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Symptoms and Warning Signs of a Gambling Problem

Diagnostic Criteria for Pathological Gambling

Persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Preoccupation with gambling (e.g., preoccupied with reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
  2. Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
  3. Has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
  4. Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  5. Gambles as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression)
  6. After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (chasing one's losses)
  7. Lies to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
  8. Has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling
  9. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational/career opportunity because of gambling
  10. Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling

Reprinted with permission from American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 1994:615-18. Copyright 1994.