25th Aug2019

How the Brain Gets Addicted To Gambling

by James Smith


As you know, the world of wagering encompasses the lottery, slot machines, betting on sports, scratch cards, and casino games such as bingo, video poker, and table games. With the advent of technology, the accessibility to this array of alternatives in gambling is skyrocketing. For a plethora of participants, betting and playing free slots with no download is a recreational activity. However, for a coterie of players, it can be a very slippery slope, leading to adverse problems in future.

In the current era, a team of scientists, as well as mental health specialists, have categorized betting as a behavioral addiction and thus, it falls in the same class as substance abuse disorders. The reason for this change stems from studies on neuroscience which have depicted that gamblers suffering from addiction have more in common with alcoholics than they realize.

An Addiction Relating To Behavior

As you know, a betting disorder is the uncontrollable urge of wagering, while dismissing all personal consequences. Problematic betting has a direct effect on social relationships and financial responsibilities in addition to both mental and physical health, yet it is only recently that professionals have termed it as an addiction.

In the year 1980, it was first known as a psychiatric disorder and then gradually evolved to a gambling disorder. As from the year 2013, it certainly falls in the same class as substance abuse. The evolution came about from rigorous psychological research which proved so.

The criterion in the implementation of the diagnosis of the betting disorders has a striking similarity to the characteristics of the dependence on substances. Some of the criteria include running the gamut from futile attempts to quit, the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms, increased tolerance and the significant disruption of an individual’s life.

For a fact, a cornucopia of bettors (after some time) gets completely lured in, to the high that comes from wagering. After which, they slowly begin placing astronomically large bets. At this point, they are already knee-deep in wagering, during which their attempts to quit while they can, become futile, as they begin going through withdrawal, acute insomnia, moodiness, and agitation. Furthermore, this problematic addiction also runs in the family, hand in hand with other addictions. For example, some scientists claim that as a regular bettor, if a member of your family is an alcoholic, then you are at the risk of becoming quite addicted to gambling.

Studies have shown that problematic bettors and drug abusers have a myriad of genetic predispositions in common such as chronic impulsiveness as well as behaviors related to reward seeking.

The Addiction Process of the Brain

  • The correlation of betting and dopamine – Without a doubt, dopamine is one of the most potent chemicals in the human body. Its location is in the part of our brain that revolves around reward. When it comes to wagering, players seek the thrill or idea of winning big. As such, regarding a rewarding activity, it is also the reason behind the indifference to losses in some people. All in all, the promise of reward is quite toxic. It is this same chemical which makes us justify something as being right when it is wrong. For instance, if you have a fixed budget of $20 for gambling and happen to be an elated winner of $40, you have the option of walking away. However, as a result of dopamine, a gambling addict will decide to exceed the budget by cashing in another $30 to gamble with, in the hopes of walking away with $80 instead of $40.
  • The correlation of gambling with endorphins – Just like dopamine, endorphins give players the “runner’s high.” Thus, any form of exercise skyrockets the levels of endorphin in our bodies. As such, we get the same experience from anything which gives us that extra spark or thrill, like driving fast, or in this case, gambling. However, what a myriad of bettors fail to realize is that this rush of endorphins in our bodies can be a tad mind-blowing and be the result of addiction.
  • The Endorphin “high” wearing off – As mentioned earlier, the “high” of endorphins and dopamine is the root of dependency. With that in mind, it is this “high” which mutes the brain’s receptors and thus numbs addicted gamblers to pain as well as stress. Once this occurs, it makes them fail to realize that their betting has become a grave problem and they need help. They are completely immune to the frustration that results from incurring substantial losses. It is quite dangerous since at this stage a participant can gamble all their life savings or rent money without feeling the pinch.

Overall, it is evident that what was a complete dependency has turned into a constant pursuit of a rewarding encounter irrespective of grave repercussions. The encounters may be the highness from substance abuse or winning a gamble since it all begins with behaviors.

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