Gambling and Its External Impacts

Gambling is the risking of money or something of value on an outcome based on chance, whether it’s a lottery ticket, a game of dice or a casino visit. It can be done for fun, to win real money or as a way to pass the time. Regardless of its purpose, gambling is generally not seen as a socially responsible activity and can lead to serious problems, including family and financial issues. It is also known to cause psychological distress, particularly in vulnerable individuals.

People can gamble at home, at work, in casinos and other locations around the world. Gambling is a form of recreation for many and can be a great group activity to bring friends together. It can also provide an escape from the everyday stresses of life, which is a benefit for some.

For others, gambling can become an addiction. Research has shown that gambling activates the reward centers of the brain, similar to the way alcohol and other drugs do. Moreover, studies on identical twins suggest that there is a genetic link to gambling disorder.

If you think someone has a gambling problem, there are steps you can take to help them overcome it. It is important to talk to them openly and honestly in a supportive, non-confrontational manner. This will be more effective than blaming them or lecturing them. It is important to remember that they may be ashamed or defensive about their gambling behavior and could react negatively to your approach.

Depending on the severity of the gambling disorder, it is sometimes appropriate to try self-help strategies or peer support before seeking professional treatment. These approaches are aimed at addressing mild to moderate cases of gambling disorder, and are usually easier to implement than intensive residential programs. However, in many instances, a person with a gambling disorder will need more than self-help tools or peer support to overcome their problem. They will likely need to seek gambling treatment.

The negative impacts of gambling are observed at the individual, interpersonal, and community/societal levels. Among others, these include the financial impact of debt and bankruptcy on the gambler; the strain on family members; loss of employment; decreased health; and depression. Gambling-related external impacts can have long-term effects that change a life course and even span generations.

If you are worried about the way your loved one is spending their money, try to find out what kind of gambling they are doing. Start by talking with them about how their gambling is affecting other people in their lives. Then you can make a plan together to change their habits. You can also encourage them to seek help from a specialist, if needed. You can find an addiction specialist by searching online, contacting your insurance provider or asking the National Council on Problem Gambling for a referral. Lastly, don’t give up if they resist at first. It can take a lot of time and effort to break a gambling habit.