Like most addictions, gambling often starts off as a fun way to pass the time and maybe win a little bit of extra money. For some people, however, this common pastime can quickly become a habit that can't easily be stopped. In fact, gambling can become so problematic for some that it can lead to personal and financial ruin, much like alcohol with an alcoholic. If you're worried that you or someone you love may be addicted to gambling, there are several warning signs to look out for. See below to learn the eight questions to ask when looking for signs of a gambling addiction.
Have you tried to stop on your own, unsuccessfully?
Gambling addicts are not typically able to just stop gambling, despite facing personal or financial ruin if they continue. If you or your loved one have tried multiple times to stop gambling, but can't seem to find success, gambling addiction may be the problem.
Are you using money or collateral that you can't afford to lose?
Another major warning sign of gambling addiction is using money or collateral that you can't really afford to lose. In some cases, this could mean using a home or other major investment as collateral, but can also be as simple as using this week's grocery money at the card table or blowing your rent payment on gambling instead of paying your rent on time.
Do you find yourself gambling even though you no longer enjoy it?
Another common sign of gambling addiction is continuing to gamble, even when you find very little pleasure in doing so. Most people gamble for fun, take their wins or losses and call it a day. A gambling addict, however, will continue, even after the enjoyment has stopped.
Do you continue to gamble in order to offset your losses from gambling?
Trying to recover from losses by engaging in even more gambling is another big warning sign of gambling addiction. This almost always leads to even greater debt and losses, but gambling addicts tend to to think they will eventually win back what they lost, and continue to gamble.
Have you started gambling with more and more money?
While a casual gambler is happy to drop a reasonable amount at the card table or the slot machines and stop there, a gambling addict will continue to increase his or her bets with more and more money in order to get that rush they crave from gambling.
Do you experience feelings of shame, guilt or remorse after gambling?
While no one likes to lose at gambling, a gambling addict may experience extreme feelings of guilt, shame or remorse after gambling or trying, unsuccessfully, to curb their own habit.
Do you find yourself going to extremes in order to find money to gamble with?
Gambling addicts won't (and can't) stop gambling simply because the bank account has run dry. While some gambling addicts will borrow money or try to sell possessions in order to get more money, some gambling addicts may even begin to engage in theft, forgery and other crimes in order to continue gambling.
Is gambling becoming more important than other things in your life?
Gambling addicts tend to let gambling take over their lives, leaving little room for other obligations and commitments. From missing your kid's baseball game to excessive absences from work, eventually the gambling addiction will cause serious consequences in almost all areas of life.