Problem gamblers often become isolated and may turn to substances to soothe their pain. Their gambling can increase during periods of stress or depression and during periods of substance use or abstinence. Those who are in recovery from alcohol or drug dependence are at higher risk to develop a gambling problem, and should be made aware of the potential risks of gambling. The spouses and children of problem gamblers are also at higher risk for substance abuse disorders. Although gambling may seem like a harmless ‘sober’ activity, it can quickly become a substitute addiction for the person who is seeking or maintaining recovery from substance abuse.
Help is available for people who are experiencing problem gambling and substance abuse, but the unique characteristics of each addiction must be considered when seeking treatment and supportive resources. Individuals struggling with both addictions will benefit by receiving care from professional counselors with expertise in both gambling and substance abuse. Recovering from a dual addiction can certainly be more challenging for the individual, but added support can be found by connecting with other people who have similar experiences of dealing with more than one addiction in their recovery.