The Dangers of Gambling

Gambling is the act of risking money or material goods on an event whose outcome is largely determined by chance. It has existed in almost all societies and is often incorporated into local customs or rites of passage. While most people gamble as a form of entertainment, a small number become seriously involved and experience significant negative personal, social, family, and financial consequences. This article describes these individuals and their problematic gambling behaviors.

People gamble for many reasons – it might be a way to socialise, get a thrill or an escape from stress and worries. However, gambling can also lead to addiction if it becomes out of control. If you are regularly gambling more than you can afford to lose, lying about your gambling or taking out pay day loans to cover your debts, you may be suffering from a problem with gambling. It’s important to seek help if you think you have a gambling problem, as it can have a serious impact on your mental health.

If you’re concerned about someone else, these checklists can help you identify if they have a gambling problem. They’re also a great way to get some ideas about how to support them.

Often, the urge to gamble comes as a result of feelings of deprivation or low self-esteem. For some, it can even be a form of self-medication to deal with depression or anxiety. People can find it hard to recognise these warning signs in themselves, but others around them may notice changes in their behaviour. For example, they might withdraw from friends and family or stop going to work. If you suspect that someone you know has a gambling problem, speak to them about getting help and make sure they’re aware of the effective treatments available.

The link between gambling and mental health problems is complex. Some people are more at risk of developing a gambling problem if they have a mental illness, while for others it is a trigger for a relapse. This article discusses the evidence for this connection and provides suggestions for how to screen for, treat and manage a gambling disorder in primary care settings.

The term ‘disordered gambling’ refers to a range of gambling behaviors from those that are likely to increase the risk of developing problems (subclinical) to those that would meet diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It includes all those who have a high likelihood of developing a problem with gambling, and who are at risk of harmful consequences to their life and well-being. The section on psychiatric disorders and gambling describes the rationale for considering gambling behavior as an addictive disorder.