Whether it is buying a lottery ticket or placing bets on sports events or the pokies, gambling can have positive and negative impacts on gamblers and others. The positives include socialization and relaxation, while the negatives can be financial, labor, or health/well-being. The impact can be at the individual, interpersonal or community/society level and may have long-term effects.
Despite these potential benefits, many people find it difficult to quit gambling for a variety of reasons. Gambling is often a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or depression, or to relieve stress and anxiety, but it can lead to other problems, including trouble at work and in relationships. Trying to overcome this problem may involve therapy for mood disorders and seeking professional help to learn healthier ways to cope.
It is important for loved ones to recognize the signs of a gambling addiction and encourage them to seek treatment. Providing support and encouragement without being judgmental can be helpful, as well as offering other activities such as reading, exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or practicing meditation. Another option is to join a gambling recovery program such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous and has been successful in helping individuals recover from gambling addiction. A key to recovery is controlling one’s finances, including limiting credit card use, making sure someone else is in charge of money matters, and closing online betting accounts.