Is Gambling Pleasure or Addiction? Term Paper

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Gambling has long been a pass time for people around the world. Many people use gambling as a way to relax and enjoy the company of friends. However, some people who gamble become addicted to this activity. Such an addiction can lead to high levels of debt and can lead people to spend a significant amount of time gambling which can have a negative effect on their personal relationships. There has long been a debate concerning whether or not gambling is for pleasure or whether or not it is an addiction. The purpose of this discussion is to determine whether gambling is an activity engaged in for pleasure or an addiction. The research will also share some recommendation as it pertains to how to deal with the issue of gambling.

Pleasure vs. Addiction

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Pleasure and addiction are two terms that are often correlated with one another because certain activities can be both pleasurable and addictive. Gambling is one of the activities that can be associated with both pleasure and addiction. According to Esch & Stefano (2004) "Pleasure, describes a 'state or feeling of happiness or sat-isfaction resulting from an experience that one enjoys'. Pleasure is a subjective phenomenon, i.e., subjec-tive quality. Hence, an intimate association between reward and pleasure exists. In neurobiology, pleasure is a competence or function of the reward and motivation circuitries that are imbedded in the central nervous system (CNS). Anatomically, these reward pathways are particularly linked to the brain's limbic system (Esch & Stefano 2004, 236)." These authors insist that pleasure actually has a foundation in the central nervous system and it is caused by a real reaction between the experience and the way the body reacts to that experience.

Term Paper on Is Gambling Pleasure or Addiction? Assignment

The author also explains that the concept of pleasure is also influenced by motivation. The authors contend that motivation is generally characterized in two ways. These two ways are described as ap-petitive and aversive motivation (Esch & Stefano 2004). According to the authors appetitive motiva-tion involves behavior associated with goals that are usually associated with pleasurable, processes such as eating, sex and recreational drugs (Esch & Stefano 2004). On the other hand, aversive motivation is associated with escaping hedonically unpleasant experiences (Esch & Stefano 2004). With these things understood, the authors explains that there are two characteristics that govern motivation which are pleasure and pain. Additionally, "It has been suggested that pleasure may be associated with beneception, events that facili-tate survival and thus 'benefit' the organism or species from an evolutionary biology perspective. Pain, on the other hand, is associated with nociception. This lat-ter term basically describes conditions that may have undesirable biological consequences for an organism. However, the illustrated division of pleasure and pain in reference to their possible biological functions and outcome should not lead to an incorrect under-standing, since both conditions -- in specific situations -- may have the capacity to serve survival and 'amuse-ment' likewise. Thus, pain and pleasure potentially merge into another. With regard to specialized brain compartments involved in motivational processes, the physiological substrate for appetitive or aversive mo-tivation (as for reward and avoidance) primarily lies within the limbic system (Esch & Stefano 2004)."

According to a book entitled Women, Pleasure and the Gambling Experience women in the UK are particularly vulnerable to gambling for pleasure. According to the book the creation of the national lottery in the UK has encouraged more women to gamble. The author explains that for many years there was a certain mysticism that surrounded the playing of the lottery (Casey, 2008). Now that the playing of the lottery is seen as a socially acceptable activity, women who never gambled before are now gambling for pleasure. Indeed people in various countries around the world play the lottery consistently. Many of these individuals will not engage in any other form of gambling but often feel compelled to play the lottery.

The playing of the lottery seems to be one of the most prevalent gambling addictions. This comes as no surprise as lottery tickets are available at most stores and some state lotteries even allow people to purchase lottery ticket packages on the internet. This means that the playing of the lottery is one of the most accessible forms of gambling. Additionally lottery jackpots can reach 100's of millions of dollars which means the return can be significant as it pertains to the reward that is realized. The playing of the lottery can also be propelled by the state of the economy. For instance in times of recession or economic difficulty some people are more likely to play the lottery. With these things understood, the playing of the lottery becomes a pleasurable experience that can lead to an addiction.

According to Goodman (1990) there is a formal and informal definition of addiction. The formal definition of addiction asserts that it is "a process whereby a behavior, that can function both to produce pleasure and to provide relief from internal discomfort, is employed in a pattern characterized by (1) recurrent failure to control the behavior (powerlessness) and (2) continuation of the behavior despite significant negative consequences (unmanageability). (Goodman 1990, 1404)."

The author also explains that a formal definition for addiction also exists. This formal definition is inclusive of several parts. These parts are as follows:

A. Repeated inability to resist impulses to participate in a particular behavior (Goodman 1990.

B. Rising feeling of tension immediately before engaging in the behavior (Goodman 1990.

C. Pleasure or release when engaging in the behavior (Goodman 1990.

D.A loss of control while participating in the behavior (Goodman 1990).

E. Exhibits a minimum of five of the following:

(1) Repeated fixation with the behavior or with actions that occur before engaging in the behavior (Goodman 1990)

(2) Recurrent participation in the behavior to a greater extent or over a longer period than intended (Goodman 1990)

(3) Constant attempts to decrease, control or stop the behavior (Goodman 1990)

(4) a significant amount of time spent engaging in activities needed for carrying out the behavior, participating in the behavior or recovering from the impacts of the behavior (Goodman 1990)

(5) Engaging in the behavior when expected to complete work, academic, domestic or social commitments (Goodman 1990)

(6) Significant social, occupational or recreational activities abandoned or decreased as a result of the behavior (Goodman 1990)

(7) Persistence of the behavior "despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, financial, psychological or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by the behavior (Goodman 1990)."

(8) Symptoms of tolerance: this is associated with the neccesity to increase the intensity or frequency of the behavior in order to achieve the desired effect or diminished effect with continued behavior of the same intensity (Goodman 1990)

(9) Irritability occurs when not capable of participating in the behavior (Goodman 1990)

(F) Symptoms of the disturbance have continued for a minimum of one month, or have occurred continuously over a period of time that goes beyond one month (Goodman 1990).

As it pertains specifically to gambling addiction an article entitled "Compulsive Gambling Addiction and Treatment" explains that there are "Three major phases of compulsive gambling include ecstasy when winning, severe tension when losing and extremes of anxiety in between these two phases ("Compulsive Gambling Addiction and Treatment")."

Addiction tends to effect "People with low incomes, those with comorbidities such as drug or alcohol addiction or mental health problems, children and adolescents, and a growing number of women are all at high risk of developing gambling addictions, Professor Griffiths said. This is partly because gambling was partly destigmatised when the National Lottery was introduced in 1994. But interactive technologies, which allow gambling through mobile phones, televisions, and the internet, have also allowed greater and easier access to gambling (Tanne 2007, 117)."

It many instances there is a fine line between pleasure and addiction. Some people become addicted to the pleasure of the experience. That is, some individuals love the feeling of the pleasure that they experience when engaging in certain activities. This pleasure serves as the reward for engaging in the activity.

Gambling as an Addiction

Gambling addiction has received a great deal of attention in recent years because of the increase in the number of people that have been affect by the problem. The increase in the number of gambling addicts is due in part to the increased availability of gambling through the internet and other mediums. Cosgrave (2010) further explains that, "The rapid expansion of gambling enterprises in North America in the last four decades, particularly the spread of casinos, forms of elec-tronic gambling, and Internet gambling since the early 1990s, points to significant developments in consumption activity, and to issues related to the state legitimation of an activity that was previously (officially) deemed problematic for society, and which, in some of its forms, holds certain risks for participants (Cosgrave (2010)." In this exert the author points out that the opportunities to gamble have grown tremendously in recent years. As such people have engaged in gambling activities at an increased rate.

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