Gambling involves risking something of value – such as money, property or possessions – on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. While most people who gamble do so responsibly, some may find that gambling becomes a problem. Fortunately, help is available. If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, there are several ways to get help. You can join a support group, seek professional treatment or try self-help tips.
The most important step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that you have one. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or strained relationships because of your gambling. But remember that you’re not alone — many others have overcome this problem and are rebuilding their lives.
Getting help for a gambling disorder may be easier than you think. There are numerous options for treatment, including psychotherapy and medication. Several types of psychotherapy are effective for treating gambling disorders, and they can be facilitated by online videoconferencing tools such as Skype or FaceTime. Medications, such as a benzodiazepines, can also be used to treat the symptoms of gambling disorders. However, these medications are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of gambling disorders.
Gambling is a global phenomenon, and its impact extends well beyond the pockets of those who participate in it. Across the globe, gambling contributes a significant percentage to the GDP of countries where it is prevalent.
Some of the positive economic impacts of gambling are attributed to increased tax revenues, which can be redirected to community/society benefits. The negative side of gambling, however, is more difficult to measure, because it is mostly invisible and largely non-monetary. It includes personal/interpersonal costs such as emotional stress and relationship problems, as well as indirect costs like harm to the family of a gambler.
Personal/interpersonal impacts of gambling include feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression; attempts to recover money lost through gambling (chasing losses); lying to friends and family members about the extent of their involvement in gambling; reliance on others to fund gambling activities or replace income earned from gambling; and jeopardized work, educational or personal opportunities due to gambling. These impacts can even result in suicide or suicidal thoughts and may be the underlying cause of coexisting mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder.
In addition to these personal/interpersonal impacts, social impacts of gambling can be negative for the community as a whole. These impacts can include increases in crime rates, which are often perpetrated by gamblers. They can also include negative effects on businesses that supply gambling services, such as restaurants and retail stores. In the long term, these negative effects can lead to declines in the overall economy of a region. Moreover, gambling can negatively impact the quality of life of society’s most vulnerable groups, such as children and elderly citizens. The most critical negative impact of gambling is the psychological damage to gamblers and their families.