Gambling Addiction and the Effects on the Family

Gambling involves making a wager based on the odds of an event. It can be anything from betting on a football team to playing a scratchcard. These odds are determined by probability and are set by the betting company.

The impacts of gambling can be observed at the personal, interpersonal and society/community level. These impacts are mostly non-monetary and include invisible individual costs, general and problem gambling related costs and long-term costs.

It can be addictive

Despite being fun and exciting, gambling can have serious consequences. It can damage relationships, lead to debt, and even cause legal problems. It is important to seek treatment if you have a gambling addiction. There are many options available, including a peer support group, inpatient or residential treatment programs, and family therapy.

Recent research in psychology, neuroscience and genetics has shown that compulsive gambling is similar to drug addiction in terms of the brain’s response to stimuli. In addition, it has been found that the person who gambles often feels they can not control their actions.

Vulnerability to gambling disorder is particularly high among young people, especially boys and men, who are most likely to participate in the newest forms of gambling, such as sports betting and video game-based gambling. People with low incomes are also more susceptible, because they have more to lose than richer individuals. Those with a mental illness are also at higher risk of developing gambling disorders, as they tend to engage in risky behaviors and have poor judgment.

It can cause financial problems

The financial strains associated with gambling can cause problems in the family, including emotional distress and relationship breakdown. Moreover, compulsive gamblers may lie to family members about their spending or become angry or hostile when confronted with concerns. Family conflict can also lead to increased stress and anxiety for children of parents who struggle with gambling.

Consumer credit and loans provide easy access to money for people who gamble, allowing them to play even when they are financially distressed. This can result in a vicious cycle, where the chasing of losses leads to more gambling. Moreover, the comorbid addiction to alcohol and daily tobacco use contributes to more serious debt problems than gambling alone.

The study found that chasing and tolerance significantly increase the risk of developing other gambling-related symptoms and of progressing to more severe problem gambling. Moreover, chasing is one of the most stable problems at follow-up, suggesting that addressing this issue could improve recovery rates.

It can damage relationships

Gambling addiction is a less talked-about addiction, but it can damage families just as much as drug or alcohol abuse. It erodes family relationships, steals time, and can ruin finances. It can also lead to psychological problems like depression or anxiety.

Relationality and interdependencies are central to intimate family life, and studies have found that close family members suffer from a range of gambling harms (Adams, 2010). This study explored how these interactions were affected during the COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing recommendations reduced opportunities for leisure activities and social interaction.

A significant problem is that the non-gambling spouse often feels betrayed when they discover the extent of their partner’s gambling. Their sense of betrayal can be compounded by the fact that a gambler may lie about their gambling. This can create a deep sense of distrust in the relationship. Moreover, it can make the gambler feel more ashamed and isolated. Eventually, the person may start to rely on drugs or alcohol to ease their shame and loneliness.

It can be harmful to children

Children of compulsive gamblers may be subject to emotional and financial stress. These problems can affect a child’s ability to function, their sense of self-worth, and their relationships with friends and family members. They may also lose their interest in activities they love, including hobbies and extracurricular activities like sports and music.

Among children who had not engaged in gambling, some described an interest in trying it “at least once”. These responses were mostly related to their desire to see what it is like to win money. Some children mentioned that they would only gamble a few times and only with a small amount of money.

Research suggests that people who start gambling at a young age are more likely to develop gambling-related problems later in life. This is largely due to the fact that a person’s brain does not mature until their twenties and their logic centers aren’t fully developed. Taking preventive measures to protect children from gambling addiction is crucial. Educating them about responsible gambling, monitoring their online activity, and encouraging healthy interests and hobbies can help.