Top 10 signs of gambling addiction

When does gambling become a problem? Learn to identify signs of gambling addiction and what to do if you are facing life as a gambler. Top 10 gambling addiction signs here.

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Is gambling an addiction?

No, gambling in not necessarily an addiction.  By definition, gambling is an activity where you wager money and/or risk loss or injury in the hope of gaining financial or material assets.  Gambling is usually characterized by both success and loss as the results of a combination of skill and chance.

Signs of compulsive gambling

Gambling becomes a problem when you continue to gamble despite negative consequences. Many gamblers go through difficult and even life-threatening experiences before they ask for help. Other types of gamblers experience slow, subtle deterioration.  But compulsive gamblers typically always exhibit chronic behavior that escalates.  Some of the signs of gambling problems that compulsive gamblers have in common include:

1. Inability to stop or reduce gambling
2. Obsessive or compulsive thinking about about gambling
3. Continued gambling despite negative consequences: loss of job, relationship, or opportunities
4. Increased tolerance; needing larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same “rush”
5. Emotional symptoms of withdrawal when you stop or reduce gambling (irritation, restlessness)
6. Needing to gamble to improve your mood, escape problems, win back losses
7. Breaking the law in order to get gambling money or recover gambling losses (stealing, fraud,)
8. Asking for financial assistance as a result of gambling
9. Denial of a gambling problem or lying to friends or family about behavior
10. Frequent changes of mood

Taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders current 2010 diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling.

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Are you a gambling addict?

Gamblers Anonymous holds the view that Only you can determine if you are a compulsive gambler, or not. To start to get better, you’ve got to admit that gambling causes growing and continuing problems in your life and that you’re ready to change.  Still, you can ask yourself these 20 questions to evaluate gambling addiction.

Do you have a question about gambling addiction?

Leave your questions or comments here.  We would like to help refer you to services that can help.  Or, if you don’t think gambling should officially be recognized as an addiction, please tell us why.  We publish all sides of the issue.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Thank you for this report. i have been in Gambling Anonymous in July 2, 2007 It is an Addiction and you and only you can know you have a problem with the Gambling. When i lost my Husband in 1989 did not know that i could be a gambler, Never gambled in my life. Was going on the boat to meet a new man lol Girlfriend and It was so strange. There would never ever meet a man on that boat because Marie was a degenerate Gambler . Take one day at a time and work it and your life will change for the better.

  2. My son who is 29 has been card gambling for many years, I must say he is an excellent player but the people he plays against are businessmen and have play money to loose. My son Is selling everything he has to get cash and loosing it all at the card table. He will eventually loose everything , he’s going down. He doesn’t want to hear it and is in denial but once he looses everything I can’t imagine what will happen to him. I am not sure what kind of sight this is but what can I or him do so he doesn’t hit rock bottom. He will be destroyed Someone Reach out to him or me please his mom

  3. Just a little background first. My husband is a gambling addict but has not been to the casino for about 4 years. He got therapy and completed their course. He has not relapsed but that could be because he had himself barred from the casinos and it is a criminal offence for him to be there or because he’s gotten the better if the addiction. I also had counselling on my own as I have my own issues. My bio father was a drug addict and my step father an alcoholic so sadly I’m familiar with addictions. My question is, is there such a thing with gamblers like with alcoholics that they are considered a dry drunk? When my dad was not drinking we could tell he would start up again because of his moods. It was referred to as a dry drunk. The past few months my husband has been irritable and quick to anger blaming it on others actions. “If she just did this I wouldn’t get so frustrated” and so on. I know an addict is always addicted and has to fight it constantly so I would just like to know where to begin in getting him or us some help?

  4. Hello. No, there are no prescription medications you can take to help withdrawal from gambling, as gambling is a compulsive, behavioral disorder and does not develop into chemical dependence (at least that we know of).

  5. How do you treat gambling addiction? Because as with drug addiction, person may undergo a detoxification treatment or one can be given a type of medication to address painful withdrawals.

    Are there any available treatment for such addiction?

  6. Hi Michelle. You are not alone. And you’re doing the right thing. Question it up front to avoid years of heart ache later. My father has a gambling problem, as well, and my mother was in a marriage (unhappily) for over 30 years before it blew up over gambling (their retirement). Call a local therapist who specializes in addictions and talk with a licensed psychologist to plan what to do next. Sometimes, you need a second opinion from a trained professional.

  7. Hello All, I have been dating a man who I thought would become my soul mate. We have dated for 3 years. During after Christmas, I found that he had purchased an engagement ring for me. Great! We are both in our 50’s, we live 5 hours apart and see each other 2 – 3 times a month. Problem: last week end I asked him if we would marry before the end of 2013, and he told me “no”..this blow me away. He has a great job, plus military retirement and I help him run his property maintenance company….where is his money!!!!!! I know have to face the “Big Elephant” in the room….he buys lottery tickets everyday, he plays poker for “chips” at his local sports bar and eats there everyday!! He say’s it’s not for money, lie because they have to purchase the chips buying food or the chips????? He is part of a “Card Club”. I told him that I am not willing to wait. As of this morning, I am having to face the fact that he is a compulsive gambler!!!! IRS garnishments, major investment losses, no savings.
    We I bring this to his attention, he denies it and is visibly upset. I do not know how to help him????? So I have to help myself and end it.
    Please help……………………

  8. Hi Lookingoutforu. Thanks for your message. When a gambler is on a binge, there is really nothing that you can do to stop the compulsive behavior. Short of jail, bankruptcy, or death…an addict in the full swing of the addiction is very difficult to be around. I would suggest that if you are really close to this person that you seek help yourself from a support group like Al-Anon (not only for loved ones of alcoholics).

  9. Hi I have a friend who is a compulsive gambler, she stopped gambling for four months. But now she’s in a gambling rage, like there’s no tomorrow. She’s already loosing her house and have a lot of debts. She’s been in G.A. but didn’t work, she been lying a lot about gambling and she’s very stubborn I’m worried about her but don’t know how to approach to her to get help, or what can I do for someone with that behavior? Thanks

  10. ive lost my hair over gambling for the passed 5 years iv made 100,000 a year and ive ever only driven rubbish cars that never last longer than 2months now im driving a 950 dollar vanette to work and its the best thing iv ever invested my money in im 25 years old and im getting a house at the end of the year im gonna move in with my american staffy its got a massive head and its huge and my house should be worth 100,000 dollars more than what i brought i for in the first 2 months of buying it. . . will go there now. . .

  11. Hi Amy. I’m glad to help provide you with an un-expert opinion. 🙂 To each his own. Who’s to say what’s a better way to spend your time and money? Only you can be the judge of that! Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with. All the best, Lee

  12. Thanks. Funny, I’m a mental health professional as well! No, it’s not an emotional or psychological escape. Just fun and frolick. I have spoken with many people who go about 3x/week. My guess is that they are hooked. But I cannot really judge. For me, it’s like dinner and a show. But dinner and a show would be a more “intelligent” way to spend the money! Thanks.

  13. Hi Amy. I am not a mental health professional, but it seems like you are in control of gambling and view your monthly gambling as entertainment. If you start to crave gambling, or use it as an emotional or psychological escape, you may want request an assessment by a mental health professional. I hope that this helps!

  14. Yes, I can do without. There have been months I skipped. But it is a fun escape. And, again, I only bring $45 with me. I don’t even eat their food. I bring my own. I do think about it when I can’t get there – but it doesn’t occupy my mind for very long.

  15. Hi Amy. It sounds more like entertainment than addiction, but there are some characteristics about your gambling that require more clarification. Do you think about gambling when you are not at the casino? Can you do without the monthly trip? Have you ever tried to not go and see how you feel?

  16. I like to take $45 monthly to do the slots at a casino. I go once a month for fun and never spend more than that. I’ve been doing this for about a year and go either alone or with a friend. It is my “treat”. We usually have lunch there but not always. Would this be an addiction??

  17. I think that the escapism for real addicts is what brings them back to gambling…sometimes the thrill of a loss is as addictive as the anticipation of winning. So I’m not sure that greed is a component of compulsive gambling.

  18. i think ppl use gabling as an escape for theyre probs.
    also, greedy ppl often become addicted to gambling easier than a person who is not too greedy!,

  19. i’ve been researching this topic in depth recently i find that most people who have a gambling addiction wont realize that anything is out of the ordinary until they start having major losses that personally affect their lives, only through that do they try to seek out help.

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