How Gambling Affects Your Life

Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, betting on sports events, or playing the pokies, most people gamble at some point in their lives. But it’s important to understand the risk factors, and how gambling can impact your life.

Gambling is wagering something of value (money or items) on an event that has an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods. This can be done in a variety of settings, including casinos, lotteries, and online gaming.

The psychiatric community used to think that pathological gambling was more of a compulsion than an addiction, but in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association has moved it into the section on impulse control disorders—which includes such other conditions as kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). The change is meant to recognize the seriousness of the condition.

Many people develop a problem with gambling because of stress, depression, or anxiety. Some people may also begin to gamble as a way to escape from reality or deal with feelings of loneliness, boredom, anger, or sadness. If your gambling is causing harm to your life, StepChange can help.