The relationship between alcohol use and gambling in emerging adulthood


Jun, Hyun-Jin; Harrington, Donna; & Sacco, Paul (2016). The relationship between alcohol use and gambling in emerging adulthood. 2016 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Background: Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among emerging adults. Gambling among adolescents and emerging adults is an emerging public policy issue as gambling opportunities and accessibility increase the incidence of gambling participation. For affected individuals, alcohol and gambling problems in emerging adulthood can lead to short-term and long-term adverse consequences. Research suggests that alcohol use and gambling co-occurrence arises from shared etiological factors in adolescence and early adulthood. However, few studies have explored how alcohol and gambling evolve during emerging adulthood. Therefore, this study aimed to understand longitudinal relations between alcohol and gambling during this life transition. Methods: Gambling behavior and problems were measured at Waves III and IV; depression, antisocial behavior, and alcohol use (past-year use, binge drinking, heavy drinking, and problems) were measured at Wave III. A weighted longitudinal path analysis examined the effects of early depression, antisocial behavior, and alcohol use (Wave III) on later gambling (Wave IV), adjusting for sociodemographic variables (Wave I), among emerging adults ages 18-29 in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Results: Gambling problems in adolescence (Wave III) increased the risk of antisocial behavior (b=.21, p=.00), past-year alcohol use (b=.12, p=.00), binge (b=.26, p=.00) and heavy drinking (b=.20, p=.00), and gambling participation (b=.49, p=.00) and problems (b=.34, p=.00) (Wave IV). Depression and alcohol use did not directly predict later gambling participation. Antisocial behavior was indirectly associated with gambling participation through binge drinking (b=-.06, p=.05). The model fit the data well (χ2(9)=13.23, CFI=1.00 , TLI=.997, RMSEA=.01). Conclusions: Adolescent gambling may be an early sign of a range of problem behaviors in emerging adulthood including substance use. Inconsistent with literature, antisocial behavior negatively predicted the gambling participation via binge drinking. Therefore, further research may consider differential effects of antisocial behaviors on gambling. In future research, we will examine gender-specific association between antisocial behavior on alcohol use and gambling.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2016 Add Health Users Conference


Jun, Hyun-Jin
Harrington, Donna
Sacco, Paul

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID