Smoking and gambling seem like very different addictions, but they might have more in common than you think. People who are addicted to gambling often smoke cigarettes as well, and vice versa. In fact, one study found that two out of three people seeking treatment for gambling addiction are also addicted to nicotine. If you smoke cigarettes, you may be vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction online. Here’s what you need to know about the link between smoking and gambling.
Why Are Smoking and Gambling Linked?
Researchers aren’t sure yet why smoking and gambling go hand-in-hand. One theory is that some people are simply more prone to becoming addicted in general. This may be caused by low levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. People with a so-called “addictive personality” are more likely to get hooked on any type of high, from shopping to drinking. Since cigarettes and gambling are easily accessible for adults, it’s not surprising that many people end up addicted to both.
Smoking and gambling may also be linked on a psychological level. For instance, you might smoke to soothe yourself when you’ve been losing money at online casino slots. Or you might light up a cigarette to chill out after having a fight with your significant other over your gambling habits.
Casinos know that many gamblers smoke, and they often include designated smoking areas so it’s easy for guests to get a nicotine fix. Because combining the two habits is so simple, many people find it hard to give up smoking while gambling. And for online gamblers, breaking the habit is even harder, since it’s so easy to chain-smoke while playing online casino slots or blackjack.
How to Cut Back on Harmful Habits
The relationship between cigarette smoking and gambling isn’t a benign one. Heavy smokers are more likely to experience severe gambling addiction that interferes with day-to-day life. They’re also more likely to experience problems with their mental health that are caused by their addiction. So if you can’t stop smoking, it’s important to be on your guard against other addictions, especially gambling.
If you are not currently addicted to gambling, the best way to avoid it is to simply never gamble. You can’t get hooked on something you’ve never tried. But because of the rise of online gambling, this is more difficult than it used to be. In the past, you would have to visit a casino in order to gamble. Now, though, finding a place to gamble is as easy as starting up your computer. Be aware of the risk posed by online gambling, and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an innocent pastime.
If you have an addictive personality, addressing your smoking habit may help you get to the bottom of all your maladaptive coping strategies. Figuring out why you smoke — whether it’s for stimulation, relaxation, or simply to have something to do with your hands — will make you more alert to similar types of compulsive behavior in other areas of your life. And learning to manage your cravings and put the cigarettes down will also help you resist or quit other addictive behaviors like online gambling.
There’s a well-documented link between smoking and compulsive gambling. If you have one of these habits already, you could be at risk for the other. Fortunately, a mindful approach can help you cut down on harmful habits and avoid picking up additional addictions.