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Everyone faces difficult or tempting situations from time to time. It is how a person responds to a situation or a stressor that defines a pathological disorder. Like many addictive behaviors, the problem with gambling addiction isn’t the gambling itself – it’s how an individual responds to the gambling activity.

You may plan to spend your entertainment budget on a trip to a casino for a girls’ night out. Maybe you’re planning to host a bachelor party in Las Vegas. For many people, it may be a pleasant, controlled activity. But these type of situations can get out of hand for some individuals— especially for someone struggling with a gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction is more prevalent in America than you might think. Every year, almost two million Americans qualify as pathological gamblers. Do you know the signs to look for to determine if your friend or loved one is among the many people who suffer from an addiction to gambling?

8 Warning Signs to Watch

An individual with a gambling addiction experiences the same effects in the brain as someone who has an alcohol or drug addiction, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The effects of gambling can be just as devastating as alcohol/drugs, even deadly in cases of suicide and reckless life-threatening behavior. This causes great concern and possible financial consequences for their loved ones.

#1. Obsession – Unable to Stop Gambling

It appears that your loved one is constantly talking about gambling. They constantly relive past gambling experiences, especially big wins.

Every time you turn around, they are on their laptop or cell phone placing bets or playing games. And no matter how many times they say they will quit, they just can’t seem to do it.

Unfortunately, with technological advancements, it is all too easy to gamble. Gambling websites and apps that withdraw money directly from a bank account pose serious issues for people. That instant access can make it near impossible to quit.

#2. Hiding or Lying about Gambling

Concealing gambling by hiding receipts or bank statements is a sign of a gambling problem. It is important for them to learn that it is wrong to hide such things, especially if it affects other’s finances as well.

#3. Gambling Despite Consequences

Despite mounting financial woes or legal consequences, they cannot stop the urge to continue gambling.

#4. Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms When NOT Gambling

Emotional withdrawal symptoms can occur when an individual with a gambling addiction stops gambling, even for 24 hours. These symptoms may include irritability, depression, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sleep & appetite, and notable change in sex drive or performance.

When experiencing withdrawal, gamblers think that they need to gamble in order to feel normal or happy again.

#5. Dysfunction in Their Daily Lives

They are experiencing trouble at work, maintaining relationships, withdrawing from social activities, and/or serious financial problems.

#6. Financial Problems

Financial issues can include, but are not limited to...

  • They often ask to borrow money often to cover major living expenses such as rent/mortgage.
  • They make excuses as to why they can’t pay it back.
  • Frequent inability to pay bills resulting in disconnection warnings or service disruptions for failure to pay.
  • You observe only limited food in the house and the items are not ingredients for meals but more snack-like requiring little to no preparation.
  • Using falsehoods or charm to influence others to give them money or to get them out of trouble.

#7. Stealing or Unlawful Behavior

People with gambling addiction usually need other people to fund their gambling habit. People with gambling addiction often commit fraud or steal money and items to sell for money. Committing illegal acts to get money in order to gamble or to recoup losses is a sign of immediate need for intervention.

You can tick this box if you have noticed valuable items missing from your home or other friends or relatives have complained about this.

#8. They Express Guilt or Remorse After Gambling

If your loved one has expressed guilt or remorse after a gambling activity, then this may be a sign. Gambling can be a fun activity. But, if they seem to be unable to control themselves, then they may have a problem.

If you have seen any of these warning signs, it is important to seek professional advice. A common response when a person with gambling addiction is confronted is denial. Talk to other friends and family members to see if they’ve noticed any of these concerning behaviors.

Presenting a supportive, but united, front can make all the difference as you attempt to get your loved one to accept help and seek professional treatment. It will be your love, encouragement, and reinforcement that will help them to fight the battle of gambling addiction.

Searching for comprehensive and compassionate counseling for a loved one who exhibits signs of a gambling addiction? Algamus, the oldest residential gambling addiction treatment center in the US, is here to help. Click here to get more information today.

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.