Signs You May Have a Problem

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Gambling addiction is often referred to as a “hidden addiction.” Unlike many other addictions, such as drugs or alcohol, addicted gamblers do not display any obvious physical signs or symptoms. Despite the lack of outward indicators, there are many similarities between gambling and other addictive disorders. For instance, problem gamblers will go through great lengths to hide or deny their addiction, often withdraw from family and friends and lie about what they’ve been doing and where they’ve been going.

Behavioral and financial signs of a gambling problem include, but are not limited to:

  • Thinking about gambling frequently/constantly
  • Bragging about or hiding gambling activity
  • Spending more money than they can afford
    • Example: uses credit cards for finance; cashes in savings accounts, 401K’s or insurance plans
  • Gambling for longer and longer periods of time
  • Using gambling to escape daily pressures and obligations
  • Secretive about gambling habits and defensive when confronted
  • Restless or irritable when not gambling
  • Lying about extent of gambling
  • A need to bet more money more frequently
  • Neglecting family/personal needs to gamble
  • Tried stopping, controlling or cutting back on gambling but was unsuccessful
  • “Chasing” losses with more gambling
  • Cannot stop in spite of mounting negative consequences
  • Changes in patterns of sleeping, eating or sex drive
  • Absence from work, school or other important social activities due to gambling
  • Relying on others to bail them out of a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
  • Cheating or stealing to get the money to gamble or pay debts
  • Committing crimes to keep gambling

Emotional and stress-related signs of a gambling problem include, but are not limited to:

  • Withdrawing from the family has
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Seems far away, anxious or has difficulty paying attention
  • Complains of boredom or restlessness
  • Headaches, stomach or bowel problems
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Overeating or loss of appetite1,2

It is important to remember that only a professional can diagnose a gambling disorder. If you or a loved one exhibits any of the symptoms above, you should seek a consultation with a professional.

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