Warning Signs in Adults
Unlike alcohol or drug addictions, gambling addictions in adults are easy to hide because they rarely cause outward physical symptoms. If you (or someone you know) want to identify the warning signs of a potential gambling addiction, ask the following questions:
- After a loss, do you gamble to win back lost income?
- After a win, do you gamble to win more money?
- Do you gamble to avoid feeling worried, bored, or unhappy?
- Does your personality change when you gamble?
- Do you ever gamble more money than you originally planned?
- Do you ever gamble longer than you originally planned?
- Does gambling disrupt your personal, work, or school life?
- Do you gamble to win money to pay debts or solve financial problems?
- Do you borrow money from other sources of income to finance your gambling?
- Does gambling make you feel careless about the welfare of yourself or family members?
- Have you ever committed (or considered doing) an illegal act to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever had self-destructive thoughts due to gambling problems?
If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, you may have a problem with gambling.
Warning Signs in Vulnerable Youth
The warning signs of gambling addictions in vulnerable youth differ from those in adults. To identify a potential gambling problem for an adolescent, ask the following questions:
- Do they exhibit an extreme interest in winning money?
- Do they use gambling vocabulary (i.e. bet, bookie, point spread) in conversations that don’t involve gambling?
- Did they abandon former friends for new, questionable peers?
- Are they suddenly eager to know various sports (game) scores?
- Do they brag about the amount of money or material possessions they have?
- Do they have an increase of valuable items in their possession and unaccountable explanations for how they were obtained?
- Do they borrow or steal money?
- Do they have unexplained absences from school or do they lie about their whereabouts?
- Are they experiencing a sudden drop in academic or athletic performance?
- Are they withdrawing from family, friends, and / or academic activities?
Each adolescent is unique and the warning signs of a potential gambling problem will vary. The NMCPG recommends concerned parents to consider all the warning signs of a potential gambling problem in addition to other variables that may be influencing changes in their child’s behavior.
If answering these questions leads you to believe a gambling problem exists, seek immediate help to obtain effective resources and awareness on problem gambling prevention and treatment.