Addiction is a serious issue that can be incredibly destructive to individuals and families. While there is plenty of awareness surrounding drug and alcohol addiction, an equally debilitating addiction that is much less commonly discussed is lottery addiction. In this article, we’ll explain what lottery addiction is, how it starts, and how to know when you or one of your loved ones needs help.
What Is Lottery Addiction?
Lottery addiction is a form of gambling addiction, also known as a gambling disorder. Like all other addiction issues, it is a complex disease that is often chronic. The disorder affects how the brain and body function and is defined as repetitive gambling behaviour that impairs overall happiness and quality of life. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classifies gambling addiction as a psychiatric condition and a form of behavioural addiction.
While the lottery could be considered low-stakes and inexpensive compared to some other forms of gambling, lottery addiction will make the bills add up. On the surface, it may not seem that gambling would have the same physical draw as drugs or alcohol, but science says otherwise. According to experts, gambling stimulates the brain in a similar way as substances like drugs and alcohol do. When an individual gambles, they activate the brain’s reward system, and addicts cannot stop chasing the next reward, just as a drug addict cannot stop chasing the next high. This compulsion can lead lottery addicts to spend irresponsibly, to the point where they may be drowning in debt.
How Does Gambling Addiction Start?
While it’s easy to try to place the blame on casinos or lottery organizations for encouraging people to gamble, these institutions are not the reason why gambling addictions start. The root cause of lottery gambling addiction is a total loss of impulse control.
Though lottery addiction is defined as a psychiatric condition, many external factors may provoke the beginning of an addiction. Stress from work, changes in personal relationships, or other mental health problems may lead people to rely on the thrill of gambling.
Signs You May Be Addicted to Gambling
The good news about lottery addiction is that there are methods of treating it. However, it’s impossible to confront the issue of addiction without acknowledging there is a problem. The first step to seeing that there is an issue is identifying the warning signs of gambling addiction.
If you or someone you love is exhibiting the following behaviour, it is time to seek help:
- Spending more time and money on chasing the excitement that comes from gambling
- Increasingly persistent thoughts about gambling, such as obsessing over past games or trying to figure out how to beat the system
- Feelings of restlessness when cut off from opportunities to gamble
- Feelings of guilt about gambling
- Hiding or lying gambling activity from friends and family
- Relying on gambling as a form of escape from stress or unhappiness
- Frequent attempts to make up for losses, even to the point of debt
- Asking others for financial assistance due to gambling
- Inability to stop gambling even when job security, relationships, or educational opportunities are threatened
There are typically four different phases associated with compulsive gambling:
- Winning phase: This phase starts when a player experiences the psychological rush of a big win.
- Losing phase: During this phase, gambling starts to take over the person’s life, and they continually try to win back their losses. Eventually, they get into debt and begin lying to friends and family.
- Desperation phase: The desperation phase is where gamblers will do anything to sustain their addiction. This may include cheating and stealing.
- Hopelessness phase: During this phase a gambler’s support system starts to abandon them. They become more isolated and may develop a dependency on other substances. This final phase is very dangerous, and it could also lead to suicidal thoughts.
Adam Osmond: An Extreme Example
Though many people have lost their way and became compulsive lottery players in recent lotto history, the case of Adam Osmond is the most extreme we’ve ever come across. Adam Osmond was a convenience store owner who had a wife and family-and an addiction to buying lottery tickets that went on for more than six years. During that time, he estimates he spent close to a million dollars on tickets he was able to buy using the lottery machine at his store, at one point he printed over 54,000 tickets for a single draw! When his wife found out about his addiction, the financial trouble he put them in, and all the lies that Osmond had to tell to maintain his unhealthy habit all that time, she left him and took their kids with him. Though Osmond never got his wife back, he learned a painful lesson but eventually was able to overcome his habit.
How to Get Help for Lottery Addiction
To avoid going down the type of rabbit hole that Adam Osmond went down, there are many places lottery addicts can fortunately turn to for help. If you have a loved one struggling with gambling addiction, you may want to organize an intervention with a professional interventionist to assist with the event. If you think that you may be battling a lottery or gambling addiction, congratulations on taking your first step towards getting help! The following organizations are great resources if you or a loved one is struggling:
- Gamblers AnonymousGam-Anon
- ADT Healthcare
- National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)
- Castle Craig Rehab
- Canadian Centre for Addictions
Lottery addiction is a debilitating disorder that can have devastating effects. Furthermore, it is a complex issue that requires empathy and support from loved ones and experts alike. If you think you or someone you love might be showing signs of lottery or gambling addiction, contact an addiction specialist immediately.