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When Does Gambling Cross the Line Into Addiction?

Gambling can be a relatively fun and exciting pastime for a large portion of the population that participates in it. There are even benefits on a social, economic, and physical level to the act of gambling: Gambling can make players more excited and interested and promote positive social interaction. Gambling benefits the local economy with the taxes paid by casinos and the jobs they offer to the local population. Finally, gambling reduces stress and, in the right environment, raises the overall level of happiness in players. On top of that, winners get a little extra income in their pockets, which is always a nice bonus.

But gambling can also devastate the lives of those who partake too often. According to a paper published in PLoS One,  “A substantial minority of gamblers experience a problem or at-risk gambling, leading to harmful consequences and reductions in health-related quality of life.” For those people, it is helpful to consider the signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction before their lives become completely unmanageable.

Signs of a Gambling Addiction

A sure sign that gambling has gotten out of hand is when it is no longer fun, but you continue gambling anyway. Pursuing a voluntary activity when it is no longer something you enjoy strongly indicates that addiction is at its root.

If you borrow money from friends or family to continue gambling or pay gambling debts, you may have an addiction. Lending money to people so they can bet on another horse, play another hand, or spin the wheel one more time can get old, even when it’s for someone you love. If you find yourself becoming a drain on the bank accounts of those closest to you, it’s time to stop.

Missing out on social commitments or family obligations to keep gambling is another sign that you have a problem.

If you are experiencing increased debt and an inability to keep up with mandatory bills, you may have a gambling addiction. Running out of money before you pay your debts is a slippery slope. Once the money runs out, someone with a gambling addiction might try even more gambling in the hopes of recovering lost money and balancing their finances.

Lying about gambling to hide the severity of the issue is never a good idea; healthy pastimes are never really anything to lie about. If someone finds that they can’t admit how much time or money they spend on gambling, then deep down, they know t is too much.

If you cannot stop gambling even when you want to, then gambling has become a full-fledged addiction.

Facing the possibility of addiction is never easy, but identifying the key signs of a gambling addiction early can mean the difference between a happy, prosperous life and financial ruin. Fortunately, treatment is available for process addictions like gambling.

Addictions have a way of creeping into our lives without us knowing it. It’s hard to admit that something we once enjoyed has become a dominating force that controls our thoughts and actions. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of active addiction is an essential first step, and having the courage to ask for help is a key element in treating the abuse. If you or someone you love may have a gambling addiction, seeking treatment can prevent crumbling finances and ruined relationships. For more information, call (855) 483-7800.