Gambling has negative impacts on gamblers and their significant others as well as on society. The negative impact of gambling can be assessed using health-related quality of life weights (DW) based on a public health approach.
To stop gambling, it is important to make a plan and follow it. It is also helpful to seek help from a counsellor, family member or friend.
What is gambling?
Gambling is the risking of something of value, such as money or possessions, on an event that involves chance and the possibility of winning more than what was staked. It can involve a variety of activities, such as betting on sports events, horse races, dice games, card games, and scratchcards.
People can also gamble online or at casinos. It is a common activity that can be addictive and has been linked to substance use disorders and mental health problems. People who have gambling disorder may experience a number of symptoms, including:
These symptoms can be mild or severe. Some people are more at risk of developing a gambling problem than others, for example, when it runs in the family or they have other risk factors. Age can also be a factor, with compulsive gambling more common in young and middle aged adults. Other risk factors include being impulsive or restless, and certain medications, such as Parkinson’s drugs and dopamine agonists.
Why do people gamble?
Some people gamble to have a good time, socialize with friends and family or for the excitement. Others may gamble as a way to make money or as an escape from their problems. However, many people become compulsive gamblers and end up putting themselves in financial hardships.
The main reason why people gamble is because they think they can win money. This is because mesolimbic dopamine, the neuromediator of reward motivation, is released to a greater extent in pathological gamblers than healthy controls during gambling episodes.
Gambling also increases the occurrence of positive mood states, such as happiness and relaxation. It improves logical thinking and speed of decision-making, which is why many gamblers improve their skills over time. Moreover, some people may enjoy the thrill of winning and believe that they will win more money the next time they gamble. Consequently, they continue to gamble even though the losses outweigh the wins. Then they start stealing or borrowing money to fund their gambling addiction.
How do I stop gambling?
It’s important to acknowledge that gambling is an addictive activity and to seek help to overcome it. Treatment options include a combination of medication, self-help techniques and support groups. A residential treatment centre is also available for people who have severe addictions to gambling.
One of the most effective ways to stop gambling is to learn to recognise triggers. Triggers are events, thoughts and feelings that lead you to gamble. You can then try to avoid these triggers by staying away from casinos and other gambling venues, not using credit cards or loans and not carrying large amounts of cash around with you.
It is also a good idea to spend time with friends who don’t gamble and to find hobbies that don’t involve gambling. It’s also a good idea to get counselling from a qualified professional to address any underlying mental health issues that may be contributing to your gambling problem. This can include anxiety, stress and depression.
What are the risks of gambling?
Gambling is a risky activity and can result in harms to individuals, families, communities and society. The most obvious harms are financial losses and debt accumulation. It is possible for gamblers to lose their entire life savings and end up with debts they can’t pay back.
Other negative impacts include health-related harms, such as peptic ulcers and changes in sleeping patterns, as well as psychological damage, such as anxiety and depression. Problem gambling is also associated with relationship difficulties and a high incidence of family abuse, including child abuse and domestic violence.
The risks of gambling can be viewed on a continuum, with recreational and at-risk gamblers being less likely to experience harmful consequences than pathological or problem gamblers. The severity of these effects can be measured using a scale known as health-related quality of life weights (DW) that allows the impact on a gambler’s family, friends and other significant others to be compared. The higher the DW, the greater the harms experienced.