Post-Deployment Factors Influence Gambling Addiction

WEST HAVEN, CT—Gambling disorder and its comorbid diagnoses are observed at higher rates in military veterans than in the general population, but a significant research gap exists regarding the relationships of veterans’ life and service experiences to problematic gambling, according to a new study.

Research published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions analyzed pre-, peri-, and post-deployment factors associated with problem gambling in veterans.1

To do so, 738,463 men and 275 women who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn were asked to complete questionnaires via structured telephone interviews.

Based on responses, researchers looked at associations among problem-gambling severity and socio-demographic variables, psychiatric comorbidities, and 10 scales of the Deployment Risk and Resilience Inventory measuring experiences pre-, peri-, and post-deployment.

Results indicate that about 4.2% of veterans indicated at-risk or probable pathological gambling (ARPG) post-deployment, defined as two or more DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling. More severe gambling was found among males and those with higher frequencies of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance dependence, traumatic brain injury, panic disorder and depression.

In addition, the veterans with ARPG reported higher general harassment during deployment, and lower social support and more stressful life events post-deployment in those with ARPG. Analysis indicated that both post-deployment factors remained significantly associated with problem gambling.

“The study suggests that problem gambling among veterans is related to service experiences, and particularly to life experiences post-deployment,” researchers concluded, adding, “diverse service and life experiences and lack of social support may contribute to the risk of problem gambling in military veterans. Investigation of how Veterans Affairs clinical settings may serve veterans following deployment to prevent behavioral addictions is warranted.

  1. Whiting SW, Potenza MN, Park CL, McKee SA, Mazure CM, Hoff RA. Investigating Veterans’ Pre-, Peri-, and Post-Deployment Experiences as Potential Risk Factors for Problem Gambling. J Behav Addict. 2016 Jun;5(2):213-20. doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.027. PubMed PMID: 27156377.

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