Gambling, often viewed as a leisure activity, presents an opportunity to potentially win money or valuable items with minimal effort – primarily relying on the whims of luck. There are various forms of gambling, such as lotteries, sports betting, and card games. Unfortunately, the allure of potential rewards can make it challenging for many to stop, potentially spiralling into gambling addiction.
Gambling disorder is a mental health condition where individuals struggle to control in their gambling impulses, leading to profound impacts across their lives, such as family, work, relationships, or financial stability. The root causes of gambling addiction often intertwine with abnormalities in the nervous system, brain function, genetics, and environmental factors.
Five risk factors associated with gambling addiction
- Gender – Men are more prone to gambling addictions that require strategic planning, such as card games and sports betting, while women face a higher risk of falling prey to luck-based gambling, such as lotteries.
- Age – The onset of gambling issues typically occurs during adolescence, with around 2-7% of teenagers experiencing with gambling problems. However, this percentage drops to approximately 1% in adults.
- Family – A family member’s gambling problem often paves the way for their children to develop similar issues. Genetics account for 50% of this link, with environmental factors comprising the other half.
- Behavioral and Emotional Abnormalities – Individuals afflicted by gambling addiction often resort to alcohol, cigarettes, or other substances. They are also more likely to have certain mental health conditions such as anti-social personality disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which amplify the risk of gambling addiction by 17 times.
- Personality Traits – Restlessness, impulsivity, heavy workloads, or a competitive nature, can significantly heighten the risk of gambling addiction.
It’s crucial to understand that gambling disorder is a treatable condition and should not be stigmatised or feared. If you notice signs of gambling addiction within yourself or the loved ones, it’s strongly recommended to discuss with a healthcare professional for appropriate management.
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