Links between Substances, Homelessness and Gambling Harm

Gambling harm and homelessness both have close links to substance use. People who use substances are more likely to experience harm from their gambling, and also more likely to experience homelessness.

People who are experiencing homelessness and gambling harm whilst using substances can be at a higher risk of experiencing harm from their gambling at different points.

  • Increase in the number of stakes with higher amounts of money placed when using substances
  • Increased gambling harm directly after using substances

Some people experience much higher harm when they are using substances as their inhibitions are lowered and others experience higher harm directly after using substances.

Engagement with gambling activities may be increased the day after people have used substances when they are sober. People may feel ashamed, want to dissociate from their feelings or want to win money back that they have lost when they were using substances. This could increase their gambling and risk of harm.

People may increase their gambling when reducing their substance use as:

  • They experience an increase in dopamine when they engage in gambling activities
  • Gambling acts as a substitute or a way to cope
  • They have more available time to spend gambling
  • They have more money to spend on gambling products

Bookies are located beside pubs, scratchcards are sold in off-licenses and puggies are placed in pubs as the gambling industry is able to exploit people who are drinking alcohol and experiencing gambling harm.

People don’t try to drink their way out of a drink dependency but people experiencing gambling harm attempt to gamble their way out of their harm