Gambling is a risky and addictive activity that can affect anyone from any walk of life. It starts out as a harmless diversion, but over time can turn into an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. It can ruin relationships, interfere with work and leave you in financial distress.
In the US, gambling takes place legally and illegally, in streets, homes and popular settings, as well as in casinos. It can involve anything from sports betting to poker and slots – even online.
If you have a problem with gambling, you can seek help from professional treatment providers or a rehabilitation center. These programs can help you stop gambling, repair your relationships and get your finances back on track.
Primary prevention involves raising awareness of the risks and potential negative effects of gambling. This includes community-wide campaigns on the dangers of gambling and training health professionals about problem gambling. It also requires the establishment of specialised age verification processes to prevent under-age gambling and the development of referral pathways for the assessment and treatment of problem gamblers.
Secondary prevention aims to screen for problem gambling in people who have already been initiated into it. It includes community-wide campaigns on the problems of gambling, raising awareness amongst healthcare professionals and educating the public about the need for responsible gambling and the benefits of self-regulation. It also involves the establishment of specialised gambling clinics within hospitals and primary healthcare clinics, with appropriate referral pathways for problem gamblers.
Tertiary prevention strategies include specialised psychological and other treatment interventions for problem gamblers and their families. They can include family therapy, marriage and career counseling and credit counselling.
Adolescence and gambling
Gambling disorder can start as early as adolescence, although it tends to be more prevalent in adults. It can be triggered by various factors, including trauma and social inequality, such as disadvantage in society.
It can also occur in those who are under a lot of stress or have mental health issues, and can lead to feelings of hopelessness, depression and suicidal thoughts. It can be difficult to spot the signs of a gambling problem, so it’s important to talk to someone if you feel like you might be struggling with your own or a loved one’s addiction.
Relapse is common and a symptom of gambling disorder, so it’s essential to seek help as soon as you notice it. It’s also important to learn about how your gambling has affected your health, relationships and finances so you can understand your choices better.
You might need to set some boundaries around your gambling, especially if you are taking on debts that you haven’t been able to pay off. These boundaries can be hard to stick to, but if you don’t make them clear, you could find yourself in a very stressful situation.
It’s also very important to talk about your gambling problems with a qualified counsellor or psychologist. They can help you identify and understand your gambling habits, explain your behaviour to others and provide practical advice on how to overcome them. They can also offer support and encouragement, and encourage you to take up a course of treatment if necessary.