Contingent gambling-drinking patterns and problem drinking severity moderate implicit gambling-alcohol associations in problem gamblers

Abstract

Although problem gambling and problem drinking often co-occur, the processes underlying this association are not well understood. This study investigated the effects of contingent gambling-drinking patterns and problem drinking severity on implicit gambling-alcohol associations. Participants were 144 (34 female) problem gamblers. The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) measured severity of problem gambling. The Brief Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (BMAST) measured severity of problem drinking. The Implicit Association Test (Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480) measured gambling-alcohol associations. Participants who reported drinking when they won displayed faster response time (i.e., priming) on trials where alcohol words were paired with gambling win (e.g., jackpot) vs. gambling loss (e.g., forfeit) words. The tendency to drink in response to losses did not influence the priming effect of win cues or moderate the effects of Win-Drinking Pattern on priming. Severity of problem drinking on the BMAST also correlated positively the priming effects of win cues. These findings indicate that a tendency to drink in response to gambling wins and more severe alcohol problems each coincide with stronger associations between gambling win and alcohol concepts in memory. Such associations can promote drinking and its attendant effects (e.g., poor decision-making) in problem gamblers, and thus, may contribute to co-morbid gambling and alcohol use disorders.

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