One of the most devastating effects of problem gambling is the massive debt that accumulates over time. It is not uncommon for problem gamblers to lose their jobs as they often miss work or neglect duties to be able to gamble. Many problem gamblers will then often resort to illegal activities, such as theft or fraud, to fund their addiction. Those who are unable to pay off their debts are forced to declare bankruptcy and may even lose their homes.
This kind of financial stress puts a huge burden on both the family and the individual. Many families break down as a result of problem gambling, and children are often the innocent victims of the emotional distress created within the home.
Many people who become problem gamblers are considered responsible and dependable people, but some factors can lead to a change in behavior. These could include:
- traumatic circumstances
- job-related stress
- emotional upheaval, such as depression or anxiety
- the presence of other addictions
- environmental factors, such as friends or available opportunities
Studies have suggested that people with a tendency to one addiction may be more at risk of developing another. Genetic and neurological factors may play a role. Some people who are affected by gambling may also have a problem with alcohol or drugs, possibly due to a predisposition for addiction. The use of some medications has been linked to a higher risk of compulsive gambling.