Recognizing Gambling Addiction

Recognizing Gambling Addiction

Addiction can be heartbreaking to watch someone you care about struggle with, yet it is crucial that their behavior not be covered up or any potential repercussions protected against.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be effective in helping with compulsive gambling, often by shifting unhealthy thoughts and beliefs associated with betting.


People struggling with gambling addiction will typically display irregular behavior in their everyday lives, including hiding gambling activity from loved ones and finding ways to delay bills payments or work longer hours without notification from management. Liars may also begin lying about where they spend their time. Mood swings could also indicate someone has an addiction problem.

Gambling addiction can create many serious difficulties for those affected, including money issues, job loss, relationship difficulties and even criminal acts to acquire more funds to gamble with. Many who struggle with gambling addiction also suffer anxiety or depression and feel powerless to change their behavior.

Be wary of signs of gambling addiction among friends and family. Early recognition can allow those affected to get professional treatment before their issues worsen further. Furthermore, identification of any additional addictions that might exist will allow for dual diagnosis treatment to take place as necessary.


Living with an addictive gambler may require setting boundaries when it comes to money. This includes not allowing them to spend beyond what is affordable, as well as avoiding places which trigger gambling cravings. For help in setting these strategies, seek professional counseling or an addiction support group in your area.

Gambling addiction can be difficult to pinpoint exactly, due to various risk factors including age, sex and family history.

At its heart, problem gambling requires us to recognize its symptoms and act quickly before it has an adverse impact on finances, relationships and careers. Up until recently, pathological gambling was often classified as an impulse control disorder – which included similar disorders like Kleptomania and Trichotillomania (hair pulling). Recently however, the American Psychiatric Association made what many considered an unprecedented move by moving pathological gambling from that label into its Addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – marking what many see as a milestone decision by moving pathological gambling from impulse-control disorder label into Addictions chapter!


At first, acknowledging their problem can be the hardest step towards seeking treatment – yet many gamblers continue regardless, risking money and relationships in order to feed their addiction. Once this step has been taken, seeking help should follow as quickly as possible.

Gambling problems can have devastating psychological and physical repercussions for those involved. Gambling addictions fall under the category of process addiction or behavioral addiction, meaning someone becomes addicted to a behavior which produces feelings rather than substances.

Pathological gambling addiction is typically treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Through this therapy, those affected will learn how to resist unwanted thoughts and habits while challenging irrational beliefs – like believing a string of losses means an imminent win – as well as recognize and stop compulsive behaviors.


Watching someone you care for struggle with gambling addiction is often painful, particularly when their problem impacts relationships, finances or emotional wellbeing. If someone you know has an issue, encourage them to seek assistance – counseling sessions with clinical professionals or self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous may provide invaluable help; additionally they could join a self-exclusion program which legally prevents accessing casinos of their choosing.

Behavioral therapy is at the core of treating addictive gambling disorders, and may include cognitive-behavioral therapy or systematic exposure. This form of therapy works to reprogram individuals’ brains by replacing negative gambling thoughts with more healthy beliefs; additionally it may address any underlying mood disorders such as depression, stress or anxiety which trigger gambling problems or make them worse. Psychotherapy alone may not suffice – in addition to this option people may benefit from medication designed for substance abuse treatment which have also shown promise in decreasing gambling urges.