People choose to gamble for a wide variety of reasons. Although gambling in moderation is largely not a problem, it can easily become addictive and detrimental to the gambler’s health. The impact of gambling can affect people in many different ways through financial harm, affecting relationships, and affecting both physical and mental health.
Addressing the issue of problem gambling and gambling addiction should take prominence in order to protect vulnerable people. Acknowledging the signs and symptoms and also knowing what help and support are available can help problem gamblers tackle their addiction.
The impact of problem gambling
With gambling advertisements, celebrity brand endorsements, and easy online casino accessibility, addressing the issue of problem gambling is becoming even more important in today’s society. When a player’s gambling starts to get out of control, it can have a significant impact on not just the individual but also their family and friends too. Gambling can cause extreme emotions, anxiety and depression and also put a strain on relationships. If stress and mental health issues were already present, gambling can make them much worse.
Extreme emotions and mood swings
Whether gambling at physical slot machines, at the betting shop or online, gamblers experience both the highs and lows of the game. These highs and lows can become much more severe when a lot of money is at stake. While the anticipation of the ‘big win’ can lead to excitement and extreme highs, losing can, in turn, cause extreme lows with the devastating loss.
Many gamblers gamble to escape loneliness, anxiety, or stress, which can make it a lot worse when gambling becomes an addiction and the player experiences heavy financial loss. Gambling can also cause players to have these negative feelings and lead to significant mental health implications.
Feeling anxious and depressed
According to Problemgambling.ca, there are many ways that problem gambling affects the gambler as it impacts them physically, emotionally, and financially. Many people who turn to gambling might feel anxious, depressed, and stressed. For some gamblers, gambling can be a form of temporary avoidance from life’s responsibilities and stress.
If someone is anxious or depressed, they could turn to gambling as a form of escape, ‘pick me up’, or as a way to connect with other people. While problem gamblers might turn to gambling for a form of relief, it can make these feelings much more worse in the long run.
Highlighted by the Gambling Therapy website, gambling can affect not just the gambler but their family, friends, and relationships too. When a person spends all of their free time gambling, this can make them neglect their relationships. Instead of spending time with family outside of work, gamblers might be spending more time alone to gamble instead. This could further lead to family budget and financial issues if their gambling gets out of hand.
It’s not just spending less time with friends and family that causes strain, but it can also cause severe tensions with these relationships too. For example, some problem gamblers might go to the extremes by lying to people about their gambling and their losses or even stealing money from friends and family to gamble with.
Organisations offering help to problem gamblers
For gamblers who are struggling and who need advice and support, there are many organisations and gambling management tools that can help.
The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organisation that is dedicated to preventing problem gambling. They have credible resources to help educate others on safer gambling, self-exclusion, controlling gambling debt, and much more.
BetBlocker is a free gambling management tool that helps players to control their gambling activity. Developed by ThePogg, an online casino reviews site, BetBlocker can be installed on many devices and block access to thousands of gambling websites. The tool can be used for self-exclusion for problem gamblers and for parental control for parents limiting access to gambling sites, and other sites, for their children.
Canada Safety Council
The Canada Safety Council addresses many safety concerns, such as gambling addiction. Their website provides useful information on gambling problem signs and also provides a number of problem gambling helplines in Canada.