The WAGER, Vol. 1(6) – Pathological gambling among methadone patients

Research suggests that substance-abusing populations have higher rates of problem and pathological gambling than the general adult population. A recent study examined the gambling behavior of a random sample (n = 117) of respondents enrolled in a large methadone maintenance treatment program. The study found that methadone patients had higher rates of problem (15%) and probable pathological (16%) gambling than the general adult population. Although this study was based on a small sample from a single treatment program, other studies of substance-abusing patients provide support for these findings. For example, previous studies have found pathological gambling rates of 9% among patients seeking substance abuse treatment (Lesieur, Blume & Zoppa, 1986), 11% among patients with a secondary diagnosis of substance abuse (Lesieur & Blume, 1990), and 14% among young substance abusers in a therapeutic community program (Lesieur & Heinemann, 1988).

Lesieur, H.R. & Blume, S.B. (1990). Characteristics of pathological gamblers identified among patients on a psychiatric admissions service. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 41, 1009-1012;

Lesieur, H.R., Blume, S.B., & Zoppa, R.M. (1986). Alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experi­mental Research, 10, 33-38

Lesieur, H.R. & Heineman, M. (1988). Pathological gambling among youthful multiple substance abusers in a therapeutic community. British Journal of Addiction, 83, 765-771

Spunt, B., Lesieur, H., Hunt, D., & Cahill, L. (1995). Gambling among methadone patients. International Journal of the Addictions, 30, 929-962.

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For more information contact the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, 190 High Street, Suite 6, Boston, MA 02110.