Whether for entertainment, socializing or financial reasons, gambling is an all-pervasive activity that has many impacts on individuals and society. These effects can be positive or negative and occur at personal, interpersonal and community/society levels. Gambling impacts are usually studied at the individual level by measuring economic costs and benefits, however, there is a growing body of literature that examines impacts at the interpersonal and community/societal levels.
In some cases, gambling has become a major source of problems for individuals. For example, it is common for gamblers to experience feelings of helplessness and shame when they lose money; they may also lie to family members or therapists to conceal the extent of their gambling activities; or they may even steal or embezzle in order to finance their addiction (American Psychiatric Association 2000). In addition, gamblers may jeopardize their jobs or educational opportunities, as well as relationships, because of gambling-related debt or other financial issues.
The best way to prevent gambling from becoming a problem is to seek treatment for depression or other underlying conditions that could be contributing to it. Other helpful steps include strengthening your support network, finding healthy ways to relieve unpleasant emotions, and practicing relaxation techniques. You can find a therapist who specializes in gambling disorder or join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also consider psychodynamic therapy, which focuses on unconscious processes that influence behavior.