Who Has Highest Risk to Develop a Gambling Problem?

There are a number of cultural and societal factors that can increase someone’s risk for developing gambling disorder. While these may co-occur with mental and behavioral health issues, it’s the latter we want to draw attention to today. The reason being that if you have one of the following mental or behavioral health conditions, you need to stay away from gambling altogether. No casinos, no online sports betting, no fantasy leagues, none of it. It’s that simple. Without further embellishment, please read below and take action immediately as needed.

Mental and Behavioral Health Issues that May Increase Your Risk of Developing Gambling Disorder


There’s a direct relationship between people who struggle with depression and problem gambling. The release of dopamine (the feel good neurotransmitter) that comes with gambling often makes it a coping mechanism, but from this habitual behavior is formed and a viscous cycle is created as depressed gamblers chase that high. Depression and gambling disorder are also concomitant conditions. View more on why you should stop gambling when living with depression.


Research shows that the presence of schizophrenia among people who meet clinical criteria for gambling disorder is approximately 4-times greater than the prevalence rate in the general population. Furthermore, data finds that co-occurring gambling disorder and schizophrenia are related to social issues such as lower education levels, higher unemployment, and lower social indexes. Even more concerning, is that the same studies find that individuals with co-occurring gambling disorder and schizophrenia experience worsened psychopathological states and have a more dysfunctional personality. To further compound the problem, is that prescriptions medications used to treat schizophrenia can make patients gamble more.

Bipolar Disorder

As with schizophrenia, research finds that problem gambling behavior is four times higher in people with bipolar disorder when compared to the general population. Also on par with schizophrenia, bipolar patients experience elevated risk for gambling disorder when they have lower education and income, are unmarried, and have substance dependencies (read below). Moreover, prescriptions medications used to treat bipolar disorder can make users gamble more.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

It’s not so much about reduced inhibition and compromised decision making that connects excessive alcohol use to problem gambling (although it matters). Instead, you may draw upon research that shows problem gambling is more common among individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) (abuse or dependency) compared with those without. While more research is encouraged to provided an accepted explanation for this link, comorbidity between AUDs and gambling disorder is clear. In addition, studies have found that individuals with gambling disorder who also report alcohol (or drug) abuse have an increased probability of experiencing gambling relapses. Now consider that brick-and-mortar casinos and bars with on-premises kiosks essentially offer an assembly line of alcohol and gambling. If you have an AUD you are highly encouraged to self-exclude yourself from these venues.

Are you afflicted with any of the above, and have already started gambling? If so, you need to step away immediately and focus on healthier activities. If you can’t stop, click or call (below) to speak with a Kindbridge Behavioral Health specialist.

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