Gambling addiction symptoms progress in a similar way to an alcohol or drug addiction: the gambler develops a tolerance to gambling, becomes dependent on it, and when they try to quit, they can experience serious withdrawal. If you believe you or someone you know might be experiencing gambling addiction, look out for these five warning signs to determine whether or not you should seek treatment from professionals as soon as possible.
If you start missing important events, such as family gatherings or work commitments, but can’t explain why, then it might be a sign that gambling is taking over your life. A serious gambling addiction can interfere with your relationships and cause other problems in your life. It’s also worth noting that people who have gambling addictions tend to do so in groups—so if you find yourself going out to gamble more often than usual, it could be a warning sign.
The first sign of gambling addiction is deception. The only way to gamble away lots of money and not have your spouse, parents, children or friends know is if you lie about it. Liars can’t keep secrets. If you tell your spouse that you aren’t going to a casino or gambling when in fact that’s exactly what you’re doing, you may be on your way to an addiction.
Loss of control
At its most basic level, gambling addiction is an issue of loss of control. It’s not that a gambler can’t control their actions; it’s that they lose control over whether or not to gamble. When you love gambling too much, there isn’t room for anything else in your life.
Loss of friends
Many people find they start to isolate themselves from friends and family because they no longer want to do things that don’t involve gambling. They may be tired from working long hours at their job, but then again, if they are a winning player, those late nights might turn into early mornings. For some people who develop an addiction to gambling, there can be a change in their personality as well.
If your loved one’s gambling has gotten to a point where they are regularly borrowing money, lying about where they’re going, or choosing gambling over spending time with you, it might be time to take notice. Likewise, if their professional life is suffering because of a love for gambling, or if their social life is suffering because they keep trying to get others to gamble with them on nights out or at family gatherings, something might be wrong.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these signs, it’s time to be honest with yourself about your relationship with gambling. It can be difficult to recognise and admit that you have a problem with gambling, but often that’s precisely what makes people who are addicted to gambling avoid seeking help. If you see yourself in any of these warning signs, though, don’t wait another day—talk to someone immediately.