How to Spot a Problem Gambler


Like any addiction whether it is alcohol or drugs, problem gambling can be hidden from view for a long time as the person who has the addiction becomes very clever disguising their problem.

This can make it very difficult for family or friends to detect whether there is an issue or not, and quite often by the time anyone who cares actually finds out that something is wrong their loved one has landed themselves in debt, sometimes seriously so.

The big thing with problem gambling is it’s invisibility. If a person drinks too much you can soon tell and it is the same with drugs, gambling on the other hand can be kept in the dark for a long time.

However, there are some signs and symptoms that can be used to identify whether a family member of friend has a gambling problem, and once they have been identified then help is readily available.

Identifying a problem whether it is gambling or any other addiction can feel as if you are playing detective, and it can even feel as if you are being disloyal but nothing could be further from the truth as it is because you do care that you are trying to find out the size of the problem.

Here are a few Tips that can be used to determine whether there actually is a problem with a friend or loved one:

  • If your friend or loved one likes a bet has the time spent gambling increased? Gambling can be carried out on mobile devices as well as on the computer. One big clue is as the gambling addiction grows so the ability to cover the addiction lessons with the gambler spending a lot of time at gambling sites.
  • Emotional changes together with personality changes can often be a firm marker when identifying a problem gambler. Moods swings that follow gambling sessions both ‘up’ and ‘down’ have been described as rather like living with someone who suffers with bi-polar disease. Using gambling to ‘de-stress’ after a hard day at work or other such statements may be used as an excuse to gamble.
  • Noticing secretive behaviours is another way to identify a problem gambler. If your loved one or friend has become secretive with their money or their actions even to the extent of hiding wins or losses or documentation like tax documents or even lottery tickets can become a common occurrence.

Gamblers Anonymous created a list of twenty questions for family members to ask themselves about their loved one or friend. Those who did have problem gambler close to them answered yes to at least seven of these questions.

  • Do bill collectors frequently bother you?
  • Is the person you are worried about away from home for unexplained periods of time?
  • Have you ever known your friend or family member be off work due to gambling?
  • Do you trust the person with money?
  • Does the person gamble for longer periods than they meant to?
  • Does the person ever promise to stop but carries on?
  • Does the person chase their losses?
  • Has the gambler used their gambling to try to solve financial problems?
  • Has the person concerned every borrowed money to gamble with?
  • Has their reputation ever suffered due to their gambling?
  • Do family members ever hide money from the person who gambles?
  • Have you ever searched the person’s clothing for signs of gambling or gone through their wallet etc?
  • Have you ever hidden their money from them or credit cards?
  • Have you noticed any mood change with the person who gambles?
  • Has the person lied to cover their activities?
  • Has the person tried to make family or friends feel guilty thus shifting responsibility for their gambling activities?
  • Do you try to anticipate the person’s moods in order to control what they do?
  • Does the person who gambles ever feel remorse or suffer from depression?
  • Has the family unit been threatened with a breakup because of gambling?
  • Do you think that your life together is not a good one?

One of the most important things to do if you believe that a friend or a family member has a gambling addiction is to educate yourself.

This will mean reaching out to others who are going through the same nightmare as well as speaking with trained professionals. Gam-Anon has a website and also published literature that is easily accessed.

Another excellent tool to use to identify problem gambling and aslo find help and education is GamCare.

You will see the GamCare logo at the bottom of gambling site pages and they offer moderated chat rooms every day.

The chatrooms offer help and support to both gamblers and those family members and friends who are affected by problem gambling.

As was mentioned earlier debt is a massive excuse for gambling although debt is often the result of excessive gambling.  The vicious circle lies right at the heart of the whole gambling experience.

GamCare offers a national gambling helpline with advice and support offered about gambling problems. Confidential advisors are available to talk from 8am right through to midnight every day of the year.

GamCare also provides counseling in a confidential and safe way. This enables you to talk about the situation you find yourself in either online or in person if you prefer.

These times are invaluable for giving you the opportunity to explore either the causes of your own gambling behavior or what the gamblers addiction is doing to you.

GamCare is also certified which helps to demonstrate the operator’s commitment to responsible gaming, and they proved the national HelpLine and NetLine services.

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