Pssst….Wanna Buy Some Poker Chips???

Well, you might not be out standing on the street corner, trying to score some poker chips, but are you addicted to poker??? You might quickly deny that – but that’s a sign of addiction! As a poker widow and a psychiatrist who does some work with patients with addiction, here’s some clues you might like poker – a little too much.

Obviously, most people who play poker, or gamble in general, are not hard-core addicts, what I would call dependent on gambling or having a pathological gambling disease. These are severe problems which would include:

– being preoccupied with gambling, to the extent that other responsibilities are ignored
– spending more and more $$ on gambling, and more than you wanted to spend
– trying, unsuccessfully, to cut back on your gambling
– lying to others to hide how much you gamble
– illegal acts related to gambling

I’ve also work with stressed and anxious patients, and the best 1-question check for feeling stressed is: Do you press the “close door” button on an elevator, after you press the button for your floor? That’s a good clue you’re tense. So what’s a quick checklist (so you can get back to that gambling??) for more subtle problems with gambling?

– do you ask your partner to give you just 5 more minutes in bed in the morning, after staying up too late at night gambling?
– do you get a bit irritated at your kids when you have to interrupt your gambling to fix a boo-boo or make a PBJ?
– does your mind drift away to that last poker table round, in the middle of other things, like talking to your mother on the phone?

So, do those questions remind you of anyone?? If so, take a break for a day. Do something else – take your partner out for lunch or take you kids to the pool. That’s the start of gambling detox.

Well, gotta go… I’ve got to get back to FreeCell.