Gaming, substance use and distress within a cohort of online gamblers

  • Frida André
    Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
  • Anders Håkansson
    Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Lund; Region Skåne, Malmö Addiction Centre, Gambling Disorder Unit, Malmö, Sweden.
  • Emma Claesdotter-Knutsson
    Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Lund; Region Skåne, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Regional Out-patient Care, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.


Background: The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) included Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as a tentative diagnosis and inquires for additional research. The research on gaming is inconsistent regarding measurement approach and diagnostic cut-offs. Some scholars suggest the core approach, accentuating some of the diagnostic criteria to avoid pathologizing harmless behavior. Also, the co-occurrence of gaming and other addictions, gambling in specifically, is frequently reported but poorly understood. The present study aimed to explore gaming within a population of online gamblers in order to evaluate the core approach but also to investigate the possible co-occurrence of different addictions.
Design and Methods: The present study is derived from material collected for a study on online gambling. The study addressed 1007 adult individuals from the general population who had gambled for money on an online casino site or an online betting site, on at least 10 occasions during the past 12 months.
Results: Both the level of distress and problem gambling increased as the severity of gaming increased. The co-occurrence of problems with alcohol, illicit drug use/prescription sedatives/strong painkillers and gambling was roughly 50% among the addictive gamers.
Conclusion: The present study suggests that the core approach manages to distinguish in severity of gaming in regards to interference and comorbidity. We also brought light to the occurrence of gaming within a population of gamblers and our results indicate that this specific group of addicted gamers are particularly burdened by co-occurrent addictive behaviors and severe distress.


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