The Effects of Gambling and How to Stop It

Gambling involves betting money or something of value, often in a game that relies on chance, such as a lottery or scratchcard. It’s a popular pastime for many, but can be incredibly addictive and harmful. This article explores the effects of gambling, signs that you might have a problem and how to stop it.

A person’s psychological response to gambling depends on many factors, including their social and economic situation, family and friends and the environment in which they live. The most dangerous form of gambling is pathological gambling, defined as a persistent, recurrent pattern of gambling that causes significant distress or impairment. The understanding of pathological gambling has undergone a revolution in recent years, moving from an assumption that gamblers who experience negative consequences have a weakness to the idea that they suffer from a mental health condition.

In fact, research indicates that around 5% of people who gamble develop a gambling disorder, which can damage relationships and affect work and study performance. It can also lead to debt and homelessness. It is especially common in low-income households, with boys and men more likely to be affected than girls or women. Young people are also at greater risk due to their propensity for games that involve a high degree of skill and interaction, such as poker and blackjack, which can be played on video games that require micro-transactions and payments.

Those who have gambling disorders may exhibit a range of symptoms, including the tendency to hide their addiction, lie about how much they are spending and being secretive about their gambling habits. They might also show signs of impulsivity, a poor understanding of the randomness of events and a use of escape coping, such as drinking or drugs. These factors are all linked to the way a person’s brain responds to the excitement and rush of gambling.

There are many steps you can take to stop gambling, such as getting rid of credit cards, putting someone else in charge of your finances, closing online betting accounts and only gambling with disposable income that you can afford to lose. It’s also important to recognise the triggers for gambling and try to address them, such as boredom or stress, by doing other activities.

If you feel the urge to gamble is causing problems in your life, it might be helpful to speak to a therapist. BetterHelp is an online service that matches you with licensed, accredited therapists, who can help you overcome depression and anxiety, manage your relationship issues, or get over your gambling addiction. You can take an assessment and be matched with a therapist within 48 hours. Start your journey to recovery today. Taking the first step can be difficult, but it is possible to break the habit and regain control of your life. The most important thing is to admit you have a problem and ask for help. It takes a lot of courage and strength to do this, but it is worth it in the long run.