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Eur Addict Res. 2011;17(5):231-40. doi: 10.1159/000328628. Epub 2011 Jun 7.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among pathological and at-risk gamblers seeking treatment: a hidden disorder.

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Reference Centre for Excessive Gambling, Department of Addictology, Nantes, France.



The links between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substance use disorders have been the subject of numerous papers. Few studies, however, have focused specifically on the relationship between ADHD and behavioural addictions. The aim of this study was to (i) examine the frequency of pathological and at-risk gamblers having a previous history of ADHD; (ii) give details of the characteristics of this association, and (iii) identify risk factors for a history of ADHD.


84 pathological and at-risk gamblers were assessed about socio-demographic, gambling and clinical characteristics.


Over 25% of the subjects had a history of ADHD. They were characterized as having more severe gambling problems and a higher level of gambling-related cognitions, a higher frequency of psychiatric comorbidities and an elevated risk of suicide. Finally, they differed in their level and type of impulsivity. Among pathological and at-risk gamblers, a high level of impulsivity, or a history of anxiety disorders, constitute risk factors for a comorbidity with ADHD.


The association 'ADHD-problem gambling' therefore appears to be not only frequent, but also linked to factors that are known to worsen the prognosis. Researching this relationship is therefore important to adapt strategies for effective future therapy.

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