Gambling in Recovery: Are the Odds Against Us?

Overcoming drug and alcohol addiction can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your situation seems. Identifying the issue and attaining the humility to make a change is definitely within grasp.

When someone has accomplished staying sober for an extended period of time, is he or she safe? The answer is no. It takes continuous and repetitive action in order to maintain longevity in sobriety. Outside of honesty, service, attending meetings, spirituality, and daily recognition of personal behaviors, there are great deals of external pressures that can raise questions of whether these pressures can live harmoniously alongside sobriety.

Is it possible to gamble in a healthy manner while maintaining a sturdy platform in substance abuse recovery? What do you think?

Although no one would consider gambling in recovery a relapse, if we look a little closer, alcohol and drug abuse directly correlates with problem gambling. An alcoholic who turns to problem gambling does it for the same reason they chose to do drugs and alcohol. The act of gambling alters mood, making the individual feel alive or euphoric. In an attempt to achieve the same euphoria, the gambler continues the same behavior – over and over again. In a study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it showed that there is a clinical pattern between problem and pathological gamblers representative of a sequential addiction. More often than not, an individual with a history of dependence on alcohol or drugs may develop a gambling problem.

So how does gambling in recovery correlate directly with one’s sobriety?

Consequences of gambling are as follows: financial ruin, mounting legal issues, loss of family, career, and incarceration. While problems mount up, we as alcoholics often look to a drink or drug as our solution. It is overwhelming to tackle our problems with grace and efficiency, so when facing a mountain of issues connected to our own mistakes, we our putting ourselves in an uncertain situation. To take it a step further, most gambling establishments often serve free alcohol, which is an easy trigger for a recovering alcoholic. In that aspect when we look at sober alcoholics and gambling, the chips are stacked against them.

Gambling is possible in sobriety, as long as the individual is mindful of the risk and counters these risks by framing a plan around them. There are methods to executing gambling in constructive ways in sobriety. For example: for alcoholics, doing things in moderation raises difficulty but it can be done. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep gambling as an occasion-based activity, rather than diving into it addictively. Playing in house games with a group of sober friends as opposed to going to casinos or other dicey settings is preferable to avoid temptations. It is also beneficial to have someone who is close to you, whose opinion you value, to hold you accountable if you’re displaying unsound behaviors. In order to maintain a healthy balance in an individual’s substance abuse recovery and participate in gambling activities, it is important to follow these guidelines. If the recovering alcoholic is to disregard these fair warnings, the consequences may be severe.

Now that we have evaluated both sides of the spectrum for whether participation in gambling is healthy or not in sobriety, I’ll leave that decision to the individual. It is a case-by-case matter. However, it is always beneficial to be conscientious of the severity of the situation and the consequences that can result due to gambling negligence.

Last Updated on February 21, 2024


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