Problem Gambling & ADHD: What to Do When You’ve Been Dealt This Hand

stressed man with hands on head

A significant portion of people who gamble do not experience any long-lasting issues. However, everyone has their own set of circumstances, and some people are more prone to developing a gambling problem than others. 

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), unfortunately, are one group of people that this is true. They experience a thrilling rush every time they win, and this feeling is triggered by neurochemicals that help them feel more focused. Whether they are betting at a blackjack table, on a football game, or online, their brains crave this focus, driving them to the “table” again and again. 

How ADHD Is Linked to Problem Gambling

Studies have shown that adults diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to develop a severe problem with gambling. This means they will keep gambling even after it hurts their financial, personal, and familial life.

Why are people with ADHD more likely to experience issues with gambling? It has been found that adults with ADHD are impulsive, and this impulsivity can lead them to make poor decisions (such as continuing to place bets even when they are on a losing streak).

The feelings of boredom, depression, and low self-esteem people with ADHD often experience also draw them to the reward of gambling. Gambling is an exciting challenge with short-term success that combats feelings of failure and depression. Essentially, the act of betting is a way for people to escape from their everyday lives.

Adolescents Diagnosed with ADHD Are More Likely to Develop a Gambling Problem

Parents should note that adolescents diagnosed with ADHD are at greater risk of becoming problem gamblers. In one study, 43% of problem gamblers tested positive for childhood ADHD, and for 11% of these patients, their ADHD continued into adulthood. These people with adult ADHD were more likely to have severe gambling problems.

Kids and teens with ADHD are drawn to gambling at an earlier age than their peers, and this attraction to placing bets often continues into adulthood. For some adults, the appeal of gambling becomes a problem. 

By recognizing the real possibility of their child’s ADHD leading to a gambling addiction, parents can seek help for their child early on from professional counselors who understand ADHD and their impulsive behaviors.

Help for Adults with ADHD and Problem Gambling

All too often, gambling becomes a way for adults with ADHD to self-medicate. They may not have the tools they need to regulate their behavior in a positive manner, and gambling is the only way they can feel good about themselves.

It’s essential for anyone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders to seek help from medical professionals and not to self-medicate. Your doctor can customize a treatment plan that works for you, and a therapist can give you coping mechanisms. Many problem gamblers with ADHD have successfully controlled their gambling by planning each of their days to cut down on their impulsivity. Of course, getting a handle on problem behavior can be challenging and is best overseen by a certified therapist.

Managing Gambling Problems

In addition to seeking help for your ADHD, you can also get assistance in managing your gambling behavior from professionals. Our team wants to be the resource you can turn to when struggling with a gambling problem and help you learn how to help a gambler. If you or your loved one is dealing with a gambling problem, you can use our Gambler’s Anonymous contact number at any time to experience a brighter future.



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