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Alcohol and Gambling Pathology among U.S. Adults: Prevalence, Demographic Patterns and Comorbidity

John Welte, Grace Barnes, William Wieczorek, Marie-Cecile Tidwell, John Parker

Objective: This study was designed to determine the prevalence and demographic distribution of problem gambling, pathological gambling, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence in the United States, and to examine the co-occurrence of gambling pathology and alcohol pathology in the United States. Method: A representative sample (N = 2,638) of U.S. adults age 18 and older was surveyed in the year 2000 using computer-assisted telephone interviewing. Respondentsí gambling pathology and alcohol dependence were assessed by the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). Results: Current pathological gambling had an overall prevalence of 1.3% as measured by the DIS and 1.9% as measured by the SOGS, with a higher prevalence among minorities and lower socioeconomic status (SES) respondents. Current and lifetime alcohol pathology was more common among males and young adults than among females and older adults. Current pathological gambling and alcohol dependence were correlated, and the highest correlation was found among higher SES respondents. Conclusions: The rate of current pathological gambling in the United States is higher than reported in past surveys. Minorities and lower SES Americans have higher than average rates of current pathological gambling. However, when higher SES persons are classified as current pathological gamblers, they are more likely than lower SES persons to be dependent on alcohol. (J. Stud. Alcohol 62: 706-712, 2001)