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Signs of a problem gambler

For most people, gambling is a pleasant diversion. But for some, gambling becomes an addiction. Not sure if it's a problem for you? The Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling offers a list of signs that someone might need help.

A problem gambler:

  • Is preoccupied with gambling (e.g., preoccupied with reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).

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  • Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement or escape.

  • Gambles longer than planned.

  • Has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling.

  • Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.

  • Gambles as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression or to escape physical pain.

  • Often returns to get even ("chasing" one's losses) after losing money gambling.

  • Lies to family members, therapist or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling. May include lying by omission.

  • Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.

  • Borrows from friends and family and often lies about the true cause of the financial crisis.

  • Refinances mortgages or loans; cashes in life insurance, CDs, 401(k)s.

  • Commits illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance gambling.

  • Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.

  • Increases amount of time spent gambling.

  • Feels shame, guilt and remorse after gambling.

  • Becomes manipulative and controlling.

  • Makes excuses about whereabouts. Poorly explained absences from home and work.

  • Loses interest in regular activities, hobbies.

  • Gambles when there is a crisis.

  • Gambles to celebrate good fortune.

  • Withdraws from family and friends.

  • Changes in personality: Angry; irritable; critical; sarcastic; depressed; argumentative

  • Denies gambling is a problem and will not discuss it even when confronted.

  • Gambles on holidays and special occasions.

  • Uses gambling to cope when life seems overwhelming.

  • Brags and lies about winnings and evasive about losses

  • Lying becomes a way of life.

  • Gambles alone

  • Selects favorite machine (slot or video poker, kino)

  • Loses a sense of the value of money as currency and sees it only as a way to play longer.

-- Posted: Feb. 28, 2005

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