Gambling and Its Effects on Health and Wellbeing

Whether playing cards or online games, betting on horses or football accumulators, or putting down money on the outcome of a lottery draw, gambling is an activity in which people wager something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome. In the past, the activity of gambling has often involved a degree of risk and a prize to win, but in recent times technology and other factors have greatly expanded the scope of gambling activities.

A growing body of evidence supports the view that gambling behaviors can be addictive and that pathological gambling is a treatable medical condition.1 Consequently, the evaluation of patients’ gambling behaviors by general practitioners is becoming increasingly important.

However, the evaluation of gambling behavior is difficult because there are many different types of gambling. Some are legal and some are illegal, and the definitions of “gambling” vary across jurisdictions. As such, there is a need for clarification of the meaning and scope of gambling to make accurate assessments of its effects on the health and wellbeing of individuals and society.

Many people gamble as a form of recreation and social interaction, but some are also attracted to the excitement of winning. In addition, many individuals use gambling to relieve boredom or stress. However, if an individual becomes dependent on gambling, it can negatively impact their health, relationships and work performance and lead to serious debt and even homelessness.

In the United States, pathological gambling is a significant problem and it affects all segments of society, regardless of socioeconomic status, age or race. However, the prevalence of gambling disorders increases with increasing age and men are more likely to develop them than women. Furthermore, individuals with psychiatric or substance abuse disorders are more likely to develop gambling problems.

The traditional explanation for why people become pathological gamblers is that they are driven by certain psychological factors. This explanation was formulated before the rise of pathological gambling in the 1970s, which suggests that other non-psychological factors must have contributed to its increase in prevalence.

There are several things that people can do to help themselves overcome their addiction to gambling. They can strengthen their support network, seek professional assistance and join a peer-support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modelled on Alcoholics Anonymous. They can also learn to manage their emotions and find healthier ways of releasing tension or boredom, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up new hobbies. Moreover, they can try not to give in to temptation and avoid tempting places, like casinos, TABs or other gambling sites. If they do lapse, they should remind themselves of their commitment to quit gambling and take steps to get back on track. In addition, they can try to identify triggers of their gambling and develop a plan for how they will cope when those triggers occur in the future. By taking these steps, they can begin to regain control of their life and stop gambling altogether.