The Dangers of Problem Gambling

Gambling happens when you stake something of value on a random event, such as betting on a football team to win a match or buying a scratchcard. The prize you hope to win can be anything from a small amount of money to a multimillion jackpot. It can be done in many places including casinos, race tracks, sports events and online.

Problem gambling can lead to serious health problems, affect your relationships and work performance and leave you in severe debt and even homeless. It can also cause depression and anxiety and can be made worse by alcohol and drugs. It can be hard to recognise when you have a problem and it is common to hide your gambling or lie about how much time and money you spend on it.

Problem gambling is an addictive behaviour and it changes the way your brain responds to reward. It becomes harder to control your behavior and you become more reliant on the dopamine boost you get when things go well. This is a similar effect to taking a drug and it can lead to a dangerous cycle where you need more and more of the gambling experience to feel the same pleasure. The good news is that you can break the habit by getting help, such as counselling, family therapy or support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. You can also find ways to distract yourself and reduce the temptation to gamble, such as by exercising, spending time with friends or family, volunteering, learning a new skill or reading a book.

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