Gambling and Alcoholism: Struggling with More than One Addiction

Posted by | Alcohol and Drug Use | September 16, 2015

Once the brain knows addiction, it’s very possible to develop the illness of addiction to more than one behavior. Alcoholism is a commonly known form of addiction. Millions of men and women become addicted to alcohol around the world. Although gambling addiction isn’t as well known, it too affects millions of people, just in the United States alone. This article will explore the combined experience of struggling with both an alcohol addiction as well as an addiction to gambling.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week, and approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling. This translates to around 6 million adults. The financial rewards of gambling can lead to a gradual loss of control over gambling behavior. When people lose their ability to limit their playing and spending habits, an addiction might be setting in.

One of the reasons why gambling and alcohol addiction go hand in hand is because casinos give their visitors easy access to alcohol. In fact, casinos offer a place that is very comfortable with inexpensive food, making it a place for socializing, drinking, and even taking illicit drugs. Casinos also make it easy for someone to forget the problems they have in their life. For instance, there are few, if any, windows. There are no clocks whatsoever, and it’s frequently hard to find the exit in a casino. All of this is meant to keep a person within the walls of the casino, spending more and more money. However, for the alcoholic and gambling addict, this could be a dangerous environment – one that makes it easy to forget about problems at home. Furthermore, a casino is one of few places where someone who is drunk won’t be criticized or judged for drinking more. Anyone who already has an addiction to alcohol might find attending casinos a safe place to drink.

Add to this the thrill of gambling. In fact, one of the causes for turning social gambling into problem gambling is the rush of the winning experience. When the brain is stimulated by an activity that brings excitement, it fills with dopamine, which feels pleasurable. Over time, as one continues to engage in that activity, there is a dependency that slowly develops upon those pleasurable feelings. In fact, this can become so strong that a person begins to neglect their home and work responsibilities. Over time, whether it’s gambling or drug use or both, an addiction affects one’s functioning at home or work. For instance, if you notice your performance at work declining or a neglect of family or household responsibilities due to excessive participation in gambling, perhaps there’s an addiction. And if you notice yourself drinking to the exclusion of other life-activities and responsibilities, then it’s possible that an addiction might be present.

Struggling with both addictions could possibly make each of the addictions worse. Each time you step into a casino, both addictions are stimulated. Without proper treatment, addictions can continue to spiral out of control. Treatment exists for alcohol addiction, as many are already aware of, and there is also a form of treatment that specifically addresses addiction to gambling. It’s quite possible to find a treatment center that would address both addictions at the same time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol or gambling addiction or both, contact a mental health provider for help today.

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