Problem gambling runs in families according to a University of Iowa study published online in the journal Psychiatry Research. The study also found an excess of alcoholism, drug disorders and antisocial personality disorder in families with pathological gamblers.
This is the first study of its kind to include detailed family interviews of relatives of persons with pathological gambling, said Donald W. Black, M.D., professor of psychiatry in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
“Something is being passed along in these families that increases the persons’ likelihood of engaging in impulsive and ultimately self-destructive behavior. In some persons, it manifests as substance abuse, in others as antisocial behavior, and in others gambling, and often the three are combined,” said Black, who has studied pathological gambling for the past eight years.
The study consisted of interviews of 31 pathological gamblers and 31 controls, and their respective first-degree relatives (parents, siblings and children).
“We looked at first-degree relatives because they theoretically share 50 percent of their genes with the pathological gambler or the control subject. If this disorder runs in families, it is most likely to cluster in those that you share …