Disordered gamblers with and without ADHD: the role of coping in elevated psychological distress


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is significantly more prevalent among disordered gamblers than in the general adult population. Despite this, it remains unclear whether co-occurring ADHD is associated with clinically significant differences that call for specialized assessments and treatment planning. The purpose of this article was to explore differences in psychological distress and coping strategies among individuals presenting to an outpatient gambling treatment centre with and without co-occurring adult ADHD. Participants (n = 99) were primarily female (69%) and Caucasian (86%) outpatient treatment-seeking disordered gamblers. At intake, individuals completed self-report measures of coping (Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations – Adult Form), psychological distress (Beck Depression Inventory II) and ADHD (Brown Attention-Deficit Disorder Scales – Adult Form). Results indicated that individuals with ADHD (n = 42) reported significantly more psychological distress and less adaptive coping strategies than those without co-occurring ADHD (n = 57). Mediation analyses showed that an ADHD diagnosis had an indirect effect on psychological distress via the mediator of maladaptive coping. Assessment and treatment should be tailored to address the variety of presentations of gambling disorder. Screening for ADHD at intake may be helpful in creating an individualized treatment plan for disordered gamblers.

Publication Title

International Gambling Studies