What is Gambling and How Can it Affect You?

Gambling is the wagering of something of value (such as money) on a random event (like a football match or scratchcard) with the intent to win a prize. While it can involve some skill, it’s primarily a game of chance.

It can be an enjoyable form of entertainment but, for many people it becomes a compulsive behavior. This can negatively impact their relationships, work performance and study and can even leave them in serious debt and sometimes homeless. It can also be a significant cause of depression. When gambling becomes a problem it changes from being an enjoyable pastime to an addiction, and as with any other addictive behavior, the short term relief comes at a long term cost.

Like other forms of addiction, gambling can be difficult to overcome. The good news is there are a range of treatments available, from self-help to residential programs, that can help people break the cycle of gambling addiction. Some of these treatment options include family therapy, individual counseling, and psychiatry.

Research suggests that there are a number of factors that contribute to gambling addiction, including impulsivity, the use of escape coping, boredom susceptibility, and a poor understanding of random events. However, the main factor influencing gambling addiction is an early big win, which is followed by a pattern of expectation and reinforcement, leading to an illusion of control.

When you gamble, it’s important to keep in mind that the odds are always against you. Only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and make sure it’s not money you need for other expenses such as rent, bills or groceries.

You should also avoid chasing your losses, as this can lead to financial ruin. If you’re losing money and think that you are due for a big win, this is called the “gambler’s fallacy.” It is a myth that you will recover your lost funds, and instead you should save your money for entertainment purposes, such as going to the movies or a night out with friends.

If you feel that you have a gambling problem, there are support resources available to help. CAPS can provide guidance, education and referrals to recovery resources. For more information, schedule a screening with us online or attend a Let’s Talk session.