What are the signs of compulsive gambling?
One warning sign of compulsive gambling is that the gambler begins to think constantly about gambling. His or her everyday life becomes centered on winning to the point where even lunch breaks and vacations are planned with gambling in mind. Family, work, and other aspects of life are ignored in order to spend time gambling.
Compulsive gamblers often try to hide their addiction to gambling and will not admit the extent of their gambling losses. They might borrow money from co-workers, sell possessions, or take out loans without stating the real reason they need the money. They often justify their actions by thinking that the next time they gamble they will win enough to pay back their debts.
As the need to repay their losses increases, compulsive gamblers often bet larger amounts of money. Continued losses can lead them into greater debt and depression, which can include suicidal thoughts. Moodiness and irritability are also signs of compulsive gambling.
What are the dangers of compulsive gambling?
Excessive gambling can lead to large amounts of debt. If you have been a compulsive gambler, you may have taken out loans and stacked up credit card bills to support your gambling habits. You may have borrowed money from friends, relatives, and co-workers, which leaves you feeling uneasy around these people when you can’t pay the money back.
Gambling can also lead to family and marital problems. Your spouse or partner may become angry when he or she realizes the extent of the financial problems that you both face. Family members may become irritated that you spend more and more time away from home, ignoring the needs of the family. This secretiveness can make the spouse or partner feel betrayed, causing the relationship to further erode.
Your job performance may suffer because your concentration is on winning, not on work. You may misuse your time at work by making “secret” phone calls (which are usually debt related), calling in sick in order to spend time gambling, and taking extended lunch periods to gamble. When compulsive gamblers are unable to find funds to support their addiction, some may even embezzle money from their company.
Compulsive gamblers often suffer from health-related problems as well, because they neglect their health while focused on gambling.
How can you recover from compulsive gambling?
Try to find a sponsor and a recovery support system that makes you feel comfortable and safe. Gamblers Anonymous (GA) can offer support based on the Twelve Steps, while Gam-Anon can help family members who have been affected by a loved one’s gambling addiction.
To maintain your ongoing recovery from gambling and other addictions, you’ll need to keep working the Twelve Steps. You’ve worked hard in early recovery; now it’s time to protect and plan for your ongoing recovery. Remember to work the Steps, utilize your sponsor and friends for support, and go to meetings. These things will help you develop and maintain a healthy, happy outlook on life.
There are many resources out there. The websites for the following organizations were chosen for their usefulness and user friendliness.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
This website provides information about compulsive gambling, the history of Gamblers Anonymous, and the Twelve Steps. It offers a directory to help you find GA meetings in your state and a questionnaire to help you determine whether you have a problem with gambling.
Gam-Anon is a self-help organization for the spouse, partner, family member, or close friend of a compulsive gambler. It offers a directory of meetings indexed by state.