Warning Signs

Although I currently work in the mental health field a lot of my college study was focused on philosophy in art. These two subjects seem (and in many ways are) very different, but I don’t think they are as unrelated as surface appearance. For example, as I have worked with clients struggling with problem gambling, and as gambling technology continues to grow and evolve, I find myself recalling how clearly many of the classical works we studied (books and movies) raised philosophical themes of technology’s impact on society’s mental health.   

In the field of problem gambling we find ourselves facing an expanding industry, with evolving technology that makes access and addiction easier and increasingly more common. Modern brain science has clarified how serious the consequences of these advances can be, but it seems like modern society has not yet fully accepted this message.

And this is why prevention efforts are of such growing importance.

Our modern society has developed an huge number of socially acceptable ways to trigger addictive pleasure-responses in our brain. Many of these ways are now literally at our fingertips and many are increasingly tied to common social interactions. With gambling for example, there are new categories of games like daily fantasy sports that are typically played with our friends, on our hi-tech smart phones, while standing just about anywhere.

But while these technologies and their development can be complex, even the most intense prevention work can be simple. Education as simple as learning warning signs can remind us that problem gambling exists and can alert us if we see these signs in ourselves or others.  To this end, below are some common warning signs for problem gambling.

If you see these signs in yourself or another, or just have a question about them, feel free to contact us. 


Problem gambling is often referred to as the “hidden addiction.” With alcohol or drug abuse, you can see physical signs – i.e. stumbling, slurring speech, etc. But with problem gambling there are rarely outward signs. That is, you can’t tell just by looking at someone that their gambling has been impacting their family, their finances or their mental health. Examples include:

  1. Lying to someone you care about regarding your gambling
  2. Feeling the need to bet more and more money
  3. Using gambling to escape worry, boredom or trouble
  4. Gambling longer than originally planned
  5. Self-destructive thoughts resulting from gambling
  6. Losing time from work or school due to gambling
  7. Borrowing money to finance gambling or to pay back gambling debts
  8. Promising to stop gambling, but continuing to do so
  9. Personality changes corresponding to an increase in gambling
  10. Lost time with the family as a result of gambling activities
  11. Outstanding bills and calls from bill collectors resulting from gambling
  12. Disrupted sleep due to preoccupation with thoughts about gambling and consequences


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