The association of at-risk, problem, and pathological gambling with substance use, depression, and arrest history

Abstract

We examined at-risk, problem, or pathological gambling co-occurrence with frequency of past-year alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use; depressive symptoms; and arrest history. Data included the responses of over 3,000 individuals who participated in a 2006 telephone survey designed to understand the extent of at-risk, problem, and pathological gambling; comorbidity levels with substance use; mental health; and social problems among Southwestern {U.S.} residents. Data were analyzed with multinomial and bivariate logistic regression. Respondents at risk for problem gambling were more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana than those respondents not at risk. Pathological gamblers were no more or less likely to consume alcohol or tobacco than were non-gamblers or those not at risk. A dose-response relationship existed between degree of gambling problems and depressive symptoms and arrest history. Interventions for at-risk or problem gamblers need to include substance use treatment, and the phenomenon of low levels of substance use among pathological gamblers needs further exploration.

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