What Are the Signs of a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling involves risking real money or material valuables on an outcome that depends in some way on chance. It involves an element of uncertainty and is considered immoral by some groups. However, it also can be an enjoyable social activity when enjoyed in moderation. For example, gambling can help people bond with their peers by learning and sharing strategies and tactics. However, it is important to know the signs of problem gambling so that you can seek treatment if necessary.

Pathological gambling is a mental health disorder that can cause serious problems for the person and their family. It is characterized by repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling behavior. It may include lying to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling or relying on others for money to gamble. The compulsion to gamble can lead to financial ruin, jeopardize personal relationships, interfere with work or school, and negatively impact a person’s life in many ways.

While it is not entirely clear why some people develop a gambling addiction, experts agree that it is often related to impulse control. It can be difficult to control the urge to gamble, especially if it is associated with negative emotions like stress, depression or anxiety. These underlying mood disorders can contribute to the development of gambling addictions or make them worse.

Several things can contribute to the development of gambling addictions, including genetics, environment and culture. A person’s temperament, personality, and childhood experiences also can influence whether they are prone to developing an addiction to gambling.

The most common sign of a gambling addiction is when a person loses control over their spending and begins to spend more than they can afford. They may also begin to lie about their spending and other behaviors.

A gambling addiction can affect anyone, but it is most common among men and young people. Up to 5% of adolescents and young adults who gamble develop a gambling disorder. It is also more likely to occur in people with a history of traumatic events, abuse, or neglect.

It can be difficult to admit that you have a gambling problem, but it is a critical step towards recovery. A therapist can help you understand the root causes of your gambling addiction and develop a plan to overcome it. BetterHelp is an online counseling service that can match you with a therapist who has experience treating gambling addictions. Start by taking our assessment to be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.