How to Identify a High-Functioning Problem Gambler — and Get Them Help

Identifying a problem gambler is often a skill that can help you get your loved ones the help they need when it can provide the most benefit. However, in some cases, you’re dealing with someone that effectively hides their gambling problem from the people closest to them until they reach a breaking point where they can no longer. Usually, these instances can have far-reaching effects on their and their loved ones’ lives. So, for those trying to get these people’s help, knowing how to identify a high-functioning problem gambler becomes crucial. 

Here are some of the subtle — and not-so-subtle — signs you need to stay mindful of when identifying a high-functioning problem gambler.

Strong Preoccupation With Gambling

Many people believe that there’s a fine line between a full-blown gambling problem and someone with a mild interest in the practice. With the rise of sportsbooks in Atlantic City, NJ, and throughout the state, more people are becoming familiar with the associated gambling vocabulary, making it more difficult to tell who has crossed that line. However, there are still some ways you can tell the difference. 

One of the primary ways to tell if someone has developed a gambling problem is to pay attention to what they say. Problem gamblers often show an intense preoccupation with gambling that crosses the line from active interest into a problem. If they are constantly discussing things like the line on the upcoming game, what kind of parlays they can find, and the like, it could be a sign that they have developed a gambling problem. With sportsbook apps making it easier than ever to place bets on games, understanding the verbal warning signs can prove much more helpful than monitoring their behavior and whether they frequent a casino to place a sports bet.

They Discuss Increasingly Larger Bets

High-functioning gamblers might be able to continue their daily activities and maintain their responsibilities. However, they could still run into a gambling problem based on the nature of their betting habits. Our brains get rewired through gambling to release chemicals in the brain whenever we place a bet. However, these bets lose the impact, requiring more lavish bets to feel the same rush. 

If you notice that the bets they talk about are increasing, it could be a sign of a developing gambling problem. Picking up on these minute details can help you identify a high-functioning problem gambler and help them get the help they need before it’s too late. 

They Try to Get a Handle on Their Gambling and Keep Slipping

Some people can turn away from a sports betting app, walk away from a casino or other form of betting, and not bat an eye. However, a high-functioning problem gambler may have decided that they want to cut back but keep turning back to their old habits without fail. Then, finally, they begin to make inroads toward their recovery journey; they slip back into their gambling routine as easily as changing a pair of shoes. 

How to Help Them Get the Help They Need

When you find a loved one has become a high-functioning problem gambler, it’s only a matter of time until their lucky streak runs out and their personal house of cards comes tumbling down. While you cannot force them to seek help, you can still show them that resources can help them before the issue becomes too severe. 800-GAMBLER is here to help. 

Our confidential 24/7 helpline can help you or a loved one speak to a professional and learn more about our available problem gambling recovery services to begin their recovery journey. We have worked with people from all walks of life and have helped them start their road to sustainable problem gambling recovery. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to get the help you need today. 


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