Pathways model to problem gambling: Clinical implications for treatment and prevention among adolescents

Abstract

The Pathways Model is the most promising etiological model for Gambling Disorders (GD). It suggests that three distinct developmental pathways lead to the emergence of GD (Behaviorally Conditioned, Emotionally Vulnerable, and Biologically Vulnerable), each differentiated by a set of predisposing biopsychosocial characteristics. Empirical research has demonstrated the existence of these three subgroups of gamblers among adults and, more recently, among adolescents. Consequently, treatment for individuals with GD should address the underlying precursors to gambling, as early as possible, in order to effectively generate positive outcomes. However, adolescents with GD are less likely (compared to adults) to seek out treatment. It is therefore necessary to reach out to at-risk individuals. In terms of prevention among youth, existing programs are not successful in reducing the incidence of gambling behavior and GD later in life. Therefore, a differential targeted prevention approach tailored to the gamblers’ specific profile in early adolescence is recommended to minimize the emergence of GD among adolescents and young adults. Some targeted prevention programs have already proven to be successful with regards to substance use and general delinquency, but nothing has yet been done in the gambling field.

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