Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value – usually money – to predict the outcome of a game of chance, such as scratchcards or fruit machines, or a sports event or race. It’s an exciting and rewarding activity for many people, but there are also risks involved, including a potential for addiction and harm to personal relationships.
Whether you’re trying to win the lottery or just have a flutter on the pokies, gambling can cause damage to your finances, health, work and family life. The best way to manage this problem is to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and only for a limited amount of time. It’s also important to never chase your losses, as this will usually lead to bigger and bigger losses.
You’ll also need to set money and time limits before you begin, and try to stick to them. Keeping track of your gambling will help you recognise when it’s getting out of control. If you notice that your gambling is causing harm, it’s important to address the issue head-on and seek help. It’s also crucial to strengthen your support network and find activities that make you feel happy, such as joining a book club or sports team.
A person’s brain is naturally wired to seek rewards, so when you win at gambling, it releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. The good news is, this effect can be reversed by focusing on healthy behaviors, such as spending time with loved ones or eating a nutritious meal.
While gambling can bring a number of positive impacts, it also comes with a range of negative impacts that affect the gambler, their significant others, and society. These costs and benefits are categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health/wellbeing. Financial impacts include changes in financial status, while labour and health/wellbeing impacts include job losses or gains, absenteeism, reduced performance and the inability to participate in social activities.
It’s important to understand the underlying causes of gambling problems, such as mental illness or coexisting addictions, so you can support your loved one when they’re struggling. This may be difficult, especially if they deny that their gambling is a problem or downplay the impact it’s having on their lives. You can also offer moral support and encouragement by encouraging them to find alternative coping strategies.
If you’re worried about your loved one’s gambling habits, a therapist can provide guidance and support. Some therapists specialise in treating gambling disorder, and can provide psychodynamic therapy that looks at how unconscious processes might influence a person’s behaviour. Another option is group therapy, which is an effective tool for raising awareness of the disorder and motivating people to get help. You can also consider peer-to-peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a similar format to Alcoholics Anonymous and offers advice and guidance for those who have experienced gambling problems.