Gambling is a common activity that many people partake in for fun, profit, or both. According to a study published in the Journal of Social Issues, $335 billion was spent on legal gambling in the United States alone in 2009. The practice is conducted in a variety of settings, with many materials ranging in value. Marbles players may stake their marbles, while players of the card game Magic: The Gathering might stake their collectible game pieces, leading to a meta-game involving their collection.
Support groups and family counseling can help individuals overcome their gambling problems. Family, friends, and colleagues can become important support systems for someone suffering from a gambling addiction. By attending educational classes, volunteering for causes that do not involve gambling, and participating in peer support groups, people with gambling problems can begin to feel less alone and more hopeful. A 12-step recovery program called Gamblers Anonymous (GA) may be helpful. Often, the program requires individuals to have a “sponsor,” a former gambler who can provide guidance and support.
The practice of gambling is a self-soothing mechanism. For some people, gambling is a way to escape unpleasant emotions, relax, and socialize. Other ways to combat boredom and stress include practicing relaxation techniques, exercising, and spending time with friends who don’t gamble. However, if you are looking for an alternative way to beat boredom and increase your chances of reducing your gambling problems, contact a professional counselor or support group.
Mental health professionals have developed a set of criteria to identify a gambler’s potential for developing a gambling addiction. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists Gambling Disorder among other addictive behaviors. Gamblers must spend increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the high-emotional state they seek. They must repeatedly attempt to limit their gambling, but have not been successful in controlling their behavior.
Gambling can also lead to thoughts of suicide, and it is important to seek help for these thoughts immediately. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or are considering suicide, call 999 or visit A&E. People with mental health problems are especially susceptible to harmful gambling habits, as these problems can distract people from their real issues. If you are in debt or are experiencing financial difficulties, gambling might become a distraction or a means to escape the burdens of life. If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction, it’s a good idea to visit StepChange.
Gambling has numerous benefits, including the ability to acquire venture capital and spread statistical risks. The risk associated with gambling, however, should not be taken lightly, and should be budgeted as a personal expense rather than a means of making money. Understanding why people gamble can help you decide whether or not gambling is a worthwhile endeavor. You may even be able to change your behavior. But what are the risks of gambling? Let’s look at each in turn.