Gambling is an activity in which participants wager something of value on an event with the hope of winning a prize. The odds of winning vary depending on the game, but a significant portion of the population has some form of gambling activity. Gambling has been shown to cause various negative and positive impacts on individuals, families, communities and societies. It is important that those interested in gambling receive appropriate training and understanding of the dangers associated with it.

The most common reasons people begin to gamble are for enjoyment, to relieve boredom and to socialise with friends. It is often portrayed in the media as exciting, sexy and glamorous. For many, gambling can be a fun and enjoyable way to spend time, but for some people it becomes a problem that causes them a great deal of harm.

It is estimated that over half the population in the UK takes part in some form of gambling. For some this is harmless fun, but for others it can lead to severe problems that affect their physical and mental health, their family relationships, performance at work or school, and their ability to pay bills, often leading to bankruptcy and homelessness.

Problem gambling is now recognised as a mental health condition similar to addiction to drugs or alcohol. In 2013, pathological gambling was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Unlike some other addictions, however, it is difficult for people to recognise that their gambling is becoming a problem. They may hide their gambling habits from their family and friends, or even lie to them about how much they are spending on it.

Some people start to gamble excessively when they feel they are losing control. This can be due to a number of factors, including changes in the way the brain sends chemical messages or genetic or psychological predisposition to gambling addiction. Once they reach a point where they are losing more than they are winning, they will be driven to keep gambling in order to experience the euphoria that is caused by a dopamine release.

For some people, the onset of gambling addiction is gradual, while for others it happens more quickly. It can also be harder to recognise when a person has a problem with gambling because they are unable to stop and instead try to find different ways to cope with the situation, such as drinking or drug abuse. This can lead to more stress in the long run and result in a cycle of addiction and relapse. Research has shown that it is possible to break this cycle by seeking help and support from family, friends or a professional gambling addiction treatment service. Our Safeguarding Training Courses cover a wide range of topics, from Child Protection to Mental Health Awareness.