Harm From Gambling

Gambling is any activity in which people risk something of value (usually money) to win something of value (such as a prize or a jackpot). People gamble in places like casinos, racetracks and online. They may also play games involving chance, such as scratchcards or fruit machines, or place bets with friends. Regardless of where and how they gamble, the activity can cause harm.

Harm from gambling may be experienced at three levels: the person who gambles, affected others and broader community. This framework differs from previous theories that have focused on harm at a diagnostic point of problem gambling and that only occurs whilst engaging in the behaviour. It also differentiates between harms at different times, including legacy and intergenerational harms.

In addition, the research identified that a range of factors can make someone more likely to engage in harmful gambling. These include mood disorders, personality characteristics and coping styles. People with family histories of gambling problems, substance use problems and mental health conditions are at particular risk. People from rural areas, CALD communities and indigenous populations may also be more at risk due to environmental factors.

It is important to recognize that there are many ways to get help for problematic gambling. The first step is to strengthen your support network. This can be done by reaching out to family and friends, joining a sports team or book club, volunteering, or taking on educational classes. It is also a good idea to find healthy ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, and practicing relaxation techniques. Counseling can be useful for working through the specific issues created by problem gambling and laying the foundations for healthy relationships and finances.

Changing the way you think about gambling can be challenging. During the process, you can seek professional assistance, such as counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy, to learn healthier coping mechanisms. You can also work on changing your environment by removing temptations, such as alcohol and caffeine, and avoiding places where gambling takes place. You can also attend a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Lastly, you can take action by seeking financial advice from a debt charity such as StepChange. There are also many state-based and national helplines for those with gambling problems. There are no medications that have been approved for treating gambling disorder, but some may be used to treat co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety. There is a link between suicide and gambling, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about any thoughts you have of ending your life. You should also call 999 or go to A&E if you are feeling suicidal.