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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 can stimulate the brain's reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction. Suppose you have a problem with compulsive gambling. In that case, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.
In the same way that most people can consume alcohol recreationally and not experience problems, many people also place a wager in the gaming industry now and then without experiencing issues. But conversely, much like alcohol becomes poisonous to the alcoholic who develops a chronic yet treatable illness, gambling may become compulsive and toxic to the problem gambler who develops a pathology that requires similar treatment. [
Problem gambling affects approximately 2 million people nationwide, with another 4-6 million at-risk. Uncounted are the millions of family members and friends who are hurt by the consequences of their loved one's gambling addictions.
Problem gambling can destroy marriages and relationships with family members, colleagues, and the court; it can jeopardize a lawyer's career and result in financial devastation. Problem gamblers have higher rates of suicide, divorce, and criminal behavior. The ability to gamble in secret and access cash is extremely dangerous to a gambling addict. Many lawyers can easily do both. An attorney with a gambling disorder could spend a few hours at a casino during a workday under the guise of meeting a client, going to a deposition, or appearing in court.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling-or gambling addiction-includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt, or damage personal, family, or vocational pursuits. A problem gambler becomes dominated by an irresistible urge to gamble. Often, he appears bent on his destruction. As he continues to gamble, he loses three basic things: time, money, and a sense of value. The time and money are lost forever, but he can re-evaluate what is necessary to bring about a good and useful life.
Gamblers Anonymous offers the following questions to anyone who may have a gambling problem. These questions help the individual decide if they are compulsive gamblers and want to stop gambling.
Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
Did gambling affect your reputation?
Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
After losing, did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
After a win, did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, or loneliness?
Have you ever committed or considered committing an illegal act to finance gambling?
Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create an urge to gamble within you?
Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.
Lawyers' Assistance Programs are seeing more and more attorneys with issues related to problem gambling. If you think you or someone you care about may have a problem with gambling, please contact us. Your call is confidential as a matter of law, and you do not have to give your name.
You may also call the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems at 302-655-3261 or the Problem Gambling Helpline at 888-850-8888. A non-profit organization, the Council provides education, information, and advocacy services and can refer you to a certified therapist to treat gambling addiction and problem gambling.
Other Resources and Links
Gamblers Anonymous is a 12-step program for problem gamblers.
Gam-Anon is available for people who are affected by a problem gambler.
National Council on Problem Gambling
Gamblers Anonymous International Directory
Delaware Council on Gambling Problems
"The Hidden Addiction"
Delaware Council on Gambling Problems, Inc.: 302-655-3261
Problem Gamblers Helpline (available 24/7): 888-850-8888
Gamblers Anonymous: (GA) 626-960-3500
Debtors Anonymous (DA) 800-421-2383
 The condition previously named pathological gambling was renamed gambling disorder and classified in the category "Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders" in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). As it was previously categorized as an impulse control disorder, the re-classification recognizes the disorder among similar addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse.
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Ex-GMA stalwart Spencer Christian reveals his daughter saved him from his destructive gambling habit with painfully honest talk and admits the FBI investigated him because he moved money around so much to fund his addiction.
Spencer Christian sat with Robin Roberts to discuss his book 'You Bet Your Life' and how he struggled during his 13 years forecasting GMA weather.
'Yeah, when I began to acknowledge to myself that it was a problem, I was embarrassed and felt guilty,' he said
Christian shared that at one point, his frequent visits to ATMs to withdraw cash for his habit alerted the likes of the FBI.
His daughter was getting married and told Christian that he would need to change his ways if he wanted to be involved in his grandchildren's lives