Josh Chandler | December 14, 2017

5 Signs You Have A Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction a serious issue that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Read these 5 signs that you may have an addiction and need help to quit gambling.

Do you have a loved one or friend who’s addicted to gambling?

Despite the controversy surrounding the idea that gambling is an addiction, pathological gambling can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

What is a gambling addiction? It’s classified as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling, or a gambling disorder.

If you believe a family member or loved one needs to quit gambling, here are the tell-tale signs of addiction.

What Defines Addiction?

Addiction is defined as “a condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.”

Synonyms include dependency, habit, weakness, compulsion, fixation, and even enslavement. Experts define any type of addiction as a pathological behavior with negative or destructive consequences.

If you or someone you know shows signs of pathological gambling despite bad consequences, it could be an addiction.

Do you have the intention to quit gambling but can’t seem to follow through? This is a standout sign of gambling addiction.

Understanding Gambling Behaviors

What Defines Pathological Gambling?

Pathological gambling is characterized by dysfunctional patterns of gambling behavior.

In this case, an individual may still persist with these negative behaviors. They do this despite dire consequences to their financial and family life. This kind of behavior is consistent with other patterns found in other addictions.

However, pathological gambling is now defined as a behavioral addiction. It’s also considered a mental disorder.

In the past, experts defined gambling addiction as merely an “impulse control disorder.” Because of the destructive nature of pathological gambling, it’s now considered a disorder which requires rehabilitative treatment.

Characteristics of a Pathological Gambler

It’s important to note that not all gambling behaviors are destructive or harmful. While some may enjoy the thrill of gambling, it doesn’t mean they’re addicted to it.

However, there are tell-tale signs to watch out for if you believe someone needs to quit gambling.

Signs of Pathological Gambling

  • Complete preoccupation with gambling
  • Neglecting work and home life
  • An inability to quit or control gambling behavior
  • Disruption of work commitment, career, and daily routine
  • Compulsively lying about their whereabouts and behaviors
  • Increased financial woes and irresponsible spending
  • Gambling with larger sums of money
  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Failure to acknowledge right from wrong by continually chasing losses

Typical Forms of Gambling

Gambling addiction is known as a “silent disease” because it’s difficult to diagnose and can take many forms.

Some of the most common forms of gambling behaviors include:

  • Casino gambling
  • Slot machine gambling
  • Poker or other card game gambling
  • Lottery gambling
  • Sports betting
  • Bingo
  • Scratchcard betting
  • Raffle gambling

The Mentality Behind Pathological Gambling

During the gambling process, money is the driving force behind it all.

Very often, those with a gambling addiction are driven by the positives of having more money. They seek financial freedom, security, comfort, and power.

Alternatively, a gambling addiction can be attributed to trying to fill a void in the person’s life.

Pathological gamblers sometimes fail to recognize reality. Gambling is a process where the odds are forever stacked against you. Many people gamble away their winnings in a failed attempt to out-do themselves.

This is an unrealistic warped mentality driven by denial and the “thrill” of winning.

Mental Distortions and Pathological Gambling

The reality is that gambling is a completely unreliable way of making money.

It’s a process where you have a chance of winning or losing, every single time. Nothing is guaranteed.

To develop a gambling addiction, a person’s sense of reality must be somewhat distorted. Most pathological gamblers will display cognitive distortions in a number of different forms.

These may include:

1. Attribution to winning.

2. Thinking that random outcomes of gambling can magically be predicted.

3. Superstitions like using lucky charms or wearing certain types of clothing.

4. Developing gambling “systems” where they believe the house advantage can be beaten.

5. Using selective memory to gloss over losses and concentrate on wins.

6. Personifying a gambling device or machine and trying to outsmart it.

7. Using near-miss experiences where they “almost won” to motivate themselves to continue.

8. Denial and the belief that they can always win back any money they lose.

Scenarios that Signify Gambling Addiction

People with addictions are usually unable to see or face the reality of their behavior. Very often, it’s family and friends who have to bring an addict back to reality.

This is usually done by means of an intervention.

If you have a loved one or friend who needs to quit gambling, these are some common scenarios to look out for:

They’ve Lost Control

In this situation, the addiction has taken over. It’s no longer about a desire, but rather a compulsion.

A pathological gambler is addicted to the “high” of winning and will pursue this thrill at all costs.

They Spend Every Last Penny They Have

This is where losing is not a deterrent. It’s almost a motivation to keep gambling in order to win back what’s been lost.

In this scenario, a person may be in complete denial of having lost anything at all. They convince themselves they’ll win it all back.

They’re Spending Money That’s Not Theirs

This may be one of the most obvious symptoms of a gambling addiction.

A person may borrow money time and time again and fail to pay it back. Credit card bills are through the roof and they’re behind on monthly repayments.

Many pathological gamblers even resort to stealing money from their spouse or family members.

They’re Defensive and Sensitive

When a conversation about the need to quit gambling is brought up, a person becomes defensive and angry.

They may even accuse you of being a terrible spouse, friend, or sibling for accusing them of having a problem. Denial is central to their behavior.

Do You Need to Quit Gambling?

One of the first steps to changing your life for the better is admitting you have an addiction.

If you, a loved one, or a family member needs to quit gambling, our team at Muse Treatment can help you through the process.

We invite you to take a look at our range of program options. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Addiction,Gambling Addiction,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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