While addiction is most frequently associated with substance abuse, drugs and alcohol are only some of the many objects and behaviors with which people can develop unhealthy relationships. A wide variety of impulse control disorders exist, ranging from sex addiction to internet addiction. These behaviors are generally pursued for pleasure by the majority of people. However, in cases where people develop addictions, they may be unable to resist cravings or control the extent of their behavior. This can lead to severe negative consequences.
Gambling addiction is often defined as a process addiction, sometimes known as a behavioral addiction. Unlike substance addictions, which occur when a person feels obligated to stimulate themselves using a particular psychoactive substance, process addictions involve compulsive relationships with stimulating behaviors. These behaviors can range from passive behaviors (eg, watching television) to active behaviors (eg, playing video games, pathological working). Gambling is a particularly stimulating activity, given its potential for extreme ups and downs. The activity also leads to very profound consequences, ranging from the fortunate to the disastrous, which further increase its addictive potential.