Problem gambling has many negative social, psychological, and physical effects. The medical term for gambling addiction is impulse-control disorder. Problem gambling affects not only the individual’s psychological well-being, but can also cause physical issues, such as migraine or intestinal disorders. Some problem gamblers even suffer from feelings of despondency, helplessness, and even suicide. The consequences of gambling addiction can be severe, which is why it is important to seek help early.
Problem gambling affects around three percent of the U.S. population. While it is not a disease, it is a problem that puts the gambler’s life at risk. While the symptoms of problem gambling may vary from person to person, the condition can help the gambler put the game in perspective and make better decisions. The National Council on Problem Gambling defines problem gambling as “gambling behaviors that interfere with a person’s life and relationships.”
Generally, problem gambling occurs when a person’s social life is characterized by problems or frustration. This may include negative behaviors like truancy and theft to fund machine playing. In some cases, problem gambling is so widespread that it can interfere with a person’s ability to complete schoolwork or engage in peer activities. The symptoms of problem gambling can include poor academic performance, aggressive behavior, and withdrawal effects. In severe cases, the condition may lead to relapse and a host of other consequences.
Benefits of gambling
Although gambling can be socially beneficial, it is also associated with social ills, such as increasing demand for social services. Problem gambling rates are associated with proximity to casinos and the availability of these venues, and increased access to casinos has been linked to increased social inequality. Problem gamblers tend to spend more money than their incomes, and poor households lose more money to gambling. Some studies show that up to 50 percent of gambling profits are borne by poor households, so restrictions on gambling can exacerbate poverty and lead to social problems.
Gambling helps improve mental faculties. It develops patterns of thought and math skills. Games such as poker and blackjack require players to be aware of body language, and therefore help them develop problem-solving skills. Gambling can also increase socialization, and is a great activity for groups. A large group can play together and beat the house’s edge, while splitting their winnings. But while gambling is often a form of entertainment, it also offers surprising health benefits.
Risks of problem gambling
A recent Michigan Department of Community Health warning against problem gambling during the holiday season is not the only time to discuss gambling issues. Increased financial stress often forces people to resort to gambling as a means to pay off debt. A recent study by Western Michigan University found that 300,000 residents aged 18 and up had a gambling problem during their lifetimes and 146,854 reported that they were currently involved in problem gambling. Approximately 66,000 were likely pathological gamblers, with two-thirds of problem gamblers living in Detroit and surrounding areas.
Despite the growing number of people impacted by problem gambling, it is rarely discussed among young adults, college students, and athletes. Unfortunately, legislators are lagging behind in implementing necessary safeguards to help people avoid the devastating effects of problem gambling. Thankfully, education about problem gambling is a vital step toward preventing it. It is also crucial for prevention efforts and early intervention. Further, early detection of problem gambling may help people to avoid the consequences and to overcome the addiction.
Ways to stop problem gambling
One of the best ways to help someone overcome the addiction to gambling is to find a support system. Problem gamblers can find help in a variety of ways, including talking with their primary care physician, visiting a mental health professional, or even joining a support group. The support of others can help an addicted person avoid temptation and overcome his or her addiction to gambling. Family members can also be a source of encouragement to a problem gambler.
Medications and therapy are common ways to treat pathological gambling. Some drugs are available to control the urges to gamble and reduce negative emotions. Sustained-release lithium is one medication that has been shown to be effective in treating problem gambling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another option. This type of therapy focuses on challenging compulsive thoughts and teaching coping mechanisms. The support from family and friends is often essential for overcoming problem gambling.