The Connection Between Gambling and Substance Abuse

gambling chipsIn a study conducted by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and published in September of last year, we learn of evidence that appears to draw a link between gambling addiction and substance abuse. Gambling is commonly included on lists of different types of addiction, but it is not normally considered to go hand in hand with drug or alcohol addiction. The study would seem to indicate that there are some common denominators between substance addiction and gambling addiction that tend to make these two conditions a problem for people.

According to the study, between 10% and 20% of people who have problems with substance abuse are also struggling with major issues with gambling. A focus of the study was on the unfortunate fact that most of these people don’t get the help that they need. It is also important to note the possibility that there may be a connection between gambling and substance abuse; in the words of the researchers, these two conditions may even be one disorder.

There is a tendency to look at different types of addiction as being just that; different. People generally think of addiction to drugs as being a separate problem from addiction to gambling, shopping, pornography, sex, eating or any other type of addiction. Supporting this view is the fact that any one person will not typically display multiple types of addiction; an alcoholic is not necessarily a sex addict or a compulsive gambler. But what is really going on here? The Narconon view of addiction, a view that is gaining a larger foothold as it is found to be productive of better results, is that addiction is a result of a person coming to depend upon something — drugs, alcohol or what have you — for a way to cope with life. Rather than being an exclusively physiological condition as many believe, addiction is a condition in which the addict is using the substance of addiction as a way to escape from stress and pressure and to avoid confronting a life which has become overwhelming. This would explain the fact that an addict tends to display an addiction to one thing; that thing has become the “crutch” to the exclusions of others. In some cases, however, the person’s compulsive search for a way to cope will manifest in more than one addiction. In some cases, an addict will be found to suffer from multiple addictions; another study cited in the recent report found that some people with gambling and substance addictions were also experiencing sexual compulsivity.

What do Different Types of Addiction Have in Common

Another issue raised by the study is the interplay between different types of addiction. For example, gambling addiction can serve to reinforce drug or alcohol addiction, as a person who feels remorse over gambling away his money may turn to drinking or drugs to numb the pain; furthermore, drugs and alcohol often go hand in hand with gambling, and drinking is typically actively pushed in casinos as a way to get customers loosened up. The same is true of other types of addiction. A sex addict may be someone who routinely consumes large amounts of alcohol or drugs in connection with the activities surrounding looking for sexual partners, as an example. People who suffer from an addiction of any type are in that situation for the simple reason that they have some type of problem in life for which they have found a “solution” in the addiction, whether it’s drinking, using drugs, gambling or anything else. The thing to which they are addicted is secondary to the fact that they have been unable to face and handle life on their own, so now they are essentially hiding behind the addiction. Effective treatment depends on addressing this situation and helping the person to recover to a point of newfound stability, and this is the approach that Narconon takes.