Gambling Addiction: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 11/5/2021

Gambling addiction is a form of compulsive gambling in which the affected person cannot stop gambling despite financial loss or ruin. The diagnosis of compulsive gambling involves identifying at least five symptoms that indicate poor impulse control when it comes to gambling, as well as eliminating other potential causes of the behaviors.

Signs and symptoms of gambling addiction include

  • being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money;
  • needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill;
  • trying to control, cut back, or stop gambling without success;
  • feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down on gambling; and
  • gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression.

Other associated symptoms can include

  • trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses);
  • lying to family members or others to hide the extent of gambling;
  • jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling; or
  • resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money.

Cause of Gambling Addiction

The cause of gambling addiction is not fully understood, but it often occurs in people with other mental health conditions.

Other gambling addiction symptoms and signs

  • Being Preoccupied with Gambling, Such as Constantly Planning How to Get More Gambling Money
  • Feeling Restless or Irritable When Trying to Cut Down on Gambling
  • Gambling to Escape Problems or Relieve Feelings of Helplessness, Guilt, Anxiety, or Depression
  • Jeopardizing or Losing Important Relationships, a Job, or School or Work Opportunities Because of Gambling
  • Lying to Family Members or Others to Hide the Extent of Gambling
  • Needing to Gamble with Increasing Amounts of Money to Get the Same Thrill
  • Resorting to Theft or Fraud to Get Gambling Money
  • Trying to Control, Cut Back, or Stop Gambling Without Success
  • Trying to Get Back Lost Money by Gambling More (Chasing Losses)

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References
Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.