Gambling addiction is different than an alcohol or substance use addiction because with gambling, you don’t physically ingest a substance, however all three addictions share similarities. How is this the case? It was found that with both gambling, alcohol and substances. All have similar changes that occur in the brain and “ignite higher states of arousal” Lesieru, Blume, Zappa, 1986).

When being treated for a gambling addiction, it is important to consider other addictions as well and to build a treatment plan that works best for the person’s specific needs. Often times, addictions can occur simultaneously without even realizing. It is also common that someone may struggle with both an alcohol and a gambling problem because alcohol is readily serviced in casinos and lounges where gambling occurs. Alcohol is often enjoyed simultaneously and can be used to celebrate both a win, but also help cope with several losses. Research also indicates that people with substance use or alcohol use are more likely to struggle with a gambling disorder, and this is concerning because when people experience elevated moods from substances or alcohol, this could potentially lead to taking bigger risks in gambling.  One study also noted that when participates were asked to report about their use with gambling, alcohol and substances, it was reported that “34% said they gambled while drinking or using drugs” (Lesier, et, al, 1986).

Despite there being many differences between addictions, all addictions follow a similar pattern and with the right treatment and supports, a person can recover. For more information about help and serves available, visit

If you have more questions or require more information about gambling support, call the Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-306-6789

Source: Report: Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Gambling by Henry Lesieur, Sheila Blume, and R. Zoppa From Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Volume 10, No 1. (Jan/Feb 1986).