Substance misuse and problem gambling

Different stories, same problem.
Drugs. Alcohol. Gambling. Different Stories. Same Problem.

For some, gambling can be a serious problem that gets in the way of goals and interferes with healthy relationships. And while this can happen to anyone, research shows that people with a history of substance misuse are at higher risk. Gambling could impact your life as much as an alcohol or substance use problem. And if you’re in recovery, gambling could put it in jeopardy.

Addiction Is Addiction

Take it from Duane, a member of the recovery community:

“If you have an addictive personality, gambling is just like doing drugs. I’d go to a Keno hall or a casino and say to myself, ‘I’ll just try out for $40,’ but then spend all I had in my pocket, and then take out my credit card and drop another $500. And honestly, I can’t even say that you can go out and gamble and not end up hooked on drugs again. You’re doing the same thing and getting the same results, every time. I knew that that would destroy my life. That’s when I got help for the gambling, and things got a lot better.”

Substances and Gambling: Related Risks

If you or a loved one ever had a problem with drugs or alcohol, gambling may be the same problem waiting to happen. Like substance misuse, gambling can:

  • Make you feel depressed, angry or desperate
  • Hurt your family
  • Get you in legal trouble and set you and your loved ones back financially
  • Lead to the loss of your job or your home

That’s why it’s important to understand the risk and recognize the signs of problem gambling—and find the help available to you.   

You’re Not Alone

Don’t take a chance on gambling. Reaching out for help is a big step, and we encourage you to seek support for yourself or your loved ones as soon as possible.

Answer these questions to see if you or a loved one may have a gambling problem.

Have you or a loved one ever....

  • Felt that you needed to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement?
  • Felt restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling?
  • Made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling?
  • Often felt preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)?
  • Gambled often when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)?
  • After losing money gambling, returned another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses)?
  • Lied frequently to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling?
  • Jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling?
  • Had to rely on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling?

If you answered “yes” to one or more questions, then you should consider taking a closer look at your gambling and reaching out for help.

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