Gambling is the placing of a bet on something of value, with conscious risk and hope of gain, based on an uncertain outcome. While it may seem harmless, gambling can become a serious addiction and has many negative impacts. These can be at the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels.
The impact of gambling can have a devastating effect on families, and is often hidden from those close to the person who has the problem. Family members may feel ignored, disrespected and even physically abused when their loved one spends too much time in casinos and other gambling locations. This can lead to emotional distance and a loss of trust that can be difficult to repair.
Family members may also be financially impacted by the gambler’s behaviour. They can find themselves in a position where they are lending money to the gambler or paying their debts. Unfortunately, this can sometimes create a vicious cycle where the gambler begins to rely on others to support their addiction and can end up being exploited by them.
People who have a low income are particularly vulnerable to developing a gambling disorder as they may have more to lose than those with a higher disposable income. Young people, especially boys and men, are also a group at high risk. This is because they are more likely to have an exaggerated sense of optimism and take greater risks than their peers, and research shows that this can be a precursor to developing an addictive gambling habit.
In addition, some communities consider gambling to be a traditional pastime and it can be difficult to recognize when a person’s behaviour is out of control. Furthermore, if a person’s family has a history of other addictions, they may be more prone to develop a gambling addiction as they may have a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity.
Despite these issues, there are ways to reduce the harmful effects of gambling and help your loved ones if they do have a problem. The first step is to seek professional treatment, which can be a good way to get to the root of the issue and provide long-term recovery.
Then, it is important to strengthen your own support network and engage in healthy activities. This can be achieved by spending more time with friends and family, taking up new hobbies, exercising regularly and improving your diet. You can also find help through peer support programs such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is a 12-step program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous that helps people recover from problem gambling. You can also visit a therapist who specialises in gambling addiction. Simply fill out a short questionnaire and get matched with a therapist. We may earn commissions when you click on links to BetterHelp. Thank you for your support.