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Recognizing the Signs: How to Identify Gambling Addiction in Yourself or Others

Gambling can be a form of entertainment for some people, but for many, it becomes an addictive behavior that can have devastating consequences on their lives. Recognizing the signs of gambling addiction is crucial for early intervention and support. 

Whether you are concerned about your own habits or worried about someone close to you, understanding the indicators of gambling addiction can be the first step toward seeking help and finding a path to recovery.

Understanding Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a multifaceted and harmful behavioral disorder that can have severe repercussions on individuals and their relationships. It typically evolves gradually, often commencing as an innocent pastime before spiraling into an uncontrollable addiction.

Also known as pathological gambling or addictive gambling, this psychological disorder is characterized by an individual’s inability to control their gambling impulses, regardless of the negative consequences that follow. Like any addiction, gambling can lead to diverse adverse effects on a person’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

What are the signs of gambling addiction?

Signs of gambling addiction can vary from person to person, but some common indicators include:

Preoccupation with Gambling

A person caught in the grips of gambling addiction often finds their mind preoccupied with thoughts of gambling. They may constantly dwell on past gambling experiences, eagerly plan for future gambling sessions, or devote time to devising strategies to secure more funds for their gambling pursuits.

Inability to Control Gambling

Being unable to halt or reduce gambling activities, regardless of the person’s wish to do so, is a prominent indicator of addiction. This inability to cease gambling persists even when the individual acknowledges the adverse consequences and substantial financial losses it may bring.

Chasing Losses

In an attempt to recoup losses, individuals with a gambling problem often resort to betting more or increasing the size of their bets. Unfortunately, this behavior leads to a vicious cycle of escalating financial distress as they chase after their previous losses.

Neglecting Responsibilities

Neglecting responsibilities due to gambling addiction is a common and concerning sign of a deeper problem. Gambling addiction tends to consume a substantial portion of a person’s time, energy, and resources, causing them to disregard crucial aspects of their life and obligations.

Financial Problem

Suffering from financial hardships as a result of gambling losses is a common consequence, and individuals with a gambling addiction may resort to borrowing money, selling possessions, or even engaging in illegal activities to support their gambling habits.

Lying about Gambling

Engaging in deception is a prevalent behavior linked to gambling addiction. As the addiction deepens, individuals may resort to lying in order to conceal the full extent of their gambling activities or to safeguard their addiction from being exposed by others.

Borrowing Money for Gambling

As gambling addiction takes hold, individuals often face substantial financial losses and deplete their own resources, driving them to seek money from others to sustain their addiction. Borrowing money to fuel their gambling habits can lead them into a relentless cycle of debt. As gambling losses mount, the debt burden increases, resulting in escalating financial strain and stress.

Withdrawal from Social Activities

People with a gambling addiction may gradually withdraw from social gatherings, hobbies, and events they once enjoyed. They may prefer spending more time alone or engaging in gambling activities instead of socializing with friends and family which can lead to strain relationships with family and friends.

Mood Swings and Irritability

Individuals grappling with gambling addiction often encounter frequent mood swings, displaying irritability or defensiveness when confronted about their gambling behavior. The stress stemming from their addiction can render their emotions unpredictable and challenging to manage.

Feeling “Normal” During Gambling

Individuals afflicted with gambling addiction may perceive a sense of normalcy and comfort when engaging in gambling activities. As it becomes their new standard for contentment, it distorts their perception of what a healthy emotional state should be, leading them to believe that the highs and lows associated with gambling are an acceptable norm.

Escalating Bets or Risks

As addiction deepens, individuals may progressively increase their wagers in pursuit of the same rush they initially experienced while gambling. The belief that larger bets will lead to bigger wins becomes ingrained, causing substantial financial losses.

In severe instances, gambling addicts may even put their personal possessions and valuable assets on the line as bets. Items of high worth, such as electronics, jewelry, and even their vehicles, are wagered, driven by the conviction that the potential payoff justifies the risk taken.

It’s important to note that experiencing one or a few of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean someone has a gambling addiction. However, if you or someone you know exhibits several of these signs and it’s causing distress or disruption in life, it may be an indication of a gambling problem.

How can self-awareness help in overcoming gambling addiction?

Gaining self-awareness plays a pivotal role in conquering gambling addiction. By acknowledging and comprehending personal triggers and emotional patterns, one can proactively steer clear of situations that might lead to gambling. Furthermore, being honest with oneself about the adverse consequences of gambling and seeking support can significantly facilitate the path to recovery.

Through self-awareness, individuals can come to terms with their gambling addiction, breaking through the common defense mechanism of denial. By facing the truth about their behavior and its detrimental effects on their lives, they take the first crucial step toward healing.


Recognizing the signs of gambling addiction is crucial to providing support and assistance to those affected. If you identify these signs in yourself or someone else, seeking professional help is essential. Gambling addiction is a serious condition, but recovery is possible with the right treatment and support system. Friends and family can play a crucial role in encouraging individuals to seek help and offering their support throughout the recovery process.

 If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, it is essential to seek professional help.Remember, seeking help for gambling addiction is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to confront the issue and take steps toward recovery. Professional help can significantly improve your chances of overcoming gambling addiction and regaining control of your life. At Blueprints for Recovery, we have decades of experience in the field of recovery from gambling addiction. Contact us today to begin your recovery journey. We’re here to help!