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What Does Gambling Have to Do with Alcohol Use Disorder?

Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month every April. The month is dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with alcohol use disorder and spreading awareness of its treatment. With this in mind, Alcohol Awareness Month provides us with the perfect opportunity to talk about the correlation between alcohol use disorder and disordered gambling.

While alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly, disordered gamblers should exercise caution around the substance. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), someone that struggles with casino gambling in Atlantic City or other gambling activities is 23 times more likely to struggle with alcohol use disorder than the average person. Participating in an activity or gathering that involves drinking can potentially trigger unhealthy behavior in problem gamblers. However, they can still enjoy alcohol responsibly if they take some precautions.

Risky Chemistry

Gambling establishments and alcohol often go hand-in-hand. Even during social gatherings like friendly poker nights, many gamblers enjoy a drink or two. If one isn’t mindful, however, one can grow dependent on the enjoyment they feel from partaking in either activity. To continue experiencing the same rush of dopamine — the brain’s “pleasure” chemical — these individuals experience after drinking alcohol or winning a bet, they feel the need to drink or gamble more and more. Over time, they could potentially develop both a gambling disorder and an alcohol use disorder.

The Cycle of Disordered Behavior

The presence of one disorder often exacerbates the other. For example, a disordered gambler may turn to alcohol to ease the stress of the financial issues they’ve developed. Someone struggling with alcohol use disorder may find it difficult to use their best judgment when he or she gambles. A “comorbid” diagnosis of both disorders makes treatment somewhat more difficult. However, recovery is always possible. If individuals that struggle with both disorders seek support and remain mindful during their recovery, they can overcome these challenges.

If you, a friend, or a loved one struggle with casino gambling in AC or any other kind of gambling, call or text our 24/7 hotline for confidential support.