The Dangers of Gambling

Gambling is a dangerous activity that can cause severe harm to your physical, emotional and financial health. It can be as harmful as taking drugs or smoking. It also affects the lives of those closest to you. If you have a gambling problem, you can seek help from treatment and support programs. These include residential and outpatient treatments. You can also find support through peer groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a twelve-step recovery program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Generally, gambling involves betting something of value on an event that is determined by chance. Typically, the gambler hopes that he or she will win and receive a prize in exchange for the bet. However, there are many different forms of gambling – from placing bets on sports events to playing bingo and even buying lottery tickets.

While it is true that most people who gamble do so responsibly, others are not as lucky. In fact, around 20 percent of people overindulge and lose money, creating a serious problem for themselves and their families. Those with gambling problems may also be secretive about their behavior, lying to family and friends or spending money they don’t have. They often become compelled to spend more and more in the hope that they will make back their losses, resulting in severe consequences at a personal, interpersonal and community/society level.

Although there are many studies that claim to examine the economic impact of gambling, few show any real effort to quantify social impacts – mostly because they are difficult and/or impossible to measure in dollar terms. Attempts to use non-monetary measures such as consumer surplus and quality of life weights (DW) have proved problematic. Moreover, the methodological approach to studying these effects is quite subjective and thus fails to provide a balanced perspective.

Symptoms of gambling disorder can be difficult to recognize. They can include difficulty controlling or stopping gambling, spending more money than you have and becoming restless or irritable when trying to cut down on gambling. Other symptoms may include a persistent feeling of loss, an inability to concentrate or sleep and an irrational desire for more and more excitement.

If you suspect that someone in your family has a gambling addiction, seek help immediately. Educate yourself about problem gambling and learn to recognize the warning signs. Establish healthy boundaries in managing your finances – cancel credit cards, allow someone else to manage your money, close online betting accounts and keep only a small amount of cash on you. Moreover, try to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings or boredom – such as exercising, visiting friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.