Substance Use and Gambling Patterns Among Adolescents: Differences According to Gender and Impulsivity

  • Víctor Martínez-LoredoEmail author
  • Aris Grande-Gosende
  • Sergio Fernández-Artamendi
  • Roberto Secades-Villa
  • José Ramón Fernández-Hermida
Original Paper


Although alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are the most prevalent drugs used by adolescents, gambling is a growing concern due to its increasing popularity. To date there have been few studies exploring the existing patterns of concurrent use of drugs and gambling in adolescents. This study aims to identify subpopulations of adolescents using different substances and gambling activities, to explore gender differences and to examine impulsivity as a predictor of class membership. A cross-sectional survey was carried out in 22 high-schools, and 1644 adolescents were assessed (54.1% males; mean age = 15.21 years, SD = .75). Participants reported their last-year frequency of using alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, as well as bingo, poker, other casino games, sports betting, lottery, scratch tickets and electronic gaming machines. Problem drinking was evaluated with the Rutgers Alcohol Problems Index, and gambling severity with the South Oaks Gambling Scale for Adolescents. Impulsivity was assessed using a Delay Discounting task, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and the Impulsive Sensation-Seeking Scale. Based on a latent class model of drugs and gambling activities, four subpopulations of males and five of females were found. General impulsivity and sensation seeking were the most consistent predictors of class membership. These novel findings support the need to consider specific groups of adolescents engaging in different patterns of addictive behaviors when implementing selective prevention strategies.


Alcohol Tobacco Cannabis Gambling Impulsivity 



This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality (MSSSI-12-2012/131), the Council for Economy and Work (FC-15-GRUPIN14-047) and by two pre-doctoral Grants (BES-2015-073327 and BP-16071). Neither of these funding sources played any role in the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of results or decision to submit the article for publication.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Unit of Addictive Behaviors, Department of PsychologyUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversidad Loyola AndaluciaSevilleSpain

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