Social wellness is an encompassing term that refers to our relationship with ourselves and others. In order to be “socially well,” we must build relationships that foster healthy living and provide support and encouragement through difficult times. For those who suffer from addictive behaviors, such as gambling, social wellness is incredibly important. Unfortunately, it is those individuals who tend to suffer when it comes to social wellness.
Social isolation has been a large topic of conversation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation hinders social wellness as individuals are forced only to look internally, losing out on physical touch and outside encouragement. However, for some classes of people, social isolation has always been a threat. Those individuals include the elderly, as well as people with emotional disorders, depression, substance abuse, or gambling disorder.
Social isolation does not only cause sadness, but it can also impact physical health and shorten an individual’s lifespan. It is important for us to realize when our social wellness is suffering or we feel isolated so we can take steps to improve our overall well-being. For mentally and physically healthy individuals, this task is often not difficult. However, for those who suffer from disorders, such as gambling disorder, these problems accumulate and become seemingly insurmountable.
In society, gambling and socialization sometimes go hand-in-hand, such as a bachelor party to Las Vegas, a trip to the racetrack, a ticket on football Sunday, and the list goes on. And for many people, they are able to encounter these one-off social events and then go on with a mostly healthy lifestyle. However, for others, what may start as social interaction with friends and family gambling together, can deteriorate into a disorder that threatens to have damaging impacts to that same social circle.
Studies show that ultimately, gambling has a negative effect on our overall well-being because the results of gambling are typically negative; this is exacerbated when gambling is a habit as opposed to a weekend away event. In fact, self-reported gambling addicts were most likely to report fair to poor self-rated health and fair to poor self-rated happiness relative to the rest of the population.
Treatment for gambling disorder is imperative for yourself or a loved one that you believe is suffering from problem gambling. Because problem gambling often deteriorates social wellness, those with gambling disorder often suffer on multiple fronts that exacerbate over the course of time.
Unlike physical health conditions, motivating someone to accept help for a behavioral health condition like gambling, among others, can be tough because denial is often the initial reaction to the perceived accusation that your loved one has a “problem.” Because of this, it is important to proceed gently and lovingly, instead of with threats, accusations, or consistent badgering. In fact, these behaviors may make your loved one’s problem worse.
The New York Council on Problem Gambling has numerous resources to assist you or a loved one when brave enough to seek help.