Gambling is an activity where people place a bet on a random event (often involving money) with the hope of winning something else of value. Traditionally, this involves betting on a sporting event, but can also be done using online or land-based casinos and poker rooms, lottery, bingo and even scratchcards. The activity of gambling can cause harm to a person’s health, relationships and work performance, leading to financial problems and even homelessness. It can also lead to other addictive behaviours. For example, people who start to drink or take illegal drugs in order to feel better after a big loss. It is important to seek help if you feel like you’re struggling with gambling addiction. We are here to help, our service is free and confidential.
Gambling can be considered as an addiction when it causes harm to the gambler and those closest to them, including their family and friends. Problem gamblers can also have long-term mental health issues and can experience a range of negative effects on their physical wellbeing, such as gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions. In extreme cases, gambling addiction can cause suicide.
There are a number of things that can contribute to gambling addiction, including family history, genetics, psychological disorders and traumatic life events. It can also be influenced by a person’s environment and community, as well as their coping styles and beliefs. It is also thought that certain personality traits may make someone more likely to develop harmful gambling behaviour, such as impulsivity and perfectionism.
A key part of gambling is the chance element, so the most important thing to remember is that there’s always a risk of losing money. To avoid this, you can set time and money limits and stop when you reach them. It is also important not to chase your losses as this will usually only increase the amount of money you lose.
There is widespread disagreement about what constitutes a gambling disorder, with different research scientists, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians bringing their own world views to the topic. This leads to a lack of consistency in nomenclature and terminology. However, it is generally agreed that pathological gambling is characterized by a continuous or periodic loss of control over the behavior, preoccupation with gambling and with obtaining funds to gamble, and irrational thinking. Moreover, these symptoms persist despite adverse consequences.