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The Dangers of Gambling


Whether it’s a lottery ticket or a trip to a casino, gambling is an activity that involves placing a bet on the outcome of a game or event. Gambling can be fun and exciting, but it can also lead to serious problems if someone is not in control of their gambling behaviour. Problem gambling can affect health, relationships, work or study performance, and leave people with debt and even homeless.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing a gambling problem, including children and teens, those with family history of addiction, certain medical conditions or genetics. Age, income, culture and level of education may also play a role.

It’s important to understand why some people gamble so you can better help them when they are struggling with this issue. People gamble for a variety of reasons – for entertainment, to socialise, to feel an adrenaline rush, to escape from worries or stress, or to win money. Some people may use gambling as a way to reward themselves, or to punish themselves if they lose. Some people think they can beat the odds or have a lucky streak, which can be dangerous if it leads to chasing losses.

When gambling becomes a habit, it can interfere with work or school performance and cause stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide. It can also negatively impact relationships, lead to credit problems and even bankruptcy, as well as being associated with more than 400 suicides a year in England.

Many people find it difficult to recognize they have a gambling problem, especially when they are in denial or have tried unsuccessfully to control their behaviour before. Symptoms include lying, withdrawing from friends and family, spending more time gambling, avoiding work or other activities, and borrowing money to fund gambling.

Gambling addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their economic status, social or cultural background, or levels of education. It is also known to develop in adolescents and young people, so it’s important for parents and teachers to be aware of the risks.

There are a number of things that can be done to help someone break their gambling habit, including therapy, medication and support groups. In some cases, inpatient or residential treatment is needed for those who are unable to stop gambling without round-the-clock support. It is also a good idea to get rid of credit cards, set boundaries in managing money and keep only a small amount of cash on hand. For more information on how to get help, visit the BetterHelp online therapy service, take the assessment and be matched with a therapist. It is a free, confidential and non-judgemental resource. You can also call the GamCare helpline on 0808 802 0022 or visit their website for more information and resources. It takes a lot of courage to admit you have a gambling problem, particularly if you have lost a lot of money and strained relationships along the way. But remember, there is help out there and many others have overcome this issue.