Similarities and differences between pathological gambling and substance dependence: A clarification

Abstract

Similarities and differences between pathological gambling and substance dependence: a clarification. A critical analysis of a French review of the international literature on gambling. Introduction: The integration of pathological gambling in the spectrum of addictive disorders modeled by substance dependence is currently discussed. Objective: To perform a systematic review of the similarities and differences between pathological gambling and substance dependence, and to classify and analyze them, based on the data collected by a previously published French systematic analysis of the international literature on pathological gambling. Method: We established a checklist of each comparison of pathological gambling with substance dependence within the report. Then, every entry was classified as similarity or difference, analyzed and discussed. Results: Similarities retrieved were epidemiological characteristics (gender, age, sociodemographic characteristics of subjects), diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV (five criteria in common), frequent co-occurrence of pathological gambling and substance dependence, neurobiological and genetic characteristics, cases of spontaneous recovery, and similarities of therapeutic care. Differences retrieved were a more elevated prevalence of mood disorders and suicide among pathological gamblers, intrinsic risk factors related to gambling activity (delay between bid and result, gambling device, big win), cognitive distortion of pathological gamblers (notably chasing), specificities of cognitive behavioral therapies focused on these cognitive distortions, and specificities of social care of pathological gamblers. Discussion: Pathological gambling shared many similarities with substance dependence, but also some differences. However, our critical analysis of these elements, reported to be specific to pathological gambling, showed significant commonalities with substance dependence. Also, the existence of key symptoms of substance dependence such as craving and loss of control in pathological gambling was not discussed in the review, although other data suggest a common ground. These could be key elements to group together pathological gambling and substance dependence within the addictive disorders.

Problem with this document? Please report it to us.