Problem gambling can have a detrimental effect on personal finances as the attempt to chase losses become unmanageable. As well as spending wages, savings and spare cash, large debts can also be a feature of problem gambling as a result of borrowings and pay day loans or credit cards to cover gambling loses or to hide gambling from family members and loved ones.
However, the effects of problem gambling can cost more than money. Problem gamblers often say they feel isolated as a result of their solitary pursuits of chasing loses. There is a tendency to stay away from school, college or work in order to gamble. In addition, there is often a pre-occupation with gambling, a lack of interest in maintaining relationships and a lack of motivation to engage in social activities.
There is often reluctance amongst gamblers to spend money on items of clothing or household goods as such expenditure are often seen as funds for gambling. There can also be an unwillingness to pay utility bills as money would rather be used for gambling purposes.
Problem gambling can be progressive in its nature and problem gamblers can end up engaging in criminal activity to fund their gambling such as stealing and fraud. This can lead to lifelong consequences with criminal convictions.
There may be as many as 450,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain and 6 million in America.
The anticipation and thrill of gambling creates a natural high that can become addictive. The internet has made gambling more accessible, allowing more and more people to do it from home. This is thought to be one of the reasons for the increase in the number of women gamblers.
There’s also a link between gambling and alcohol abuse. Many gambling addicts are also addicted to alcohol. Rates of depression and attempted suicide among gambling addicts are around double the national average. Gambling addicts are also more likely to go to prison as a result of criminal activity. This is almost entirely theft and fraud.
Gambling addiction is what is known as a ‘process’ or ‘behavioural’ addiction where the sufferer is dependant upon a behaviour rather than a chemical substance such as alcohol. People sometimes have difficulty accepting these behaviours as addictions. They think that you should be able to simply stop the compulsive behaviour. However, process addictions can be as debilitating and difficult to overcome as are addictions to substances such as drugs and alcohol. The phrase “process addictions” serves only to differentiate the addictive behaviour from “substance addictions.” Current research supports the growing understanding that process addictions can impact neurotransmitters in the brain much the same way substances do. There’s strong evidence to suggest that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as addiction to alcohol or drugs.
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