Since one of the signs of gambling addiction is denial, this can be a pretty difficult addiction to pin down. Therefore, ask a loved one. If there is a problem, they will say so. Probably for quite some time, and in-depth so be prepared. If that's not an option, try this short checklist.
- Chasing Most addicts don't know when to quit. They can lose almost everything and still think their luck will change. Healthy gamblers know when to walk away.
- Lying about it Gamblers who are addicted will lie about how much gambling is taking place, and/or how much money has been lost. Loved ones often find out after the fact that they literally have been left with nothing – no property, stocks, bonds, jewelry. Whatever can be liquidated into cash, has been.
- Escalation This is the gambler's version of getting high. This actually starts from the time they start planning to go to the casino, and is heightened upon their arrival. The escalation will continue until losses start to accrue. Then comes the crash.
- Trying to stop One would think this is a healthy thing, but it's not. 'Stopping' is healthy. 'Trying to' indicates the problem is bigger than perceived.
- Preoccupation It's all the gambling addict thinks about; the next casino run (or the horses, or whatever their poison of choice is).
By definition, 'problem gambling' is that which begins to interfere any of the following areas of life: vocational, social, physical or psychological. It can even affect spiritual if the addict perceives gambling as 'a sin'. If that's the case, they will then start to distance themselves from their higher power as they feel the guilt of their out-of-control actions.
There is a self-evaluation quiz located at http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/20questions.html. This quiz states that most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to seven or more questions. If the person taking the test falls in that range, it is in their best interest to start seeking help as quickly as possible. Compulsive gambling doesn't have to be a permanent reality.