Anyone, male or female, young or old, can exhibit signs of gambling addiction, even if that person only gambles once in a while. A common misconception about gambling addiction dictates that a gambler only has a problem if he or she gambles frequently, but the signs of gambling addiction do not necessarily include frequent gambling; instead, any gambling that causes problems for the gambler and his loved ones can be a sign of addiction. Damage caused to personal relationships and financial hardships are signs of addiction, and in many cases, depression, mood swings, and other negative behaviors may be signs as well.
Another misconception about gambling is that the gambler does not have a problem if he or she can afford to lose the money. The truth is, the signs of gambling addiction are not always indicated by money loss. If the gambler's addiction causes problems in the home, the gambler may have a problem. It is not uncommon for a problem gambler to ignore his or her children, spouse, and other duties including paying bills, going to work, getting enough sleep, eating properly, and so on. It is important to remember that problem gambling is a disorder that can lead to physical and mental health issues rather than just financial struggles.
Financial struggles are, of course, one of the biggest signs of gambling addiction. The gambler is likely to continue gambling regardless of his cash situation; he or she may have lost all of his or her money, but will not be able to pull himself or herself away from the games. The games are all that matter to the gambler while he or she is in a casino or other gaming area, and all other aspects of life take a back seat to the continuation of the games. Gamblers tend to get into financial trouble and can even lose money that was intended for bills, food, or other vital purposes.
One of the other signs of gambling addiction is secretiveness. The gambler may feel the need to hide his or her gambling habits from loved ones because the gambler feels shame about his or her problem. It is not uncommon for the gambler's loved ones to be completely unaware of the problem until it is too late. Family members should take action if they notice a problem, and there are treatment options for this disorder.