A pathways approach to treating youth gamblers

Lia Nower, Alex Blaszczynski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations


Pathological gambling among youth is a growing social concern. Studies suggest that 24'40% of adolescents gamble weekly, 10-14% are at risk for gambling problems, and 2'9% meet diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling (for extensive reviews of youth gambling see Griffiths, 1995; Jacobs, 2000, in this volume; National Research Council, 1999; Shaffer & Hall, 1996). The mean prevalence rate for adolescent pathological gambling has been reported to be 5%-three times the 1.5% average for adults (National Research Council, 1999). Empirical findings suggest that gambling often begins at home, with youth modeling the betting behavior of their parents (Gambino, Fitzgerald, Shaffer, Renner & Courtage, 1993; Jacobs, 2000; Ladouceur & Mireault, 1988; Wood & Griffiths, 1998). In addition, early involvement in gambling has been shown to be highly predictive of gambling problems during adulthood (Griffiths, 1995; Jacobs, 2000). Both youth and adult problem and pathological gamblers typically experience significant adverse personal, familial, financial, professional, and legal consequences (National Research Council, 1999). The psychological literature is replete with studies exploring risk factors that seem to predispose youth to gambling problems. Those factors include earlier age of onset, male gender, parental gambling, predisposition toward intensity seeking and impulsivity, depression and/or anxiety, comorbid substance abuse, antisocial behavior, low self-esteem, and lack of social support (Gupta & Derevensky, 1998a; Stinchfield, in this volume; Vitaro, Arseneault & Tremblay, 1997; Vitaro, Ladouceur & Bujold, 1996; Wynne, Smith, & Jacobs, 1996). However, to date, no empirically validated theoretical model of pathological gambling has effectively incorporated the complex array of biological, psychological, and ecological factors into an etiological framework for youth gamblers (Blaszczynski, 1999; Brown, 1988; Ferris, Wynne, & Single, 1998; Shaffer & Gambino, 1989). The Pathways Model (Blaszczynski, 1998; Blaszczynski & Nower, 2002) provides such a framework, suggesting that a multifaceted constellation of risk and protective factors differentially influences youth who may otherwise display similar phenomenological features to follow different and distinct pathways toward a gambling disorder. Within this chapter, we propose that the Pathways Model, originally applied to adult gamblers, can serve as an effective template for the development of early intervention, prevention, and targeted clinical management strategies for adolescent and young adult gamblers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGambling Problems in Youth
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical and Applied Perspectives
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)0306485869, 9780306485855
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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