When Does Gambling Become an Addiction?

You’ve been gambling quite a bit lately. In a few instances you have been determined to take a break, only to find yourself in the casino and/or betting on sports online within days of your attempted abstinence. You may have even noticed a change in other aspects of your behavior that may or may not be correlated to your time engaged in the activity. Consequently, you are now online and searching for an answer to an important question; when does gambling become an addiction?

The answer is a little more complicated than with substance addictions, for which an Addiction Severity Index (ASI) assessment tool is widely used in the evaluation of substance abuse and subsequent treatment. Problem gambling (or gambling disorder) is a process addiction. A process addiction does not involve the abuse of a substance. Rather, it occurs when an individual’s behavior becomes compulsive to the point that they are unable to stop the activity, despite significant negative consequences in their life. A process addiction is also commonly referenced along side “behavioral addiction” as both point to the same type of behavior. You can learn more about gambling disorder’s role in process/behavioral addiction here. Meanwhile, we will return to answer your initial query so that you can identify whether or not you have a gambling problem, and if so, can take steps to get help.

Two Things That Determine When Your Gambling Habit Has Turned Into an Addiction (and what else you need to know)

You Exhibit the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Disorder

If you exhibit or experience a combination of the consequences below, there is a good chance that you have gambling disorder:

  • You get notably defensive when asked about your time spent gambling.
  • You’re in debt because of gambling (20% are in debt due to sports betting alone).
  • You receive calls from lenders and loan companies.
  • You have been denied financing (i.e. business loans, mortgage applications, etc.) due to a history of gambling.
  • You have lost employment (or a contract, etc.) due to gambling’s impact on your ability to maintain focus and be productive.
  • You have divorced, separated, or ended a relationship up with a spouse, partner, or companion because of gambling.
  • You so much time talking about gambling (even just 15-minutes per day) that others around you have mentioned it.
  • You’re distracted while at familial, social, and workplace gatherings because you’re online gambling at these gatherings.

There are also physical manifestations of problem gambling that you may be able to identify. If you have observed any of the following (occurring during times of frequent gambling) you may have a gambling addiction:

In addition to evaluating everything above, we recommend filling out a quick 5-minute questionnaire that will determine your where you stand:

Signs and Symptoms Accompanied by Vulnerability Factors

If you exhibit or experience a combination of the negative outcomes addressed above it’s certainly time to take action. However, if the results are somewhat unclear to you, we ask you to consider your vulnerability to developing gambling disorder.

There are mental and behavioral health issues that may increase your vulnerability to developing a gambling addictioon, which include the following:

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

View more on Who Has the Highest Risk of Developing a Gambling Problem for furtehr insight.

It’s also important to note that there are certain vocations that have a concerning relationship with problem gambling. For example, studies consistently show that the rate of problem gambling among active duty military is 3.5 times higher than among the general population. Research has also found that the prevalence of problem gambling in athletes is significantly greater than with the general public. If you’re employed/engaged in these occupations, and you’re already concerned about your relationship with gambling, you must make a real attempt to quit.

Not There Yet? Maybe You Are

Even if you haven’t directly met the criteria laid out above, we must conclude with this statement; the fact that you performed an online search about when gambling has reached the point of addiction is enough to raise a red flag. We encourage you to take steps to abstain for at least two-months. If you have a difficult time doing this, it’s time to speak to a specialist.

Concerned That Gambling Has Become an Addiction?

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Should I Stop Gambling