Problem gambling is a growing public health concern. While it may be tempting to use gambling as a self-soothing therapy or a way to make money, it can lead to destructive behavior. In addition to ruining lives, it can be addictive, a form of self-sabotage, or a way to avoid unpleasant feelings. But the facts aren’t all bad! There are a number of effective methods for controlling gambling and preventing its destructive effects.
Problem gambling is a public health issue
Recent studies have documented the wide range of harms that result from problem gambling. Although the effects of problem gambling on individuals are less severe than the harms associated with other types of addiction, they are still significant at a population level. Such data support the concept of “the prevention paradox,” in which prevention efforts focus on the high-risk group, while neglecting the many low-risk groups. These studies also help us develop more effective, harm-specific measures for preventing and addressing problem gambling.
Research on problem gambling is a key component of an effective public health approach. While most existing research focuses on pathological gamblers, few studies have addressed the harms that occur across the entire gambling continuum. This makes it impossible to develop effective harm reduction strategies. Further, many of the existing research is not designed to address the full range of harms that result from gambling, including psychological and physical health problems. As a result, it is critical to contextualize gamblers’ lived experiences when designing a public health approach.
It can destroy lives
The British Medical Journal published an open letter calling for action to protect the public from the devastating effects of gambling addiction. In the article, they cite recent research demonstrating that a third of people in the UK are problem gamblers, and that 55,000 of those are children. Furthermore, the article quotes polls which show that problem gamblers have an increased risk of developing mental health, alcohol, and drug problems. A statutory levy on betting companies would help address this issue.
However, this warning should not deter you from gambling if you don’t have the means to pay off your debts. Gambling is not good for your health and can cause serious financial ruin. Despite the fact that luck can be a powerful motivating factor, gambling can lead to immense debts and distress. In addition, it is extremely addictive. Even if you win, you’ll find yourself tempted to keep playing and hoping that the next time you win. But the bottom line is that gambling can destroy lives and families.
It can be a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings
For those who have an addiction to gambling, it is important to find healthier ways to cope with difficult feelings. Learning meditation or relaxation techniques can help you deal with stressful situations, while developing a social network may help you develop coping mechanisms for everyday irritations. You may also want to consider taking a class or joining a peer support group. The main objective is to quit the behavior, but if you have already mastered this habit, the following tips may be helpful:
The first thing to do if you feel an urge to gamble is to distract yourself from the situation by thinking about a pleasant place. Try to imagine yourself walking on the beach with soft sand and salty air. Similarly, if you can’t afford to gamble right now, try imagining yourself strolling along the beach. The soft sand, birds singing, and the salty air can help you forget about the situation and the urge to gamble. Instead of deprivation, distraction works best. While gambling may feel like a way to get away from your worries, you can focus your attention on something else, such as writing or playing an instrument.