An exploratory examination of marijuana use, problem-gambling severity, and health correlates among adolescents


Background and aims: Gambling is common in adolescents and at-risk and problem/pathological gambling (ARPG) is associated with adverse measures of health and functioning in this population. Although ARPG commonly co-occurs with marijuana use, little is known how marijuana use influences the relationship between problem-gambling severity and health- and gambling-related measures. Methods: Survey data from 2,252 Connecticut high school students were analyzed using chi-square and logistic regression analyses. Results: ARPG was found more frequently in adolescents with lifetime marijuana use than in adolescents denying marijuana use. Marijuana use was associated with more severe and a higher frequency of gambling-related behaviors and different motivations for gambling. Multiple health/functioning impairments were differentially associated with problem-gambling severity amongst adolescents with and without marijuana use. Significant marijuana-use-by-problem-gambling-severity-group interactions were observed for low-average grades (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = [0.20, 0.77]), cigarette smoking (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = [0.17, 0.83]), current alcohol use (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = [0.14, 0.91]), and gambling with friends (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = [0.28, 0.77]). In all cases, weaker associations between problem-gambling severity and health/functioning correlates were observed in the marijuana-use group as compared to the marijuana-non-use group. Conclusions: Some academic, substance use, and social factors related to problem-gambling severity may be partially accounted for by a relationship with marijuana use. Identifying specific factors that underlie the relationships between specific attitudes and behaviors with gambling problems and marijuana use may help improve intervention strategies.

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