Gambling Addictions: Is Your College Student at Risk?

photo of a young man's hand holding some playing cards at the casino

Sometimes the warning signs of addiction are obvious. If a heroin user overdoses or an alcoholic gets arrested for drunk driving, you know that they need help – and quick. Though, there are other forms of addiction, like gambling, that are just as dangerous but harder to spot.

Did you know that over six million adults currently meet the criteria for problem gambling? And, what is even more alarming is that college students represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the population who gamble online on a regular basis.

In a recent study published by the University of Connecticut, researchers found that 23 percent of college students reporting gambling online and 6.3 percent did so each week.

While placing the occasional “friendly wager” may seem innocuous at first, it can escalate into compulsive behaviors that can cause many profoundly negative psychological, physical and social repercussions.

It’s important to note that there are warning signs of a gambling addiction. If your college student is exhibiting some of all of the symptoms below of a gambling addiction, it’s important to consult an experienced addiction recovery specialist for help.

5 Telltale Signs of a Gambling Addiction:

1. Escalating financial losses and excessive credit card or personal debt. Gambling addicts often feel that the need to place bets even when they run out of money and often start to borrow money from others or fund their habit with credit cards or short-term loans. Some even resort to selling their personal property to support their gambling when their financial reserves are depleted.

2. Exhibit extreme feelings of sadness and remorse after losing.
While gambling is often referred to as a “hidden illness” because there are no physical symptoms, they may talk about feeling depressed after losing money and express regret, shame and guilt over their behavior.

3. Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling. Without the help of addiction recovery professionals, gambling addicts may try, unsuccessfully, to stop on their own – creating a negative cycle of addiction and relapse.

4. Being secretive about how often and how much the person is betting. Many compulsive gamblers often lie about how much or how often they bet. Addicts may start to spend more time alone, avoiding friends and family members.

5. Stealing money from friends and family. When the gambling addiction becomes more severe, some resort to actually stealing money from their roommates, parents and co-workers in a desperate attempt to continue funding their addiction.

Left untreated, a gambling addiction can disrupt the addict’s ability to form healthy personal relationships and interfere with work and social activities. If your son is dealing with a problem gambling addiction, help him find the support he needs and consult an experienced addiction rehabilitation facility.

Getting the Help Your Child Needs
If you believe your child is struggling with addiction, getting treatment is essential. Although most college campuses have a mental health center for students, these facilities are often overburdened and understaffed. 10 Acre Ranch specializes in treating men ages 18 and older who are struggling with addiction issues and drug and alcohol abuse, offering residential rehab. Call (877) 228-4679 to get help for your college student or learn more about our men’s-only CA rehab program.

Addiction Transfer: Trading One Habit for Another

photo of TreeA plastic coated card deck beside poker chip and dice gambling addiction concept

Recognizing a drug or alcohol problem and seeking treatment is a life-changing step for any man. Learning to live without the substances that create pleasure sensations (or “highs”) in your brain’s reward center may seem impossible. Once you’ve progressed through the early stages of recovery, being self-aware enough to avoid the phenomenon called “addiction transfer” presents yet another treatment challenge.

Addiction transfer is substituting one addictive behavior for another. People who smoke may find themselves constantly eating; those who were formerly addicted to drugs or alcohol could end up with a gambling problem or become compulsive shoppers. In recent studies, patients who have had weight-loss surgery are becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol in alarmingly large numbers.

photo of TreeA plastic coated card deck beside poker chip and dice gambling addiction concept

The Science of Addiction

It was formerly thought that addicts transferred their behavior from one habit to another (e.g. food instead of alcohol) to fill an emotional void in their lives. This may be true in some cases, and cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common treatment approach to help uncover the root cause of addictive behaviors.

However, researchers now think that the true cause of addiction transfer is a lack of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in many cognitive and physical functions. Drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors activate the brain’s reward center and increase dopamine levels. Lower-than-normal dopamine levels can cause a craving to participate in an activity that delivers the same rush, whether it’s drinking, sex-ting, or surfing the internet to excess.

What’s the Problem?

As you work toward recovery, it’s natural—and even healthy—to distract yourself with other activities. One could argue that a shopping addiction is less dangerous to your health than using drugs, but doing anything to an unhealthy degree is destructive. With addiction, your brain learns to rely on the addictive behavior to feel good, and that’s when your life, work, and relationships begin to suffer.

Anyone can fall into the trap of a behavioral addiction (any non-substance related addiction), but people with a long history of substance addiction may be more prone to this type of behavior.

Addiction Transfer & Men’s Drug Addiction Recovery

Residential rehab, outpatient rehab, and drug detox programs use a variety of treatment approaches with the goal of helping clients attain and maintain long-term sobriety. Participating in a comprehensive addiction treatment program that takes a holistic (mind, body, spirit, social) approach is the best way to avoid addiction transfer. Throughout the recovery process, clients may require psychiatric treatment and individual therapy for co-occurring disorders, mood disorders, or dopamine deficits. In many cases, addicts may not even realize that they are substituting one addiction for another, so family and friends should be on the lookout for this type of behavior.

10 Acre Ranch Drug & Alcohol Rehab

To learn more about the therapeutic programs, life skills classes, and fitness opportunities available at 10 Acre Ranch addiction treatment for men, dial 877.228.4679 today. Serving men 18 and older, our therapeutic group activity setting encourages clients to return to an active, healthy lifestyle as they pursue sobriety and wellness.