Problem gambling is everyone’s business
People who gamble are often stigmatised and held responsible for their lack of control. And so the problem becomes shameful and secretive and goes unnoticed until a crisis is reached. But problem gambling is everyone’s business. It’s time to shine a light on this increasingly important public health issue.
People who gamble are often stigmatised and held responsible for their lack of control, as if somehow they are more in control than other addicts and are simply choosing to blow their cash.
In a study conducted in 2011, participants referred to problem gamblers as “lower class”, “low-income,” “unemployed,” “uneducated,” and “lazy”, that they lacked “self-control”, and were “greedy” and “selfish.”
But in fact that very same study found that individuals in the most at risk group were male, young, single or divorced, and highly educated
Typically, people who gamble to problematic levels feel ashamed and guilty because of the debts they have accumulated, because of the lies they told to partners, friends and family and because they keep going back to gamble. And they worse they feel about themselves the more they will gamble.
Harm can be far-reaching, causing significant damage to individuals, families and communities. Some of the effects include financial loss or bankruptcy, relationship breakdowns, or health problems such as depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, ulcers, high blood pressure, or suicidal thoughts.
But ask yourself does a gambler really “choose” such a life. Is that the life they deserve?
After hearing the stories of people who have been impacted by problem gambling, many more of us should be seeking to shine a spotlight on this increasingly important public health issue.
We all need to look out for colleagues and family members and friends who may be impacted by problem gambling.
If you think someone may be struggling with gambling, either directly or as the result of their relationship with a problem gambler, take them aside for a cuppa and let them know that help is available
By looking out for the people and addressing problems before they reach crisis point, you can make a real difference in their life and help reduce the shame and stigma of problem gambling.
Thomas, S. Lewis, S. 2011, Conceptualisations of gambling risks and benefits, Monash University, Victoria.