Gambling in the United States is a 137.5 billion dollar industry. On top of that, it directly employs almost one million people. Needless to say, despite many legal restrictions and social taboos, gambling is an undeniable and massive component of American life.

Beyond its role in modern America, it’s safe to say that gambling is a fundamental part of human history, with the earliest known recorded instances of it dating back to 23,000BC.

Like alcohol, the domestication of dogs, or agriculture, it’s a part of human culture, and there’s nothing wrong with participating in culture.

That said, moderation is the key to safely enjoying anything.

Gambling stimulates areas of the human brain that make it an especially easy activity to become addicted to. It’s also very easy for something that began as a hobby to slyly work its way into becoming an addiction.

If you fear you may have a problem, the first step is recognizing the telltale signs of a gambling addiction. To help with that process, here’s a list of 5 of the clearest signs of a gambling addiction.

1. You Can’t Stop

This is one of the most obvious signs of any addiction, and gambling is no exception. If you’ve made attempts to stop but feel uncontrollably compelled to return to it, that’s a strong sign there’s a bigger issue at play.

Any healthy hobby or even bad habit should be something that is fairly easy to walk away from. If that’s not the case with your gambling practices, it’s time to take a closer look.

2. Being Secretive

One of the most obvious signs of a gambling addiction is making a concerted effort to conceal it. Obviously, a healthy hobby isn’t something you feel compelled to keep secret.

Any time you’re hiding something from friends, family, coworkers, and other peers, it can be indicative of problematic behavior.

3. Breaking the Law

No hobby is worth putting your livelihood on the line for. If you’re doing that, it’s no longer a hobby. Stealing, participating in illegal gambling, or engaging in other criminal activities to facilitate a gambling habit is a sure sign of a more serious addiction.

4. It Affects Your Moods

It’s no secret that quite literally billions of people enjoy gambling, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Where it becomes a problem is when a person becomes dependent upon gambling for their happiness or emotional well-being.

Your success or failure in gambling should not have any bearing on your overall mood, and an inability to feel content while not gambling is one of the classic signs of a gambling addiction.

5. Financial Problems

A gambling habit should never become a liability.

Many people suffering from gambling addiction will gamble even when it means financial ruin. It may not present in quite such a dire way for everyone, but if gambling is causing you any sort of serious money issues, it may be wise to examine that.

Signs of a Gambling Addiction: What You Can Do

If this list resonated with you, there’s no need to despair. Gambling addiction is a highly treatable phenomenon.

Like any other form of addiction, gambling problems have to be approached with care and wisdom. Addiction is a disease, and any treatment center should have a philosophy that centers around that principle.

There’s no need to be controlled by a gambling addiction, so don’t put off treatment if you think you might have a problem. Take action to get back on the right track and tackle your gambling addiction. You can do this!