Sub-clinical alcohol consumption and gambling disorder

Abstract

While it is well established that gambling disorder is associated with alcohol use disorder, less is known regarding whether sub-clinical alcohol consumption increases gambling behavior. This study examined the effects of varying levels of alcohol consumption on clinical and cognitive measures. The sample consisted of 572 non-treatment seeking gamblers age 18–29 who were divided into three groups: non-current drinkers, current drinkers who did not qualify for an alcohol use disorder, and those with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). All subjects were assessed on gambling pathology, severity and impulsivity using the Structured Clinical Interview for Gambling Disorder, Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale for Pathologic Gambling and the Barratt Impulsive Scale-11 and select cognitive tests. In all of the clinical measures, controlling for age, gender and education, the AUD group was significantly more likely than the non-current and current drinkers to be a pathologic gambler and to be impulsive, compulsive and depressed. On cognitive tasks, controlling for age, gender and education, the AUD group had significantly worse strategy use on a spatial working memory task than both other groups. This study suggests that the relationship between alcohol and gambling may only exist when pathology in both alcohol consumption and gambling behavior is present. Examining this relationship with alcohol consumption as a continuous variable would provide additional insight into the potential effects alcohol consumption has on gambling behavior.

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