Gambling is when people risk something of value to predict the outcome of a game that involves chance, such as betting on football matches or scratchcards. If they’re correct, they win money. If they’re wrong, they lose the money they gambled. Some people find gambling to be enjoyable and social, but for others it can be addictive and lead to serious problems. Problems with gambling can affect physical and mental health, relationships, work or study performance and cause debt. Some problem gamblers even attempt suicide. If you’re worried about your own gambling or the gambling of someone close to you, here’s what to do.
Positives of Gambling
There are many benefits to gambling, from entertainment to learning new skills. Many games require players to develop a strategy, use math skills, and read other people’s body language. This can help improve mental health by keeping the brain stimulated and enhancing creativity. In addition, some people find that gambling is a way to relieve stress and anxiety.
In the past, the psychiatric community generally viewed pathological gambling as a compulsion rather than an addiction. But in the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association moved it to the addictions chapter. In doing so, it acknowledged that pathological gambling shares features with other impulse control disorders such as kleptomania and pyromania, and it should be treated the same as any other addiction.
Other positives of gambling include the fact that it is a great social activity. Gambling can be done with friends and family, or a group of like-minded people can go out to a casino or other gambling venue together. They can also hang out at a racetrack, pool their resources to buy lottery tickets, or simply meet up with other people to gamble online.
Gambling can be a fun and exciting hobby, but it’s important to know when to stop. It’s also a good idea to set up a budget and stick to it. Never gamble with money you need for other expenses, such as rent or phone bills. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol while gambling because it can affect your judgment and increase the likelihood of a costly mistake.
It’s also important to talk to other people about your gambling habits, especially if you are concerned that it is becoming a problem. You can join a support group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous. These groups follow the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous and can help you find the strength to quit gambling for good. You can also seek professional help, such as through a therapist or a certified gambling counselor. If you’re worried about the financial impact of your gambling on yourself or those around you, StepChange offers free and confidential debt advice. Contact us today to speak to an adviser.