Gambling vs. Drug Addiction? What is your opinion?


Not long ago we posted this question on an Al-Anon blog site.
We’re re-posting it here along with some of the responses we received and our response.
Feel free to express your own 2$ worth!

Gambling vs. Drug Addiction?
This topic/comment/question was posed to me by someone who is in the midst of experiencing firsthand, the devastation caused by Meth–on a mother, her child and the surrounding family. I asked her if we could post this topic to see what others have to say.

Thoughts please. . . What is your opinion?

I work at a Casino, in the Spa, doing massage therapy. We had a mandatory meeting about “responsible gambling” and how we are supposed to handle the topic with our clients. The speaker posed this question–True or false, it is easier to spot a drug addict/alcoholic addiction then a person with a gambling addiction.

Answer? she said “true.” I said “not true.” She asked me why. I said, “because addiction, any addiction follows the same path, runs the same course, AA, NA, GA, SA, EA,–they all have the same program for the simple reason” the signs are the same. You see the signs, you know what you are looking at–addiction.

Was my answer wrong? She said I was wrong, and she also said a gambling addiction is financially more devastating, because it is all about money. Well, depends on what you see as financially devastating–the loss of money, or the loss of your life little by little. . . ?

Reply by Selena:
“I know first-hand that addiction is addiction. It is deadly however you look at it. Some forms may be financially more deadly, while others may mean that you give away your *self*. I sure did. Now that I am aware of what addiction looks like, I can spot it wherever I go, not because I’m some great detective, but because that was my life once.

And I’m talking from my own experience with sugar addiction and co-dependence here. Whenever I’d get one part of my addiction in check, it would pop up in another area of my life until I discovered recovery.

Great topic!”

Reply by Jen:
“I have to agree. Addiction is addiction. It doesn’t matter what the drug. Be it money, meth, alcohol, food, or entanglement in the lives of others. It is all equally devastating, though that devastation can come in many forms.”

Reply by Sharon H:
Hi Judy, the answer to this question lies in understanding what “addiction” is.

“Addiction is a spiritual problem – and specifically, it is a WORSHIP DISORDER. And this disorder manifests itself through various behavior patterns, viz (Rom 7:15) “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.”

This disorder ( addiction) occurs when people displace the Living God from the center of their inward being and outward life. So that there exists a gaping void in their life that needs to be filled. And addictions are the means of filling the void.

Based on this definition, anything that becomes more important to us than God, and anything that controls our life other than the Living God, is classed as an addiction – and is a form of “idolatry”. Everything, other than the Living God, must be had/done in moderation and small doses.

We must therefore always be looking at our own lives to ensure that we are not being controlled by a substance (cigarettes, food, caffeine,sugar,etc ), another person ( husband, boss,children, friends, parents, in-laws, pets ), or activities (cell phone, Internet, gym, gambling, gossiping, career, sex, TV, sleep,shopping, money,dieting,etc)”

Reply by Joe Herzanek:
Hi Sharon,
Thanks for commenting. I agree with much of what you have said about the spiritual part of addiction, especially the verse from Romans. At the same time I feel there are several more components to alcohol and drug addiction. I can’t lump these in with many of the other things on your list. Cigarettes, caffeine, in-laws, pets, and going to the gym are in a different league than methamphetamine, alcohol and opiate pain meds etc.

These have a clinically proven effect on the brain and central nervous system. They cause brain damage. Once the brain and central nervous system have been conditioned or “trained” to expect these substances they will revolt when they no longer get them.

Many people begin using these as an experiment and to “have fun.” The biological dependency develops slowly and insidiously over time. No one sets out to become an addict. Some begin using as a coping skill to deal with a current, past or ongoing traumatic event.

Complete abstinence, quitting, becomes complicated.

Society has begun to call many things “addictions” that I would not. Some of these are just compulsive behaviors that are much less difficult to take care of.

The journey becomes a process that has parts to it. The spiritual part is a big one but it’s not the only one. As a follower of Christ myself I have seen some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord try to just label this as another sin and people just need to stop sinning. I wish it were that simple.

Grace and peace, Joe

* Have you “tried everything?” To learn about phone counseling for family members with Joe Herzanek (in person or by phone) click here.

> Do you have to stop seeing all your old friends in order to recover?
> Is a relapse—failure?
> What is a Pink Cloud? What does the term “pink cloud” mean?
> If someone can stop using drugs or alcohol for weeks at a time, they “aren’t an addict—correct?
> Chronic Pain Management & Pain Pill Addiction: What to do?
> How can I know if my addicted friend or loved one is telling the truth?
> ”I need help because I’m not able to deal with my live-in Fiance’s need to get drunk every night.”
> Should my husband “back off?”
> Gambling vs. Drug Addiction? What is your opinion?
> How can I tell if someone is an addict/alcoholic or just a heavy user?
> What is Methadone? What is Harm Reduction?

> Self-Tests: Alcohol and Drug Addiction

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6 thoughts on “Gambling vs. Drug Addiction? What is your opinion?

  1. Pingback: Should my husband "back off?" | Changing Lives Foundation Blog

  2. Jennifer

    This is simple to me. Drug addiction is far worse than gambling addictions. Drugs affect your financially, emotionally, and physically.

  3. Carrie

    I believe that addiction is addiction. No matter which way you slice it. Some people are addicted to alcohol, others are addicted to pain pills such as suboxone, others are addicted to food. No matter which substance you are talking about it is important to remember that addiction is a deadly beast. Many people need help in order to quit. Thank you so much for this discussion. It is quite helpful to those who are in need of help.

  4. jherzanek Post author

    Posted for Joe Herzanek:
    My opinion is that they have lots in common. And I mean lots. Gambling is a high risk behavior and the thrill of winning is a RUSH. I personally spent many, many long weekends in Vegas as well as gambling in town where I lived.

    I have not gambled since quitting drugs and alcohol.

    Sadly, what appears to have happened over the past few decades is that we are starting to call all compulsive behaviors addictions. Which in turn now means we are not responsible, our addiction makes us do it, it’s genetic, it’s in our DNA etc. Rehab centers and mental health professionals have jumped on the band wagon because it’s a new source of business and generates income for treatment.

    Again, this is just my opinion but alcohol and drugs are unique, they are more than just a mind game. I’m sure that there are many psychiatrists and addiction professionals that will not agree but such is life.


  5. Patt Manna

    One consistent variable within the onset of criminality is the exiting antecedent of alcohol/drug/pornography/gambling use, abuse, and addiction. Crime is a sympton! We have a drug, alochol, pornography, and gambling problem.

    Gambling is overt or covert. It is from the streets to the suites and the whitehouse. An addicts biggest gamble is “gambling they won’t get caught”!

    Addictions are never single problems. Regardless of how it begins, the longer it stays out of control the more powerful it becomes.

    Patt Manna, Author of Spiritual Infusion: Twelve Step Recovery Inside and Outside the Church

  6. Michelle Tee

    Great post. I really believe that all addictions do follow the same path and that is escaping reality which could sometimes be extremely painful for all of us. We all need our vices… and these need to stop just short of the bridge that crosses over into addiction.

    Michelle Tee

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