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Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that you're willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.

Gambling can stimulate the brain's reward system much like drugs and alcohol can and lead to addiction. With compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.

Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many compulsive gamblers have found help through professional treatment.

compulsive gambler?  How can you tell?

Only you can make that decision.
We learned we had to accept fully to ourselves that we are compulsive gamblers. This is the first step in recovery. With reference to gambling, the delusion that we are like other people has to be smashed. We have lost the ability to control our gambling. We know that no real compulsive gambler ever regains control.
All of us felt at times we were regaining control, but it is usually brief intervals, where they are followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced that gamblers of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period of time we get worse, never better. In order to lead normal happy lives we try to practice certain principles in our daily affairs.

Signs and Symptoms

Gaining a thrill from taking big gambling risks
Taking increasingly bigger gambling risks
Preoccupation with gambling
Reliving past gambling experiences
Gambling as a way to escape problems or feelings of helplessness, guilt or depression
Taking time from work or family life to gamble
Concealing or lying about gambling
Feeling guilt or remorse after gambling
Borrowing money or stealing to gamble
Failed efforts to cut back on gambling

When to see a mental health counselor

Have family members, friends or co-workers expressed concern about your gambling? If so, listen to their worries. Because denial is almost always a characteristic of compulsive or addictive behavior, it may be difficult for you to recognize that you have a problem.


Compulsive gambling can have profound and long-lasting consequences for your life, such as:

Relationship problems
Financial problems including bankruptcy
Legal problems or imprisonment
Job loss or professional stigma
Associated alcohol or drug abuse
Poor general health
Mental health disorders such as depression


There's no proven way to prevent a gambling problem from occurring or recurring. If you have risk factors for compulsive gambling, it may be helpful to avoid gambling in any form, people who gamble and places where gambling occurs. Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent a gambling disorder from becoming worse.

Visit our Community Resources tab for more information or call the Student Wellness Center for assistance.