There’s a fine line between recreational gambling and problem gambling that can be easily crossed. If you think you might struggle with problem gambling, you’ve come to the right place. Look for these signs and decide if your recreational activity is turning into a problem:

You gamble with money you don’t have

One of the biggest signs of problem gambling is spending money that you didn’t intend to gamble with. Recreational gamblers go into a casino with a specific amount of money they’ve allotted for their gambling experience; they have fun when the money lasts and stop when it runs out. Those with gambling problems, though, can’t just stop there. They’ve long since spent their “fun money” and moved onto money they cannot afford to lose. They’ll gamble with the money needed for the mortgage, a child’s education, the grocery bill, etc.

You’ve resorted to unethical behaviors to get gambling money

Even if you’ve drained all the money in your bank account, that still may not be enough to stop you. Problem gamblers will go to almost any length to get more money; they take out loans, lie to their family in order to get money, or even resort to stealing and shoplifting.

You neglect your responsibilities

Is your preoccupation with gambling so strong that you’ve begun to neglect your responsibilities? Paying the bills, cleaning the house, walking the dog, spending time with family are all on the backburner because gambling is your number one priority. Some people lose their jobs or are forced to drop out of school because their gambling preoccupation has gone to the next level. Even if you’re not at this point – don’t let it get there. If you’re taking sick days from work or skipping class in order to gamble, these are major warning signs that a problem is on the horizon.

You’ve started to lie about gambling

Any behaviors you have to keep a secret from your friends and family members are probably unhealthy. If you’re worried that your friends, family members or even coworkers have started to notice, maybe you lie to get them off your back. You value gambling over just about anything and will do whatever it takes to keep your secret safe. Most people’s relationships start to suffer because their loved ones can no longer trust them.

You gamble as a form of avoidance

Similar to eating disorders and alcohol addictions, the actual act of gambling isn’t the problem. The real issue lies in the reason behind your gambling. Many people drink, engage in disordered eating, or gamble as a form of avoidance. They use these activities to escape problems at home or at work. Oftentimes, after a particularly rough day, they’ll turn to gambling in order to cope and feel better.

You feel guilty after gambling

If you’ve run through your savings, lost friends, lied to your family members, you probably experience feelings of extreme guilt. You might convince yourself that it will be different the next time because you’ll gamble and win back the money you lost. But after the next gambling high, you probably won’t win any money, and you’ll experience these same feelings of guilt and shame.

Gambling is always on your mind

Has gambling taken complete control of your life? Is it the only thing you think about? When you’re at work, at home, with friends, is gambling the only thing you can focus on? You might even turn down social invites if gambling isn’t involved. When people become addicted to gambling, it’s always at the forefront of their mind and has become their number one priority.

Gambling is closely linked with depression and other mental health disorders and isn’t a problem to be taken lightly. Help is readily available – in treatment centers, support groups, and therapy sessions. Please contact me to discover how you can get help for your gambling problem today.