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Addictions and Mental Disorders -Recognizing a Gambling Problem

Gambling can be an incredibly destructive addiction and also undermine an otherwise wonderful marriage. Although gambling is as old as recorded history and quite common in today's society, spouses should monitor behavior that might be indicative of a serious illness. Before your marriage and wealth is destroyed by this potentially devastating vice, educate yourself on some of its symptoms.

Gambling outlets in society are manyfold, with many people participating in lotteries, neighborhood poker games and the like. But perceptive spouses can easily pick up on clues that might portend a serious problem. A great number of couples and families enjoy occasional trips to Las Vegas, but excessive excursions to that gambling destination can be problematic. Holidays, three-day weekends, or vacation time that were once only occasionally used for Las Vegas trips, but are now the focus of all your getaways, might indicate a burgeoning problem.

Even the seemingly harmless activity of watching sporting events could represent a problem. A spouse who spends an inordinate amount of time watching television sporting events -who maybe showed no such interest in the past -might have a gambling problem. Excessive despondency or celebration over the outcome of a particular game can also be a telltale sign of a gambling addiction.

Aside from behavioral changes, spouses should also closely monitor the family's finances. If you have recently been turned down on a loan or had a credit limit reduced, immediately pull your credit reports. Note any unusual activity or borrowing of which you were unaware. If your spouse tries to talk you out of pulling your credit report, it could be a very serious sign that something is amiss. A spouse that carries an unusually large amount of cash could be also be a clue to a gambling problem. Though we now largely live in a cash-less society, illegal bookies are notorious for dealing only in cash -whether collecting or paying out.

As with most things in life, moderation is everything. If your spouse spends an excessive amount of time involved in gambling pursuits, whether legal or not, seek the advice of professionals. Gamblers Anonymous and your attorney are good places to start. Do not let a gambling addiction lead to the devastation of your health and welfare -financial or otherwise.

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William A. Feinberg 1928 - 2001

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