Are you a compulsive gambler? Discover from 111 questions!
Gambling addiction, otherwise known as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, is an impulse-control disorder.
Based on HelpGuide’s reports on gambling addiction and problem gambling, if you are a compulsive player, you cannot manage the desire to gamble, no matter the consequences for you or your loved ones.
You will gamble whether you are up or down, even when you know that you can’t afford to lose or that the odds are against you. One common characteristic of gambling is that it is a zero-sum game. When one wins, the other must lose.
So you can discover if you or a loved one is a compulsive gambler, we have carefully gathered 111 questions from reputable gambling addiction centers and made a helpful guide that can come in handy.
Scroll down and read them carefully!
Do you have a gambling problem?
The unfortunate news is that a gambling problem can also exist without being entirely uncontrollable. If you are spending more time and funds on it, or it begins to disrupt your life, you might want to consider your gambling activity.
We advise you to answer the following questions honestly:
- Do you consider it necessary to be secretive about your gambling?
You might try to keep the amount of time or money spent a secret, feeling others will not understand or that you will surprise them with a big win.
- Do you have trouble limiting your gambling sessions?
You may feel an overwhelming need to gamble, even when at school, work, or at a family dinner.
- Once you start playing, are you able to step aside from it easily?
Or are you compelled to play until your last dollar, increasing your bets, in the hope of winning the lost money back?
- Does gambling make your close ones worry about you?
If your friends and family are concerned, you should pay close attention to their opinion. Denial only keeps compulsive gambling going. You should remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness; on the contrary.
Numerous older punters are hesitant in reaching out to their adult children for help, yet it is never late to turn over a new leaf.
- Do you play until all your money is spent and then move on to capital you don’t have?
This can include credit cards, funds to pay bills, or things for your children. You could feel pushed to sell, borrow, or even steal things for gambling money.
- When trying to reduce or stop, do you feel anxious or irritable?
- Need to bet with increasing amounts to achieve the desired excitement?
A survey performed in Queensland indicated that 83% of problem gamblers had experienced gambling-related financial problems.
- Have you unsuccessfully tried to control, reduce, or stop gambling?
Most individuals that gamble excessively have mixed feelings about it. They are aware that they are causing harm for themselves and the people they love and may feel anxious, depressed, enraged, or uncomfortable.
However, the urge to gamble is most times stronger, and individuals with problem gambling will have difficulty stopping or setting more significant limits on their gambling. When they try to make any changes, they can become irritable and upset.
- Are you having frequent thoughts about betting?
This can involve reviving past gambling experiences, finding new ways to get money to gamble, or planning the next gambling venture.
- Do you wager even when you don’t have the funds?
- Do you regularly gamble when feeling distressed?
Gambling to escape problems or difficulties or lessen helplessness, depression, guilt, anxiety is one of the gambling disorder symptoms.
- After losing money gambling, do you often return to get even?
This is also referred to as “chasing” one’s losses and is very common among compulsive gamblers.
- Have you jeopardized or lost a job or educational/career opportunity because of your gambling?
HealthJade’s Gambling Problem piece claims that specific personality characteristics, like being highly competitive, a compulsive worker, restless, impulsive, or easily bored, can increase your risk of compulsive gambling.
- Do you rely on others to help with money problems caused by gambling?
- Have your patterns of sleeping, eating, or having sex changed?
Like chemical substance addictions, those suffering from compulsive gambling disorder can go through significant withdrawal. Identifying the gambling withdrawal signs and symptoms can help you manage them. These can include:
- Loss of interest in daily activities, such as a morning run, having sex, going to the store;
- Overeating or loss of appetite;
- Changes to sleep patterns – sleeping is essential for your mental well-being. Sleep disruptions can be indicators of other problems, as Algamus Gambling informs on Signs and symptoms of gambling withdrawal.
- Have you started to use alcohol or other drugs more often?
Compulsive gamblers often have substance abuse problems. Based on a study presented by BMC Public Health, Public health effects of gambling – debate on a conceptual model, substance use disorders frequently co-occur with problem gambling, as 28% and 17% of gamblers suffer from alcohol and drug use disorders, respectively.
By contrast, 15% of the individuals seeking care for drug and alcohol-use disorders met the lifetime criteria for problem gambling, while 11% met the current problem gambling criteria.
- Have you ever gambled in the attempt of winning to pay debts or solve any financial difficulties?
- Are you experiencing powerful urges to gamble, whether at an online or land-based casino?
If the answer is yes, you could try building healthier choices, and with time, resisting these cravings will become easier. When this urge strikes, try to:
- Avoid isolation;
- Postpone your gambling session;
- Envision what will happen if you give in to this urge;
- Distract yourself with another activity.
- Have you felt on multiple occasions the need to gamble to win back the money you lost during previous gambling sessions?
- Have you lost time from work or school because of your gambling activities?
Gambling during work or school causes productivity losses, absenteeism, impaired working relationships, and it can eventually lead to termination of employment.
Almost 40% of compulsive gamblers reported that this addiction had affected their job performance, and 61% reported missing work to gamble.
Around 60% of those experiencing gambling problems were out of paid work for more than one month, and nearly 30% had received some social benefit within the previous year.
- Have you gambled until you ran out of money multiple times?
34% of problem gamblers reported having severe financial difficulties, compared with 23% of at-risk gamblers and 10% of nongamblers.
- Have you sold personal or family property to finance your gambling?
Petty theft from family members and illicit lending are some common forms of interpersonal damage. On the other hand, violence associated with gambling issues is a severe type of interpersonal harm.
- Ever engaged in illegal actions to finance your gambling?
- Wagered as a way to escape worry, loneliness, or loss?
The considerable majority of adults have participated in some gambling activity at least once in their life, either for entertainment or to escape some unwanted feelings. Between 40-80% have participated in some form of gambling in the last 12 months.
- Experienced strong needs to gamble after receiving good or bad news?
- Have you been emotionally distressed or sleepless because of gambling?
The harms that gambling causes can coexist with other difficult situations. Gambling-related damage may affect multiple life areas, including psychological and emotional distress, financial and health problems.
- Were there any periods of two weeks or more when you spent a significant amount of time thinking about your gambling experiences? Did you plan future betting sessions or thought of ways to get gambling money?
- Have you lied to your friends, family members, or others about how much you lost on gambling on at least three occasions?
The greater levels of harm are often experienced by partners and children that share finances with a gambler. The most common injuries reported by partners were financial, such as increased debt and financial strain.
- Have you ever taken money that didn’t belong to you in order to pay for your gambling?
- Have your gambling activities ever caused major or repeated problems in your relationships with any of your family members or friends?
In The impact of gambling problems on families, the Australian Institute of Family Studies affirms that problem gambling can substantially impact families and friends communities. While the most available information is based on intimate partners and children, this activity can also affect extended family members such as siblings, parents, and grandparents.
Some of the most common effects on close ones are emotional and financial difficulties and an impaired family relationship.
- Have you ever needed to ask your family, a lending institution, or anyone else for a loan or bail you out of a desperate money situation that was caused by your gambling?
As many as 10 million Americans have a gambling addiction, and over 23 million are in debt due to their betting. The average deficit has been estimated at $55,000 per person. InCharge advises in Solutions Available for Gambling Debts seeking help for the addiction first, then debt help.
- Do you try to cut back on your gambling yet without any success?
- Has your gambling behaviour interfered with your job or school?
Gambling addiction can affect employment in numerous ways. Betting at work can cause productivity losses, absenteeism, as well as the termination of employment. It was observed that about 40% of problem gamblers reported that their job performance was affected, while 61% reported missing work to gamble.
- Did gambling affect your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
Gambling’s health impacts are related to substantial increases in distress. Psychological or emotional distress can include guilt, anxiety, shame, grief, helplessness, and self-hatred. It was estimated that 4-6% of individuals who gambled within the last 12 months experienced guilt feelings.
- Did gambling cause a decrease in your motivations or efficiency?
- Were you hesitant to use “betting money” for regular expenses?
Whether you had to pay for groceries, bills, or household items, have you ever felt reluctant to spend your money saved for gambling activities?
- Did gaming make you careless of the welfare of your loved ones or yourself?
Gambler’s careless behaviour of his well-being or the close ones can result in jeopardizing the bond among family members. When they can no longer trust the gambler, feel no sense of security, or even fear for their future, the result is a breakdown in any relationship.
- Do arguments, failures, or frustrations create within you an impulse to bet?
- Do you usually gamble for a longer period than you initially planned?
While any engaging activity makes you lose the sense of time, casinos have put extra effort into it. Learn how gambling distorts reality and makes you lose track of time.
- Did you ever have a craving to celebrate any good luck with a few hours of gambling?
- Ever considered suicide or self-destruction as a result of your compulsive activities?
Compulsive gamblers have higher rates of suicidal notions, attempts, and even completed suicides. A link between these two can be explained by excessive debts, jeopardizing the relationships, legal matters, or substance-related issues.
- Have you ever considered doing an illicit act to finance your gaming activities?
Approximately 1/4 of those in Oregon gambling treatment testify in committing unlawful acts to obtain gambling funds.
Most of these crimes are non-violent, such as check forgery, embezzlement, credit card theft, tax evasion, fraud, and employee theft.
- Does gambling cause you to lose ambition for other parts of your life?
- Do you ever play to try and earn extra money for bills?
Irrespective of the game you play, the odds of the casino winning your funds are larger than those of you winning the casino’s money. They say that “The house always wins” for a reason.
- Has gambling affected your work productivity?
- After you have won, do you feel like you should go back for more?
If you do go back and play again, the chances are that you will lose most or all of your money won.
- Have you self-excluded from a casino and thought about other ways to gamble still?
Regrettably, it is estimated that over 80% of individuals that suffer from some type of gambling addiction do not seek treatment, no matter the severity of it. Within the Gambling Addiction: Stats, Symptoms, and Treatment Options, Psycom also mentions other statistics revealing that even if some people seek treatment for their addiction, more than 70% end up returning to the gambling world.
However, that doesn’t mean there is no recovery way, as some have succeeded in defeating this addiction.
- Have others criticized your gambling behaviour or mentioned that you had a problem, irrespective of whether or not you thought it was true?
- Ever felt guilty about what happens when you gamble?
Whether it’s spending large sums of money, how losing affects your mood, or how it can transform into a serious matter.
- Have you ever hidden gambling money, lottery tickets, betting slips, or other signs of gambling from your family or friends?
- Have you ever argued over how you handle money with the people you live with?
Compulsive gamblers may try to find different ways to get gambling money, whether from their salary, family savings, partner’s funds, loans, and the list could go on. Because of this, multiple arguments can appear over money spending.
When you think of the past year, how frequently…
- Were you tempted to play out of the blue?
- Did you play because you wanted to win?
- Have you borrowed money or sold something in order to get money to gamble?
- Did you visit a land-based or online casino?
- The chance to gamble arose?
- Did you want to see what would happen if you would just gamble for a few minutes?
- Have you felt that you could have a gambling problem, whether or not you accepted that thought?
- Did financial debts pressure you?
- Did you start playing because you saw others gambling?
- Did someone invite you to play?
- You gambled because you felt lucky?
- Did you need to increase the amount of money for the same feeling of exhilaration?
- Have you spent more than you afforded to lose?
- Did you go back to play, needing to win past losses?
Are you concerned that the one you care about is having a gambling problem?
There are four matters you should keep in mind:
Help yourself first!
You should protect yourself on an emotional and financial level. Ignoring your needs can be a recipe for burnout. Do not make the gambler’s responsibility your own, or let his/her gambling problems dominate your life.
Don’t go it alone!
Dealing with a loved one’s addiction can feel overwhelming, and it may seem simpler to rationalize their requirement “one last time.” If you feel shame, thinking that you are the only one with this type of problem, you are not!
Reaching out for support can help you and your close one make the first step towards a better future.
Set boundaries in handling funds!
Consider taking over the family finances. This will prevent relapse, ensuring that the gamblers stay accountable. Yet, this doesn’t mean you are responsible for micromanaging her or his impulses to gamble. Your primary duties are to keep your funds and credit risk-free.
Determine how you will manage money requests!
One crucial thing to remember is that problem gamblers regularly become excellent at asking for cash, either directly or indirectly. They could use manipulation, pleading, or even threats to get it. While difficult, it takes practice to ensure you are not enabling his or her addiction.
If you suspect your loved one has an addiction, there are multiple signs that can give you a proper answer.
Does the individual:
- Misses family events?
- Ignores self-care, work, or family tasks?
- Stops doing what he or she previously enjoyed?
- Changes patterns of sleep, eating, or sex?
- Has conflicts over money with other people?
- Uses alcohol or other drugs more often, or engaged in harmful lifestyle behaviors, such as watching more than 20 hours of TV per week?
- Deceives or steals to get gambling money or pay debts?
- Leaves the children alone, seems less worried about who looks after them, or neglects their primary care?
- Thinks about betting most of the time?
- Tries to spend little to none on everyday things other than gambling?
- Has gambling-related legal problems?
- Is often late for work or school?
- Does he/she spend large amounts of money or time gambling?
- Is away for lengthy, unexplained periods?
- Neglects personal responsibilities?
- Has gambled away money needed to pay household bills?
- Risked or lost a relationship because of gambling?
- Does he/she usually gamble to try to win back losses?
- Jeopardized or lost a job because of betting?
- Has trouble sleeping because of gambling problems?
Compulsive players need their close ones’ support, especially their family, to overcome addiction. However, the decision to quit has to be theirs. As difficult as it is to see the effects, you cannot make someone stop gambling.
What you can do is protect yourself, encourage them to ask for help, support all their efforts, and take seriously any talk of suicide.
Read the following questions and think if you recognize in your loved one the following emotional signs.
Does the gambler:
- Withdraws from family and friends?
- Seems far away, anxious, or has trouble concentration or paying attention?
- Has mood swings and sudden anger outbursts?
- Complains of restlessness or boredom?
- Seems depressed or suicidal?
Compulsive gamblers can suffer a crushing drop in self-esteem when faced with the consequences of their actions. This is one of the reasons why there is such a high rate among problem gamblers.
Should you suspect your loved one is feeling suicidal, visit Befrienders Worldwide to find a suicide helpline in your country.
- Alternate between being broke and flashing money?
- Frequently borrows cash or asks for salary advances?
- Takes a second job without a change in finances?
- Cashes in savings accounts, RRSP, or insurance plans?
- Do family members complain that valuables and appliances are missing from the house or that money is missing from a bank account or wallet?
Does the gamer complain about stress-related health problems, such as:
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Stomach and bowel problems;
- Loss of appetite.
Repeated stress exposure affects the individual’s health outcomes, as gaming is associated with heart conditions, headaches, stomach disorders, high blood pressure, weight loss, cardiac arrest, arthritis, indigestion, tachycardia, angina, cirrhosis, and other liver diseases.
Particularly, problem gamblers are more likely to avoid regular exercise and less likely to seek health care.
57% of nongamblers and 54% of recreational players reported good or excellent healthcare. In comparison, 44% of low-risk, 36% of moderate-risk, and only 22% of problem gamblers reported good or excellent general health.
Do’s and Don’ts for problem gambler’s partners
- Ignore your partner’s positive qualities;
- Prevent him or her participate in family events and activities;
- Conceal or deny your partner’s issues to yourself or others;
- Lose your temper, lecture, preach, or issue threats and ultimatums that you are not able to follow through on;
- Presume your partner’s recovery to be smooth or easy. Even when the gambling ends, other underlying obstacles may emerge;
- Enable his/her gambling in any way or bail your partner out of debt.
- Speak to your partner about their gambling issues and their repercussions when you are calm and not stressed or angry;
- Talk to your children about the partner’s gambling problem;
- Start managing the family finances, prudently monitoring any bank and credit card statements;
- Seek help yourself. Self-help groups for families of problem gamblers, like Gam-Anon, can present you to people who have confronted the same obstacles;
- Let your partner know that you’re seeking help because his/her gambling behaviour affects you and the family;
- Encourage and help your loved one during the gambling addiction treatment, even though it can be a long process with some or multiple setbacks.
Does your teen have a gambling problem?
At most online casinos, you can create an account that lets its members play in the demo free of charge or for real money. Most will require KYC details (ID or passport copy, bank statement, etc.) only when a withdrawal is needed or when the cashed-out sum exceeds certain limits.
This can attract teens to start wagering or betting and, unfortunately, develop a gambling problem. You can find out more about how online gambling becomes a rapidly growing addiction among teenagers. There are certain signs that you can watch out for that will help you recognize a possible issue. Here are the questions you should ask yourself:
Has your teen been…
- Skipping school?
- Preoccupied with video arcades, gambling websites, TV poker, or sports results?
- Asking for money more often or for increased amounts?
- Borrowing money or stealing from friends and family?
- Selling or losing possessions?
- Missed time from work or school?
- Having large unexplained amounts of cash?
- Owning a fake ID, casino entry cards, or racetrack receipts among belongings?
- Smoking, consuming alcohol, or using drugs?
- Changing his/her behaviour, such as being more secretive than usual or lonesome?
Compulsive gambling is most frequent in younger and middle-aged persons. Gambling during childhood or the teenage years heightens the danger of developing compulsive gambling. Learn How to protect your child from gambling in due time.
How to stop gambling for good
For numerous problem gamblers, the biggest challenge is not quitting but rather staying in recovery, committing to stay away from gambling permanently.
While the online world of gambling makes it more challenging for you to keep away, recovery is still possible if you avoid tempting environments and websites, give up control of your finances, find healthier activities, and surround yourself with people to whom you’re accountable.
Make healthier choices
One way to stop gaming is to eliminate the elements necessary for gambling and replace them with healthier alternatives. There are four elements you need to keep in mind:
For gambling to happen, you need to make that decision. If you have the urge, stop what you are doing and call someone close or a helpline. Think about the consequences, and find immediately another activity.
You cannot gamble without funds. Dispose of your credit cards, keep only a limited amount of cash, and let someone you trust be responsible for your money. You can also require the bank to make automatic payments for you.
Not even online gambling can occur if you don’t have time for it. Tell yourself that you’ll wait 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. As you wait, the urge to gamble might pass or become weak enough to resist.
Find enjoyable activities and plan them for your free time. If you gamble on your mobile, find other methods to fill the quiet time during your day.
There can’t be an opportunity to gamble without a game or activity to bet on. Do not let yourself in tempting environments again. If there are any gambling establishments that you frequent, ask them to restrict your entry.
Also, block the gambling sites and remove any apps on your mobile and computer.
Find substitutes to your gambling
Maintaining recovery from this type of addiction depends on finding alternative behaviours you can substitute for gambling. Some examples include:
Reasons for betting
Sport or a challenging hobby (rock climbing, Go Kart racing, mountain biking)
Numb unpleasant feelings
Therapy or Emotional Intelligence Toolkit
To be more social, overcome isolation
Join a social group, volunteer, find new friends
Loneliness or boredom
Find something you are passionate about and find others that share this interest
Solve money issues
The odds are stacked against you; seek help from a credit counselor
Relax after a tense day
15 minutes of daily exercise, meditation, deep breathing, or massage can relieve stress
Gambling addiction treatment
Defeating a gambling addiction is never easy and seeking professional treatment is not a sign of weakness. You must bear in mind that every gambler is unique, and you will need a recovery program specifically tailored to your needs.
You should talk to your mental health professional about different treatment options, such as:
Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programme
This treatment is intended for those with a severe gambling addiction who cannot stop without constant support.
Treatment for fundamental conditions contributing to your compulsive betting
It may involve substance abuse or mental health problems (anxiety, depression, OCD, or ADHD).
This may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Compulsive gambling can also be a symptom of bipolar disorder, so before making a diagnosis, your doctor may need to rule this out.
CBT aims to change unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as justifications and false beliefs. You can also learn how to fight the betting urges and solve work, financial, and relationship troubles caused by problem gambling.
Family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling
Therapy can help you work through the particular issues that gambling problems have created and lay the foundation for restoring your relationships and finances.
Keeping a record is the key to gaining a better insight into your behaviour, and Gambling Therapy provides multiple Self-help exercises.
Thus, keep a gambling diary and try to keep track of:
- What you were doing;
- Who you were with;
- Time and money spent;
- The chosen gambling type;
After keeping your diary up to date for a couple of weeks and having a look back at your notes, you should be able to identify some trends and try avoiding them. For instance, it may be that you tend to feel alone and anxious before beginning gambling.
Problem gambling evaluation
Mayo Clinic speaks about Compulsive gambling diagnosis, informing that to evaluate your gambling problem, your doctor or mental health professional will:
- Ask questions about your gambling habits – he or she may also require permission to speak with your friends and family members. Do not worry, as the confidentiality laws will prevent your doctor from providing any details about you without your approval;
- Review your medical information – some drugs can have an unusual side effect that results in compulsive behaviour, including gambling, in some people. Also, a physical exam may identify health problems that are sometimes associated with compulsive gambling;
- Do a psychiatric assessment – this evaluation contains questions about your thoughts, symptoms, feelings, and behaviour patterns related to your gambling. Depending on your signs, you may be evaluated for mental health disorders that are sometimes associated with excessive gaming;
- Use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Closing thoughts and references
Suppose most or even all of the actions from the 111 questions were frequently made during the past year. In that case, you (or your loved one) should consider being analyzed by a propper psychologist.
You can also find multiple Responsible Gambling Institutions in Canada that will help you overcome your gambling addiction.
You should also consider a general blocking software designed to stop access on any website, set access permissions or parental controls. Moreover, you can try a gambling-specific blocking software to keep your gambling in place. If nothing else, it shall give you some thinking time when you have an urge to gamble.
If you cannot resist the cravings, don’t be too hard on yourself or use it as a pretext to give up. Defeating a gambling addiction is a complex process, and you may slip from time to time. However, the most vital thing is to learn from your mistakes and continue working towards recovery!