Gamblers Anonymous defines gambling as any betting or wagering, for self or others, whether for money or not, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or skill constitutes gambling. If gambling is more than an occasional fun activity for you, you may be a compulsive gambler. In this article, we discuss the warning signs of gambling addiction and how to get the help you need.
Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction
Gamblers Anonymous has put together 20 questions as a self-check list to help you understand whether or not your gambling behaviors are a problem.
The 20 Questions
- Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
- Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
- Did gambling affect your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or solve financial difficulties?
- Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
- After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
- After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
- Did you often gamble until your last cent was gone?
- Did you ever borrow or steal money to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
- Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
- Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family and friends?
- Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
- Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, or loneliness?
- Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
- Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
- Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
- Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
- Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
Compulsive Gambling and Drinking
Compulsive gambling is often associated with compulsive alcohol drinking. Here are more questions to ask yourself:
- Does drinking turn your thoughts to gambling?
- Do you drink while gambling?
- Do you drink excessively after losing or winning?
- Have you tried to stop gambling but aren’t able to?
- Are you unable to keep a promise to yourself that you won’t gamble today or this week?
- Do you lie about how often you gamble?
- Do you lie about how much money you gamble?
- Have you been able to stop for a period of time but start again?
- Can you just take it or leave it?
- Does it seem that no matter what you try to do, you can’t stop?
Most compulsive gamblers will answer ‘Yes’ to at least 7 of these questions. If you haven’t, ask yourself this: Is it just a matter of time before saying yes? Can you say that those things don’t describe me, or should you say those things don’t describe me just yet?
The first step to stopping is to acknowledge powerlessness and unmanageability.
An addiction eventually consumes us. Addiction is the disease of wanting more. There is an expression in Alcoholics Anonymous: “One is too many, but a thousand is never enough.” This means that when alcoholics start drinking, they can’t stop. Are you powerless over your gambling activity?
We become unmanageable when we gamble and even when we aren’t. A gambling disorder has the power to make your life unmanageable because of the dire consequences which you often have no control over. Yet, you cannot stop.
Helpful Hearts, Minds, and Hands
The good news is, there is help available if you have a problem with gambling. However, getting help will only work if you are prepared to be honest with yourself. Help begins with talking to another human being who has been where you are and knows the signs of gambling addiction. If you have a gambling problem, our hearts and our hands go out to you. You are not a bad person, you have an illness.
If you or a loved one is showing signs of a gambling problem, contact a professional gambling addiction counselor to get the help you need. Blue Sky Counseling in Omaha, NE offers specialized gambling addiction treatment and can help get you back on your feet, free from the chains of addiction.
Additional Reading: Sports betting skyrocketed in pandemic. Experts warn of a ‘ticking time bomb’
Blue Sky Counseling Omaha
I, Carly Spring, M.S., LIMHP, LADC, CPC, offer my specialized expertise to assist in the healing process to anyone who may be experiencing and suffering from a vast spectrum of mental health issues. Such mental health issues include behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, addiction issues, and life transitions. I believe strongly in applying a holistic perspective addressing your whole person not just the bits and pieces of you. Contact us with any questions or to discuss gambling addiction services in Omaha today.