Gambling, delinquency, and drug use during adolescence: Mutual influences and common risk factors


The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to assess the possible mutual influence between gambling, substance use, and delinquency over a two-year period during mid adolescence, (2) to test whether variables that are usually predictive of delinquency and substance use also predict gambling, and (3) to test whether the links between the three problem behaviors could be, at least partially, accounted for by common antecedent factors (impulsivity, parental supervision, and deviant friends) assessed during early adolescence. Seven hundred and seventeen boys participated in the study. Impulsivity, parental supervision, and friends' deviancy were collected when participants were 13 and 14 years of age. Gambling, substance use, and delinquency were collected through self-reports at ages 16 and 17 years. Results showed no influence or modest influence of problem behaviors on each other from age 16 to age 17 years, once current links and auto-correlations were accounted for. Conversely, the cross-sectional links between the three problem behaviors at each age were moderately high. Impulsivity, low parental supervision, and deviant friends were predictively related to each problem. Finally, a significant, although modest, portion of the covariance between the three problem behaviors was accounted for by these three predictors. The present findings contradict previous findings about the influence of gambling on other problem behaviors and support the notion of a "general problem behavior syndrome" fed by generic risk factors.

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