Gambling Problems and How to Overcome Them

For most people, gambling is a fun pastime that can offer an adrenaline rush and the possibility of winning big money. But for a small and significant portion of the population, gambling can ruin their lives. Gambling is a form of addiction and like any other addiction, it requires professional help to overcome it. For someone who has a gambling problem, it can lead to family breakdowns, financial hardship and legal problems. Some gamblers end up racking up huge debts that they cannot repay, losing their jobs and even putting themselves or their families at risk of imprisonment or other forms of social distancing. For others, it leads to depression, substance abuse and other harmful behaviours.

The main cause of gambling harm is the high cost of the games. But, while it is possible to have a good time gambling within limits and without causing harm, the majority of people who gamble do not do so responsibly and overindulge. Several studies have found that between seventy and eighty percent of gamblers are responsible enough to keep their gambling under control. However, the remaining twenty to thirty percent of compulsive gamblers can quickly find themselves in financial trouble and unable to stop gambling.

While some of these individuals are predisposed to developing a gambling problem, many other people can develop this addiction if exposed to factors such as low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and depression, or if they are in stressful situations or dealing with loss or grief. Furthermore, some individuals are more susceptible to a gambling disorder because of their personality traits, such as impulsiveness and their tendency to take risks.

Longitudinal studies, which follow a group of subjects over a period of years, are important in the study of gambling. However, there are a number of barriers that make this type of research difficult to conduct, including the need for funding and the difficulty of maintaining researcher and participant continuity over a long period of time. Also, longitudinal data can be confounded by a variety of factors, such as period effects (e.g., is a person’s interest in gambling increasing or decreasing because of changes in the economic environment or other events) and aging effects (e.g., does a person’s ability to control their spending improve as they age).

Individuals with gambling problems can benefit from having support and attending support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. They can also learn to recognize their triggers and avoid the places or situations that encourage gambling and avoid chasing losses, a practice that often results in larger losses over time. They can also consider budgeting for their gambling, limiting the amount of money they carry with them when going out to gamble and not using credit cards or other sources of funds that could be used to pay for essentials such as food and housing. Finally, they can try to engage in other activities that promote mental and emotional well-being, such as exercise, socialising with friends or hobbies.