How Gambling Affects People and Their Families

Gambling is betting something of value on an uncertain event that involves chance. This activity is not a way to make money, and it’s important to remember that any gambling game comes with the risk of losing. People gamble for many reasons, including mood change and the dream of hitting the jackpot. In addition, some people enjoy the socialization of gambling and the feeling of euphoria that it triggers in their brain. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to keep in mind that gambling is an addictive behavior and can lead to serious financial problems.

There are several types of gambling, including casino games, horse races, and lottery tickets. Most of these activities are legal, but they can have negative health effects. Some of these effects include depression, anxiety, and addiction. Gambling can also affect a person’s family, friends, and career.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, someone who has an issue with gambling may: have a preoccupation with gambling; feel the need to increase wager sizes to maintain excitement levels; be restless or irritable when trying to stop gambling; try to regain losses by continuing to gamble; lie to a therapist or loved ones about their involvement in gambling; engage in illegal acts to finance their habit; jeopardize a relationship or job opportunity due to their gambling; or rely on others for money to manage a desperate financial situation caused by their gambling (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Problem gambling is a common behavioral disorder, but there are ways to get help. The first step is to recognize the problem and seek treatment. There are several different treatments, including psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of techniques that help a person identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It usually takes place with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker.

It’s important for the family members of a problem gambler to get support as well. They may experience stress, depression, or grief due to their loved one’s gambling habits. It’s also helpful to talk with other families who have experienced this type of situation. Some communities offer peer support groups for families of problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous. There are also state and national hotlines that provide assistance. Additionally, physical exercise has been shown to reduce the symptoms of gambling disorders.