Gambling disorder in male violent offenders in the prison system: psychiatric and substance-related comorbidity [open access article]

Widinghoff, C., Berge, J., Wallinius, M. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-018-9785-8

Gambling disorder is an addiction that can cause major suffering, and some populations seem to be more vulnerable than others. Offender populations have a remarkably high prevalence of gambling problems and they are also over-represented in a number of diagnoses related to gambling disorder, like substance use disorders and antisocial personality disorder. Yet, there are few studies investigating gambling disorder prevalence and related psychiatric comorbidity in this group. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of, and association between, gambling disorder and other psychiatric diagnoses in a sample of young, male violent offenders. Two hundred and sixty-four male offenders, all serving sentences for violent crimes (recruited between 2010 and 2012) participated in this study and went through comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, including assessment for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition criteria. Sixteen percent of the participants met criteria for gambling disorder. Antisocial personality disorder, cannabis, cocaine and anabolic steroids abuse were significantly more common among participants with gambling disorder. The gambling disorder group also showed significantly lower educational attainment. Cocaine abuse and failure to graduate elementary and middle school in expected time were independently associated with gambling disorder in a regression analysis. This study confirms the previously described high prevalence of gambling disorder in offenders. The psychiatric comorbidity was high and the problems had started early, with lower educational attainment in the gambling disorder group. The findings stress the importance of increased awareness of gambling problems among convicted offenders and of gambling research on young people with delinquent behavior. There is a need of more research to investigate this further, in order to develop preventive strategies and treatment. Access full article

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