Problem Gambling Symptomatology and Alcohol Misuse Among Adolescents: A Parallel-Process Latent Growth Curve Model

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The objective of the current study was to examine the possible temporal associations between alcohol misuse and problem gambling symptomatology from adolescence through to young adulthood. Parallel-process latent growth curve modeling was used to examine the trajectories of alcohol misuse and symptoms of problem gambling over time. Data were from a sample of adolescents recruited for the Leisure, Lifestyle, and Lifecycle Project in Alberta, Canada (n = 436), which included 4 assessments over 5 years. There was an average decline in problem gambling symptoms followed by an accelerating upward trend as the sample reached the legal age to gamble. There was significant variation in the rate of change in problem gambling symptoms over time; not all respondents followed the same trajectory. There was an average increase in alcohol misuse over time, with significant variability in baseline levels of use and the rate of change over time. The unconditional parallel process model indicated that higher baseline levels of alcohol misuse were associated with higher baseline levels of problem gambling symptoms. In addition, higher baseline levels of alcohol misuse were associated with steeper declines in problem gambling symptoms over time. However, these between-process correlations did not retain significance when covariates were added to the model, indicating that one behavior was not a risk factor for the other. The lack of mutual influence in the problem gambling symptomatology and alcohol misuse processes suggest that there are common risk factors underlying these two behaviors, supporting the notion of a syndrome model of addiction.

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