Gambling is when you risk money or something of value to predict the outcome of a game of chance, such as a football match or a scratchcard. It is usually done for fun and to pass the time, but it can also cause problems if you don’t have enough money to lose.
A gambling problem can affect your relationships, performance at work or study, get you into trouble with the law and leave you in debt and possibly homeless. It can also affect your mental health and cause you to feel like you’re losing control of your life. It can be difficult to stop if you have a problem, but it’s not impossible.
If you have a problem with gambling, try to keep your spending in check and set clear boundaries for yourself. For example, decide how much money you can afford to spend on gambling before you start, and stick to it.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor if you have problems with gambling, so you can get help to change the way you think about betting. They may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which will look at how your beliefs about betting affect your behaviour and how you think and feel when you gamble.
This is a very serious condition, so it’s important to seek help as soon as you think there may be a problem. Treatment is often offered by a GP or specialist gambling treatment centre, but you can also find help from support groups, such as Gam-Anon, which provides support for families affected by problem gambling.
Choosing the right type of treatment is crucial, and different approaches may be suitable for people with different types of gambling problem. There are many options, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.
The term ‘problem gambling’ is used to describe the impulsive, addictive and destructive behaviour of repeatedly using money to place bets on sporting events, gambling machines or other games of chance. Symptoms of this type of problem can lead to severe and persistent harm, including financial loss, relationship breakdown, suicide and even death.
Harms from gambling were reported at three temporal levels of the person who gambled, affected others and broader community, which are consistent with other research on the topic. These included initial harms, second or further order harms and legacy harms that occurred whether the person engaged in gambling or not, and remained in place after the gambling activity stopped.
These harms were associated with distress from distorted cognitions or erroneous beliefs and feelings of powerlessness in managing the gambling behaviour or impacts from that gambling, including losses and recouping those losses. These harms were also associated with desperation and the experience of feeling unable to stop, or to control the gambling.
Shame and stigma were the most prevalent types of harms, experienced at all levels of participation in gambling, reflecting the link to social and cultural values that surround gambling. They were the most common forms of emotional and psychological distress in people who gambled, and they were linked to suicidal ideation and attempts.