September 29, 2023


Alcoholism and gambling addiction are two of the most prevalent addictions affecting millions of people globally. They share similarities in terms of risk factors, causes, and treatments. Moreover, they can co-occur as comorbid disorders, making their diagnosis and treatment complicated. This expert article seeks to explore the relationship between alcoholism and gambling addiction and the treatment options available.

Similarities between Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction

Alcoholism and gambling addiction share many similarities. For instance, both are types of addictions that can have negative consequences on the individual and those around them. They also have similar risk factors. Some of the common risk factors include genetic predisposition, childhood trauma, mental disorder, among others. Furthermore, both types of addictions have withdrawal symptoms, which can make their treatment challenging.

The Relationship between Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling and alcohol use disorders often overlap. Many people with gambling addiction also suffer from alcohol addiction, and vice versa. The comorbidity of these two addictions is associated with significant personal, social, and financial problems. People who struggle with both alcoholism and gambling addiction are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction

Co-occurring alcoholism and gambling addiction require a comprehensive treatment approach. Some of the available treatment options include psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and family therapy. Medications such as antidepressants and naltrexone can also help in managing the symptoms of alcoholism and gambling addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment centers can help patients with co-occurring disorders by providing specialized treatments for both addictions.

Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction Statistics

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholism and gambling addiction statistics include:

  • 15 million adults in the US struggle with alcohol addiction.
  • 2%-3% of adults suffer from problem gambling.
  • 10%-20% of gamblers have alcohol use disorders.
  • 73% of people with gambling addiction also have an alcohol use disorder.
  • The cost of problem gambling to the US economy is estimated at $6 billion annually.
  • The cost of alcohol-related problems to the US economy is estimated at $249 billion annually.

Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction as Co-Occurring Disorders

Alcoholism and gambling addiction can co-occur as comorbid disorders. They are associated with increased severity of symptoms, higher rates of relapse, and poorer treatment outcomes. Co-occurring disorders require a comprehensive treatment approach that addresses the underlying causes of addiction.

Recovering from Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction

Recovering from alcoholism and gambling addiction requires a commitment to a long-term treatment plan. The treatment plan should involve behavioral therapies, support groups, and medical interventions. Recovering from these addictions is a continuous process that can take months or years.

What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, is a type of behavioral addiction. People with gambling addiction have an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite negative consequences such as financial ruin, loss of relationships, and legal problems. Gambling addiction is recognized as a mental disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

How to Help a Loved One with Gambling Addiction

If you suspect that your loved one has a gambling addiction, the first step is to seek professional help. Support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can also help individuals struggling with gambling addiction. Its essential to practice patience, understanding, and empathy when helping a loved one overcome addiction.

Risk Factors for Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction can affect anyone, but some individuals are at increased risk. Risk factors include a family history of gambling addiction, mental disorders, and exposure to gambling at a young age.

Causes of Gambling Addiction

There are several causes of gambling addiction, including genetics, environmental factors, and brain chemistry. Gambling addiction is associated with changes in the brains reward pathways, making the individual crave more gambling experiences.

Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Some of the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction include:

  • Uncontrollable urge to gamble.
  • Increasing the amount of money or time spent on gambling.
  • Chasing losses.
  • Neglecting responsibilities and relationships.
  • Lying about gambling activities.
  • Financial problems.

Alcohol and Gambling Addiction – Not a Good Mix!

Alcohol and gambling addiction can be a dangerous combination. Drinking alcohol can impair judgment, leading to impulsive decisions, increased risk-taking behavior, and more substantial gambling losses. Individuals with gambling addiction should avoid alcohol consumption to improve their chances of overcoming addiction.

Differences between Gambling Disorder and Alcoholism

Gambling disorder and alcoholism differ in several ways. For instance, while gambling addiction is a type of behavioral addiction, alcoholism is a substance use disorder. The treatment approaches for these addictions also differ, with gambling disorder requiring more behavioral therapies and alcoholism requiring medical interventions.

Will Problem Gambling and Alcoholism Ever Go Away?

While problem gambling and alcoholism can be managed, they can never go away entirely. Achieving total abstinence is the goal of most recovery programs, but relapse can occur. Its essential to seek support from healthcare providers and support groups to overcome addiction.

Sequential Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction

Sequential alcoholism and gambling addiction refer to an individual who develops addiction to one substance, then later develops an addiction to gambling. This pattern of addiction is associated with increased health and social problems.

Other Co-Current Diagnoses with Problem Gambling and Alcoholism

Problem gambling and alcoholism can co-occur with other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Treatment for co-occurring disorders requires a comprehensive approach that addresses all underlying issues.

The Connection between Gambling and Substance Abuse

Gambling addiction and substance abuse share common risk factors and underlying issues such as trauma, low self-esteem, and depression. Some people with gambling addiction also use substances such as alcohol and drugs to cope with negative emotions.

Support for Gambling Addictions and Alcoholism

Several support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous can help individuals struggling with gambling addiction and alcoholism. These groups offer peer support, guidance, and practical tips for overcoming addiction.

What is Compulsive Gambling?

Compulsive gambling is a term used to describe severe gambling addiction. Individuals with compulsive gambling have uncontrollable urges to gamble, leading to financial ruin and negative consequences in other areas of their lives.

How to Tell if You Have a Gambling Problem

If you suspect you have a gambling problem, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you gamble to escape negative emotions?
  • Have you tried to quit gambling but failed?
  • Do you lie to your loved ones about your gambling activities?
  • Have you neglected your responsibilities and relationships due to gambling?
  • Do you chase losses?
  • Are you experiencing financial problems due to gambling?

Professional Gambling

Professional gambling involves making a living from gambling activities such as sports betting, poker, and horse racing. Professional gamblers use skill, knowledge, and strategies to win at these activities.

Common Types of Gambling

Some of the common types of gambling include casino gambling, sports betting, lottery, and online gambling. These activities can become problematic when they become compulsive and lead to negative consequences.

How Can Someone Be Addicted to Gambling?

Gambling addiction can develop due to various factors such as genetics, environmental factors, and brain chemistry. Individuals with gambling addiction experience changes in the reward pathways of their brains, leading to cravings and compulsive gambling behaviors.


Alcoholism and gambling addiction are two of the most common addictions that can co-occur as comorbid disorders. They share similar risk factors, causes, withdrawal symptoms, and treatments. Recovering from these addictions requires a long-term commitment to behavioral therapies, support groups, and medical interventions. Seeking professional help and support from loved ones is crucial in overcoming these addictions.

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