Many occasional gamblers report engaging in excessive drinking behaviors when they gamble. “Among treatment-seeking pathological gamblers, comorbidity is also high, with 59% reporting lifetime histories of alcohol use disorders,” said Carla J. Rash of the University of Connecticut. Rash and her colleagues wanted to find out if people with gambling problems and alcohol misuse would decrease their alcohol use while they underwent treatment for gambling. They said, “The high rates of drinking among non-pathological gamblers as well as among individuals who have developed gambling-related problems are concerning, given that quantity of alcohol use appears to be related to severity of gambling problems.”
The team evaluated 163 problem gamblers who also had alcohol use issues. They followed them through 36 weeks of treatment for gambling and found that the participants did decrease their drinking, but not as they expected. “A substantial decrease in average drinks per week was evident at treatment entry, particularly among the ever risky drinker group,” said the team. “Risky drinkers decreased weekly alcohol intake during the treatment period but appeared to escalate drinking slightly during the post-treatment period.”
The researchers noted that nearly half of the non-risky drinkers continued to drink throughout treatment. Additionally, they found that some of the gamblers who had not cited any drinking issues before treatment actually reported engaging in risky drinking behaviors after beginning treatment for gambling. The team added, “Ever-risky drinkers were younger, reported more alcohol-related problems, drank more frequently and intensely, and were less likely to adhere to gambling treatment.” Overall, they discovered that although drinking in general decreased at the time treatment began, it remained stable throughout the rest of the treatment period. They concluded by saying, “The overall decreased alcohol use is encouraging, but continued at-risk drinking among the sample suggests that further reductions in drinking would be beneficial.”
Rash, C. J., Weinstock, J., & Petry, N. M. (2011, September 19). Drinking Patterns of Pathological Gamblers Before, During, and After Gambling Treatment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025565
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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