Gambling is the wagering of something of value, known as a “bet,” in order to win something of value, called a “prize.” Although it can be enjoyable for some people, gambling can also be addictive and cause many different problems. In addition to causing financial issues, it can also cause family and relationship problems, and it can even lead to suicide. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent gambling addiction and stop it from taking over your life.
The most obvious cost of gambling is the money you spend on bets. However, there are other costs as well, including the time you spend gambling and the opportunity cost of spending that time doing something else. There are also emotional costs, such as the stress and anxiety that can come with gambling. In addition, there are social costs, such as the negative impacts on the community that can result from problem gambling.
Compulsive gambling is a serious addiction that affects about two million Americans. This disorder causes the brain to become more sensitive to rewards, which makes it difficult for individuals with this condition to control their behavior. They can easily be sucked into an uncontrollable cycle of losses and debt and may resort to other activities to feed their habit, such as theft or fraud. This disorder can be hard to recognize and treat, but it is important to seek treatment if you have concerns about your gambling behavior.
In the past, the psychiatric community regarded pathological gambling as a compulsion, rather than an impulse-control disorder, similar to kleptomania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). But in the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association has moved it into the Addictions chapter as an illness that requires professional treatment.
There are several methods used to study the economic impacts of gambling, including a cost-benefit analysis and a consumer surplus method. The latter uses monetary value to quantify benefits, which can be problematic because it overlooks the non-monetary aspects of gambling. In addition, focusing on only one level of impact, such as the personal level of the gambler, can lead to an underestimate of the effects.
If you are struggling with a loved one’s gambling addiction, it is important to seek out support. There are a variety of resources available, such as marriage, career and credit counseling, family therapy, and 12-step programs like Gamblers Anonymous that offer support to those recovering from addiction. Additionally, there are a variety of self-help resources, such as exercise, socializing with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. Remember that overcoming a gambling addiction takes courage and strength. But you don’t have to go it alone; many others have successfully recovered from this condition and rebuilt their lives. So take the first step and reach out for help today!