How Gambling Disorders Can Affect Your Life

Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value (money, property or life) on the outcome of an uncertain event. It can be fun and exciting but when it becomes a problem it can harm your physical and mental health, damage relationships, lead to debt and even homelessness. Problem gambling is often accompanied by other mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, so it’s important to seek treatment for these issues too.

Most people gamble in one form or another, and most do it without any problems. However, a small proportion of those who gamble develop a problem known as gambling disorder. This is a serious mental illness that can cause serious harm to those affected by it, their families and their communities. It is a treatable condition, and there are many organisations that offer support and advice to those struggling with a gambling addiction.

People with gambling disorders come from all walks of life. They can be rich or poor, young or old, male or female, from small towns or big cities. They may feel the need to secretly gamble or lie about their spending, or they might find it difficult to walk away from a game when they’re losing. They can also become addicted to the thrill of winning, or they might be driven by a desire for escapism or the relief of unpleasant feelings.

When you win at a casino, your brain produces the same dopamine response as it would for a drug, and this can encourage more gambling behaviours. This is especially the case if you’re rewarded for your loyalty through VIP schemes, or encouraged to spend more money on games like roulette by advertising that you can win big if you keep playing.

In addition, gambling companies are not a one-man show and employ a wide range of people, from dealers to odds compilers to marketers. These people need to be paid their wages, and the gambling industry relies on big profits and turnover to survive. That’s why it’s so tempting to advertise huge jackpots and to promote low minimum deposits.

If you’re worried about your own gambling habits, start by setting a budget for how much you can afford to lose. Whenever you go to a casino, only take out the amount of cash that you’re willing to lose, and never chase your losses by trying to get back what you’ve lost. This is called the “gambler’s fallacy” and it can be very dangerous.

If you have a family member with a gambling problem, reach out for help. Family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling can all help you address the specific issues that have triggered problem gambling and lay the foundation for a healthier future. It’s also a good idea to set boundaries in managing family finances, so that the person with the problem isn’t using your credit card or funds to gamble. This can be very difficult, but it’s the first step to regaining control of your finances.