How Can You Tell if You’re Addicted to Gambling?

For most people, gambling is just another form of hobby played with friends, but there are individuals who gamble not just for money and prizes, but because they want to chase losses and because it’s almost like routine. How can you tell if you’re in need of help from gambling addiction?

What Type of Gambler are You?

Identify whether you’re an action gambler or an escape gambler, because one of these can be the first indicator of gambling addiction.

  • An action gambler usually prefers betting on sports, racing, poker, and other skill-type games. Their mindset is guided by the belief that they can find patterns in the system that will give them an advantage over other gamblers, making them more likely to beat the odds. Action gamblers also usually start young unlike the escape gamblers.
  • Escape gamblers on the other hand, get into the habit to escape their other problems, such as stress, depression, bad marriage, and money issues. They usually prefer games that will take their mind off their problems, such as bingo, lottery, slots, and others.

Stages of Gambling Addiction

Most of us have gambled at one point in our lives, but we consider gambling as just like any other game. Gambling addiction on the other hand usually has a pattern.

  • Winning Stage. This is the discovery stage where the person feels for the first time what it’s like to win. At this point, the gambler is just enjoying the win to forget problems in life and do not use up the time and money to play some more.
  • Losing Stage. Gambling, however, does not guarantee a win all the time. Once the person has experienced winning, he/she will be seeking that feeling again through gambling, and will be more inclined to spend more money to win just to make up for the losses. There is a feeling that if he/she can win again, it will make up for all the time and money lost in the process, but if the losing streak continues, the guilt and shame slowly takes over the happy feeling from winning.
  • Desperation Stage. By this time, the gambler would be more likely to use his/her money to fund the obsession, resulting in tense relationships at home and at work, mounting financial problems, and mental and physical problems.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

Like any other type of addiction, gambling addiction could be just a symptom of another problem. If a loved one shows any of the following signs, look for help immediately:

  • Financial problems (debts, late bills and collection notices, disappearing items at home, high-risk investments, etc.)
  • Secrets about money or lying about money (lack of funds to pay for the bills, but has a stash of money for gambling)
  • Missing work or being late to work more often
  • Reduction in the quality of work or failure to meet deadlines
  • Failing relationships at home, work or school
  • Irritation, lack of sleep, depression, and attempts to end life

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