How Gambling Affects & Is Affected by Self-Esteem

Woman experiencing low self-esteem while friends look on

Problem gamblers often have a complicated relationship with their self-image. Feeling good about themselves can often become tied to how their most recent round of betting played out — a good day at the casino means they feel better about themselves. In contrast, a poor showing has the opposite effect. As their self-worth becomes increasingly tied to how they perform and how much money they won, they could go down a slippery slope towards problem gambling and bankruptcy in Atlantic City, NJ, and beyond. 

The connection between gambling and your self-esteem can create a vicious cycle that can prove difficult to break. Learning more about this toxic symbiotic relationship can help you and your family members fight back against compulsive gambling and help you boost your self-esteem without tying it exclusively to your gambling performance. 

How Gambling Impacts Your Thoughts on Your Self-Worth

In a wide range of problem gamblers, you can see a higher degree of impulsiveness in their behavior. These impulses can cause people to make rash decisions — like placing a massive wager — that trigger dopamine release in their brain. As their brain chemistry begins to link the act of gambling more and more to feelings of joy, success, and happiness, the more likely they become to participate in more gambling activities. 

Problem gamblers will feel more positive energy and high self-esteem as long as the wins keep coming. These feelings of self-worth and satisfaction last for as long as your current winning streak; the second the losing streak starts, your self-esteem begins to drop. 

How Low Self-Esteem Influences Problem Gamblers

Whether they had low self-esteem before they started gambling or if it began to plummet after they began, problem gamblers often experience low feelings of self-worth that contributes to their problem. As they search for a way to get back on the winning track, feelings of anxiety and depression can set in as they tie their worth to their gambling success. The longer the losing streak, the more likely they are to feel poorly about themselves. 

With poor coping skills in place, people may lack the ability to stop gambling and instead put more effort into their habits to try and restore their self-esteem. This vicious cycle can ebb and flow but ultimately lead to people having to file for bankruptcy, see their relationships suffer, and have an increasingly negative view of themselves. 

Low Self-Esteem and the Perception of Others

For many problem gamblers with low self-esteem, the negative feelings and worldview often don’t stop at how they feel about themselves. They are more inclined to think that the people around them think as lowly of them. If they are on a sustained losing streak, they believe their friends and family look down on them for the incurred losses and their inability to turn their luck around. In turn, they can start to think that the only way to win their approval is to start winning again, leading them to gamble more. 

Boosting Low Self-Esteem Without Gambling

As problem gamblers begin looking for ways to improve their self-esteem, it becomes more important than ever for them to find ways to do it that aren’t tied to their gambling identity as long as they connect their self-worth to their success at their game of choice. As they begin their road to recovery, finding sustainable ways to feel better about themselves that don’t involve winning a parlay becomes more important than ever. 

In times when a recovering problem gambler is facing negative thoughts and low self-esteem, here are some helpful tips to give them a boost:

Find the Resources You Need to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Beat Your Gambling Problem

When someone decides to address their gambling problem, they need access to the necessary resources to help them on their road to recovery. Everything from support groups, meetings, options for their families, and access to a completely confidential 24/7 helpline can be the tools they need to combat their low self-esteem and beat their gambling problem. 800-GAMBLER provides these sources and more to people looking to make a change for the better. 

If you or a loved one have a gambling problem, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our free confidential helpline and speak to one of our trained helpers today. We can help you find the help you need to deal with gambling and depression in the Meadowlands, Atlantic City, and beyond. 


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