How Gambling Affects Your Health and Well-Being

March 31, 2024 by No Comments


Gambling involves risking money or something else of value in a game of chance, usually with the hope of winning more than you have invested. It can take many forms, including scratchcards, fruit machines and betting with friends. Depending on how much you gamble and how often, it can have serious consequences for your health and well-being. Problem gambling can have a significant impact on your family, relationships and work or study performance. It can also lead to debt and even homelessness.

If you are worried about your own gambling or the gambling of a friend or family member, there are many services that can offer help and support. Many organisations provide counselling, advice and training to help you control or avoid your gambling. Some offer group support and some run specialist gambling clinics.

Most people enjoy gambling as an enjoyable social activity, but for some it can become a major problem that impacts on their physical and mental health, relationships and work or study performance. In the worst cases, it can ruin their lives and lead to financial ruin. For some people, this can be the result of a single event, for others it becomes a continuing pattern that causes escalating damage to their lives and those of those close to them.

People who have problems with gambling are known as pathological gamblers. They have an extreme desire to win and are unable to stop gambling. This is a mental illness and it has been recognised in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as being a distinct category of addiction requiring treatment similar to that of other addictive substances.

The root cause of pathological gambling is a combination of factors. These include a tendency to seek out the status and specialness associated with gambling (especially in casinos), boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, a poor understanding of random events and the use of gambling to escape from other stressors in life. These problems can be exacerbated by the occurrence of certain genes and other genetic predispositions.

A number of different research approaches have been used to analyse the impacts of gambling. Some studies have looked at monetary costs and benefits from a cost of illness perspective, commonly applied in alcohol and drug research, while others use a public health approach that assigns value to intangible harms such as quality of life changes and social impacts on loved ones.

Other studies have looked at the social impacts of gambling, looking at things such as community cohesion and other attributes of social capital. However, these social impacts are not as easy to measure as monetary ones, and have received less attention in comparison with casino-related analyses. This is partly because they are often intangible, subjective and difficult to measure. A potential way to explore these aspects of gambling is through the use of health-related quality of life weights, known as disability weights, which quantify the burden on a person’s quality of life.