Introduction: Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is an emerging condition within the field of behavioural addictions. IGD has been demonstrated to be highly comorbid with many other mental health disorders. Among these, substance use has been associated with IGD, and there are underlying similarities between behavioural addictions and substance use disorders. The main aims of the present study were (i) to investigate the association between high-risk gaming and substance use among young adults drawn from the general Italian population; and (ii) to explore the psychopathological correlates of high-risk gaming. Methods: Lifetime substance use, type of substances consumed, and frequency of use were investigated through an online survey in a sample of 913 adults aged 18-40 years. High-risk gaming was assessed using the ten-item Internet Gaming Disorder Test (IGDT-10). Psychopathology was assessed using the Revised 90-item Symptom Checklist (SCL-90-R). Results: High-risk gaming prevalence rate was 4.4%. High-risk gamers scored higher on all dimensions of psychopathology, confirming the association between high-risk gaming and psychiatric distress. Regarding substance use, high-risk gamers were more commonly polysubstance users and more commonly made use of psychodysleptic substances. High-risk gamers were more commonly frequent substance users, and 32.5% of high-risk gamers used or had used psychoactive substances often or everyday throughout their lives. Discussion and Conclusion: The findings are in line with the concept of a common neurobiological vulnerability for both gaming and substance use. There is the need for more research to examine the phenomenology of gaming and its interplay with substance use to help develop effective interventions and prevention strategies.
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