The aim of this paper is to study transitions between two states of gambling in adulthood (problem gambling and non-problem gambling) and to identify factors that might influence these transitions.
Data for this 2-year long longitudinal study were collected in a French Outpatient Addiction Treatment Center, in gambling establishments and through the press. Both problem gamblers and non-problem gamblers were evaluated using a structured interview and self-report questionnaires. The statistical analysis was carried out using a Markovian approach.
The analyzed cohort consisted of 304 gamblers with 519 observed transitions. Participants with no past-year gambling problems (based on the DSM-IV) had a probability of about 90% of also having no past-year gambling problems at the following assessment, whereas the observed percentage of problem gamblers transitioning to non-problem gambling was of 48%. We reported (i) vulnerability factors of transitioning to problem gambling (such as an anxiety disorder or an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) during the childhood), (ii) protective factors for non-problem gamblers, (iii) recovery factors (such as ongoing treatment and younger age) and (iv) persistence factors of a gambling problem (such as a persistent ADHD).
The status of problem gambler is unstable over time, whereas we found stability among non-problem gamblers. Our findings suggest the existence of vulnerability and protective factors in gambling. These results lead to think about preventive actions and adaptive care, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or researching gambling problems in people with an anxiety disorder or ADHD.