Gambling can be a fun and exciting way to pass the time, but it is also a highly addictive and dangerous activity. It can cause serious harm to people’s health and finances, as well as their relationships.
Online gambling has become increasingly popular and easy to access. This has facilitated the proliferation of advertising and inducements, and the increase in new betting types. Treatment-seekers disproportionately reported negative effects from these changes, including increased speed and ease of access, more opportunities for impulsive and persistent gambling, and loss-chasing behaviours.
Research into the impacts of the increasing popularity and accessibility of online gambling has highlighted the importance of developing effective strategies to minimise harm. This includes enhancing the availability and accessibility of information, education and support services for those at risk. It should also include reducing the financial and social costs associated with online gambling, especially for individuals who may be at risk of developing gambling problems.
The rise of gambling addiction: the role of social support
Gambling can have a negative impact on health, especially for those who are vulnerable to developing gambling problems. It can affect mental and physical wellbeing, as well as relationships, finances and career prospects.
In some cases, gambling may be a symptom of an underlying problem, such as depression or anxiety. It can be hard to separate the effects of your gambling from these underlying conditions, but seeking treatment can help.
Problem gambling is a behavioral addiction and is diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It can be a recurrent and compulsive activity that leads to significant loss of control and causes distress and other negative consequences for those affected.
Adolescents are at risk of developing gambling problems. This can be a result of their age, where they are more easily distracted by peer pressure and less able to resist the temptation. They can also be more likely to hide their gambling from parents and other adults, particularly if it involves money or personal possessions.
There is also a link between gambling and thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call 999 immediately.
Identifying and managing gambling problems is a complex process that requires help from professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers. A therapist can assess your risk factors and recommend the best course of action for you, depending on your needs.
It is also helpful to seek advice from your family and friends. They can give you insight into how gambling has affected your life, and offer support and encouragement to stop.
A trusted friend or family member can help you set limits on how much money you spend on gambling. They can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with emotional stress or pressures that could trigger an impulse to gamble.
Involving yourself in a self-help group can be beneficial. This can involve joining a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, talking to a therapist or other specialist, or getting support from other people who have similar gambling issues.