Am I a Compulsive Gambler?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Considering whether or not you are a compulsive gambler can be frightening. After all, no one likes to admit to being out of control. Gambling can become an addiction, and many individuals find the lure to gamble as powerful as any addictive drug. However, determining whether you have a gambling problem can be an important first step to recovery.

A gambling addict may be mentally stuck on trying to relive a past win.
A gambling addict may be mentally stuck on trying to relive a past win.

Compulsive gambling can be described as a mental disorder, marked by a lack of impulse control. There are some common signs that may indicate compulsive gambling. To begin with, a compulsive gambler has a preoccupation with gambling, spending too much time thinking about past gambling ventures and planning future activities. This preoccupation can also include spending inordinate amounts of time making plans to obtain additional gambling money.

Because they require minimal skill and can be played quickly, slot machines are among the most addictive gambling options.
Because they require minimal skill and can be played quickly, slot machines are among the most addictive gambling options.

Increased tolerance is another sign that you may be a compulsive gambler. If you feel the need to gamble with larger amounts of money in order to get a thrill from gambling, you may have a problem. This ever-increasing need for placing higher bets is akin to the way an alcoholic may begin to require more alcohol in order to feel good.

Compulsive gamblers should avoid the many casinos that line the Las Vegas Strip.
Compulsive gamblers should avoid the many casinos that line the Las Vegas Strip.

Withdrawal is a common symptom experienced by compulsive gamblers. When a compulsive gambler attempts to quit or cut back on gambling activities, he or she may begin to feel restless, irritable, and simply out of sorts. Likewise, a compulsive gambler may feel out of control, failing repeatedly in attempts to stop or reduce gambling activities.

A compulsive gambler may experience bankruptcy problems.
A compulsive gambler may experience bankruptcy problems.

Many people view gambling as a fun pastime to be enjoyed on an occasional basis. A compulsive gambler, on the other hand, may see gambling as a way to escape from problems. Often, compulsive gamblers use gambling to relieve unpleasant moods, substituting betting for working on problems. Chasing is also common among those with gambling addictions. Chasing involves losing money at gambling and returning on a subsequent day to try to get even.

Most are not compulsive gamblers; they view gambling as a fun activity that's done on occasion.
Most are not compulsive gamblers; they view gambling as a fun activity that's done on occasion.

A compulsive gambler may lie about his or her gambling activities. He or she may deceive family members, friends, and therapists in an effort to hide gambling activities. It is also common for compulsive gamblers to risk relationships with loved ones in order to continue gambling. A compulsive gambler may commit crimes to raise funds for gambling or rely on loved ones for money to escape gambling-caused financial difficulties.

If you think you may be a compulsive gambler, contact a physician, a therapist, or an organization like Gamblers Anonymous for help. When you admit to the presence of a problem, you lay the groundwork for getting your life back in order. Keep in mind that an individual may be a compulsive gambler without showing all the signs common to a gambling addiction. Therefore, it is wise to obtain a professional evaluation, even if you only have a few of the symptoms of a gambling addiction.

Signs of compulsive gambling can include risking large sums of money at casinos.
Signs of compulsive gambling can include risking large sums of money at casinos.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

It's the same as the 12 steps for Alcoholics Anonymous. Just go through the list, substitute "gambling" for "drinking" and "alcohol" and you'll have a pretty good idea of where you stand. And there are Gamblers Anonymous groups.

My cousin went to a casino and was playing Blackjack at the tables. She was up $800, but instead of leaving the table, she kept going and eventually lost the $800, plus $250 more. She said she just wanted to see if her luck would change back to be more favorable. She'd had a couple of drinks, and in the morning, she said she realized she might have a problem with gambling, and resolved to stay out of the casino. Since then, she's been able to keep that resolution.

Scrbblchick

Fortunately, I've always been able to stop while I was ahead -- or before I got any farther behind -- the few times I've been to a casino.

My system is to carry my gambling money in one pocket and my wins in the opposite pocket. When my gambling money is gone, I leave. Period. Even if my wins pocket is empty. I leave. I'm just too afraid of losing a lot of money.

However, I realize that doesn't work for a compulsive gambler. They're always chasing the dragon. They never win "enough," or they're always trying to make good their losses. I really feel for those folks. It's a miserable way to live.

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