Gambling and Social Isolation

Gambling is perceived as a harmless and enjoyable recreational activity, but for many people, the reality is very different. Although marketers promote gambling as a social pursuit, research indicates that problem gamblers tend to be lonely and socially isolated.

Even though gambling often takes place in crowded venues such as racetracks or casinos, gambling is actually a very solitary activity. Gamblers often feel alone and isolated, even amidst hundreds of other people. Sometimes, gamblers are so immersed in the activity that they fail to notice people around them.

Studies indicate that people who feel isolated and excluded from society tend to take more risks. Problem gamblers are more likely to gamble on longer odds and they often make riskier financial decisions. The consequences, which can be significant, include debt, job loss and legal problems. Some problem gamblers may resort to criminal activities.

People who are addicted to gambling tend to be secretive, and gambling can serve as a tool that enables a gambler to avoid interacting with other people. In some cases, on line gambling, horse races, casino gambling, sport betting or card games are activities that take the place of normal social interactions. Problem gamblers usually feel tremendous shame and embarrassment, which serves to intensify loneliness.

Gambling often serves as a distraction or a way to escape feelings of depression or loneliness. The more rejected or ostracized people feel, the more likely they are to resort back to gambling, which helps to restore a sense of control. Gambling can have long-term consequences, particularly for younger people who fail to learn necessary social skills.
Compulsive gambling intensifies social isolation when people who are addicted to gambling choose the activity over time with friends and family. Relationships are neglected, often to the breaking point. Sometimes, gamblers are offended that friends, family and co-workers aren’t interested in gambling.
Many gamblers resort to computers and to online gambling, which can make the isolation even worse and the time spent gambling sometimes has no limits, detrimental health effects occur quickly in the wake of online gambling.

Gambling can be highly addictive, even though it is a behavioral addiction as opposed to a substance addiction (like alcohol addiciton, cocaine addiction etc.). This is because the activity releases brain chemicals that produce elevated mood, sometimes to the point of euphoria. Problem gambling, online, offline or in combination, can be successfully treated. If you are concerned that you have a gambling problem, seek gambling addiciton treatment as soon as possible. Look for a treatment provider who is experienced in the treatment of compulsive gambling.

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