Gambling is a risky way to spend money and can be dangerous for people with mental health problems. While it can provide an adrenaline rush and a social outlet, it can also lead to financial and personal harm. This article examines the different impacts of gambling, including both costs and benefits, and offers suggestions for how to reduce your gambling risks.
Whenever you place a bet on an event, whether it’s a football match or a scratchcard, you’re engaging in gambling. The decision you make to bet is matched to ‘odds’, which determine how much you could win if you get it right. The odds are determined by a combination of factors, including the number of people who have placed a bet on that event and the probability of winning.
The brain’s reward center is stimulated when you gamble, and it releases the feel-good hormone dopamine. This is why so many people find it difficult to stop gambling, even when the harms start to outweigh the entertainment value. But the key is to recognise when gambling stops being an enjoyable pastime and becomes an addiction. If you’re relying on credit or loans to fund your betting, lying to friends and family about it, or spending more time gambling than you do at work, then you may have a problem.
People gamble for all sorts of reasons, from the thrill of winning to escaping their worries or stress. But gambling can have a negative impact on mental health, especially if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. It can also exacerbate these issues, leading to a cycle of debt and self-sabotage. The key is to recognise if you have a problem, and seek help as soon as possible.
There are a range of ways to get help for gambling problems, from treatment to peer support groups. In addition to these resources, it’s important to talk about your gambling habits with someone who won’t judge you. This could be a friend or family member, or a professional counsellor. You can also reduce your risks by staying away from gambling venues and only using cash when you’re out and about.
If you’re having trouble quitting gambling, try reducing the amount you bet and setting short-term goals to achieve. And if you do relapse, remember that it’s okay. It can be very hard to quit gambling, but it’s worth the effort. For further support, check out our list of resources below or contact the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.