Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Negative Effects of Problem Gambling Essay Example for Free
Negative Effects of Problem Gambling Essay Gambling is an ever-increasing problem which presently affects around 5% of the population, over one per cent of whom will suffer a lifetime of extreme problem gambling1. Despite the profound and detrimental way in which gambling affects society and individuals, it fails to be recognised as a severe psychological illness. It is constantly devalued by the government who are captivated by the capital generated by forms of gambling such as the lottery and, since 1962, have lessened regulations which insured gambling, and therefore the difficulties it incurs, escalate. Gambling as an addiction can be as destructive and have as many adverse effects as excessive drug use or alcohol intake. However, the telltale signs of a gambling addiction are comparatively non-existent, unlike the noticeable physical changes which occur when someone has consumed immoderate amounts of alcohol or drugs. Thus, gambling is often referred to as the hidden addiction. As well as outlining the characteristics of someone who may be labeled a problem gambler, the following essay will detail the often catastrophic effects this behaviour can have on the individual and the entire community. A problem gambler is characterised as someone whose incessant gambling has resulted in psychological, financial, emotional, marital, legal or other difficulties for themselves and those around them. The impact of this addiction is unquestionably greater than the obvious financial losses that can result from repeated gambling and as the addiction progresses, the consequences can be devastating. Unlike alcoholism or substance abuse, problem gambling is not easily detected, yet for the victim, is just as uncontrollable. For these people, gambling is no longer a recreational activity, or even an attempt to rationally balance risk and reward, but a serious problem. There are several warning signs illustrated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders2 which are indicative of a gambling problem. Secretive behaviour such as hiding lottery tickets and betting slips, lying to family members and therapists as a means of hiding the extent of gambling involvement. Evidently, damage, dependence and loss of control, all of which are to be expected as gambling involvement prevails, dominate the life of a problem gambler. For centuries, the impacts of problem gambling have been known and none have described the negative effects as aptly as Jean Barbeyrac in his 1737 works Traite du Jeu: I do not know if there is any other passion which allows less of repose and which one has so much difficulty in reducing the passion of gambling gives no time for breathing The more one plays the more one wishes to play; it seems that gambling had acquired the right to occupy all [the gamblers] thoughts The most famous of all problem gamblers was Russian novelist Dostoevsky who was described as being, Powerless in the clutches of his terrific gambling mania, which blunted his sense of moral responsibility as effectively as extreme alcohol addiction could,3 effectively illustrating how gambling can override every aspect of the victims existence. For the individual, the negative impacts of gambling far outweigh the few advantages; the pleasure evoked by the infrequent win, for example, is eradicated by the more significant loss which often follows. A gambling fixation can affect every area of the victims life. If the addiction goes unnoticed, it is common for the isolated gambler to avoid external resources, choosing to deal with problems alone or denying their existence, thus provoking feelings of guilt, anxiety, fear and ultimately, severe depression, withdrawing from society completely and severely lacking in self-esteem. Gambling often goes hand-in-hand with other addictions; a gambler may turn to drugs or alcohol for solace, unaware these will contribute to and aggravate existing problems4. Unsurprisingly, problem gamblers frequently suffer from gastro-intestinal disturbances and insomnia, problems which are likely to intensify as the victim spirals further into debt. Excessive gambling has drastic effects on employment and finances as participants gamble their lives away. Those at the height of their addiction repeatedly borrow and steal, often from family and friends, in an attempt reverse their losses. Convincing themselves that theft will allow them to win back their money and thus, their livelihood, they are ignorant to the fact this can never be achieved and is more likely to cause further problems in their work and familial relationships. A Canadian survey carried out in 19945 confirmed how destructive the effects of excessive gambling could be. Over half of the 400 participants admitted to spending over $100 monthly on gambling, with around 23% spending from 80 to 200% of their annual salary on their obsession. An astonishing 55% had obtained money through illegal means while 62% admitted to acquiring money from relatives. A great number of gamblers were found to let their habit interfere with their work. Absence was a regular occurrence, while most problem gamblers behaviour and concentration at work was gravely affected by their preoccupation, leading a third of those surveyed to lose their jobs, whether through theft, lack of productivity or continued absence due to entire days spent at casinos. While those surrounding the problem gambler are susceptible to the effects of gambling, the victim himself is most vulnerable and in extreme cases, will attempt suicide. With the success rate alarmingly high, there is no doubt that in serious cases, problem gambling can prove fatal.