• The Relationship Between Alcohol Use and Gambling in Emerging Adulthood

      Jun, Hyun-Jin; Harrington, Donna; Sacco, Paul (2017)
      Emerging adults (ages 18-29 years) display higher prevalence and co-occurrence of alcohol use and gambling than do adults over age 29, which may lead to negative psychological symptoms, behavioral problems, and socioeconomic and medical costs. However, nationally representative research focused on the developmental relationships across these behaviors is limited. This study used multiple waves of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) data to examine the relationships between earlier depressive symptoms (Wave III), antisocial behaviors (Wave III), alcohol use (Wave III), and gambling behaviors (Wave III) as predictors of later gambling behaviors (Wave IV) in emerging adults ages 18-29 while adjusting for relevant sociodemographic characteristics ((Waves I, II, and IV). It also examined gender differences in those prospective links. Findings from the path analysis suggested that alcohol-use behaviors were associated with antisocial behaviors but not with depressive symptoms, and earlier gambling behaviors were the best predictors of later gambling behaviors. Earlier depressive symptoms and binge drinking were associated with decreased risk of later gambling participation. Interestingly, endorsement of earlier antisocial behaviors was indirectly associated with a decreased risk of later gambling participation through its effect on binge drinking. The findings from multigroup analyses identified significant gender differences in the relationships between past-year alcohol use and heavy drinking (Wave III), binge drinking (Wave III) and gambling problems (Wave IV), and alcohol-related problems and gambling participation (Wave III). However, the only parameter statistically significant in models for both gender groups was past-year alcohol use and heavy drinking, indicating that a stronger association for men than women. The results suggest the need to focus on multiple risk behaviors and support for screening and early intervention for these risk behaviors (i.e., alcohol use and gambling) as a means of secondary prevention in emerging adults. Future research should further investigate the roles of antisocial behaviors, binge drinking, and gambling during emerging adulthood in vulnerability for future alcohol and gambling problems and consider other confounding factors and gender-specific risk factors.