Search for:

The Dangers of Gambling

Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves risking something valuable for the chance of winning something else of value. Most people who engage in gambling do so without any problems, but a significant subset of individuals go on to develop harmful gambling behaviour that can cause distress or impairment.

Gambling can take many forms, including casino games, lottery, sports betting and online video games. While casinos and racetracks may be the first places that come to mind when thinking of gambling, it can actually occur anywhere. It is a widespread global activity and can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from children to adults.

People gamble for social reasons, to gain financial rewards, for entertainment or as a way of escaping from stress or boredom. When gambling becomes problematic, it stops being a form of entertainment and becomes an addiction that causes a lot of harm in the long run. It can lead to debt, family and relationship problems, health issues and even bankruptcy.

Despite the negative impact of gambling, most people are able to stop their habit and resume healthy behaviors in time. However, some people continue to struggle with their addiction and need professional help. This may involve inpatient or residential treatment or gambling addiction recovery programs, where a specialist can provide support and help them overcome their urges. It is also possible to find support through peer-to-peer recovery programs like Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

There are a number of factors that contribute to developing a gambling problem, including the size and frequency of an early win, the expectation that a future loss will be smaller than the past win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, poor understanding of random events and use of escape coping strategies, such as depression. Some people are more vulnerable to developing a gambling problem than others, for example men are more likely to become addicted to gambling than women.

People who have a gambling problem may feel the need to hide their addiction and lie about their gambling habits to those around them. They may also become secretive about their gambling and increase the amount they bet in a bid to try to win back lost money. They might also be irritable or angry when they lose and blame themselves for their gambling problems.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with a gambling addiction, it can be difficult to know what to do. Reaching out for support can help you realize that it is not your fault and that many families have had similar experiences. Setting boundaries in managing the family’s finances and credit are essential, as is establishing accountability with your loved one. It may also be beneficial to consider family therapy and other types of counselling, such as career and marriage counseling. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that matches you with accredited therapists who can help with depression, anxiety, relationships and more. Start by taking our free assessment and get matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.