Gambling Addiction and Drug Use: An Expensive Pair

Gambling Addiction and Drug Use: An Expensive Pair

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Gambling Addiction

Gambling is defined as risking something of value with the hopes of winning something that has greater value in return. It is common in many cultures to gamble on a variety of things and generally this is fine and not a problem, but some people end up with a gambling addiction or disorder. A gambling disorder, also sometimes called pathological gambling, is a pattern of behavior that impacts a person’s life, family, and often job. One of the signs of a gambling issue is when the person feels an urgent need to gamble. Other signs include:

There are many people who gamble without a problem. Individuals may enjoy an occasional scratch-off as a treat or visit a horse race once a year to place bets, but these people can then walk away without concern. However, and unfortunately, some people lose control of their gambling to the point that it becomes and addiction. There are many people who develop gambling addictions that also develop problems with drugs and alcohol. Both addictions can be dangerous and when paired together can quickly ruin lives.

  • Mood swings – often up on winning days and down or grouchy on losing days
  • Money issues – neglecting to pay bills, stealing, or borrowing money frequently
  • Work issues – skipping work or school to spend more time gambling
  • Lying – loved ones may lie about their time or what has happened to money
  • Isolation – you may see less and less of your loved one as they want to be alone
  • Online – a loved one may spend more time online than normal and get upset when confronted
  • Other substance use – your love one may drink or use drugs more frequently

Developing a Gambling Addiction

It is estimated that between 0.2 and 0.3% of the general population have a gambling addiction with many developing a problem in adolescence or young adulthood, though some do not develop a problem until adulthood. Gambling addictions tend to develop over years as people gradually increase the amount and how often they are gambling. This can be to a specific type of gambling, like slot machines or online poker, but as it develops may spill over into any type of gambling that is readily available. Those who develop problems earlier in life tend to also have problems with substance abuse or impulsive disorders. Women who develop gambling addictions also tend to have a higher rate of anxiety, depression, and bipolar when compared to men.

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Drug Use Defined

Drug use actually refers to any use of illegal drugs in any form. Drug misuse is used further to distinguish improper or unhealthy use of prescription medications or alcohol, both of which are legal, but should be used properly or in moderation. There is an ever-growing drug epidemic which has been researched and discussed for years. While most people know of the dangers of drug use and misuse in general, few discuss that drugs can lead to other addictive behaviors. For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on the combination of drug use, misuse, and gambling.

Risk Factors

While anyone can develop a gambling problem or addiction, there are some risk factors that may make a person more vulnerable. These can include:

  • Sex – males are more likely to develop gambling addictions and begin at an early age when compared to females
  • Age – gambling addictions are more likely to start at an early age, young adulthood over older adults
  • Psychiatric history – those with anxiety, depression, personality disorders, and impulse control issues are more likely to have gambling addiction
  • Genetics – those with a family member with an alcohol use disorder are more likely to have a gambling addiction
  • Substance abuse – those with substance abuse disorders are more likely to have gambling disorders
  • Socioeconomic factors – those in lower socioeconomic areas are more likely to have a gambling disorder
  • Ethnic minorities – African Americans and indigenous people have a higher rate of gambling disorders than European Americans

The Link

As mentioned, there is a well-known link between gambling disorders and other substance use disorders. This is most likely linked to alcohol, but drugs are also a concern. Just over 7.3% of people have both a gambling addiction and a substance use disorder. This can be related to several things. The first is environmental factors. This may be because alcohol is often served where gambling takes place like at a casino. Along with this, many gamblers celebrate wins or mourn loses with alcohol and drugs. Some will even gamble to support a drug habit. Furthermore, gambling addiction and substance abuse acts on the brain in much the same way. A win or substance abuse both create a false high by causing a chemical release in the brain. Bigger wins or further drug use tends to create bigger highs. Over time, more of either or both are needed for the same high. This creates a dangerous cycle.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one has a problem with gambling, substance abuse, or a combination of both then seek professional help. One or both of these addictions can lead to extreme loss in life of friends, family members, employment, health, and money. When you or your loved one are ready for help then consider The River. The River is located in Thailand and is the leading 5-star addiction recovery facility in Southeast Asia. The 12-week program is so well designed that once released, if a person relapses within the first year, a complementary month-long stay is offered.

The River treats patients through the use of evidence-based treatment practices with a core focus on life skills. The River is the perfect option for those who desire permanent change in their lives, including abstinence from drug and substance abuse, as well as gambling. The program utilized has been perfected through 80 years of use and directly addresses the problems of the addict. The River program also leads into the exploration of creative potential with the development of substitute behaviors for addiction. The River believes this is the foundation of health and stability in life. Ultimately, The River combines typical mind therapies with holistic wellness and creative recovery methods (mind, body, spirit) to empower the addict to reach into recovery.

Get in Touch

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction, gambling addiction, or any addiction, give The River a chance to help you change your life for the better. You are worth so much more than being an addict and The River can help you find your worth.