Approximately two million adults in the U.S. meet the criteria for pathological gambling, and another four to six million are considered problem gamblers, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Due mainly to shame, denial and a desire to handle the problem themselves, only one in 10 problem gamblers seek professional help.
An uncontrollable urge to gamble
Just as some people become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is possible for a person to become obsessed with an uncontrollable urge to gamble. A person has a problem with gambling if he or she continues to gamble despite evidence that their gambling is causing personal, family, financial, work or legal problems.
Warning signs of problem gambling
Review the warning signs below. If you or someone you know answers “Yes” to any of the questions below, consider seeking help from a professional who is experienced in treating problem gambling:
You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
- You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
- Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
- You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
- You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
- You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling.
- You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
- You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
- You have been remorseful after gambling.
- You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.