Card Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help


Do you spend hours playing card games, even to the point of neglecting your responsibilities and relationships? Are you unable to control your temptation to play cards, even when doing so puts you in debt?

It’s not just you! Card addiction is a growing problem affecting individuals of all ages and backgrounds. From poker and blackjack to bridge and solitaire, card addiction can take many forms and have serious consequences.

Luckily, there are options for help. Take back control of your life by being aware of the warning signals and getting help.

What Is a Card Addiction?

Card addiction is a gambling addiction that revolves around compulsively and excessively playing card games. It’s a behavioral addiction that can develop over time as a person becomes increasingly drawn to the rush of excitement and anticipation of playing card games.

Do Card Addiction Urges Go Away?

Card addiction urges can be very strong and difficult to resist. Unfortunately, they do not simply go away on their own. In fact, without intervention and treatment, card addiction is likely to get worse over time.

The brain chemistry with card addiction is altered, and they may experience intense gambling cravings.

Overcoming card addiction requires committing to significant changes in your life, including seeking professional help, building a support system, and making lifestyle adjustments.

With the proper support and treatment, it is possible to manage the urges and symptoms of card addiction and even achieve full recovery.

Forms of Card Addiction

Card addiction can manifest in different forms. You must understand the various types to recognize the signs and seek appropriate help. They are:

  • Professional card gamblers may make a living from playing card games professionally. However, when the desire to win takes over, it can lead to a card addiction.
  • Casual social gamblers play friendly games, often with low stakes or no money involved.
  • Social card gambling involves playing cards with family or acquaintances but with higher stakes and a more competitive atmosphere.
  • Relief and escape card gamblers use card games to escape stress and anxiety. While it may provide temporary relief, it can quickly become an addiction if the person relies on card gambling as their sole coping mechanism.
  • Conservative card gambling involves playing cards with strict rules and low stakes, often for entertainment or relaxation.
  • An antisocial personality gambler exhibits a pattern of behaviors that violate the rights of others and disregard social norms and rules. They are manipulative and may engage in deceitful methods like using marked cards.
  • Compulsive card gambling involves a loss of control over gambling impulses, leading to negative consequences.

These types of addiction are not mutually exclusive, and an individual may exhibit symptoms of multiple types of addiction.

Card Addiction Statistics

While there isn’t much data on card addiction, gambling addiction seriously affects many people. Here are some of the stats that back this up:

  • Around 85% of adults in the United States have gambled at least once in their lifetime.
  • Two million adults in the United States are estimated to meet the criteria for pathological gambling.
  • An estimated 4-6 million adults in the United States (2-3%) also experience mild to moderate gambling problems.
  • Problem gambling incurs a national social cost of $7 billion annually.
  • As many as 34% of gambling addicts also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Are the Signs of a Card Addiction?

You need to recognize the signs of the addiction early on if you’re concerned that you or a loved one may have a card addiction. Unfortunately, card addiction can be difficult to identify, especially in its early stages.

However, the following common symptoms may indicate a problem.

Increasing Amount of Time and Money Spent on Card Games

People with a card addiction may start playing occasionally, but as the addiction progresses, they may play more frequently and for longer periods. They also spend more money on card games than they can afford.

Neglecting Personal Relationships or Responsibilities

A card addict may become so preoccupied with playing card games that they neglect their relationships with loved ones. They also fail to meet important work, school, or home responsibilities.

Increased Tolerance

Card addicts must gamble more frequently or for extended periods to achieve the same excitement or pleasure. This increased tolerance can lead to a vicious cycle, as the person continues to gamble to recapture the thrill of their early experiences.

Eventually, it leads to losing control over their gambling behavior and developing a full-blown addiction.

Lying or Hiding the Extent of Gambling

Addicts go to great lengths to hide their gambling behavior from friends and family. They may also feel guilty or ashamed about their gambling behavior, leading to secrecy and isolation. Over time, the lack of honesty erodes trust.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When people with a card addiction try to cut back or stop gambling, they may experience symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Depression that occurs when the urge to play becomes overwhelming

Types of Unhealthy Card Behavior

People with a card addiction may engage in several unhealthy behaviors that can exacerbate their addiction and lead to severe consequences. One such behavior is a preoccupation with card games. They may spend a lot of time thinking about, planning, and playing card games, to the point where it interferes with their daily life.

When someone loses money while playing cards, it can be tempting to keep playing to win it back. This is known as “chasing losses.” They attempt to recoup their money even if it means continuing to gamble beyond their means.

Card game addicts borrow or take out multiple loans to fund this gambling habit. They may also fall behind on bills and other financial obligations and even resort to stealing money to support their addiction.

Addicts may also increase their alcohol or drug use to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. This behavior may also be a way to enhance the excitement or pleasure of the gambling experience.

What Is the Main Cause of Card Addiction?

Card addiction is a complex issue, with multiple factors contributing to its development. While there is no one main cause of card addiction, the environment in which gambling occurs and its psychological effects may increase the likelihood of developing an addiction.

Card games, in particular, have short, repeatable rounds and involve a degree of chance and unpredictability. This unpredictability, the thrill of competition, and the potential for winning streaks can make card games highly entertaining and addictive.

Another factor contributing to card addiction is the game’s social aspect. Many people enjoy playing card games with friends or family. The camaraderie that comes with it can be a major draw, as the game is simple to learn and helps form strong social bonds.

Card addiction can also be a form of escape from real-life problems. People may turn to card games to distract themselves from stress and anxiety.

While addiction may have a genetic component, our genes can only contribute to a higher susceptibility to becoming addicted. Discover if addiction is genetic or not.

How Card Addiction Affects the Brain

Card addiction, like any addiction, significantly impacts the brain. When someone gambles, their brain’s reward system is activated in much the same way as when taking a drug.

The ventral striatum, a part of the brain associated with reward and motivation, is particularly affected by gambling.

During a card game, the anticipation of winning activates the ventral striatum, which in turn releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

As the game progresses and the potential for winning increases, dopamine levels continue to rise, intensifying the feeling of pleasure and reinforcing the individual’s desire to continue playing.

Over time, however, the brain’s reward system can become desensitized to these pleasurable sensations. The preoccupation with gambling can also lead to changes in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control. This makes addicts gamble more frequently and at higher stakes to achieve the same reward level.

What Is the Personality of a Card Addict?

According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), problem gamblers are more likely to have personality disorders such as antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic disorders. Of these, borderline personality disorder appears to be the most prevalent, making it a significant risk factor for problem gambling.

It’s worth noting that the relationship between personality and addiction is complex and not yet fully understood. Not everyone with a card addiction will necessarily have a personality disorder.

Is Card Addiction a Mental Health Issue?

Card addiction is classified as an impulse-control disorder as it causes significant distress and interferes with a person’s daily functioning. While gambling itself is not a mental disorder, it can lead to various mental health issues if it becomes a problem.

What Mental Illnesses Go Hand in Hand With Card Addiction?

A person struggling with card addiction may experience high stress and anxiety levels due to the consequences of their gambling behavior. They may also experience depression and feelings of hopelessness, mainly if their addiction has caused strain on their relationships or resulted in significant financial loss.

How Do I Stop My Card Addiction?

Stopping card addiction can be challenging but possible with the right support and resources. The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem and recognizing the negative impact of your gambling behavior on your life.

Once you have acknowledged the issue, seek professional help from a therapist or addiction specialist who can provide individualized treatment and support. Various treatments are available, including medication-assisted treatment and addiction support groups.

Can Card Addicts Ever Be Cured?

Gambling addiction, including card addiction, is considered a chronic and progressive condition, meaning no known cure exists.

However, like many other chronic conditions, it can be managed effectively with the right treatment and support. Seeking help and treatment for gambling addiction is the first step towards breaking the cycle of addiction and regaining control over one’s life.

What Is the Most Common Treatment for Card Addiction?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most frequently used treatment for people struggling with card addiction. CBT is a form of talk addiction counseling that has been found to be very effective in treating gambling addiction.

The treatment is based on the premise that gambling addiction results from distorted thinking patterns and beliefs that must be identified and challenged.

CBT for card addiction typically includes four components. The first component is correcting cognitive distortions about gambling, such as believing that winning is a guaranteed outcome.

The second component is developing problem-solving skills. This helps addicts learn how to solve problems without turning to gambling as a coping mechanism.

Thirdly, teaching social skills helps addicts learn how to communicate effectively and build healthy relationships. Often, card addiction can lead to social isolation, and developing healthy social skills can help an addict build a support network to overcome their addiction.

The final component is teaching relapse prevention. It helps people develop strategies to prevent relapse, including identifying high-risk situations and creating a plan to cope with cravings or gambling urges.

What Can I Replace Cards With?

Finding alternative activities to fill the void lets you occupy your time and mind with other things that give you joy or a sense of accomplishment. Replacing gambling with healthier activities also helps you develop new skills, explore your interests, and improve your overall well-being.

Here are some ideas:

  • Spend time with loved ones or make new friends who don’t gamble
  • Engage in mindfulness practices, such as yoga or meditation
  • Exercise regularly or go for a daily walk
  • Take up a new hobby, such as painting, knitting, or playing an instrument
  • Volunteer in your community or for a cause you care about

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Card Adduction and their answers;

What are the risk factors for developing card addiction?

Having easy and quick access to physical and online gambling sites with card games is a major risk factor. Others include personality traits, early exposure to gambling, and disorders like depression.

How can I help someone who has a card addiction?

If someone you care about is struggling with card addiction, you can educate them on the dangers of the addiction and encourage them to get help from a professional. Also, you can advise them to engage in activities they will enjoy, such as exercising.

Additional Addictions To Be Aware Of

Apart from card addiction, people can be susceptible to several other types of addictions, including:

  • Social media addiction: is a relatively new phenomenon that has emerged with the rise of social networking platforms. It is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to check social media accounts.
  • Video game addiction: is a growing concern, especially with the rise of online gaming and streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube. People addicted to video games may spend hours playing them, neglecting other aspects of their lives.
  • Shopping addiction: is a behavioral addiction that involves frequent and excessive shopping. People with this addiction may experience a sense of euphoria or excitement when shopping and may continue to shop even when they cannot afford it.

Wrapping Up

Card addiction can have severe consequences and negatively impact relationships, finances, and mental health. However, it’s never too late to seek help. Many treatment options, such as CBT, can help you regain control of your life. You can also overcome card addiction by spending more time on healthier activities like exercising and being with your family.


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