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Exploring the Connection Between Alcohol and Problem Gambling

Published: April 26, 2021

Did you know that according to an Ohio survey, people who struggle with a problem with gambling are 3 times more likely to experience alcohol or drug dependency?

When done legally and within set boundaries, gambling and alcohol consumption are both accepted forms of entertainment. However, when combined or misused, both activities can cause mental, emotional, and physical problems for individuals. 

Before You Bet is setting aside time to talk about the connection between alcohol and problem gambling and how to seek treatment if you or a loved one needs it. 

The facts*:

  • People who struggle with a problem with gambling were the most likely group to have someone else in their family with an alcohol use problem.
  • Over one-fifth of all respondents reported having the urge to drink due to painful life circumstances, but only 2.4% admitted feeling that they may have an alcohol or drug problem.
  • People who struggle with a problem with gambling were the most likely group to feel that they might have an alcohol or drug problem.

*2016-17 Ohio For for Responsible Gambling’s Ohio Gambling Survey

There could be a few reasons why alcohol and gambling co-exist together. One reason is that gambling and drinking often happen inside the same establishments, like bars, restaurants, casinos or racinos. In these establishments, alcohol is easily accessible and may be at a low cost. 

Another potential reason is that drinking can be a common reaction to gambling outcomes. For example, people might go out and drink heavily after a big win or console themselves by drinking after a hard loss. Gambling also stimulates the same chemical reaction in the brain that comes from using substances like alcohol or drugs. 

Knowing that these two activities can significantly impact an individuals’ health when misused, there are some key ways to be proactive. It starts with getting educated and understanding the risks involved with both activities. 

You can always learn more about the risks, signs, and myths of problem gambling at If you think you or a loved one has a problem, the free, 24/7 helpline at 1-800-589-9966 is always available to connect individuals to local resources and treatment.

If you or a loved one thinks you might have a problem with alcohol, you can also visit the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services website to find education and treatment options near you. No matter what, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that recovery is possible.

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