Gambling – Is It Healthy Or Is It An Addiction?

Whether you’re a professional who works with vulnerable adults or an individual who struggles with gambling addiction, there are many resources to help. From Safeguarding courses to Mental Health awareness, there are a variety of ways that you can protect yourself and others from the harms associated with this activity.

Despite what you might have heard, gambling is not inherently addictive. In fact, it has some positive effects such as socializing and skill development. However, like any other hobby, it can be harmful if taken to extremes. While the majority of people gamble responsibly, about 20 percent of people overindulge and cause serious problems in their lives. It can affect their physical and mental health, hurt relationships with family and friends, make it difficult to perform at work or school, and cause them to incur debts they cannot afford to pay.

Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event, such as a horse race or football match, with the intention of winning a prize if they win. This includes private gambling, which is when individuals wager money or chips with family or friends in a home setting for fun and entertainment. Private gambling can include card games, dice, roulette, bingo, and more. It can also involve placing bets on sports events, such as football accumulators or lottery numbers.

Problem gambling can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, education or income level. It can even occur in small towns or big cities, and is as prevalent among men as it is women. Those who develop a gambling problem often struggle to control their impulses and stop themselves from throwing the dice or pressing the lever of a slot machine. Their reward systems become activated, and they can feel a rush of dopamine after a win. It is this feeling that keeps them going, despite the likelihood of losing more than they have won.

A key factor to remember when considering whether gambling is healthy or not is that it takes time to build up a tolerance. Just like any other activity, if you do it frequently and for long periods of time, your brain gets used to it and becomes less stimulated by it. This is why it is important to set boundaries when it comes to gambling and not allow yourself to play for longer than you can afford to lose.

To prevent gambling from becoming an addiction, start by identifying the reasons why you’re drawn to it. You might find that you gamble to escape unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or loneliness, or to self-soothe after a difficult day at work or after an argument with your partner. Try to find healthier and more effective ways to relieve these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, trying out new hobbies or practicing relaxation techniques. Finally, limit how much money you can play with by getting rid of your credit cards, putting someone else in charge of managing your finances, and closing online betting accounts.