Compulsive Gambling Chicago RehabGambling can be defined as risking something of value on an activity or event in which the outcome is uncertain.  It comes with the hopes of winning something of material value. Approximately 81% of Americans view casino gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment.  In 2011, it was reported that 27% of Americans visited a casino within the past 12 months and 75% of all Americans consider casinos a good value.  Based on those percentages, gambling is prevalent in American society.  If the statistics of 1 in 4 families are affected by addiction, there’s a high likelihood that many of these families are impacted by a gambling addiction.

Process addictions are becoming more familiar to the public, although they still aren't as recognizable as a substance abuse disorder like alcoholism. A process addiction is an addiction to certain mood-altering behaviors, such as eating disorders, gambling, sexual activity, overwork, and shopping. Additionally, there are many similarities between drug and/or alcohol addiction and compulsive gambling.

Compulsive gambling euphoria does not involve the use of drugs or alcohol to reach the state of arousal.  However, the rush which compulsive gamblers long for is very similar to the high sought by drug users.  The rush is often distinguished by sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, and nausea, which are experienced during the period of anticipation.  The alcoholic and/or drug user develop an increased tolerance for their drug of choice, and then increases their use in order to feel the same affects (progression of addiction).  Likewise, compulsive gamblers develop tolerance for the action and must increase the amount of money, size of their bets or the odds against them to create the same amount of excitement.

What are some of the characteristics of a compulsive gambler?

  • Preoccupation with gambling.
  • Difficulty controlling gambling behavior with unsuccessful attempts to stop.
  • Negative consequences; including family conflicts, employment problems, and denying the extent of the gambling problem.
  • Substantial financial problems due to gambling.
  • Gambling with increasing amounts of money (money is the drug) to achieve a most wanted stimulation.
  • Chasing losses.
  • Stealing money and/or committing crimes to fund gambling.  Most common crimes committed by the compulsive gambler include hustling games of skills, bad checks, loan fraud, embezzlement, falsifying financial information, tax evasion and tax fraud.

What type of gamblers are there?

  • Casual social gambler - A person who rarely gambles but usually does so for entertainment.
  • Serious gambler - A person who gambles regularly and considers it a pleasurable activity.
  • Professional gambler – A person who makes a living from gambling.  They are highly skilled and in control.
  • Relief and escape gambler – Is typically women who use gambling mainly as a quick getaway from stressors.
  • Antisocial personality gambler – A career criminal who makes a living by illegal means, such as cheating, fixing games, etc.

While drug addicts and/or alcoholics can usually be recognized by the physical traits of addiction - needle marks, breath odor, slurred speech, weight loss, staggering gait - compulsive gamblers are more difficult to distinguish.  They usually are well groomed and less conspicuous.  Compulsive gamblers, much like anyone else struggling with an addiction, typically deny any problem until they hit rock bottom and are desperate for help.

New Hope Recovery Center has experience treating all forms of addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with compulsive gambling, please call New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or contact us vie email at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Self-Exclusion Program for Problem Gamblers is a great way to hold a problem gambler accountable. The Illinois Gaming Board created the Self-Exclusion Program that allows persons who have determined they are problem gamblers to self-exclude themselves from all Illinois casinos. This program also removes the individual's name from all marketing materials from Illinois Casinos. For more information and frequently asked questions about the Self-Exclusion Program for Problem Gamblers click here.