Gambling involves risking something valuable (money or personal possessions) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. The gambler hopes that he or she will ‘win’ and gain something of value. There are many different types of gambling, including casino games such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack, and poker; betting on sports events or elections; buying lottery tickets or scratchcards; and even office pool betting. In addition, some forms of online gambling are also considered to be a form of gambling.
Problem gambling is a serious mental health issue that can have devastating effects on individuals, their families, and their communities. It can harm physical and psychological wellbeing, interfere with relationships, impair work or study performance, cause debt problems and even lead to homelessness. It is estimated that more than half of the UK population takes part in some form of gambling activity, which for some people can be enjoyable and fun, but for others it can cause major problems.
Many people with a gambling addiction find it difficult to admit that they have a problem, especially when it has caused financial or emotional distress, but it is important for them and those around them to understand that help is available and recovery is possible. Many people with a gambling addiction recover without specialist treatment, but there are also a number of effective treatments available, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps them change the way they think and feel about their gambling behaviour.
The risk of a gambling addiction increases with age, but anyone can be affected. There is a strong link between gambling and depression, as well as other mental health issues such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Those with a history of family members with gambling problems are more likely to develop an addiction, as are those who are unemployed or living in poor conditions.
People with a gambling addiction often use it as a way to cope with unpleasant feelings, such as loneliness or boredom. They may also turn to gambling as a way to relieve the pain of a loss or to distract themselves from a stressful situation. There are healthier and more productive ways to cope with negative emotions, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Those with a gambling problem can receive help and support from their GP or other healthcare professionals, local charities, and support groups. Inpatient and residential treatment and rehabilitation programs are also available for those with severe problems. There is a strong link between gambling problems and debt, which can be managed with the help of a StepChange Debt Advisor. Contact us today for free and confidential debt advice. Our experts will be able to assess your situation and provide you with information and advice on how to deal with your debts. They will also be able to refer you to a suitable debt charity, if necessary.