Are Adults with ADHD at Risk for Problem Gambling in a Lifetime? The Role of Neuropsychological and Psychosocial Functioning
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The present study examined problem gambling, and neuropsychological/psychosocial functioning in 30 adults with ADHD compared to 28 controls. As predicted, the ADHD group had higher rates of some problems with gambling (46.2%) and probable pathological gambling (11.5%) plus was more likely to report feeling guilty about the way they have gambled (23.1%), and that they have ever felt they had a problem with gambling (15.4%). The ADHD group was also more motivated to gamble to relieve tension/help relax, and endorsed cognitions of being unable to stop gambling; they had gambled in the casino more in a lifetime and less on the lotteries compared to the control group. Within the ADHD group those with some problems with gambling had gambled on more activities, were less impaired on the Wisconsin Card sorting test (WCST), had less social support and lower levels of observer reports of hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, as compared to those with no problems with gambling. The ADHD group (N = 30) had slower and more variable reaction times, higher confidence index on the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), and slower reaction times to sad faces on the Emotional Go-No/Go compared to the control group (N = 28). Increases in observer reports of hyperactive/impulsive symptoms were related to poorer decision-making and significantly faster reaction times to sad faces. The full ADHD group also had greater levels of recent stress, anxiety and depression. These findings suggest ADHD is heterogeneous, and therefore so is risk for problem gambling; however, increases in hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, in combination with low social support, may be the recipe for developing problems with gambling in individuals with ADHD.