Gambling is a fun way to pass the time, but it can also be an addictive activity. People who are addicted to gambling may spend more time at the casino or other gambling establishments than they intend, and they often spend more money than they can afford to lose. They may also become withdrawn from family and friends, lie to their loved ones, or steal money from them. Ultimately, this can lead to debt and even bankruptcy. Fortunately, there are ways to treat gambling addiction. These include counseling, AA and NA meetings, 12-step programs, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Gambling addiction is now included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a substance abuse disorder, so many health insurance plans offer coverage for treatment.
Identifying gambling triggers is important for those who want to break the addiction. These triggers can be people, places, or things that make the person feel compelled to gamble. Identifying these triggers can help the person find healthier alternatives, such as taking new routes home, or scheduling social activities around times when they tend to feel strongest about gambling. In addition, identifying a triggering activity that does not produce the same positive feelings as gambling can help them break the habit.
Another approach to identifying gambling impacts involves looking at negative and positive social outcomes, such as quality of life and community well-being. These outcomes can be measured with the use of health-related quality of life weights, or disability weights, which are used to assess the per-person burden of health states on an individual’s daily functioning. Using these weights can help researchers uncover gambling harms that are not easily quantified and that impact a gambler’s entire social network.
The literature shows that, for lower socioeconomic groups, the pleasures of gambling can be a positive self-image reinforcement and coping strategy. This is because, for some people, winning can be seen as a symbol of success, especially when they are facing poverty or other hardships in their lives. The enjoyment of gambling may also reinforce a sense of optimism.
Gambling can cause many different types of problems for people, including financial, labor, and health and well-being. These impacts can occur on the personal, interpersonal, and community/society levels and affect more than just the gambler. In addition, gambling can result in long-term changes that are observed across generations.
The best way to approach a loved one who has a gambling problem is with empathy and reassurance that you do not judge them. You can also show your support by suggesting that they seek professional help, such as a counselor or psychologist. However, if your loved one has kept their gambling a secret, this can be a difficult conversation to have. It is important to remain calm and caring during the discussion, so that your loved one feels comfortable opening up to you. If they do not open up immediately, you can try again later. You may need to approach the topic of gambling in small steps, as bringing it up can be very emotional for people with a gambling addiction.