Gambling and Its Dangerous Consequences

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. It includes all games of chance, such as poker and roulette, but also lottery tickets, scratch cards, putting together a fantasy sports team and even office pool betting. In general, people who gamble spend more than they win.

Over the past century, our understanding of gambling and its adverse consequences has undergone a profound change. Once considered a character flaw, compulsive gambling is now recognized as an impulse control disorder similar to substance dependence. In fact, pathological gambling is now included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Originally, it was thought that excessive gambling merely caused problems in a person’s personal life, such as depression, divorce or financial woes. However, research suggests that underlying mood disorders such as anxiety and depression may actually trigger or make worse the problem of excessive gambling.

Many people enjoy gambling for fun, but it can also harm their health and relationships, interfere with work or study, cause debt problems and lead to homelessness. The majority of gamblers lose money. Even for the lucky few who are able to win, gambling can be an expensive and addictive form of entertainment.

The urge to gamble is often linked with feelings of excitement and anticipation. This is similar to the way in which some drugs create a feeling of dissociation (being out of one’s body). The key difference between gambling and most other drugs is that it is a voluntary activity, where the choice to gamble is made intentionally and with the expectation of gain.

There is wide consensus that a major component of gambling behavior is impulsivity. However, studies do not consistently address the extent to which other dimensions of impulsivity, such as sensation- and novelty-seeking and arousal, are related to a person’s propensity to engage in gambling behavior.

In addition to being a source of pleasure, gambling can also provide a sense of relief from negative emotions, such as depression, anxiety or stress. This can be especially true if the gambler is in an environment that encourages this type of behavior, such as a casino.

A person’s risk of gambling problems can be reduced by limiting the amount of money available for gambling. This can be done by getting rid of credit cards, making someone else responsible for managing household finances, closing online betting accounts and only keeping a limited amount of cash on hand. It is also a good idea to learn as much as possible about gambling terminology and how it works, so that you are better equipped to make informed decisions about your own gambling.

Previous post The Benefits of Playing the Lottery
Next post Learn the Basics of Poker