Development of Gambling and Alcohol Use in Youth

The overall aims of this study were to determine the relationships between gambling, alcohol misuse, other substance use, and delinquency, and to examine the factors influencing these problem behaviors among youth. Secondary analyses were carried out using two longitudinal data sets from previously funded NIAAA studies. The “Family and Adolescent Study” was a six-wave longitudinal panel study of 699 adolescents, aged 13-16 in wave one and 18-23 in wave 6. “Drinking and Delinquency in Young Men” was a three-wave longitudinal panel study of substance use and delinquency among 625 males, aged 16-19 in wave one and 19-22 in wave three.

Results showed gambling, like alcohol use, is prevalent among youth, with annual gambling rates of 81% and 90% among males in studies one and two respectively, and a 70% prevalence rate among females in study one. Cards and games of skill — e.g., basketball, pool — were the most common forms of gambling. Alcohol misuse among males predicted increased gambling over time or a pattern of stability of high rates of gambling. Higher parental monitoring and lower alcohol misuse were significant in predicting a decreasing pattern of gambling among males in the delinquency study. Alcohol misuse predicted an increasing pattern of gambling for females only when other factors such as high impulsivity or low parental monitoring were present. This study showed that while problem behaviors are related, there are also uncorrelated antecedents predicting distinct types of youthful problem behaviors. Peer delinquency showed numerous significant pathways to youth problem behaviors for both females and males. Gambling, while correlated with other problem behaviors, showed the least commonality with alcohol misuse, drug use, and delinquency outcomes. Research funded by a grant of $308,000 from NIAAA, 2000-2003.