10 Red Flags That Gambling Has Gone Too Far

10 signs or Red Flags Of Gambling Addiction

Gambling can be a blast at first. Putting a few bucks down, the thrill of possibly hitting it big, it’s exciting! But we got to be real – for some folks, gambling can go from fun to seriously dangerous if it becomes an addiction. Getting hooked can wreck your finances, mess up relationships with people you care about, and just make life a lot harder overall. How can you recognize when recreational gambling has crossed over into dangerous territory? Check out our gambling addiction counseling for quitting.

Here are 10 telling signs that a gambling habit has gone too far:
Gambling More Money or More Often

One of the clearest early warning signs is when someone starts gambling larger sums or more frequently than their typical pattern. Needing to gamble with bigger stakes or almost daily to feel the same rush indicates rising addiction.

Chasing Losses

Many addicted gamblers will try to recoup their losses by gambling even more aggressively. But this inevitably leads to deeper financial and emotional holes. Healthy gamblers accept losses as part of the game and move on.

Lying About Gambling Habits

As gambling becomes more compulsive, people often conceal the truth from loved ones to hide the extent of their addiction. Covering up how much they gamble or sneaking around is a huge red flag.

Borrowing to Gamble

When gambling is under control, people only use discretionary money that won’t impact daily life if lost. However addicts may resort to using household money, borrowing from others, or accumulating debts to keep gambling.

Agitation and Restlessness

An addicted gambler will display increasing agitation when trying to cut back on gambling. Common when coming down from the high, this restlessness and inability to focus makes returning to gambling tough to resist.

Withdrawing from Loved Ones

Where once family and friends were a priority, increasingly gambling takes center stage leading to withdrawn behavior and isolation. Time spent gambling means disconnection from healthy relationships.

Neglecting Responsibilities

As the addiction intensifies, gamblers begin overlooking life obligations like work, school, and family commitments. Failing to pay bills on time or missing important events become more frequent.

Bailouts Needed

Compulsive gamblers may ask others to loan them money or pay overdue bills caused by their gambling as it spirals out of control. Needing repeated financial bailouts is a clear sign.

Gambling When Feeling Distressed

Gambling purely for profit or entertainment is different from gambling to numb or avoid negative emotions. Those suffering from addiction may gamble more when feeling stressed, anxious, helpless, or depressed.

Failed Attempts to Cut Back

The clearest confirmation of addiction is being unable to control gambling habits even after repeated attempts to cut back or quit. Admitting powerlessness over the compulsion is the first step to recovery.

The Four Stages of Gambling Addiction.

Psychologists break down gambling addiction into four broad stages:

Winning Phase: Gambling seems exciting, and casual fun. Small wins trigger bigger bets seeking more profits.

Losing Phase: More frequent losses mount, causing rising bets trying to recoup. Begins hiding, lying about gambling.

Desperation Phase: Savings depleted, may resort to begging/borrowing money to gamble. Very reckless betting with an uncontrollable urge.

Hopeless Phase: Realizes gambling has destroyed finances, relationships, and integrity. Hits rock bottom emotionally and economically.

Physical Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Compulsive gambling can manifest not just emotionally and financially, but physically too:

Fatigue – exhaustion from gambling for extended periods.

Headaches – from intensity, eye strain, and smoke in casinos.

Stomach issues – stress and anxiety manifesting physically.

Insomnia – wired thinking about gambling prevents good sleep.

Weakened immunity– neglecting health and self-care.

Shaking hands – adrenaline rush and withdrawal symptoms.

Poor hygiene – overlooking personal care due to preoccupation.

How Gambling Addicts Start
There are a few common paths people follow towards gambling addiction:

Winning Big – One major jackpot triggers the dangerous illusion of easy wins.

Escape – Uses gambling to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or trauma.

Social Pressure – Gets pulled into gambling trying to fit in with friends/family.

Early Big Loss – Early devastating loss sets him on a mission to win it back.

Underlying Disorder – Has underlying conditions like OCD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.

Accessibility – New neighbourhood casino/online gambling provides endless access.

The key is addressing gambling issues early before addiction sets in. Seek support groups, confide in loved ones, and limit access if needed. With vigilance and the right help, gambling can be moderated back to responsible levels.

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