ADHD NEWSLETTER from Patrick J. Hurley

ADHD & Gambling Addiction- What are the odds?

March 2004 Volume I Issue III

Statement: My intent in this newsletter is to express as quickly as possible my own beliefs and opinions on matters. I have no problems with people who disagree with my opinion and have even been swayed to rethink my position from time to time.

I wanted to let you know that a book many years in the making is almost done, it is authored by me and Robert Eme Ph.D. and will be titled Spinning out of control- ADHD and the Criminal Justice System. It is designed for the police, jails, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, prisons, halfway houses and parole officials. To learn more and get updates click here. Dr. Eme's e-mail is

There have been some studies and other indications that there may be a link between ADHD and gambling addiction. Problem gambling has been on the increase since the increase in legalized gambling across the United States. The proliferation of lotteries, scratch lottery tickets, Indian casinos, riverboat gambling, and other forms of government sanctioned lottery games has made this more widespread. For about the last year there has even been the “World Poker Tour” on television which has a large following. At the same time the Capital of gambling in the United States, Las Vegas has continued its meteoric growth.

I write this article as I do all my articles from the perspective of someone with ADHD. I think that if I allowed myself to I could potentially become a problem gambler. In the State of Iowa where I live the riverboats and casinos have been big draws. I find myself attracted to them even though I have only come out a winner on one occasion. I made about $25.00.

Usually I take $20.00 - $40.00 in and say to myself that is all I am going to spend. Inevitably I find myself at first ahead in the game and then starting down the slippery slope of being behind. Once behind I find it almost impossible to not go for broke to get my money back out of the machine. I justify it by saying that it is entertaining and I would spend this kind of money going to a college football game or most other entertainment. Finally I am out of money. Its time to leave….right? For me not so fast.

I almost inevitably find myself back at the ATM cash machine to get “just another $20.00” so I can at least get my original money back. I have even been known to go back for another $20.00 after I lose that one. I can usually drag myself away before I break the $100.00 barrier but the attraction is surprisingly powerful for me and I imagine others.

There is an article at this link from RMIT University in Melbourne titled “New Study investigates ADHD link to problem gambling” which came out in February 2003.

My own suspicions of why we with ADHD may have trouble with gambling are the traditional reasons ADHD people have trouble with other things.

Impulsiveness- gambling is by its nature an impulsive driven activity.

Need for excitement- gambling can be very exciting, especially when you win, but even sometimes when you come real close to winning (like one card away from a Royal Flush). There is danger, risk and the wonder we like it.

Money problems – many problem gamblers have money problems already and they look to this activity as a possible solution to double their money in a short period of time. The fact that they lose only what they took in is viewed something like “at least I didn’t lose twice as much money as I took in”

I have pointed out to my wife jokingly when we go into a casino (which isn’t very often) that they have the pay out percentage posted. Let’s say it says 93.4 % payout. I tell my wife I would be better off assuming I was going to play $100.00 just giving them $6.60 and turning around and leaving because I never win anyhow. I think it is actually probably a good thing that I have not won. I believe that winning would make it even more exciting and thus even more attractive to continue going back. And yet it is hard for me to resist stopping at one when I drive by.

People who do have a gambling problem then have to start dealing with a lot of the same traditional problems ADHD people do. Hiding our money problems (losses) from loved ones and family, credit card advances to pay routine bills such as utilities, groceries and the like. It can quickly become another failure or character defect we are going to be ultimately held accountable for. The cycle continues. I highly recommend that if any of this sounds like you that you get help before it becomes a problem.

I personally view myself as a problem gambler right now even though I spend very little money gambling. By doing so I have recognized in advance my weakness and hopefully will never allow myself to fall into the traps that gambling can set for us.

I am not saying that people who gamble are bad, I enjoy playing powerball as much as anyone else. I just know that there is an underlying susceptibility on my part to be a problem gambler so I am constantly monitoring myself on this.

If you have any comments feel free to e-mail me a -short note- (if possible). I have ADHD too so I know how difficult it is to write short notes.

FIRST EVER Poster devoted to ADHD view at:

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Have a great month. Talk to you soon.

Patrick J. Hurley

Author's Bio: 

22 years in law enforcement and corrections. 50 years old diagnosed with ADHD at age 42. Have been a support groupfacilitator for 7 years. ADHD/ADD life skills coach sinceJuly 2003