Gambling is an activity that involves the risking of money or something of value to try to win a prize. It can be as simple as a game of chance, or as complex as betting on a team sport or on the outcome of an event.
Although gambling is a common and popular recreational activity, it can also cause problems. People can become addicted to it and begin to have difficulty controlling their behaviour. This can have a serious impact on their life.
A person with a gambling problem needs to change their behaviour and make a commitment to stop. This can be difficult, and can require some support from others. Whether you are struggling with your own addiction, or that of someone you know, seeking help can be a life-changing step in the right direction.
The first category of harms was financial harms, which were mainly linked to those losses that a person experienced when they lost money through gambling. This included a range of issues such as loss of income, debt, the impact on savings and assets, or financial insecurity.
Relationship harms were a second key dimension of gambling related harm that emerged from the data. These harms often stemmed from a combination of factors including personal or cultural perceptions that gambling is a deviant or unacceptable behaviour, as well as the impact of the time and trust issues that can arise between partners when someone engages in gambling.
These harms can result in a relationship breakdown, as well as contributing to the feelings of inadequacy and depression that can accompany gambling. This can affect the relationships with other members of a family or the wider community, as well as creating an environment of social isolation and vulnerability to harmful adaptive behaviours.
From a legacy perspective, the impact of gambling related harms can continue to affect the affected person for a long time after their engagement with gambling stops. This is a particularly significant issue for those with an underlying mood disorder, as their gambling-related difficulties can be exacerbated by any underlying conditions such as depression, stress or substance abuse.
Becoming a compulsive gambler is a complex process and requires ongoing treatment to overcome the psychological, emotional and physical consequences of this behaviour. Several types of therapy have been proven effective at reducing or eliminating the need to gamble, as well as improving social interactions and interpersonal relationships.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most commonly used forms of treatment. It aims to identify and challenge problematic thoughts and patterns of behaviour that may be driving the addictive behaviour.
It can also help people to build a strong and supportive social network. This can be achieved through joining a sports club or book club, volunteering for an organisation or working with a peer support group.
There are a number of different ways to prevent and cope with the effects of a gambling problem, but the most important thing is to seek help if you suspect that you or someone you know is having problems with gambling. The sooner you get help, the better.