What is Compulsive Gambling?
The essential feature of compulsive gambling is the chronic and progressive failure to resist impulses to gamble. It persistently disrupts personal, family, or vocational pursuits. Compulsive gamblers are preoccupied with gambling; they consider gambling to be a source of action and excitement, not just money. Unfortunately, increasingly larger bets are usually needed to maintain the level of excitement. Some compulsive gamblers eventually turn to illegal means of obtaining funds, including bad checks, fraudulent insurance claims, or embezzlement.
Are You a Compulsive Gambler?
Most compulsive gamblers will answer “yes” to at least seven of the following questions (prepared by Gamblers Anonymous):
- Do you lose time from work due to gambling?
- Is gambling making your home life unhappy?
- Is gambling affecting your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Do you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or to otherwise solve financial difficulties?
- Does gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
- After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
- After a win, do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
- Do you often gamble until your last dollar is gone?
- Do you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever sold any real or personal property to finance gambling?
- Are you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
- Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?
- Do you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
- Do you ever gamble to escape worry or trouble?
- Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
- Does gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
- Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
- Do you have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
- Have you ever considered self-destruction as a result of your gambling?
Are You Living with a Compulsive Gambler?
If you are living with a compulsive gambler, you will answer “yes” to at least six of the following questions (prepared by Gamblers Anonymous):
- Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
- Is the person in question often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?
- Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
- Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
- Does the person in question faithfully promise that he or she will stop gambling, then beg and plead for another chance, yet gamble again and again?
- Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended to, until the last dollar is gone?
- Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses, or to win more?
- Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties, or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?
- Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
- Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?
- Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of the family may go without food and clothing if you do not?
- Do you search this person’s clothing or go through his or her wallet when the opportunity presents itself, or otherwise check on his or her activities?
- Do you hide his or her money?
- Have you noticed a personality change in the gambler as his or her gambling progresses?
- Does the person in question consistently lie to cover-up or deny his or her gambling activities?
- Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibilities for his or her gambling upon you?
- Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods, or try to control his or her life?
- Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self destruction?
- Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?
- Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?
Stages of Compulsive Gambling
1. Winning Phase (1-3 years)
Gambling wins enhance self-image and ego. Losses are rationalized as temporary bad luck. The gambler feels intense excitement and identifies with being a winner.
2. Losing Stage
Losses outweigh wins and all gains are wiped out. The gambler begins to chase losses (gamble in order to get even). He/she will borrow money and sell possessions to get gambling resources in the belief that losses can be won back.
3. Desperation Stage
Compulsive gamblers think only about gambling. They may exhibit visible personality changes. They are driven. Gambling takes priority over work, school, family, and other life aspects. They will pile up severe debts that create more life problems. They often experience severe mood swings and may commit crimes to get gambling money. Compulsive gamblers do not see a future without gambling. Suicide may be considered as a way out.