The Dangers of Gambling


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is determined by chance and has the potential to result in a prize win. While it might be easy to imagine that gambling only happens in casinos, it is important to note that many people gamble outside of traditional venues. Playing bingo, buying lottery tickets, and betting on office pools all qualify as forms of gambling.

While many people think that gambling is a harmless activity, it can actually be very addictive and even cause psychological distress. It is important to know the warning signs of gambling addiction so that you can seek help if needed. If you notice that you or a loved one is gambling excessively, consider talking to a therapist for advice and guidance.

Some people find it difficult to recognize a problem, as the activity is often viewed as socially acceptable and is associated with positive feelings. People with a strong desire for thrills and an impulsive temperament may be particularly at risk for developing gambling disorder. Biological differences in brain regions can also influence how people process rewards, control impulses, and weigh risks.

The psychiatric community once regarded pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder, similar to kleptomania and pyromania. However, in what has been described as a “landmark decision”, the American Psychiatric Association recently moved the condition into the Addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This change signals that researchers now view it as more closely related to substance-related disorders.

Longitudinal studies of the effects of gambling are becoming more common, but there are still a number of challenges to their design and conduct. These include the need to maintain research team continuity over a long time period; difficulties in obtaining adequate sample sizes; and the knowledge that a person’s gambling behavior can vary by age, life events, and other factors.

Some people choose to gamble as a way of relieving unpleasant emotions, such as loneliness or boredom. It is important to recognize that there are healthier ways to relieve these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or joining a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. If you or a loved one are struggling with gambling, it is important to seek help immediately. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 or visit A&E.