Problem gambling refers to any gambling that goes beyond the normal bounds of gambling for fun, recreation or entertainment. This gambling behavior causes disruption in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social, vocational or spiritual.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-V) has nine criteria for risky gambling behavior. These criteria categorize how severe an individual’s gambling is. An individual must partake in any of these activities in the past 12-months for appropriate diagnosis. The categories are defined as:
Mild = 4-5
Moderate = 6-7
Severe = 8-9
- Is often preoccupied with gambling.
- A need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired level of excitement.
- Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
- Feels restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
- Gambles when feeling distressed.
- After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (chases one’s losses).
- Lies to family member, therapist or others to conceal the extent of one’s involvement with gambling.
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, education or career opportunity because of gambling.
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.
Other Visible Warnings Signs
- Replacing worthwhile activities with gambling
- Replacing family/friends with gambling acquaintances
- Pawning/selling personal items
- Hiding Bills
- Unable to stop thinking/talking about gambling
- Lying about or trying to hide gambling behavior
Responsible Gambling Tips
- Treat the money you lose as the cost of your entertainment: Treat any winnings as a bonus.
- Plan ahead: Set a dollar limit and stick to it. Decide before you go not only what you can "afford" to lose, but how much you want to spend. Do not change your mind at the casino after losing.
- Set a time a limit and stick to it: Decide how much of your time you want to allow for gambling - leave when you reach the time limit whether you are winning or losing.
- Be prepared to lose: The odds are that you will lose. Accept loss as part of the game.
- Make it a private rule not to gamble on credit: Do not borrow to gamble.
- Create balance in your life: Gambling should not interfere with or substitute for friends, family, work or other worthwhile activities
- Avoid “chasing” lost money. After you've reached your designated dollar limit, Don’t continue to play in order to try to win back the money. Stop gambling and go see a show, or go home.
- Don’t gamble as a way to cope with emotional or physical pain. Instead, talk to a friend, a family member or a professional counselor.
- Know the warning signs.
- Visit http://www.the95percent.org/ to find out how to get set before you bet!
Problem Gambling and Suicide
Visit our Problem Gambling and Suicide Page
- Gambling has the highest suicide attempt rate, more than any other addictive disorder
- 1 in 5 problem gamblers will attempt suicide
- 5% of all suicides are related to compulsive gambling