Gamblers and addicts have a lot in common

A group of researchers from the U.S., the UK, and New Zealand, have apparently found that problem gamblers often display many similar personality traits as people who abuse alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine.A group of researchers from the U.S., the UK, and New Zealand, have apparently found that problem gamblers often display many similar personality traits as people who abuse alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine.

Traits such as rebelliousness, anger, and being a risk taker, are common to both groups and they also share certain personality traits.

This revelation may help explain why problem gambling and substance abuse often go together.

The researchers say their findings may lead to better treatments for these problems.

In the study, the researchers analyzed personality assessments of almost 1,000 18-year-old men and women from Dunedin in New Zealand, most of whom, by the time they were 21, had been diagnosed with problem gambling, alcohol, marijuana, or nicotine use.

In the first instance, the researchers examined the associations between problem gambling and each of the three substance-abuse disorders.

They then compared 10 basic personality variations among people in each disorder group to those who did not develop gambling or substance abuse problems.

They found that the personality profile associated with problem gambling was very similar to that associated with other substance-related addictive disorders.

It appeared that people with recent problems with gambling, were three times as likely to have one of the three substance-abuse disorders.

The researchers say the importance of this association is almost as great as the recognised association between alcohol and nicotine dependence.

It was also found that young adults with gambling problems were more likely to score higher on personality measures of negative emotions and impulsive and risk-taking behavior at age 18 than others.

The negative emotional traits included nervousness or worry, anger or aggressiveness, and feeling mistreated or victimized.

They say a potential approach to possibly understanding why people often suffer from both gambling and substance-abuse problems, could be to focus on these basic personality traits.

To summarise, the findings implicate that genetically influenced aspects of personality, such as low behavioral control, may be partly responsible for the connection between problem gambling and addictive disorders.

Authors in the study were, Dr Slutske of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Dr Caspi and Dr Moffitt of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, England and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr Poulton, of the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

The study is published in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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