Protecting Yourself From Gambling Related Harm
Gambling is an activity where people stake money or something else of value on an event involving chance. It can take place in casinos, at racetracks, on the internet or even at home. Some gamble for fun and others do it to make money but gambling can cause harm if you lose more than you win. It is important to understand how gambling works so that you can protect yourself from gambling related harm.
Gamblers choose what they want to gamble on – it could be a football team or scratchcard, the outcome of a lottery draw, or the result of a horse race. Then they match that choice with ‘odds’ – the probabilities of winning or losing. These odds are set by the betting companies. The higher the odds, the more likely you are to win – but you should always check the terms and conditions of any gambling game before you play.
When gambling is not controlled, it can have negative effects on a person’s health, relationships and work performance. It can also lead to serious debt and even homelessness. Problem gambling can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, income or social status. However, it is more common in some groups, such as the homeless, young people and those with mental health problems.
In the past, pathological gambling was classified as a compulsion or impulse control disorder, along with kleptomania and pyromania (fire-setting). The psychiatric community now recognises that it is an addiction and has moved it into the Addictions chapter of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
While many people enjoy gambling, it can also have a negative impact on their lives and the lives of those around them. In the UK alone, gambling has been linked to poorer health, family breakdown and increased levels of depression and anxiety. It can also increase the risk of substance misuse and domestic abuse.
People who gamble are at increased risk of developing gambling related harm if they do not have the necessary skills and support to manage their behaviour. The good news is that it is possible to change this. You can learn to reduce your gambling behaviour, seek help if you need it and develop healthy alternatives for relieving unpleasant feelings.
Changing your behaviour is the best way to reduce harm from gambling. You can start by setting limits on how much you spend on gambling, keeping a fixed amount of money in your bank account to use for this purpose, and avoiding products that are designed to keep you playing. You can also get rid of credit cards, have someone else handle your finances, close your online accounts and limit your access to cash. You can also learn healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings like boredom or loneliness by exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and trying new activities.