Preventing Gambling Problems


Gambling is wagering something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome (such as a roll of dice, spin of the roulette wheel, or a horse crossing the finish line) with the intent to win something else of value. Some forms of gambling are legal, while others are not. Regardless of whether gambling is legal, it can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of people who engage in it.

The most important factor in preventing gambling problems is stopping the behavior before it becomes problematic. This is not always easy, especially if the gambler feels a strong urge to gamble or has already lost money or valuables. It is important for people who experience these symptoms to take action immediately, such as cutting up credit cards, putting someone else in charge of their finances, closing online betting accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on hand.

Many factors can cause or make a person’s gambling problem worse, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other mood disorders. Those with these problems may be more likely to become addicted to gambling and are at higher risk for developing a gambling disorder, or compulsive gambling.

Some individuals gamble for social reasons, such as joining a group of friends at the casino or playing card games with family. They also may gamble for coping reasons, such as thinking about what they would do with a big win or escaping from stressful situations. Lastly, some people may gamble for the thrill or excitement. This is because, like drug use, gambling triggers the brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine.