When you suspect someone has a drug addiction, there are signs you can look for…needle marks, dilated pupils, changes in personality, a “new set of friends,” drug paraphernalia, and mood changes, just to name a few.
If you think someone may have a drinking problem, again, there are signs…they’re drinking every day, lying about their drinking or trying to hide it completely, drinking when they shouldn’t, like before or during work, and “losing time” due to blackouts.
These addictions offer a number of fairly obvious signs, and all you have to do is just look for them. Gambling is an exceptional addiction.
A Gambling Addiction Can Be Hard to Detect
Like most addictions, compulsive gambling can and will destroy your life, your relationships and your career. The difference between most addictions and this insidious one is that gambling can be extremely hard to recognize, especially if you have no idea you should be looking for it.
It offers few, if any, outward signs. No one comes home with needle marks or red eyes, slurring their speech or stumbling through the door. Nobody has to repeatedly call into work because they’re too hung over to show up. There’s no detectable smell of a casino on their breath, like there is when they’ve been drinking bourbon or beer.
In many cases, you won’t know you need to be looking for signs of a gambling addiction because the signs of the addiction are so subtle. It’s an addiction that can easily blindside you because by the time it’s bad enough for you to become aware of its existence, it’s usually already at a devastating level.
Gambling Addiction Signs to Look For
If you suspect, even just a little, that you or someone you love may be addicted to gambling, here are some sure-fire signs to indicate you should dig a little deeper to find out for certain.
- Lying – This is a big part of an addicted gambler’s life. Suddenly it seems they’re lying to everyone about everything. Where they’ve been, why they’re late, what they need ‘extra’ money for, why they don’t have the money for obligations like bills, mortgage, car payment, etc.The sad thing is, a gambler lies to himself (or herself) far more than they do to anyone else. The biggest lie is trying to convince themselves that, firstly, they’re not addicted to gambling at all.
- Borrowing or Stealing Money – Gambling addiction creates a problem for the pathological gambler, in that it requires more and more money to keep it going.Much like a drug addict requires larger and larger quantities of drugs to attain the same level of “high,” compulsive gamblers need more and more money, not only to fuel the addiction, but also to pay back debts incurred from the frequent, but certain, losses.
- Betting More Money, More Often – Hand in hand with the need for more money, gambling addicts feel the need to bet more often, while also increasing the dollar amounts, in order to feel the same adrenaline high as before.
- Obsessed and Unable to Stop – It will get to the point the gambling is completely out of their control. Their entire life begins to revolve around thinking about their last gambling episode and planning for the next time they can go.Even if they finally get to the point they know they should stop, they’re unable to resist the urge to gamble every chance they get.
- Gambling Becomes Their World – Finally, the gambling addict doesn’t seem to care about anything except their gambling. The ever-present hope of “winning it all” drives them in a way that excludes everything and everyone else in their life. They’re typically deeply in debt at this point and families and careers are at risk.
The Silver Lining
There can be a silver lining to this dark cloud of addiction. Treatment is available for those who want it. As with any addiction, it’s not an easy road back to normal, but it does exist, and there are support networks available to help even the most addicted gambler get there.