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Gambling a Sign of Teen Alcohol or Drug Abuse?

Teen behaviors are clues to parents that they are engaging in alcohol abuse or drug abuse.  They just need to know what to look for.  Gambling, for example, is a possible sign that a youth has a future with alcohol and drug use.  We can use this example to explain a common factor among those with alcohol dependence and drug addiction.

Humans have a natural defense that keeps them from engaging in behaviors that will cause loss, pain, or destruction to themselves.  With gambling, individuals will typically quit when they win or lose a little.  But a small percentage will experience a thrill from gambling that will keep them playing whether they are winning or “losing the farm”.

The thrill associated with gambling is closely associated with the desire to escape feelings with drugs or alcohol.  It isn’t just a distraction from feelings.  Brain chemicals are released that mimic the effect of alcohol and drugs for an addict.  So adolescents who have the fever for gambling are basically no different from those abusing alcohol or drugs.  They just use behavior rather than a substance.

Gambling, internet use, video games, shopping, and sex are only a few of the behaviors that alcoholics and addicts in recovery use in a cross-addictive manner.  So if parents know that teens are gambling, it is a good idea to discuss adolescent alcohol abuse or drug abuse with them.  With teen prescription drug abuse on a fast rising trend, it is better to be safe than to dismiss the behavior as a “phase”.

The excerpt below from Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly offers a brief view of how teen gambling could be a sign of other problems.  A link to the journal’s website follows.  Parents need to be aware of all signs of teen alcohol or drug abuse if we want to reverse trends.

-- Begin external content --

Risky or problem gambling among young adolescent boys is associated with general deviance at this age, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. According to John Welte, Ph.D., and colleagues, youth without symptoms of conduct disorder have a five percent rate of risky or problem gambling, compared with a rate of 23 percent among youth with conduct disorders.

However, while this association is very strong among 14- to-15 year-olds, it does not exist among 20-to-21 year-olds. The authors conclude that risky gambling that emerges in young adulthood has different origins.

-- Source: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/110575473/home --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence or drug addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

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