Gambling is sort of like Marmite, it really divides people. Some people think it should be illegal and others believe that it should be encouraged to boost the economy. But, like it or not gambling is here to stay and so the question really is – how do we make it safe for everyone?
The basic definition of gambling is betting something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. But the actual odds of an event vary depending on your mindset, and people with certain mental health issues are at greater risk of harmful gambling. They may gamble to socialise, escape from their problems or relieve stress and tension. They may also find themselves gambling away their money, borrowing money or relying on family and friends for financial help.
Research shows that pathological gambling is not just a bad habit, but actually an impulse control disorder. The Psychiatric Association recently moved gambling from the “freakish disorders” category to “Addictions.” The move is widely regarded as a milestone and reflects new understanding of the biological basis for addiction.
Researchers have found that gambling affects the same brain circuits as drugs. This is why it’s so important for people with problem gambling to seek help from a qualified professional, such as a therapist or a debt counselor (like StepChange). Also, they should avoid high-risk gambling activities and always bet with money they can afford to lose.