Lottery tickets, slot machines, poker, roulette – what they all have in common is that they trigger the reward center of the brain to produce a rush of excitement. This is especially true when luck strikes and you finally win. But what can seem like an innocent hobby can quickly turn dark, leaving you chasing severe losses as you spiral further and further out of control.

Gambling addiction often happens suddenly and without warning. When it does, it can be every bit as dangerous as problems with drugs like heroin or cocaine. In fact, the risk for suicide is actually much higher in gambling addicts because of how far into debt people often become. The problem gambler may start to feel as if they have no other way out, even if they manage to stop playing.

The good news is that there IS hope with the right help. Outside intervention, including outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation, therapy, abstinence, and support from understanding peers, can help break the cycle. Credit counseling, debt management, and legal intervention help with regaining control over finances, giving the problem gambler a life to look forward to rather than dread.