Gambling behavior in adolescent substance abuse

Abstract

This study assessed the prevalence and correlates of gambling behavior (GB) in adolescent substance abusers (N = 97) consecutively admitted to an outpatient treatment program. Thirty-four percent of the cohort had never gambled; 57% were classified as social/nonpathological gamblers; 8% were labeled as in transition gamblers; and only 1% met criteria for pathological gambling. A significant finding was that males are more likely to gamble and to have a higher severity score than do females. A younger age of GB onset is seen for girls than boys and is correlated with a history of suicide attempts, diagnosis of depression, number of symptoms of oppositional behavior, cluster B personality disorders, and a higher need for psychiatric treatment. None of the gambling youths was ever referred for GB counseling. Increased awareness for and additional studies of adolescent gambling are required.

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