Gambling problems among community cocaine users

Abstract

Cocaine use is highly prevalent and a major public health problem. While some studies have reported frequent comorbidity problems among cocaine users, few studies have included evaluation of gambling problems. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of gambling problems and compare those who were at-risk gamblers with non-problem gamblers in terms of mental health problems, substance use problems, and some risk factors (i.e. family antecedents, erroneous perceptions and coping strategies) among individuals who smoke or inject cocaine. A total of 424 smoked or injected cocaine users recruited through community-based programs in Montreal (Quebec) completed the questionnaire, including the Canadian Pathological Gambling Index, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, the CAGE, and the Severity Dependence Scale. Of the sample, 18.4 % were considered at-risk gamblers, of whom 7.8 % had problems gambling and 10.6 % were moderate-risk gamblers. The at-risk group was more likely to have experienced a recent phobic disorder and alcohol problems than the non-problem group. A multivariate analysis showed that, compared to those who were non-problem gamblers, the at-risk ones were more likely to have lost a large sum of money when they first started gambling, believed that their luck would turn, and gambled in reaction to painful life events. These results indicate the need to include routines for screening to identify gambling problem among cocaine users.

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