Pubdate: Tue, 23 Oct 2001
Source: American Journal of Psychiatry (US)
Copyright: 2001 American Psychiatric Association, Inc.
Author: Charnicia E. Huggins


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Some teenagers receiving treatment for 
marijuana or other drug abuse should be assessed and treated for 
gambling problems as well, according to the results of a new study.

The findings show that a significant number of adolescents getting 
treatment for drug abuse also had a gambling problem, "yet gambling 
problems are rarely assessed or treated, even in high-risk 
populations," study author Dr. Nancy M. Petry of the University of 
Connecticut Health Center in Farmington told Reuters Health.

"Greater severity of (gambling-related) problems may hinder drug 
abuse recovery," she added.

To investigate, Petry and co-author Zeena Tawfik studied 255 
adolescents aged 12 to 18 who were seeking treatment for marijuana 

Roughly 38% of the study participants reported gambling at least one 
or more days during the past 90 days and about one in five said they 
had gambling-related problems, according to the report in the 
November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and 
Adolescent Psychiatry.

Those who reported gambling-related problems were more likely to be 
male, African American and to come from a single-parent home, the 
investigators found.

In general, problem gamblers tested positive for marijuana more often 
than did their peers, engaged in more frequent drug and alcohol use 
and had more legal problems--such as being on probation and 
participating in illegal activity to obtain money, the report 
indicates. Crimes such as passing bad checks, selling drugs and 
injuring another person to the point where he or she needed medical 
attention were also more common among problem gamblers.

Further, problem gamblers exhibited more severe psychiatric 
problems--for example, anxiety and victimization symptoms--than did 
their peers, but were less likely to say they had received mental 
health treatment, the authors report.

Sexually risky behaviors such as not using contraception, trading sex 
for drugs or money, and having an increased number of sexual partners 
were also more common among the problem gamblers.

"The data from this study demonstrate that the adolescents with both 
gambling and drug use disorders have more severe problems along a 
number of dimensions," Petry said.

In light of this, "a greater awareness of gambling problems in 
adolescents is needed," she added.
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