Whenever addiction is mentioned, what comes to most people’s minds is alcohol and drugs. However, there are several silently suffering from behavioural addictions such as gambling.
Most people think that no other addiction can be as deadly as substance abuse. This perception often arises from the devastating outcomes of substance abuse, as regularly highlighted by mainstream media and modern research. Can gambling addiction be worse than substance addiction?
Comparing Gambling Addiction and Substance Abuse: Is Gambling More Dangerous?
The consequences of different forms of addiction vary widely. However, the fact remains — every addiction has unfortunate outcomes for the affected individual and their loved ones. Though gambling addiction and substance dependence differ in nature, they both ruin a person’s life to a great extent.
Gambling addiction is not worse than substance addiction because each is destructive in its own way.
If we break down the top features of any dangerous addiction, we would have:
- Pursuing the addictive habit even though it’s deeply affecting you and those around you
- Feeling that you can’t live without the addiction
- Damaging firm relationships with others for the sake of the addiction
- A never-ending desire to fulfil the addiction
- Making poor decisions that prioritise the addictive behaviour over other important things
Both gambling addiction and substance addiction have all these features.
How Dangerous Is Substance Addiction?
Substance dependence is among the addictions that one can’t hide from others because the physical signs are evident and will raise eyebrows.
Chronic substance use gives people a “feel-good rush” that encourages them to continue taking these life-threatening substances.
A person battling substance addiction will experience several struggles, including:
- Misusing money to buy the substance they need
- A strained relationship with loved ones who constantly confront them about their habit
- Being unable to regulate their intake limit, knowing very well the problems it causes
- Losing interest in important daily routines because substance use takes over their life
- Being unable to resist substance use no matter how hard they try
- Mood swings when they don’t satisfy their cravings
Drugs give off a “thrill” that makes it difficult to abandon their use
When a person battling substance addiction reaches rock bottom, they’ll experience severe physical, social and mental outcomes.
They can get fired from work, exposing them to a lot of stress. Substance addiction makes it hard for individuals to sustain relationships with those they love. Their physical appearance changes for the worse, and they’ll have many health complications.
If in school, the individual’s performance will go down drastically. They may end up depressed and choose to commit suicide.
How Dangerous Is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is often difficult to recognise since there are no noticeable physical health changes like substance dependence.
Similar to substance addiction, there are “feel-good chemicals” involved in gambling addiction.
These “pleasure chemicals” floods the brain any time the person engages in gambling activities. For this reason, an individual with a gambling addiction can’t resist gambling.
Here are some facts about the state of gambling addiction in the UK, according to research:
- The number of adults suffering from battling gambling addiction in the UK ranges between 340,000 and 1.4 million.
- In every four gamblers, one experiences serious gambling-related harms
- 55,000 people as young as 11 to 16 years are battling gambling addiction
- Compared to substance addiction, people battling gambling addiction are 3 to 4 times more likely to try to take their own lives. In fact, suicide attempts in gambling are more than in any other type of addiction.
Gambling addiction is associated with significant gambling-related harms
An individual with this addiction faces these struggles:
- Constantly thinking about future gambling activities and how to get money to gamble
- Many unsuccessful attempts to quit gambling
- Frustration when they can’t take part in a gambling activity
- Lying to those close to them to keep their addiction a secret
- Carrying on with gambling even it means risking close relationships
People with this addiction can’t easily quit without getting help for problem gambling.
Gambling addiction leads to heavy financial losses that leave a person in debt and unable to handle their financial obligations. They can lose financial assets, resulting in poverty and bankruptcy.
Gambling addiction also places individuals at high risk of suicide because of the heavy financial losses. A person with this addiction will channel their frustrations on their loved ones by resorting to assault and domestic violence. They’ll have broken marriages or relationships.
A compulsive gambler can also sink into depression, resulting in poor physical and mental health outcomes.
Gambling Addiction and Substance Addiction Are Equally Harmful
The consequences of gambling addiction are as severe as the impact of substance addiction. They both destroy a person’s physical health, financial health, mental health, and social life.
These two addictions take a toll on people’s lives. Without proper treatment or professional help, the outcomes for both addictions can be fatal.