Dealing With Gambling Problems

Dealing With Gambling Problems

Gambling is risking something of value (usually money) on an event that involves an element of chance and the potential to win a prize. It ranges from scratchcards and fruit machines, through to betting on football accumulators and horse races, or even investing in stocks and shares. The vast majority of people who gamble do so without any problems, but a small proportion develop a gambling disorder. In the most severe cases, this can lead to financial problems, relationship difficulties, mental health issues and even homelessness.

Many organisations offer support and advice for people who are concerned about their own gambling, or the gambling of someone close to them. This could involve providing services to help them control their gambling, or even stop it altogether. They may also provide information and education for the wider community. Some of these organisations are specialist charities, others work in partnership with GPs or local authorities. They may also be able to help with access to addiction treatment.

It’s important to remember that people who have a gambling problem didn’t choose to become addicted. It happened for a variety of reasons, such as boredom, stress or depression. They might think that gambling will help them to escape from these feelings and it can be easy to lose track of time and how much money is being spent. They might also believe irrational beliefs such as thinking that a string of losses will eventually turn into a big win.

For some people, gambling can be a way of socialising with friends or family and the media often portrays it as fun, glamorous and fashionable. It can also be used for coping reasons such as to forget worries, feel more self-confident or because it makes them feel better when they are feeling anxious or depressed.

Research has shown that cognitive-behavioural therapy can help people to deal with problematic gambling. For example, it can teach them to challenge irrational beliefs such as that a win will come soon or that they are more likely to win if they have more money. It can also help them find alternative ways to relax and socialise.

It is important to recognise that gambling has positive societal impacts, such as generating revenue for public services and promoting healthy lifestyles. However, it is equally important to address the negative aspects of gambling and ensure that it is regulated responsibly. In the economic literature, it is common to concentrate on the cost of problem gambling, but this only focuses on a small proportion of people who are affected. A more holistic approach is needed, looking at both negative and positive impacts on people’s lives. This would enable a more complete understanding of the impacts of gambling and how they change over time. This approach could also help us to identify who is most vulnerable to developing a gambling disorder and how this can be addressed. This is particularly relevant given the growing number of younger people developing a gambling disorder.