Is gambling really a viable option for those who wish to seek a social outlet? I have worked with many gambling clients and for those women who are over the age of 50, I have a warning for you, be extremely careful. Even though 1-4% of the population are considered compulsive gamblers (addicts), the toll of being addicted to gambling is frightening.Women gamble on an emotional level, if they are feeling excited, depressed, stressed out or lonely. Beware. It is also not a means to build a retirement savings. The house always wins.The effects of gambling can be devastating for women, especially those who are living on their own. I have personally worked with women gamblers who have lost everything in a matter of months, just from playing bingo! So if you think that bingo is a safe and seemingly benign way of passing the time, or socializing, then think again. It is not an acceptable way to deal with loneliness or to meet people. Gambling venues and lottery tickets can be found 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It doesn’t take long to blow through your monthly budget.Did you know that your brain chemicals change when you are gambling? The same brain chemicals are triggered just as if you used drugs or alcohol. This is what gets and keeps people hooked on gambling.There are also all kinds of psychological games that we play with ourselves and others that keep us ‘in the game’. These are called cognitive distortions, magical thinking and reframing. When we lose a game of bingo for example, the gambler starts to reframe the loss as nearly winning, as if they stand a better chance of winning the next time, which is untrue. There is no such thing as a ‘near win’; it is called a ‘loss’. Other gamblers think that they have a system that helps them win. The truth is that there is always an element of chance with any game. You cannot outwit chance. This is a cognitive distortion. Another issue is magical thinking whereas people think that if they bring some sort of good luck charm, or do things in a certain way all the time, or go to a certain machine, or just wish it to be true, that this will improve their chances of winning. It does not!The truth is that older people who are looking for a social activity are being bled dry of their savings and in truth while the ride there and back, as well as lunch, may be a social activity, the act of playing the game, whatever it is, is isolating, even though you are in a large group of people. Stick to outings where you can talk to others and really mingle, dance or exercise!And always remember to keep your face to the sunshine!