The Dangers of Gambling

Gambling involves risking something of value on an activity that relies on chance in the hope of gaining something else of value. It is found in virtually every society since prerecorded history and is often incorporated into local customs and rites of passage.

While most people gamble for fun and don’t have problems, a small group become excessively involved with gambling resulting in negative personal, family, social, and financial consequences. Problem gambling tends to cooccur with other types of substance abuse and mental illness. It is also associated with family and work disruption, divorce, bankruptcy, and deterioration of health.

The urge to gamble may be triggered by unpleasant emotions, boredom, or loneliness. It can be a way to escape stress in the short term, but it can actually increase anxiety and lead to depression or other mood disorders. People who have underlying mood disorders such as depression or anxiety are more likely to develop gambling problems.

The urge to gamble can also be fueled by the desire for instant gratification or the “gambler’s fallacy” – the belief that you are due for a big win and can get back all your losses if you just keep betting. It’s important to avoid chasing your losses and to learn healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or engaging in other hobbies and social activities. It is also important to remember that money spent on gambling is money that could have been invested soberly and wisely, advancing a worthy cause or meeting real needs.