How Gambling Affects People

Gambling involves placing a wager on an event with the intention of winning a prize, which can be anything from a few dollars to a life-changing jackpot. It can include games of chance, such as slot machines and roulette, or betting on sporting events, like horse racing and American football, through fixed-odds and parlays. It can be done in brick-and-mortar casinos, online, or through mobile apps.

Several types of treatment are available to help people overcome gambling problems. Psychotherapy, a form of talk therapy with a trained mental health professional, is one option. It can teach people to recognize unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors and learn healthier ways to cope. It can also help people confront irrational beliefs, such as believing that a string of losses will soon turn into wins.

Gambling has impacts at personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (Fig. 1). Impacts at the personal and interpersonal levels are invisible to gamblers and involve family members. They can include financial, labor and health and well-being costs. At the community/society level, external impacts include costs to society and the economy that are not visible to gamblers. They can include increased debt and the effects of problem gambling escalating into bankruptcy and homelessness.

To overcome a gambling addiction, it’s important to build and strengthen your support network. This could include friends and family, but it can also include peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, it’s a good idea to find other recreational activities and hobbies that don’t involve money.