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Addiction Signs

Does someone in your family have a gambling problem? Ask yourself the following 20 questions.

  1. Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  2. Is the person in question often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?
  3. Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  4. Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  5. Does the person in question faithfully promise that he or she will stop gambling; beg, plead for another chance, yet gamble again and again?
  6. Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended to, until the last dollar is gone?
  7. Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses, or to win more?
  8. Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?
  9. Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person's reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?
  11. Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of the family may go without food and clothing if you do not?
  12. Do you search this person's clothing or go through his or her wallet when the opportunity presents itself, or otherwise check on his/her activities?
  13. Does the person in question hide his or her money?
  14. Have you noticed a personality change in the gambler as his or her gambling progresses?
  15. Does the person in question consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  16. Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibilities for his or her gambling upon you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person's moods, or try to control his or her life?
  18. Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  19. Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?
  20. Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

If you answered "Yes" to at least six of the questions, you may be living with a compulsive gambler. These questions are from Gam-Anon, a self-help organization for the spouse, family or close friends of a compulsive gambler. For more information about Gam-Anon or to find a meeting in your area visit the Gam-Anon Web site at: www.gam-anon.org.

In Missouri, family members of compulsive gamblers can receive free counseling through the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Please see the "Get Help Now" section of this Web site for more information or call 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633).


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Compulsive gambling is a behavior disorder in which an individual has an uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is loss of time and money.

The gambling reaches the point at which it compromises, disrupts or destroys the gambler's personal life, family relationships or vocational pursuits. The key signs are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.