Signs and symptoms of problem gambling

Compulsive gambling is just like any other addiction – it is a progressive illness that consists of a series of phases, with each phase accompanied by its own warning signs. The time taken by a gambler to experience the onset of gambling symptoms usually depends on the type of gambling. Moreover, there are several forms of gambling that do not allow for breaks in play. The signs of compulsive gambling can be delayed in such cases as players are not offered a chance to secure more money in between games. In most cases, the addiction can be found in gamblers within 12 months.

On the other hand, non-continuous forms of gambling tend to lead to a number of difficulties over the long run. For example, gamblers playing card based games are more likely to experience compulsive gambling symptoms much sooner than others.

The difference between action and escape gamblers

Compulsive gamblers usually fall into two categories – action gamblers and escape gamblers. Both gamblers suffer from low self esteem, but action gamblers are considered to be more outgoing, manipulative and egotistical as they believe that they can beat the odds using the skill. On the other hand, escape gamblers primarily see gambling as a means of escaping from their problems.

Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling

Behavioral Signs

  • Skipped family events

  • Conflicts over money

  • Leaves children alone and is less concerned about them

  • Prone to use alcohol or drugs more often

  • Changing patterns of sleeping, sex or eating

  • Talks about gambling all the time

  • Has legal problems related to gambling

  • Begins to ignore self care and work related matters

  • Is late for school or work

  • Is missing for long periods of time

  • Neglects responsibilities

Emotional Signs

  • Depressed or suicidal

  • Anxious and withdrawn

  • Prone to frequent mood swings

Financial Signs

  • Increases working hours or number of jobs without any increase in income

  • Always close to being broke

  • Constantly borrows money from people

  • Cashes in savings accounts and/ or insurance plans

  • Family members complain about money and/ or valuables missing.

Health Signs

  • Frequent headaches

  • Loss of appetite or eating too much

  • Problems in sleeping

Things compulsive gamblers are prone to

Most compulsive gamblers are prone to –

  • Being energetic, restless and extremely competitive

  • Focused around money for everything

  • Have constant distortions such as overconfidence, denial, a sense of control or superstitions

  • Generous to the point of extravagance

  • Binge workers or workaholics who wait till the last moment before they begin to work hard

Differentiating between Normal Gambling and Compulsive Gambling

Gambling has often been described as a form of wagering or betting where the outcome of a particular event depends on chance or a combination of chance and skill. Normal gambling is considered to be extremely healthy and it is known to be a popular form of entertainment. However, compulsive gambling is a disease and is quite similar to alcohol or drug addiction. Normal Gambling, also known as Social Gambling generally occurs with co-workers and friends. It lasts for a limited period of time and is not driven by money. On the other hand, compulsive gambling is when the gambler simply cannot stop gambling and begins to make it the center of his/ her entire existence.