Gambling is the act of betting or staking something of value on an uncertain event, where the outcome depends on chance. It can include sports bets, lottery tickets, bingo, office pools and other events that involve wagering.
It’s not just casinos and racetracks that offer gambling options; many people gamble at gas stations, churches, and online. If a person has trouble controlling their gambling, they should seek help and get support from friends and family.
Problem gambling is a serious mental health concern that can affect the individual, their family and their financial situation. It can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including lost money, strained relationships and poor performance at work or study. It can also lead to a loss of control over their life and make it more difficult for them to stop.
Identifying the signs of gambling addiction can be tough, but it’s important to take action as soon as possible. This will prevent your loved one from experiencing negative consequences from their gambling habits and ensure that they don’t lose their self-respect or their ability to lead a normal life.
Understanding why your loved one gambles is crucial to helping them to break their habit and change their behaviour. The reasons a person may gambling vary, but there are some common themes:
For coping purposes:
Gambling can be used as a coping mechanism when you’re feeling anxious or depressed. This can help you to forget your worries or feel more confident. It can also be a way for you to feel more ‘connected’ with other people.
Gambling can be a fun and social way to spend time with other people. It can be particularly enjoyable at a casino, where you can find games that are immersive and enticing.
Losing can be a trigger for people with a gambling problem: They are more likely to feel a rewarding release of dopamine after losing compared to winning. This is called ‘chasing losses’, and it’s a common feature of gambling disorder.
Repeated exposure to gambling can cause changes in the brain that are similar to those seen in those with drug abuse problems. These changes are linked to dopamine release in the reward pathways of the brain, causing a heightened sense of risk-taking and reward.
In some cases, the brain changes are so pronounced that they become addictive and result in compulsive behaviour. They can even be linked to suicide.
Having a gambling problem is an emotionally devastating and physically damaging condition that should not be ignored. It can cause financial and psychological harms to individuals and their families, and it is illegal.
Addiction is not a choice: It’s a medical condition that needs treatment. There are a range of treatments that can help.
Counselling and therapy can be a helpful way of identifying the problem. It can also help the individual to consider their options and solve problems.
Other forms of support are available, such as peer support groups or a National Helpline.