It’s PTSD Awareness Month: Here’s Why Problem Gambling Should Be Part of the Conversation

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that some people develop after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening event, such as military combat, a national disaster, a car accident, violence or abuse, a major injury, or some other traumatic incident. June is PTSD Awareness Month in the United States, and it is important to openly discuss it, because similar to compulsive gamblers, persons struggling from the effects of PTSD frequently suffer in silence since their wounds are not frequently visible, and they too do not generally seek the necessary assistance. Among the general U.S. population, each year, there are an estimated 8 million adults who have PTSD, and women generally are more than twice as likely to experience it than men. 

Rates are also substantially higher among women and men in the military. It is further important to note that children are also at risk of experiencing PTSD, and in nearly one-third of the cases, it results from some type of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Neglect is also largely responsible for such episodes in approximately two-thirds of cases involving children.[1]

Research has shown, that given the high comorbidity between symptoms of PTSD and gambling disorder, these relationships are likely of clinical interest for both populations when seeking treatment.[2]

PTSD sufferers are more prone to deal with gambling addiction because they view the activity as a means of coping with their trauma.[3] The reverse is also true in that a large percentage of people who experience gambling problems also suffer from PTSD symptoms. “PTSD sufferers gamble to try to escape their past trauma and related problems. They find temporary relief in gambling, especially when they are winning. But the relief is short-lived, which leads to the need to continue to gamble, and this will result in financial loss and personal problems. People who suffer from PTSD and are showing signs of problem gambling need to look for help and get specialized treatment.”[4]

Our 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. 

 

[1] U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (2021). PTSD: National Center for PTSD.

[2] Grubbs JB, Chapman H, Milner L, Gutierrez IA, Bradley DF. Examining links between posttraumatic stress and gambling motives: The role of positive gambling expectancies. Psychol Addict Behav. 2018 Nov;32(7):821-831. doi: 10.1037/adb0000399. Epub 2018 Sep 27. PMID: 30265056.

[3] Ibid.

[4] PTSD Journal (2021). The Connection Between PTSD and Problem Gambling.

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Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling