2 Addictions, 1 Treatment Program

Gambling addicts have high rates of daily tobacco use

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Tobacco use and pathological gambling go hand-in-hand, so why not treat them together in rehab? Impulse control can be found at the root of both addictions.

A recent study surveyed treatment-seeking gambling addicts about their tobacco usage in treatment and 6 months later.

This study’s finding showed that tobacco users may have more severe gambling problems than non-smokers.

"Seek treatment for gambling and tobacco addictions."

Jon E. Grant, PhD, professor of psychiatry, and Brian L. Odlaug, MPH, researcher at the Control Disorders Clinic at the University of Minnesota, teamed up to investigate smoking and gambling behaviors. For the study, 385 treatment-seeking gambling addicts from 11 different gambling treatment programs in Minnesota were assessed for links between gambling and smoking.

A total of 244 participants, or 63 percent, were daily tobacco users as well. Each of the pathological gamblers (PG) were given surveys 6 months after completing treatment to reassess success rates and smoking behavior. After 6 months, 4 percent of non-tobacco users picked up a daily habit and 3 percent of daily tobacco users quit.

There were not significant differences in tobacco/non-tobacco users in completing treatment, 69 percent and 72 percent respectively.

When assessed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV), tobacco users on average cored higher than non-tobacco users on the PG scale, 8.43 vs. 7.79 respectively. Tobacco users were also more likely than non-users to have had previous treatment for alcohol and drug use, 71 people vs. 17 people.

Authors concluded, “Tobacco users presented with significantly more severe gambling and mental health symptoms at treatment intake.”

“Daily tobacco use, however, was not significantly associated with the number of days gambled or with treatment completion.”

“Although tobacco users present with greater gambling problem severity, they had similar rates of treatment completion and treatment outcomes as nonusers.”

Authors note the use of the study, “Given the deleterious (harmful) effects of tobacco on physical and mental health, tobacco use should be addressed concurrently with gambling treatment as a means of improving overall health of the individual.”

Limitations of this study included the number of dropouts after 6 months at 29 percent, the sample consisted of treatment-seeking PGs only and medications were not taken into account. This study was published in September in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 26, 2012
Last Updated:
December 3, 2012