How can gambling have a negative impact on your life?
Gambling can have a negative impact on the quality of life in various ways, and they tend to be intertwined. Below, we will take a closer look at the negative financial impact and negative mental health impact.
The financial impact is often what brings a person to face their gambling problem and decides to do something about it. This type of impact often bleeds over into negatively impacting social relations. It will strain relationships when the lights in the home get turned off because you didn’t pay the electrical bill or when you borrow money from friends and family and never payback.
The financial impact is often not limited to simply “spending money on gambling”. With gambling addiction, one can quickly create a growing snowball of problems.
- You accept a high interest rate when you borrow money, partly because you’re desperate to gamble and partly because you tell yourself that you will be able to pay back the loan quickly with all the money you will win.
- You skip paying bills, and this leads to late fees and similar.
- In the United States, not managing your credits properly can give you a poor credit score, and this will make all kinds of credits more costly.
- The time and energy you spend on gambling makes you neglect your job. You get fired, lose clients or similar.
- Your mental health is deteriorating, and you self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs etcetera and all this costs money.
- Especially in the early stages of gambling addiction, some people adopt a “feast-or-famine” lifestyle. When you win, you are at the top of the world, and you spend big. (Eventually, this tends to taper off, as the individual just wants to continue gambling rather than spend money on other things when a big win comes in.)
In many parts of the world, there are not-for-profit debt advice agencies that can help you to get a clear picture of your finances and arrange payment plans with your creditors.
Warning: Chose the agency carefully, because some are scams or semi-scams. There are for instance alledged debt consolidation agencies that are really not interested in doing what’s best for you. Do your own homework and find out the reputation of an agency before you contact them.
Mental health impact
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK), problem gamblers are more likely than others to experience:
- Low self-esteem
- Stress-related disorders
- Sleep issues, such as insomnia
- Food issues, such as lack of appetite
- Substance misuse
Some people develop a gambling addiction because they suffer from poor mental health, and gambling becomes a form of “self-medication”, e.g. a way to temporarily stop themselves from experiencing anxiety.
Others have good mental health when they start gambling, but eventually develop mental health issues because of their unhealthy gambling habits and the consequences the gambling have on their life, including the negative impact on their economy, their relationships and their self-image.
In both scenarios, problematic gambling is very likely to increase the symptoms of poor mental health and make the situation worse and worse. It is easy to become trapped in a downward spiral, where the person feels horrible and gamble to obtain temporary relief, which makes the situation even worse, which prompts the person to gamble even more, and so on.
Here are a few examples of warning signs that should prompt you to seek professional help. They are not necessarily caused by gambling or the result of gambling – they are health issues that might need to be addressed regardless of the reason behind them.
- Unusually large mood swings
- Feeling depressed
- Severe, prolonged or frequent anxiety
- Lack of interest in things you previously enjoyed
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Suicidal thoughts