Is gambling an addiction?

Gambling addiction is one of the few addictions which may be viewed as socially acceptable. With the prevalence of casinos and a potential winning payout, some individuals do not realize that they need help until it is too late and their habit has suddenly spiraled out of control and has led to financial ruin.

Gambling addiction often goes hand in hand with other addictions or mental health disorders– including substance use, depression, and anxiety. Depending on the severity, such disorders may need to be addressed in treatment before the gambling addiction.

Most addicts will demonstrate an unwillingness to stop or accept the reality of their situation– convinced that they are in control. Gambling addicts may lie about their gambling or engage in illegal behaviors in order to obtain more gambling money or to pay off their debts.

Gambling is more than casinos, slot machines, or cards.

Betting with friends, buying lottery tickets, fantasy football, and gambling websites are all easily accessible ways in which to gamble. Because these games are more casual than going to a casino, friends and family may not realize that their loved one is struggling with an addiction.

Gambling addiction develops in a number of ways, some start to gamble due to a desperate financial situation.  They may get swept away in the adrenaline of a high risk bet, or they may have won a large amount of money, then it gets out of control as they chase that big win again.

Are there side effects from a gambling addiction?

The side effects of a gambling addiction can lead to depression, anxiety, shame,
and suicidal ideation after a devastating loss. People oftentimes experience feelings of anxiety at the prospect of stopping. While others are convinced they just need one last game to win the jackpot making all their problems go away.

Individuals may develop other addictions in an effort to alleviate the stress of their lifestyle– turning to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Overcoming a gambling addiction is not easy. However, addressing these addictions in treatment will help the individual to get back on track and lead a healthy lifestyle. 


If you are or a loved one may be struggling with a gambling addiction, Solutions Treatment Center can help. Please reach out to our intake line at 877-499-1354 or 505-424-3170.

Compulsive Gambling Symptoms, Causes and Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20,
2017, from