Gambling Addiction and Childhood Trauma: What Ohio Residents Should Know

Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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Gambling addiction or “problem gambling” disrupts major areas of a person’s life, including psychological health, physical health, social and family relationships, and career. The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that 15 percent of Americans gamble once a week or more, and around 6 million adults meet criteria for problem gambling.

Forty percent of problem gamblers began gambling before the age of 17, and gambling addiction has an astounding 75 percent co-morbidity rate. This means that three-quarters of people with a gambling addiction have at least one other co-occurring addiction.

Lest you think that gambling addiction is not a “bad” addiction like heroin or meth, problem gamblers have the highest suicide rates of people with currently recognized addictions. Though Nevada has the highest prevalence of gambling addiction, you do not have to live near Vegas to develop gambling addiction. The first Ohio casino opened in 2012, with several more opening in the years since. Many Ohio drug rehab facilities are encountering more co-occurring gambling addictions and helping people recover from them.

Childhood Trauma and Gambling Addiction in Adults

A 2009 study of gambling addiction in over 3,000 men in the UK aged 18 to 64 years found a correlation between gambling addiction in adulthood and trauma experienced as a child. Men with gambling addiction were more than twice as likely as men who rarely placed bets to have witnessed or experienced physical violence while growing up. Furthermore, they were more than three times as likely to have endured serious or critical physical injury during childhood.

While anecdotal evidence suggests that men gamble “to win” and women gamble “to escape,” this study suggests that men may be using gambling as a coping mechanism after having seen or experienced violence in the home as a child. The connection between childhood trauma and adult gambling addiction held even when researchers controlled for alcohol and drug dependence, which often accompany gambling addiction.

Addiction Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders may refer to mental illnesses that co-exist with substance abuse disorders. The term can also refer to multiple addictions within the same person. Co-occurring disorders are more likely to be present in people who are older, of lower socioeconomic status, homeless, or who are presently or formerly incarcerated.

Many other disorders occur along with substance abuse disorders and gambling addiction, including cognitive and mood disorders. Because every person’s individual constellation of disorders and background experiences is unique, treatment must be individualized as well. There is no “one size fits all” approach to gambling addiction, or addiction in general.

How Therapy in Rehab Can Help Address Childhood Traumas

One potential bright spot in the otherwise bleak world of addiction is that co-occurring disorders are often what ultimately motivates people to seek addiction treatment. Childhood trauma is also associated with mental illness in adults. Treatment for those with gambling addictions, particularly if other co-occurring disorders are present, must screen for these mental illnesses and look for their roots in childhood trauma if people with these conditions are to make a successful recovery.

Unfortunately, in many places addiction treatment is divorced from treatment for co-occurring conditions like mental illness. Ohio residents should thoroughly research Ohio drug rehab facilities to learn how individualized and comprehensive treatment programs are. Otherwise, the chances of making a successful recovery are slimmer.

Your Ohio Drug Rehab Options

If you are an Ohio resident struggling with a gambling addiction, whether or not you have co-occurring disorders or suffered childhood trauma, you need and deserve professional rehabilitation to recover. Treatment for gambling addiction is similar to treatment for other addictions. It may involve individual therapy, medications, and attendance at 12-step programs, as well as treatment of mental illnesses that may have resulted from either childhood trauma or the gambling addiction itself. Ohio drug rehab opportunities exist for the person with a gambling addiction. If you are open to help, we encourage you to contact us at any time to learn more and take that first step toward recovery.

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