Gambling is an activity in which someone places a stake (money or something of value) on a random event, with the intention of winning something else of value. It is often done for entertainment, but can also be an addictive behaviour.
Harm minimisation is a key public health approach to gambling, in terms of prevention and treatment. However, this term is not always used in the most precise or consistent way across different sources of harm measures.
Measures of gambling harm include problem gambling diagnostic criteria, behavioural symptoms and the experience of negative consequences.
Problem gambling is a common form of behaviour that is associated with negative impacts on individuals and their families. It can result in a range of harmful outcomes, including problems with family, financial and work life.
In some instances, people can become addicted to gambling and need to seek help. This is called a gambling disorder and can be treated with support from a specialist.
The signs of gambling disorder are similar to other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Some of the most common symptoms are preoccupation with gambling, a need to gamble to escape from reality, and thoughts of suicide.
Other warning signs of gambling disorder are if you lose a lot of money or if you lie about how much you spend on gambling. These are called ‘psychological warning signs’ and can be difficult to spot at first.
A person who has a gambling problem is likely to be at higher risk of developing other psychological conditions, such as mood disorders or substance abuse. This is because a gambling disorder can make people vulnerable to other disorders and affect their social learning, coping styles and beliefs about their mental health and wellbeing.
It can be difficult to know whether you have a gambling problem or not, so it’s important to check in with your GP. They will be able to assess your situation and advise you on how to stop. They may be able to refer you to a local problem gambling support group or give you advice on how to deal with any debts or other problems that are caused by your gambling.
Changing the way you think about gambling can be a good first step to preventing harm from gambling. It is a good idea to budget your gambling and decide how much you can afford to lose each time. This will help you set realistic limits and avoid chasing losses.
You should also try to avoid using gambling products that can keep you hooked. These can include credit cards, lottery tickets and online betting. They can all be addictive and can cause you to lose more and more money.
The risk of gambling can be increased by a number of factors, such as the environment where you live and your psychological condition. For example, if you are a victim of violence or have a family history of mental illness, you are more likely to develop a gambling disorder.