Alcoholism and Gambling

Alcoholism and gambling addictions are often linked together and both can have severe negative impacts on your life. Both of these addictions are mental illnesses and therefore, it’s important to seek the help of a professional addiction treatment facility. 

What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is defined as having the uncontrollable urge to gamble, even when it’s damaging your life. Many people with a gambling addiction are unable to stop gambling and will lose relationships and large amounts of money, or even their job, in order to continue gambling. Once gambling negatively impacts even just one area of your life, it has already become a serious problem. 

Gambling addictions can occur at casinos, but they can also occur with online gambling activities. 

The signs and symptoms of gambling addiction can include:

  • Constantly feeling preoccupied with gambling
  • Avoiding other activities in order to gamble
  • Gambling with increasing amounts of money for the same thrill
  • Feeling unable to control the amount you are gambling or feeling unable to quit
  • Losing relationships over your gambling
  • Having financial difficulties due to gambling
  • And many others

When five or more of the above gambling symptoms occur, the American Psychiatric Association defines this as pathological gambling.

Similarities Between an Alcohol Addiction and Gambling Addiction

Many people who gamble also drink alcohol while performing the activity. For those who gamble at casinos, alcohol is extremely easy to access (sometimes even free) and the result can be heavy drinking. Over time, people who are gambling multiple days per week or daily, will then also be drinking on those days. This can lead to both alcohol and gambling addictions. 

Alcohol use disorder also fuels gambling addictions, since people who become intoxicated are more likely to place higher bets (spending more money) and gamble for longer amounts of time. As one addiction worsens, the other does as well. 

Similar to alcohol addiction and substance abuse, a gambling addiction can be nearly impossible to control. In fact, there are many similarities between the two addictions (such as the symptoms of each addiction).

Both addictions can cause serious financial issues, relationship problems, legal problems, a decline in hygiene, suicide, and potentially losing work. 

The exact links between alcohol addiction and gambling disorder addictions are still being researched, however, we do know that gambling stimulates the brain in the same way alcohol does. For example, when someone who is addicted to gambling or alcohol gambles or drinks, this activates the reward system in the brain, releasing high levels of dopamine.

This can lead to a cycle of addiction. Over time, you might need to gamble more or drink more in order to feel the same effects from dopamine.

Alcohol, Gambling, and Co-occurring Disorders

Alcohol and gambling addictions are frequently accompanied by mental health disorders, also known as co-occurring disorders. These mental disorders can include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and others. 

In order to address these addictions, dual diagnosis treatment is needed. The benefits of dual diagnosis can include:

  • Go beyond physical symptoms and find the link between alcohol and/or gambling addiction and the mental illness that is causing it/worsening it
  • Receiving a longer treatment in order to progress at a comfortable pace
  • Lowering the risk of relapse
  • Identifying potential triggers for drinking and/or gambling
  • Learning effective coping skills
  • Developing a sense of understanding about addictions and self-acceptance
  • Practice a wide range of therapies to help you address both the addictions and the underlying mental illness (including but not limited to dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, holistic modalities, and many more)

Gambling Risk Factors

There are specific factors that increase someone’s chances of developing a gambling addiction. These can include:

Mental Health Issues

As mentioned above, in many cases people who gamble also have underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other conditions.


Gambling tends to be more common in middle-aged adults and younger adults than in older people. 


Gambling addictions tend to be more common in men than women. 

Having Family Members or Friends Who have a Gambling Addiction

If you have friends or family members with gambling addictions, this can increase your risk of developing an addiction as well. 


Certain medications can increase your risk of developing a gambling addiction. This can include medications for Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome. 

Treatment For Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction

Enlight Treatment Center provides in-house gambling addiction treatment in Ventura, California, allowing clients to fully concentrate on solving their addiction issues and regain hope and optimism about their future.

In addition to dual diagnosis treatment, we also offer detox and inpatient rehab programs. 

If you or a loved one has a compulsive gambling problem or is struggling with their gambling behavior or drug abuse (including alcohol addiction) were are here to help. Overcome your addiction today.

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