Is Gambling Addiction Related To Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

GamblingResearchers have noted physiological and behavioral similarities between problematic gambling and substance abuse, but a new study has also established genetic and behavioral links between problem gambling habits and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

A team of researchers at Yale, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the St. Louis University School of Medicine published a new study Feb. 11 in JAMA Psychiatry, which provides evidence that individuals with severe OCD or those who exhibit specific forms of the behavior such as fear of germs, are also more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for gambling disorder.

“This overlap between problem gambling and obsessive-compulsive behaviors appears to be genetic in nature,” said Dr. Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, child study, and neurobiology at Yale and senior author of the study. “This common biological basis of the disorders could help inform treatment development efforts for individuals with co-occurring gambling problems and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.”

Potenza also highlights how the field of psychiatry has long faced difficulties with classifying gambling disorders. In the past, pathological gambling has been sorted under impulse control disorders, but new guidelines consider the condition an addiction.

“I think the current evidence in conjunction with previously published data suggests that gambling disorder shares similarities with both addictions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors,” Potenza said.

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