Some addictions occur together, and they are known as co-occurring disorders. Gambling and substance abuse are one of the more common types of co-occurring addictions.
A trip to Vegas is almost a rite of passage. Tempted by the ever bright lights of Sin City and the numerous casinos that fit its streets, people flock to the city that never sleeps to have a little fun. What’s a visit to Vegas without a little gambling?
It could be fun playing with risks and high stakes once in a while, but when gambling becomes a compulsive behavior, an addiction is born.
Gambling addiction is as life-altering as other forms of addiction like opioid addiction and alcoholism. Unlike these other addiction types, only about 0.3% of people struggle with pathologic or problem gambling.
In recent years, it has come to light that many diagnosed gambling addiction cases were comorbid with other mental disorders like depression and substance abuse. This has then begged the question – is there a connection between gambling addiction and substance abuse? Could one be affecting the other, or are both disorders affecting each other in a never-ending loop?
As these questions arise, more research has been done to determine if a connection exists between pathologic or problem gambling and substance abuse.
Establishing the Connection Between Gambling and Substance Abuse
The first and most important connection between gambling and the varied forms of substance abuse, like alcoholism and drug abuse, is that both are addictions.
Gambling addiction is a behavioral addiction that sometimes looks more like a compulsive-obsessive disorder rather than an addiction. But at its core, both conditions meet the standard requirements for an addiction diagnosis.
Strong addiction elements – lack of control, dependence, and inability to stop even with negative consequences – make both disorders addictions.
But perhaps the strongest connection between the two lies in their effect. Substance use and gambling both affect a common neural pathway in the brain.
When pathologic gambling sets in, the addict experiences a thrill when they take on huge risks. And even if they fail, they gamble more with even higher risks in a never-ending search for the thrill of winning. They become addicted to the feeling of extreme euphoria they get each time they win.
A person with a substance use disorder experiences something similar. Be it opioids, alcohol, cocaine, or any other harmful substance; the individual is also locked in the same destructive cycle of reaching for euphoria. Often, the thrill they seek lies in increased doses.
With these strong connections, it’s easy to see how gambling and substance abuse could be co-diagnosed in the same individual.
A recovering alcoholic and gambling addict recalled how alcohol was a handy numbing agent on the days when he lost. And on the days he won, it contributed to his state of euphoria. Before long, he became addicted to both.
How to Get Help With Gambling and Substance Abuse
Do you have a gambling problem? Do you think you could also be struggling with a substance use disorder? If you aren’t exactly sure, check out these standard requirements for diagnosis.
There’s good news for you if you are. Dual diagnosis is a treatment program for individuals who present with comorbid disorders. It is a treatment option specially designed to treat both addictions together.
Enlight Treatment Center offers dual-diagnosis together with other addiction treatment programs. Located in Ventura County, this luxury treatment center isn’t just affordable; it offers high-quality treatment. Our staff can answer any questions you may have regarding getting started with treatment. Reach out to us today for help with your addiction or to gather more information for a loved one!