Pathological gambling and alcohol use disorder

Abstract

Problematic gambling is more common among people with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) (i.e., either alcohol abuse or dependence) compared with those without AUDs. This association holds true for people in the general population and is even more pronounced among people receiving treatment. No broadly accepted explanation for the link between problematic gambling and AUD currently exists. The available literature suggests that common factors may increase the risk for both conditions. For example, a defect of functioning in a particular brain system may underlie both conditions. This hypothesis should be further developed using brain imaging and psychopharmacological studies. Effective treatment and prevention will require additional research into relevant associations on both the event level (e.g., the effects of drinking on gambling behavior and vice versa) and the syndrome level (e.g., the relative onset and course of each condition among those who have either one or both disorders). A prudent interpretation of the available data suggests careful screening and treatment when necessary for problematic gambling among people with alcohol abuse and for alcohol abuse among people with gambling problems.

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