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  • 1 Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, 34 Park Street, New Haven, CT, 06519, USA
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 3 Department of Biostatistics, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 4 Problem Gambling Services, Middletown, CT, USA
  • 5 Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, Clinton, CT, USA
  • 6 Department of Epidemiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 7 Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Gambling is common in adolescents and at-risk and problem/pathological gambling (ARPG) is associated with adverse measures of health and functioning in this population. Although ARPG commonly co-occurs with marijuana use, little is known how marijuana use influences the relationship between problem-gambling severity and health- and gambling-related measures.

Methods

Survey data from 2,252 Connecticut high school students were analyzed using chi-square and logistic regression analyses.

Results

ARPG was found more frequently in adolescents with lifetime marijuana use than in adolescents denying marijuana use. Marijuana use was associated with more severe and a higher frequency of gambling-related behaviors and different motivations for gambling. Multiple health/functioning impairments were differentially associated with problem-gambling severity amongst adolescents with and without marijuana use. Significant marijuana-use-by-problem-gambling-severity-group interactions were observed for low-average grades (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = [0.20, 0.77]), cigarette smoking (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = [0.17, 0.83]), current alcohol use (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = [0.14, 0.91]), and gambling with friends (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = [0.28, 0.77]). In all cases, weaker associations between problem-gambling severity and health/functioning correlates were observed in the marijuana-use group as compared to the marijuana-non-use group.

Conclusions

Some academic, substance use, and social factors related to problem-gambling severity may be partially accounted for by a relationship with marijuana use. Identifying specific factors that underlie the relationships between specific attitudes and behaviors with gambling problems and marijuana use may help improve intervention strategies.

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