The prevalence, mental health and criminal characteristics of potential problem gamblers in a substance using treatment seeking population
Some recent evidence suggests that problem gambling presents at elevated rates among treatment samples of substance users; if so, there may be significant implications for treatment. This study utilised a retrospective clinical case file review of all clients assessed for entry into a residential substance use service in Australia over a calendar year. Fifty-seven (21.4 %) of the 266 participants were classified as potential problem gamblers. Potential problem gamblers (PPGs) were not associated with increased psychological and social vulnerability; but displayed phenomenology divergent from single substance addiction, indicative of impulsivity. PPGs were more likely to be male, have a personality disorder, and be associated with a broader pattern of criminality, particularly crimes associated with financial gain. These findings challenge the recent re-conceptualisation of problem gambling, suggesting that problem gambling within treatment populations of substance users should be treated as a disorder adjacent to substance addiction, associated with distinct and specific phenomenology.