What Are the Signs of Compulsive Gambling?


Gambling involves putting something of value at risk in order to win a prize. The most common form of gambling is placing money bets on events involving chance, such as sports games or card games. However, gambling can also be conducted with other materials such as marbles, collectible game pieces or Magic: The Gathering cards. Gambling is common in casinos, racetracks and other commercial establishments. It can also be done at home or over the internet.

Many people gamble because they enjoy the excitement of winning money. But there are some who become addicted to gambling. When this happens, it is called compulsive gambling or pathological gambling. There are several signs of compulsive gambling, including:

Some people who have a problem with gambling find it difficult to admit that they have a problem and may even lie about their gambling activity. This can be because they feel shame or guilt about the problem. People who have a problem with gambling often spend more time and money on gambling than they intended, resulting in financial hardship and other problems in their lives. Some of these issues can be a loss of employment, an inability to pay bills or other debts, and even bankruptcy.

If you are concerned that your or someone you know has a gambling problem, you should consult with a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you recognize a gambling problem and develop a treatment plan. He or she can also provide guidance on repairing relationships affected by the problem and finding other sources of income. A psychiatrist or psychologist can offer family therapy and marriage counseling to address the underlying problems caused by gambling.

A therapist can teach you healthy coping skills to deal with the urges to gamble. These techniques can include identifying your triggers, learning to identify warning signs and developing a support system for yourself or the person you are trying to help. You can also learn to take regular breaks from gambling and focus on other activities, such as exercising, spending time with friends, taking up a hobby or reading a book.

Some people who struggle with gambling find it hard to quit on their own, but it is possible. You can seek professional help from a counselor who specializes in gambling addiction or recovery, or you can join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, based on the 12-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also try to find ways to get more social and recreational activity in your life, such as joining a community sports team or club, signing up for an educational class, volunteering or going to a local concert. Finally, it is important to set limits on your gambling activity. Make sure to set a money and time limit ahead of time, and leave when you reach these limits, whether you are winning or losing. Also, don’t try to chase your losses; the more you bet in an attempt to win back what you have lost, the larger your loss will ultimately be.