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Yale Publishes New Study on Associations Between Gambling, Alcohol and Psychiatric Disorders

by: Institute Staff | Apr 27, 2010

A recent study from the Yale Gambling CORE (Center of Research Excellence) published in CNS Spectrums is shedding new light on the relationship between disordered gambling behavior, alcohol-use disorders and other psychiatric disorders. Research has shown that gambling, alcohol and psychiatric disorders tend to co-occur in the same individual (e.g., Kessler et al., 2008); however, few studies have attempted to tease out the associations between these disorders.

Partially funded by an NCRG Center of Excellence in Gambling Research grant, the Yale study – “Differential Associations Between Problem and Pathological Gambling and Psychiatric Disorders in Individuals With and Without Alcohol Abuse or Dependence” (Brewer et al., 2010) – examined data collected in the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), which gathered mental health information from a representative sample of 43,093 Americans. It is the largest health survey in the U.S. to provide data on gambling behaviors.

The researchers from Yale were looking for relationships between problem gambling behavior, alcohol use disorders and psychiatric disorders. They found that in individuals who did not have alcohol-use disorders, there was a relationship between increased severity of problem gambling and increased psychiatric disorders. So, those with more psychiatric problems tended to have more gambling problems. Interestingly, there was no similar relationship found among those with alcohol problems. One explanation for this is that people with alcohol-use disorders have higher rates of psychiatric disorders generally, no matter how much they gamble. The researchers’ findings also showed high levels of co-occurrence between disordered gambling and alcohol-use disorders, which confirms the findings of previous studies. 

The findings, which suggest significant associations between psychiatric problems and even low-risk gambling patterns, have important implications for the health care community, providing support for instituting a screening process for gambling problems along with other psychopathologies. For more information on the Yale center, visit our NCRG Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research page. You can find more information about Institute Grants (including application instructions and upcoming deadlines) on our Project Grants page.

References

Brewer, J.A., Potenza, M.N., &, Desai, R.A. (2010). Differential associations between problem and pathological gambling and psychiatric disorders in individuals with and without alcohol abuse or  dependence. CNS Spectrums, 15(1), 33-44.

Kessler, R.C., Hwang, I., LaBrie, R., Petukhova, M., Sampson, N.A., Winters, K.C., & Shaffer, H.J. (2008). DSM-IV pathological gambling in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Psychological Medicine, 38(9), 1351-1360.

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