How does a person know if they have a gambling problem? This is a good
question and GA gambler's anonymous
has a handy 20 question survey that anyone can take on line. It is
hard to differentiate what constitutes a gambling problem
for any specific person. The difficulty comes the definition of the
word "problem" It may be easiest to examine the problem
in three areas: biological, psychological and social. The actual
ambling problem could express itself in these areas of a person's
life. Lets provide some examples of a gambling problem in each of
these ares. A biological gambling problem could be a person
who is physically addicted to gambling. A psychological gambling
problem could be someone who uses gambling to change their
mood. A social gambling problem could be a person who uses gambling as
there main means of social interaction. If the person
continually used gambling as a means to deal with life on life's terms
this is not good. What is meant to be a casual activity
becomes the major focus of living. This slide of dependence into
gambling may be so gradual that the person is not aware that
it is happening.
The terms problem gambler and pathological gambler are frequently used
to describe someone with a significant gambling
problem. These terms have been around a long time and are frequently
used interchangeably.As far as the medical community
goes, they have not recognized the disease of gambling addiction
except in the last 20 years. The whole concept of gambling
as an addiction and not just a gambling problem is now more widely
accepted amongst the treatment community. Let's consider
additional situations that might indicate a person has a gambling
problem. The signs or symptoms we shall explore will fall in
the three areas we have previously mentioned: biological,
psychological and social.
Biological signs and symptoms of a gambling problem: addiction to
gambling, withdrawal symptoms when not gambling( anxiety,
insomnia, distracted, anger),craving to gamble, depression and or mood
changes, constant thoughts of gambling, mind betting.
These biological signs and symptoms of a gambling problem will get
worse as the gambling addiction progresses in severity.
The treatment of these symptoms may require medical intervention and
inpatient treatment. Patients who experience severe gambling
withdrawal have a real gambling problem and need help.
Psychological signs or symptoms of a gambling problem: depression ,
anxiety, insomnia, magical thinking, belief systems that
they can somehow control "luck" or outcomes of betting. The patients
may become delusional and suicide is common in the
hard core gamblers. These folks with a serious gambling problem are
frequently "chasing their losses" and are confidant they can get back
even. When not actually betting they often make mind bets where they
imagine the outcomes of real or imaginary betting
situations. Their waking moments are psychologically consumed with
gambling.The treatment of these symptoms may require medication,
counseling, professional help or support groups
Social signs or symptoms of a gambling problem: nearly all social
activities relate to gambling in some way or another. This is
quite evident in the person who has a significant gambling problem.
Their actions, friends, social activities all revolve around
gambling. Their friends are gamblers and they only go to places where
gambling is part of the action. The person with a gambling
problem may also have horrid financial problems due to their gambling.
These financial difficulties may ruin marriages and cause the
gambler to commit financial crimes.Nearly 50% of gambling addicts
commit financial crimes. This is indeed a gambling problem.