Gambling is a form of entertainment that can involve risking money or possessions, for example, in slot machines, casino games, sports betting and lottery tickets. It is often an addictive and harmful activity, and can cause mental health problems in some people.
A harm caused by gambling is any initial or exacerbated adverse consequence that arises from an engagement with gambling, such as a decrement to the health or wellbeing of an individual, family unit, community or population. It includes a wide range of issues including physical and psychological harms, financial difficulties, family issues and relationship problems.
Harm can also be caused by a person being co-morbid with other harmful behaviours or reduced health states, such as alcohol use and depression. Therefore, a clear and agreed definition is essential for understanding and measuring gambling-related harms.
Using a conceptual framework to understand the experiences of gambling related harms allows for more specific and sensitive measurement that is consistent with standard public health approaches. It also enables the inclusion of harms to those who work in the gambling industry or those involved in treatment and support services that are accessed by people with problems associated with gambling.
The definition of gambling harms aims to reflect that people experience harms from gambling at different times, and that these are linked to the behavioural level of the gambling behaviour and a person’s past history of ill health. It identifies three temporal categories that represent the different levels of harm experienced from gambling. These include:
Binge gambling (an individual who has a long-term problem with gambling) is an important aspect of the broader context of harms from gambling, as it reflects that some people have a tendency to gamble at high levels, which can lead to a large impact on their life and health. These individuals often find it difficult to control their gambling, and their gambling may be unmanageable.
If you suspect you have a problem with gambling, seek help from a professional. Counselling can give you a better understanding of what has led to the problem and help you find ways to stop gambling or change your behavior. It can also help you manage the effects of your gambling on other aspects of your life, such as your relationships, career and credit score.
It can also help you develop strategies for dealing with your emotions when they are triggered by gambling, such as managing stress and finding ways to cope with the feelings that gambling brings. It can also help you recognise when your gambling is causing problems for your health or your family and to seek help before it gets worse.
Some people with a problem with gambling also have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. A mental health specialist can assess you for these conditions and prescribe medications that can help you manage your symptoms.
Getting help for your gambling problem is an important step to recovery from addiction. There are many resources available to help you, including counseling, family therapy and marriage or career counseling.