"I'm losing, and I can't stop."

It is estimated that gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, affects 5% of the population. This addiction can devastate both gamblers and their families. Compulsive gambling is a progressive addiction that eventually becomes more powerful than important life responsibilities, damaging both relationships and financial security.

Contrary to popular understandings, compulsive gambling is not solely about money. While compulsive gamblers do lose more than they can afford -- leading to debt, foreclosures, and unnecessary financial hardships -- compulsive gamblers are addicted to their behavior similar to those who compulsively drink or take drugs. Gambling releases similar chemicals into the brain as other addictions, so individuals becomes increasingly addicted to this high, numbing, and emotional escape. Winning means extending that high for a longer time.

How can one tell the difference between typical social gambling and compulsive gambling?

Compulsive gambling differs from social gambling:

  • Experiencing a loss of control because of gambling.
  • Gambling longer than intended.
  • Losing more than intended.
  • Feeling a need to return to recoup losses.
  • Borrowing money to pay bills that would otherwise be paid.
  • Lying about the amount of time spent gambling or the amount lost.

Compulsive gambling is progressive, meaning loss of control. Financial losses and negative effects on the family increase and worsen without some type intervention.

If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, there is help. 

Catholic Charities offers individualized gambling treatment for gamblers and their families in our Appleton, Waupaca and Wautoma locations with our experienced, nationally-certified Gambling Counselor. For help and more information call our Fox Cities office at 920-734-2601 or send us an email now to charitiesgb@gbdioc.org.