Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 473–486 | Cite as

Sub-clinical Alcohol Consumption and Gambling Disorder

  • Michael D. Harries
  • Sarah A. Redden
  • Eric W. Leppink
  • Samuel R. Chamberlain
  • Jon E. Grant
Original Paper


While it is well established that gambling disorder is associated with alcohol use disorder, less is known regarding whether sub-clinical alcohol consumption increases gambling behavior. This study examined the effects of varying levels of alcohol consumption on clinical and cognitive measures. The sample consisted of 572 non-treatment seeking gamblers age 18–29 who were divided into three groups: non-current drinkers, current drinkers who did not qualify for an alcohol use disorder, and those with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). All subjects were assessed on gambling pathology, severity and impulsivity using the Structured Clinical Interview for Gambling Disorder, Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale for Pathologic Gambling and the Barratt Impulsive Scale-11 and select cognitive tests. In all of the clinical measures, controlling for age, gender and education, the AUD group was significantly more likely than the non-current and current drinkers to be a pathologic gambler and to be impulsive, compulsive and depressed. On cognitive tasks, controlling for age, gender and education, the AUD group had significantly worse strategy use on a spatial working memory task than both other groups. This study suggests that the relationship between alcohol and gambling may only exist when pathology in both alcohol consumption and gambling behavior is present. Examining this relationship with alcohol consumption as a continuous variable would provide additional insight into the potential effects alcohol consumption has on gambling behavior.


Alcohol Gambling disorder Alcohol use disorder Impulsivity Compulsivity Cognition 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

Mr. Michael Harries, Mr. Eric Leppink, and Ms. Sarah Redden report no conflicts of interest. Dr. Samuel Chamberlain consults for Cambridge Cognition and Shire. Dr. Jon Grant currently has research grants from the National Center for Responsible Gaming, Brainsway, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, Forest Takeda and Psyadon Pharmaceuticals. He receives yearly compensation from Springer Publishing for acting as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Gambling Studies and has received royalties from Oxford University Press, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., Norton Press, and McGraw Hill.

Ethical Approval

Study procedures were carried out in accordance with the most recent version of the Declaration of Helsinki. The Institutional Review Board of the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota approved the study and the informed consent procedures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Harries
    • 1
  • Sarah A. Redden
    • 1
  • Eric W. Leppink
    • 1
  • Samuel R. Chamberlain
    • 2
  • Jon E. Grant
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral NeuroscienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUnited States
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

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