Psychosocial implications of gambling

15 May, 2024 - 16:05 0 Views
Psychosocial implications of gambling

The Sunday Mail

Evelny Nyamutowa

SINCE the first millennium BC, gambling has been around and has grown to be a popular pastime.

The Romans, Greeks and Assyrians, as well as the upper classes of Europe, used this pastime as a kind of amusement.

Experts classify gambling addiction, sometimes referred to as compulsive gambling, as a type of “impulse-control” condition.

It is now possible to gamble 24/7 from any location and at any age; even toddlers and teenagers under the legal gambling age are partaking in the pastime.

There are various motivations for people to gamble, such as the thrill of winning big, making new friends, or getting away from stress or troubles.

Although most people can bet for enjoyment and experience no negative effects, psychologists are curious about why some people keep gambling when it becomes bad for their health.

The most common forms of gambling are betting on sports, betting at the casino, or playing the lottery.
Below are some common psychosocial effects associated with gambling in young adults.

Addiction and dependency

The possibility of addiction and dependency is one of gambling’s most important psychological effects.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to reinforcement and pleasure, is released when a gambler engages in gambling, activating the brain’s reward system.

This may result in the emergence of addictive behaviours when people become dependent on the thrill and suspense of gambling.

Gambling addiction in young adults can result in a lack of control over their gaming habits.

Dr Timothy Fong, a clinical professor of psychiatry, explained that people with gambling disorders psychologically view gambling as the answer to their problems.

Gambling addiction is regarded as a diagnosable mental health problem defined by subsequent negative psychological repercussions.

It is also referred to as compulsive gambling, gambling illness, or an intense and persistent drive to gamble despite negative consequences.

Anxiety and financial stress

The allure of potentially winning large sums of money can lead people to take significant financial risks, often resulting in financial loss.

The financial stress caused by gambling-related bankruptcy, debts, loss of savings and assets and the subsequent impact on one’s personal and family life can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

In the same way, gambling can induce anxiety and financial stress in young adults, particularly if they are experiencing financial losses or are in debt due to their gambling activities.

The pressure of chasing losses or the fear of losing more money can exacerbate these negative emotions.

Co-occurring mental health disorders

Young adults who have problems due to gambling may be more susceptible to depression.

Difficulties with finances, strained relationships and guilt or shame are factors that might cause depression symptoms to start or intensify.

Similarly, comorbid illnesses like anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders are common in people with gambling disorders.

Adolescents who smoke, drink, or engage in physical altercations are among the high-risk demographic who have a significant likelihood of developing gambling addiction.

The interaction of these disorders has the potential to worsen psychological discomfort and make treatment more challenging.

Impaired judgment and cognitive distortions

Too much gambling can affect a young adult’s ability to make wise decisions.

Their gambling issues may worsen if they partake in dangerous activities like making big bets or chasing losses.

Problem gambling can make it difficult for a young adult to fulfil their job or school obligations.

They might disregard their work obligations or their education, which could result in lower output, absenteeism, or even losing their job.

Furthermore, faulty thought processes associated with gambling can have an adverse effect on a person’s judgment and ability to make decisions.

Overestimating one’s chances of winning, creating the impression of having control and the gambler’s fallacy — the idea that past results affect future outcomes — are common cognitive distortions seen in gambling.

These misrepresentations have the potential to encourage gambling behaviour and worsen problem gambling in the gambler.

Emotional instability

Gambling outcomes are inherently uncertain, leading to a rollercoaster of emotions for individuals involved.

The anticipation of winning, the euphoria of a big win and the disappointment of a loss can create emotional highs and lows.

This emotional instability can contribute to mood swings, anxiety and stress, particularly when individuals become emotionally invested in their gambling activities.

Also, the constant stress and worry associated with financial losses and the highs and lows of gambling can lead to emotional instability.

Relationship and interpersonal problems

Problems with gambling can cause stress in friendships, family and romantic relationships.

Due to their gambling addictions, young adults may face social isolation, trust concerns and disagreements, which can worsen stress levels and cause relationship breakdowns.

Frequency of gambling has been proven to be strongly correlated with other antisocial behaviours, such as delinquency.

Relationships can suffer and social isolation can result from compulsive gambling.

Gambling obsession can drive people to overlook their social and professional obligations, which can result in arguments with friends, family and co-workers.

Gambling’s financial repercussions can further erode social ties by causing a loss of trust.

Overall, as compulsive gambling can lead to uncontrollable cravings, psychological issues and family problems, the results are nearly always severe.

Since gambling can have disastrous consequences for participants, governments have the ability to create numerous solutions to address the issue of gambling.

One excellent way to use gaming profits for charity would be to set aside a portion of the proceeds and use it for initiatives that promote rehabilitation.

Governments ought to figure out a method of making gaming safer in light of these factors.

If a person is experiencing problems due to their gaming, they should get in touch with a mental health professional or a support organisation specialising in gambling addiction for assistance and guidance.

*Evelny Nyamutowa is a MSc Counselling Psychology student at Great Zimbabwe University.

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