In May, the Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports betting nationwide when it ruled by a vote of 6-3 to strike down a 1992 federal law that prevented most U.S. states from having this practice. According to the court, Congress has the right to regulate this practice, or each state can do so individually.

Before this ruling, the only states with legalized sports betting were those that pre-dated the 1992 legislation – Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. According to the American Gaming Association, illegal sports betting has ballooned to $150 billion annual industry. The primary concern with the new ruling is that making placing these bets easier could produce a surge in problem gambling.

What is Compulsive Gambling?

When a person has a gambling addiction, this is a behavioral disorder. The compulsion to bet on sports, online games, or head to the casino may be overwhelming. Some of the common signs of compulsive gambling include:

  • Being obsessed with gambling
  • Placing larger or riskier bets over time
  • Fantasizing about past wins
  • Gambling to escape from reality
  • Hiding gambling from loved ones
  • Choosing gambling over time with loved ones or other obligations
  • Feeling guilty about gambling activities
  • Being unable to cut back or quit gambling

How Gambling Addiction is Related to Substance Abuse

If compulsive gambling sounds like drug or alcohol addiction, there is a good reason. There are many commonalities between substance abuse and gambling addiction.  Both produce similar negative consequences on a person’s life such as strained relationships, financial hardship, and work or legal troubles. They can also both have some similar underlying factors.

Why addiction affects some people and not others remains up for debate. Research does show, however, that some factors can contribute to both compulsive gambling and substance abuse. These include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Unresolved emotional trauma
  • Mental health issues
  • Exposure to addictive behaviors during childhood

For some, addictive behaviors and substances are an escape and coping mechanism. Some people who stop one behavior or the other are in danger of switching addictions if they do not have a strong recovery program that treats many of these underlying issues. According to PsychCentral, someone addicted to cocaine is seven times more likely than a non-addict to also be a gambler.

 

Man and woman sitting on a couch, the man is excited looking at his laptop.

Gambling addiction has many things in common with substance abuse.

Addiction Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Some states that have legalized gambling have admitted that there are inadequate addiction treatment resources in place to help the millions of people that develop gambling addiction issues. Only the future will tell whether or not legalized gaming spreading across the nation is going to improve access and education about compulsive gambling.

If you have a gambling addiction, whether or not it is combined with a substance use disorder, you can receive compassionate and qualified addiction treatment at The Recovery Village. Our treatment of co-occurring disorders is just one of the ways that you can address gambling addiction and underlying issues such as PTSD or other mental health issues simultaneously.

Contact us now to learn more about our customized treatment options and find out how our rehab services can help you heal.

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Defeating Gambling Addiction despite Legalized Sports Betting
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