The Links Between Substance Use and Gambling in Schizophrenia


  • High rates of both problem and pathological gambling and substance use disorders have been reported in schizophrenia
  • The research shows that problem and pathological gambling and substance use is linked with increased impulsivity, particularly in males. 

Several studies have suggested frequent co-occurrence between psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, and problem and pathological gambling and substance-use disorders. Research indicates that the development of PPG and SUD in individuals with schizophrenia may occur through similar mechanisms.

A recent study has examined the relationship between problem and pathological gambling and substance use disorders in a large sample of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Three hundred thirty-seven individuals with schizophrenia participated in the study which involved being interviewed about their gambling behaviours, substance use, and impulsivity. 

Results found that individuals who reported recreational, problem or pathological gambling were more likely also to report alcohol, illegal drug, and tobacco use. They also show that problem and pathological gambling and substance use disorder is linked with increased impulsivity, in males but not females.

The researchers suggest that impairment in self-control and decision-making may be a common risk factor for both substance use and pathological gambling, particularly in men with schizophrenia. The results highlight the importance of assessing for the problem and pathological gambling in patients with schizophrenia, particularly in those who also have a history of substance abuse. Interventions in males with schizophrenia may benefit from a focus on self-control and decision-making.


Fortgang, Rebecca G., Rani A. Hoff, and Marc N. Potenza. "Problem and Pathological Gambling in Schizophrenia: Exploring Links with Substance Use and Impulsivity." Journal of gambling studies (2018): 1-16.

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United States