Gambling involves placing something of value on an event whose outcome is based on random chance, like betting on a football match or buying a scratchcard. When gamblers win, they get money or other goods/services; when they lose, they suffer negative effects. These impacts can be observed at personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (Fig. 1).
Individuals often gamble for various reasons, including: for social purposes; for the thrill of winning; to pass the time; or for entertainment. In addition, people may gamble for a variety of financial reasons, such as the desire to win large sums of money and make quick cash. Moreover, some individuals are predisposed to gambling disorders due to their biological makeup. For example, people with an underactive brain reward system, may have a harder time controlling impulses or weighing risks and rewards. Lastly, people in certain communities consider gambling to be a normal pastime and may find it hard to recognise that they have a problem.
Compulsive gambling is a serious problem that can cause long-term harm to individuals and families. It can cause depression, relationship problems, and even bankruptcy. It can also lead to other addictions, such as alcohol and drugs. In some cases, it can even be passed from one generation to the next. Additionally, it can have devastating consequences for society as a whole.
Problem gamblers often have difficulty coping with the losses they experience and may attempt to recover by spending more money, going into debt, or resorting to illegal activities. As a result, they often leave behind family members, friends, and employment. This can lead to feelings of anger, betrayal, and resentment, which can last a lifetime.
Fortunately, there are ways to help someone who has a problem with gambling. The first step is to talk about the issue with somebody who won’t judge you, such as a friend or professional counsellor. It is also helpful to set goals and reduce financial risk factors by not using credit cards, taking out loans, or carrying a large amount of money with you. Furthermore, it is important to learn to relax and socialise in other ways.
Lastly, individuals who have a gambling disorder should seek treatment. This can include counselling and support groups. Counseling can help an individual understand the root causes of their gambling and explore other ways to cope with unpleasant emotions. Moreover, it can teach them to identify warning signs of problematic gambling. Finally, support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can provide guidance and help individuals stay on track with their recovery.