Gambling Addiction and Substance addiction

Some people see gambling as a form of recreation – at least, that’s what it is. However, many people enjoy betting and lose their will to control the urge to play. It’s at this point; the craving develops into an addiction. As it turns out, having a gambling addiction could also attract other addictions such as alcohol and drugs. These addictions aren’t easy to manage unless you seek professional help.

What is substance addiction?

Using WebMD’s definition – when a substance abuse develops to an addiction, it becomes a disease. It’s a form of the disease that affects people – it puts you in a state where you are unable to stop using a particular substance even when the harmful effects are apparent. As you’ve noticed, substance abuse is not the same as substance addiction. While substance addiction is a disease, substance abuse, on the other hand, is a behavioral disorder.

When an individual consumes an unhealthy amount of alcohol, prescription medicine, or take illegal drugs, one of these actions can be classified as abuse. Abusing a substance is what leads to addiction and has severe health problems and can even be fatal.

What are the signs of substance abuse?

Some signs show you or anyone else may be struggling with a complicated case of substance addiction. Some of these signs include:

  • When you use a substance more time than you are expected to.
  • Trying to stop or at least reduce the use of such chemicals by never going through with it.
  • Using such substances repeatedly, even when you or the person is aware of the potential physical harm.
  • Experiencing a strong desire, cravings to fall back on that substance.
  • When the person in question experiences withdrawal symptoms when they haven’t consumed the material, things change when the content is consumed.
  • Finding it difficult to meet with their family or friendship obligations.

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction, on the other hand, a mental disorder that requires the intervention of great psychiatric care professionals. But this doesn’t clearly define what gambling addiction is. The definition can be a bit confusing. Problem gambling is the term used broadly. It is usually characterized by been preoccupied with gambling-related activities, continuing with such behavior despite the adverse side effects, or having irritational thoughts.

Risk Factors of gambling addiction

There are some factors that are related to compulsive gambling; these factors include:

Males are more likely to develop compulsive gambling habits than females. Gender is one major factor, and males are more likely to develop this disorder at a very young age.

Gambling disorders are common in people who have experienced depression, anxiety, personality disorder, and impulse control.

Another predominant factor is the issue of substance abuse. Addicts have substance abuse history, especially the unhealthy use of alcohol. It’s common in people who are diagnosed with compulsive gambling.

Asides age, sex, substance abuse history, and psychiatric history, other factors are socioeconomic status, genetics, and ethnic minorities.

  • Socioeconomic status

Gambling disorders are common among people living in lower socioeconomic places around the world.

  • Genetics.

First degree relatives are usually diagnosed with a gambling addiction, either moderate or severe alcohol use compared to the general population.

  • Ethnic minorities

Did you know indigenous and African Americans have high rates of compulsive gambling compared to European Americans?

The difference between substance addiction and gambling addiction

These two forms of addictions are intertwined in many ways. However, there are some differences between gambling addiction and substance abuse. Some of the differences include:

The treatment approach to both conditions is different. Gambling addiction requires the cognitive-behavioral approach (but this is only effective for those who view gambling as a rational behavior). When taught the real of odd of winning a bet, their belief system shifts. It is at this point; they realize that gambling is not profitable.

The point is, treating compulsive gambling is about focusing on assessing financial problems caused by gambling by merely reducing one’s access to funding, and controlling their credit card use, planning their finances.

Meanwhile, substance addiction treatment relies on withdrawal management and medical treatment. These are all residential services, including medical intervention. Detoxification is also required for individuals who suffer from any form of substance addiction.

Compulsive gambling is more cognitive- and behavioral-based compared to substance addiction. Cognitively, many researchers believe that excessively gambling depicts cognitive distortions in their belief systems. Right in this core lies an elusive belief concerning their ability to win a bet.

They don’t share the same diagnostic criteria. While gambling addiction diagnosis pays close attention to the adverse effects of continuous gambling on family and friends, substance addiction, on the other hand, substance usage focuses on substance usage.

Addiction switching

It is easy for an addict to switch from one addiction to another. Many people in their recovery state are familiar with addiction replacement. This concept proves that addiction is not always in a single phase, not a unique conditioned behavior. Researchers believe that substance addicts are at higher risk of developing other forms of addiction. It is possible to move from being a drug abuser to being sex, porn, gambling, work, or shopping addicts.

In simple terms, new addiction can take the place of an old one. So, when trying to heal and withdraw from an old one, you should be careful not to ‘shift’ your attention to something darker.

But what could be the reason behind that? Addiction isn’t a physical substance. Instead, they are cravings for emotional or psychological needs. The effort to produce the same feeling from the release of dopamine can lead one to other forms of addiction.


Our main goal is to guide you through your recovery purpose thanks to our treatment services if you or anyone you know is suffering from gambling addiction. We are here to help. Log on to our website and learn more about addiction.