Gambling involves risking something of value, usually money, on an event whose outcome is unknown. It can be an enjoyable pastime but for some people it can cause serious problems including harm to their health, relationships and performance at work or study and can lead to debt and even homelessness. Problem gambling can also affect those close to them and can be a cause of family breakdown.
People gamble for a number of reasons, some to alleviate stress, others to take their mind off their problems or to socialise with friends. The main motive is the prospect of winning and feeling a sense of euphoria that is linked to the brain’s reward system.
Research has shown that gambling can trigger a range of negative effects including depression, anxiety, relationship problems and substance abuse. In addition, it can have a detrimental effect on mental health and may increase the likelihood of suicide.
Those with gambling disorders can be helped with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which looks at beliefs around betting and ways in which people feel when they want to gamble. CBT can help people to reduce their gambling by teaching them strategies and coping skills.
In the UK, there are more than half a million people who have some form of gambling disorder. Problem gambling can ruin lives, lead to debt and homelessness and it can cause depression and anxiety. It can also harm relationships and cause health problems including heart disease. It can also have a negative impact on children’s mental and physical wellbeing.