Compulsive gambling is a progressive illness. There are a series of phases that problem gamblers experience, each with associated warning signs.
The onset of a gambling problem varies from person to person though research has shown that the length of time it takes for a gambler to experience the onset of symptoms is often dependent upon the type of gambling in which she or he is participating. More specifically, some types of gambling, known as continuous forms, do not promote a “break in play”. Such breaks or reprieves are typically the time when a gambler will step away from the table, stand up from their chair, frequent a restroom, place a telephone call, or turn to an ATM or other option to secure more money. Gambling games, such as betting online, slot machines, and similar venues, do not encourage such reprieves, and these gamblers can frequently find themselves experiencing addictive symptoms in less than 12 months time.
On the other hand, non-continuous forms of gambling, while addictive to a percentage of those who partake, tend to result in significant difficulties over a longer period of time. For example, while cards may be the primary venue most often identified by some gamblers, those who play and bet online are more likely to experience the onset of a problem sooner than those who frequent a facility, sit at a table with other players, and where breaks in play naturally occur. It's important to note that the mere opening and closing times of a gambling facility will essentially create the break in play gamblers need to step away. In Florida, most facilities are not open around-the-clock.
ACTION AND ESCAPE GAMBLERS
Compulsive gamblers fall into two main types – action and escape gamblers. Both suffer at the core from low self-esteem. However, action gamblers outwardly tend to appear egotistical, controlling, successful, and outgoing. They gamble primarily because they believe they can become skillful enough to beat the odds. Escape gamblers differ primarily in that they often gamble to escape from problems, feeling they can free themselves from pain while gambling.
THE FOUR PHASES
Gamblers who experience difficulties often go through a series of cycles, or stages, before they reach the point at which they feel helpless. While some compulsive gamblers will skip a stage, the following four phases are fairly common among this population.
To learn whether you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties due to gambling, answer the questions below. The first section is for the gambler and the latter for family members, friends, or persons other than the gambler.
Check your score below:
3-4 problem gambling
5 or more compulsive gambler
Compulsive gambling is both diagnosable and treatable. For help with a gambling problem, call the confidential 24-hour HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT or 888-236-4848.
Family Members, Friends, and Others
To learn whether you are experiencing difficulties due to someone else’s gambling, answer the following:
If the answer to one or more questions is “yes,” help is available. With appropriate support and assistance, loved ones can learn how to cope with the gambling problem. To speak with a HelpLine Specialist, call the FCCG’s 24-hour confidential HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT or 888-236-4848. The call is toll-free and completely confidential.