Whether you gamble to win money, to feel a rush, or for entertainment, gambling is an activity that can be dangerous and can have negative effects on your life. The risk of becoming addicted to gambling can be very high, and it is important to understand the risks before you or someone you know gambles.
Gambling harms are diverse and complex, making it challenging to measure them accurately. Unlike more direct and tractable harms from physical illnesses or substance abuse, harms caused by gambling are varied and diffuse. Additionally, they can be difficult to trace back to gambling as the source, which has implications for the development of harm reduction programs.
Harms from gambling are not only associated with gambling itself but also with other factors such as coping strategies, social support and other aspects of the person’s lifestyle that may influence their behaviour. This is an important point to highlight as the underlying cause of harms can differ between individuals and families.
People who are addicted to gambling often feel that they have no control over their behaviour. They can lose control over how much money they spend, where they play, and even when they stop playing. This can lead to financial and social problems that are difficult to overcome.
Understanding why people gamble can help you find a way to support them. There are four main reasons why people gamble:
For Social Reasons
Many people gamble for social reasons, such as to make friends or because it is a good way to relax. However, gambling can become addictive if it is done excessively or with large amounts of money.
For Financial reasons
People who gamble for financial reasons are usually looking to win a large amount of money. They want to change their life and they feel that winning money will allow them to do this.
For Entertainment purposes
Using gambling as an escape from everyday stresses and problems is a common problem that people have with gambling. Using gambling to escape from these issues can be dangerous, as it can lead to depression or anxiety.
The use of gambling as an escape from stress and other mental health issues is an emerging problem in the field of addiction medicine. Some people who use gambling as an escape from distress can experience a dissociative-like state of consciousness and can even go into a ‘zone’ when they are playing certain games.
For the patient
If you suspect that a loved one has a gambling problem, you should speak with them about the issue. This could include discussing why they are a problem gambler and providing information about the types of treatment that are available.
Talking about the impact of gambling on their lives is an important step in the recovery process. There are many organisations that offer free or low-cost services to assist people with gambling problems.
You can start by reading real-life stories of people who have opened up about their gambling and got the help they needed. This can help you to prepare for the discussion and understand what to say.