The disease of addiction is a very complicated, almost mysterious condition. With contributors that are biological, developmental, and circumstantial, the disease of addiction can develop under many different circumstances and manifest a wide variety of effects or symptoms. While substance abuse can be a mere symptom of a psychological disorder or, alternately, share symptomology with an additional condition, the line between one diagnosis and another quite blurred.
Furthermore, in instances when an individual suffers from addiction as well as a comorbid or co-occurring condition, it’s often quite difficult to determine which disease is the primary or whether one could have contributed to or even caused the other. Most contemporary research suggests that when an individual suffers from addiction and a secondary diagnosis, the two afflictions are certainly linked, but determining the precise nature of their relationship is tricky at best.
Since addiction can either be a symptom, the cause, or caused by an accompanying diagnosis, it’s important to treat both conditions simultaneously because the progression of one condition often coincides with the worsening of the symptoms of another, further illustrating a complex relationship or correlation. As with alcohol and drug addiction, this is true of gambling addiction as well.
In particular, gambling addiction has shown a degree of overlap with other conditions in terms of effects that pertain to mood, habits and compulsions, anxiety, and even personality. Therefore, it’s important to understand some of the most common co-occurring diagnoses that are frequently found alongside gambling addiction.
Gambling Addiction as Impulse Control Disorder
Although many tend to associate the disease of addiction most closely with alcohol and drug abuse, there many other types of addiction, which are often behavioral in nature. These behavioral addictions are frequently compared to and sometimes even described as impulse control disorders and include sex addiction, exercise addiction, and gambling addiction among others. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), impulse control disorder is used to describe compulsively repetitive behavior that lacks a clear logical motivation and can be harmful to the self and/or others; moreover, the behavior is associated that impulses that are beyond an individual’s control.
Based on the way that impulse control disorders are described, it’s a condition that would seem to befit gambling addiction—known also by its more technical classification as pathological gambling (PG), which is also the term for a gambling problem of the highest severity—as well as many other types of addiction. In fact, gambling addiction, kleptomania, and pyromania are just a few of the unhealthy obsessions an individual can have that are often classified as impulse control disorder.
Moreover, the association of gambling addiction with issues pertaining to uncontrollable impulses has contributed to the discovery that individuals who suffer from gambling addiction tend to exhibit a high rate of comorbidity with other afflictions, especially mental and emotional disorders as well as substance abuse problems. Additionally, these findings have led to dual-diagnosis treatment that acknowledges and addresses the correlations between gambling addiction and mental, emotional, and substance abuse disorders.
Gambling Addiction & Substance Abuse Disorders
Based on more than a decade of research, a recent study identified substance abuse as being of high comorbidity with gambling addiction. The study sample consisted of pathological gamblers and it was found that 57.5 percent also suffered from alcohol or drug addiction. Another survey determined that pathological gamblers were seven times more likely to become addicted to a chemical substance than individuals who don’t have a gambling problem.
Additional studies support these figures with one study’s authors even suggesting that the high incidence of comorbid gambling addiction with alcohol or drug addiction infers that the presence of the two addictions could actually be a single disorder—addiction to both gambling and chemical substances—rather than two separate addictions. The link between gambling addiction and substance abuse disorder, according to the study’s authors, lies in a lack of impulse control.
Research further indicates that the reason that so many individuals develop both gambling addiction and alcohol or drug addiction is because both types of addiction are common to develop due to overlapping risk factors, including a history of sexual abuse, delinquent tendencies, and depression.
However, it’s also suggested that individuals who suffer from gambling addiction and comorbid alcohol or drug addiction have shown to be resistant to the most conventional methods of treatment that have proven to be effective for those individuals who suffer solely from substance abuse problems. Given the tendency for gamblers to relegate themselves to the margins of society, dual-diagnosis programs that treat gambling as well as alcohol and drug addiction must take a different approach in order to encourage such individuals to participate in a treatment that makes them feel exposed.
Gambling Addiction with Mood & Anxiety Disorders
One of the difficulties in both diagnosing and treating a comorbid diagnosis that exists alongside gambling addiction is determining whether a symptom is actually an effect of being a gambling addict or if the symptom indicates a co-occurring condition.
For instance, a gambling addict who exhibits signs of depression could be suffering from major depression, but it’s also possible that the symptoms of depression are actually the result of the effects that the individual’s gambling addiction has had on his or her life such as the accrual of immense debt, loss of one’s home, and so on. However, it’s important to identify when a gambling addict is suffering from a secondary diagnosis because the appropriate dual-diagnosis support will serve as an added layer of protection, preventing a comorbid condition from causing a relapse.
However, it’s important to identify when a gambling addict is suffering from a secondary diagnosis because the appropriate dual-diagnosis support will serve as an added layer of protection, preventing a comorbid condition from causing a relapse.
Psychological disorders that involve recklessness, impulsivity, and excessive risk-taking behavior have been found to be common comorbid diagnoses among individuals with pathological gambling problems. When an individual suffers from a severe lack of impulse control, he or she makes impulsive choices and engages in behaviors without much consideration for the consequences, which makes them frequently irrational.
This tendency is especially common when the behavior is perceived to offer some sort of immediate gain or pleasure, even if the gain is fleeting and outweighed by negative consequences. As such, individuals who have a gambling problem show a high incidence of the comorbid bipolar disorder, which is known for inducing excessive risk-taking and potentially addictive behavior, particularly when the individual is in the manic state.
Moreover, clinical depression and anxiety disorders have been identified as having a high rate of comorbidity with gambling addiction, which is thought to be related to individuals trying to cope with the profound effects that a gambling problem can have on one’s general life.
Make Your Way to a Happy, Healthy Life with Drug Treatment Center Finder
Fortunately, addiction of all types can be managed and overcome. Addiction treatment programs are designed to arm individuals with the skills and strategies that allow them to overcome dependencies while also receiving the treatment necessary to manage symptoms of co-occurring, comorbid diagnoses. Individuals who suffer from gambling addiction, as well as a secondary disorder or addiction, can find relief in the dual-diagnosis support offered by many recovery programs.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a pathological gambling problem or another type of dependency and would benefit from information about recovery, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. Our recovery specialists have matched countless individuals to the programming and recovery centers that best address their needs, allowing them to achieve long-lasting sobriety and relief from the destruction that the disease of addiction causes. Don’t let alcohol, drugs or some other type of dependency claim another life. Peace, happiness, and health are only a phone call away with Drug Treatment Center Finder.
Don’t let alcohol, drugs or some other type of dependency claim another life. Peace, happiness, and health are only a phone call away with Drug Treatment Center Finder.