Gambling is a worldwide activity and there are many reasons why people gamble. For some, it is a way to relieve stress, while for others it is a social outlet or an exciting pastime. But gambling can also lead to problems and affect relationships, work performance and mental health. It can even cause serious debts and bankruptcy.
It is important to understand why people gamble in order to recognise the signs of gambling addiction. Some signs of gambling addiction include: a person lies to friends and family members about their gambling; they hide gambling activities or try to conceal them from their loved ones; they have frequent arguments with loved ones over money; they spend more time gambling than they do on other hobbies or social activities; they often use drugs or alcohol while gambling and are addicted to those substances; they make excuses in order to justify gambling; they use credit cards, loans or other means to finance gambling; and/or they are constantly seeking out new ways to gamble.
Research has shown that gambling can stimulate certain brain regions which are involved in reward and pleasure. This is a result of the release of dopamine in the brain. Some studies have even found that the same feelings of pleasure and reward can be produced in the body when people play a game such as blackjack where the house edge is relatively low.
Another reason why people gamble is that they may feel a sense of achievement when they win. The human body releases adrenaline and endorphins which can make people feel happy. This can be seen in the behaviour of many sports stars who seem to be very content when they are winning.
People who gamble can also benefit from the sense of community that is created when betting on football matches, horse races or scratchcards. The gambling industry can help to foster this sense of community by promoting events and bringing together groups with common interests. In addition to this, it can be beneficial for the economy as it provides jobs and tax revenues.
While gambling can provide some benefits, it is important to realise that gambling should only be used for entertainment purposes and not as a way to make money. If you are going to gamble, it is important to set limits for yourself and never chase your losses. If you are gambling and it is causing you problems, speak to your GP or find NHS support as soon as possible as self-harm or suicide can be a risk. In severe cases of gambling addiction, treatment is effective and can save lives. Getting help is really worth it. This article has been written by the Changing Course team and was edited by Dr Kate Watts. Changing Course is an organisation that helps people with substance and gambling problems. Their support is free and confidential. They also offer training for professionals. For more information, please visit their website.