One of the myths of gambling disorder is that someone that gambles frequently is “addicted” to gambling. The fact is that the gambling itself is not an indication of an addiction. It is only when gambling is causing problems in the gambler’s life that an addiction may be indicated.

Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder. Those who are addicted can’t keep themselves from gambling even when it is causing pain to themselves or those around them.

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the behaviors indicative of a gambling disorder include:

  • Lying
    Deceiving loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, and even counselors, social support workers and financial institutions, to hide their gambling and the impact of gambling in their lives.
  • Preoccupation
    The individual is preoccupied and constantly thinking about with gambling
  • Loss of Control
    The individual is unable to stop or cut back on gambling despite efforts to try.
  • Tolerance to gambling stimulus
    Needing to gamble more, taking greater risks, and with greater amounts of money to feel the same “high.”
  • Withdrawal
    Getting angry, short-tempered, nervous and distracted when unable to gamble.
  • Avoidance
    Uses gambles to offset and distract themselves from feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression or other negative feelings.
  • Chasing
    Gambling more to offset losses from previous gambling. Often referred to as “chasing one’s losses.”
  • Theft
    Willing to steal, commit forgery and fraud, embezzle and other illegal acts to finance continued gambling
  • Relationship problems
    Putting personal relationships, even with close loved ones and family, as risk; losing a job, dropping out of school
  • Bailout
    Seeking financial assistance from friends, family and co-workers and relying on others to cover debt and deepening financial problems.