Recognizing Teen Gambling Addiction

Do you think your teenager is really just doing homework while spending all those hours on the Internet or all those late nights out with friends? You may want to look a little more closely.

More than 70 percent of teens admit to some form of gambling, and statistics have shown that one in three high school students gambles on a regular basis. That can include online gambling sites (which have grown significantly in recent years), weekly poker games with friends, and betting on school and professional sports.

Recognizing the signs of compulsive gambling in your teen may not always be easy. But you may want to think twice about buying your teen a lottery ticket if you recognize any of the following signs of a teen gambling addiction:

  • Problems in school that include unexplained absences and poor grades
  • Borrowing or stealing money from parents and friends
  • Unexplainable debt or large amounts of cash
  • Constant requests for money (with no reason given)
  • Unauthorized charges on your credit card
  • Preoccupation with gambling
  • Selling personal belongings
  • Spending countless hours on online gambling sites
  • Sudden mood changes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress
  • Poor sleep habits and hygiene
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities your teen used to enjoy
  • Use of alcohol and drugs
  • Engaging in illegal behaviors
  • Lying

Leaving your teen’s gambling addiction untreated can lead to a life-long problem that can result in ruined relationships and financial hardship. Teens who gamble are more likely to use drugs, binge drink, engage in unsafe sex and put less effort into school. Teenage gamblers are also three times more likely than adults to become pathological gamblers.

Compulsive gambling is as much of a problem as are addictions to alcohol and other drugs — and like those addictions, it can be treated. If you are concerned that your teen has a gambling addiction, find a gambling addiction treatment center near you that can help your teen overcome this addiction before it gets any worse.