteriorate, sometimes tragically leading to loss of life. Seeking help early is essential. If you have experiences with a psychologist regarding sports betting addiction, please share your feedback below.