The Social Costs of Gambling
Although there is a large body of literature on gambling, most studies have focused on the economic costs and benefits of the activity, not its social impact. The social cost of gambling is generally not measured or reported in studies of this type, but is defined by Walker and Barnett as harm to someone who does not benefit from it, rather than the purely personal cost of the activity itself. This definition is important to understand the extent of social costs of gambling.
Problem gambling is an addiction or mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to control their impulses to gamble. The disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe, and may even lead to other problems such as financial distress or even criminal activity. Problem gamblers have a variety of underlying causes, and they can be of any age or gender. Symptoms of problem gambling include increased risk-taking, preoccupation with gambling, and increasing amounts of money wagered on gambling. Moreover, problem gamblers are often embarrassed to admit they have a gambling problem, avoid spending time with family and friends, and feel guilty about their problem gambling.
While no single treatment for problem gambling has been proven effective, most treatment for it involves counseling, step-based programs, self-help and peer support, as well as medication. There is no favored method as the most effective, and no medication has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for pathological gambling. Fortunately, there is an array of options for treatment, and a variety of resources can be found online to assist people who are struggling with gambling.
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While some studies have attempted to quantify the economic impact of gambling, most have been gross impact studies that focus on one aspect of the effects of gaming, and do not attempt to provide a full and balanced view of the impact of gambling on society. These studies place great emphasis on the identification of benefits, while leaving little room for examining costs. They provide an accounting of the aggregate effects of gambling, without addressing the differences between direct and indirect effects, tangible and intangible costs, or the geographic scope of the analysis.
There are two kinds of costs associated with gambling: direct and intangible. The direct costs can be measured, such as lost productivity. These costs include mental health care and suicide attempts. The indirect costs, which can be difficult to measure, include psychic and co-morbid effects. The best informants of the costs of gambling are those in counseling. They can offer useful insight into the social and economic implications of gambling. They may also help identify potential policy changes.
The societal costs of gambling can be quantified in two ways. One way is to use a lump sum, such as earmarked research grants. The other way is to use a bottom-up approach, where the number of gamblers affected is multiplied by the average cost per person. The costs of gambling can also be calculated using epidemiological data from the Swelogs survey and unit cost data from Statistics Sweden.
There are many ways to treat problem gambling, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. If the problem is severe, treatment may also include medication. Sometimes, problem gambling is a symptom of a mental health condition like bipolar disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that focuses on changing problematic behaviors and thoughts, such as gambling. Throughout the course of therapy, patients will learn new strategies to deal with stressful situations and reduce the impulse to gamble.
Medications for gambling addiction may include mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Taking antidepressants may reduce compulsive gambling behavior and prevent depression. Another treatment option is self-help groups. A health care professional can help you find one in your area. Some may also recommend therapy for other co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and depression. However, you should make sure that you talk to your doctor about any medication you’re considering.