Study Finds Adolescent Boys with Conduct Issues More Prone to Problem Gambling

When the issue of problem gambling –an addiction that can have dire consequences for individuals and families– comes to mind, many people think of those in the middle or later years of their lives, but as with all mental health issues, problem gambling doesn’t limit its potentially debilitating effects to a single age group. Young people, even adolescents, can find themselves grappling with the complications of problem gambling, and young boys especially may be at particular risk. Recently, a study was conducted which links occurrences of problem gambling with other signs of conduct issues, giving parents, general practice doctors, and mental health professionals a more distinct ability to screen for a variety of difficulties often experienced by modern boys.

The study found that boys were significantly more prone to developing conduct issues, such as vandalism, impulsive behaviors, lying, shoplifting, aggression, and substance abuse, than were girls, though as a collected group, the surveyed youth revealed that those with conduct difficulties had a twenty three percent chance of also experiencing difficulties with risky gambling and addiction. The researchers noted that for each additional symptom of conduct issues that was reported, participating youth had another eighty percent jump in likelihood to have an issue with problem gambling as well, a strong correlation that provides ample persuasion for cross-screening young clients.

Describing problem gambling and other issues covered by the study, researchers proposed that this “cluster” of behaviors may be observed early on in adolescence and should be addressed at the onset to help encourage a better quality of life into maturity and adulthood. Sponsored by the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, the study is one of many modern attempts to prevent addiction issues in young people rather than focus all efforts on treating fully developed cases in adults.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Christina Samuels

    Christina Samuels

    November 4th, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    As a parent of both, a teenage daughter and a teenage son, I can confirm that boys do tend to get into sticky situations more than girls do.They get into difficult situation more often than their female counterparts ever would.

  • Paige


    November 4th, 2009 at 4:58 PM

    I would have anticipated that result, that girls aren’t found to go on to gamble as much as boys. It’s one of the few activities left we would associate males with before females. The article doesn’t say which kind of gambling we’re talking about here. I’m guessing poker and horses.

  • Samuel


    November 4th, 2009 at 5:05 PM

    Is gambling really still viewed as a male bastion or is that dependent upon your own perception of what constitutes gambling? I bet (haha!) that more women buy lottery tickets and scratch cards than men because they tend to be in stores more. Those women are gambling just the same as if they were sitting at a poker table.

  • Troy


    November 4th, 2009 at 5:12 PM

    Dude, you can’t compare a scratch card to betting your life savings in poker games. My baby brother used to play poker and never spent under $500 a night. For a man on a mechanic’s salary, that’s big money. He won pretty often at the beginning. The gambling bug bit and he kept going until he had lost a fortune and almost his home. That’s not in the same league as a housewife spending a dollar on a scratch card. No way.

  • Craig H.

    Craig H.

    November 4th, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    How does a 14 year old gain access to any form of gambling or have the money to participate anyway? I don’t see how they could get involved to any serious degree without adult encouragement. I feel sorry for these kids.

  • Sylvia


    November 4th, 2009 at 5:55 PM

    Reading about children where their warning signs are so gloomy dismays me. It makes the path they are headed down in life sound like a certainty almost. That’s all the more reason for early intervention. Get them off that path today and into therapy, not tomorrow or next week. Today. Give them a chance! I wouldn’t wish addiction of any kind on my worst enemy and I can’t read things like this without thinking of my grandchildren.



    November 5th, 2009 at 3:39 AM

    @Craig H
    It need not always be big time gambling at first… I know for sure many kids gamble and bet in most gaming centres… parents think they are having harmless fun playing computer and console games, but they are building a foundation for future gambling!

  • Swann Adams

    Swann Adams

    November 5th, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    These kind of problems are sure to unsettle any parent, especially after reading this article ;)

    On a more serious note, these problems can atleast be avoided,if not completely eradicated, if there is transparency between the kids and the parents. This habit needs to be inculcated from an early age.Parents should tell their little kids that now and in the future, no matter what the issue is, they should always be open about it with them and discuss it with them. This will give a chance of finding a solution much easily.

  • Yvonne


    November 6th, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    Like many of you I am shocked that this has developed into a problem for young men. I too always think of the problem gambler as a family man, one hiding the gambling from his wife and kids, not some teenager cruising the internet looking for smoe site where he can slip in and gamble unnoticed. Or maybe there is a new generation of kids gambling among themselves and this is just becoming a new thing. Just one more thing to worry about as our kids grow up and try to make it in this world.

  • Larry Walt

    Larry Walt

    December 2nd, 2009 at 4:46 PM

    I think that the problem relies on the environment that those boys (or girls, for argument’s sake) are exposed. They won’t be having any idea of what gambling is unless something or someone introduced the idea to them. Online gambling may also be another factor. Many casino sites are gaining popularity over the web so it won’t be that surprising.

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