Gambling and Its Impact on Health and Wellbeing

Gambling involves risking something of value on a random event with the hope of winning a prize. It can be played on a large scale with money and other goods and services or for entertainment purposes. For some people gambling can be an enjoyable pastime and others find it harmful to their health and wellbeing, affecting their relationships with friends, family members and work colleagues and negatively impacting their financial situation leading to debt or even homelessness.

In the past pathological gambling was viewed as a compulsion like alcoholism, but it is now recognised as an addictive disorder and a mental illness. It can be caused by changes in the brain that cause alterations in the way chemical messages are sent and genetic or psychological predispositions that make some people more prone to gambling problems.

For some people, gambling is seen as a way to socialise with friends or co-workers and be surrounded by a variety of different sights, sounds and emotions. It can also be used to meet basic human needs such as a sense of belonging, status and esteem. The gambling industry promotes the idea that it is fun, sexy and glamorous.

For many, the problem is that they gamble to try and escape from reality and cope with stress or other difficulties. They may also find that they cannot stop gambling and that it becomes their main source of income or self-esteem. Research has shown that the negative impacts of gambling can be at the individual, interpersonal and society/community level and are often long-term.