Adult ADHD is associated with gambling severity and psychiatric comorbidity among treatment-seeking problem gamblers


Objective: The aim of this study is as follows: (a) exploring retrospective childhood and adult ADHD symptomatology in treatment-seeking gamblers, (b) providing detailed characteristics of the association between pathological gambling (PG) and ADHD, and (c) identifying risk factors for a history of ADHD.

Method: Eighty problem gamblers (20% female) were examined using a standardized interview (PG: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [4th ed.; DSM-IV] criteria, Gambling Attitudes and Beliefs Survey; ADHD: Wender Utah Rating Scale–deutsche Kurzform, Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale; comorbidities: Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview).

Results: Forty-three percentage of patients screened positive for childhood ADHD, and in 11%, ADHD persisted in adulthood. Patients with adult ADHD had more severe gambling problems (p = .009, d = 1.03) and a higher number of psychiatric comorbidities (p < .001, d = 1.62) compared with those without ADHD. Substance abuse/dependence constituted a predictor for having a history of ADHD (odds ratio [OR] = 4.07, p = .025).

Conclusion: ADHD–PG comorbidity is linked to factors that worsen the prognosis. Thus, screening for ADHD and verifying persistence in adulthood should be an integral component in the interdisciplinary treatment of problem/pathological gamblers.

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