Did you know that gambling can be an official addiction, just like alcohol and drugs?
A couple decades ago, the notion that someone could be addicted to a behavior, such as gambling, was not universally accepted. Back then, psychologists labeled gambling as an impulse-control-disorder, a compulsion rather than an addiction.
Now, however, researchers agree that gambling can become a true addiction. After 15 years of deliberation, the DMS-5 (a manual that serves as a universal authority for psychological diagnosis) moved gambling into the addictions section.
Today gambling is widespread. Four out of five Americans report having gambled at some point in their life. You can buy a lottery ticket at nearly every street corner. In today’s internet age, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to “hit the casinos.” It is, therefore, more important than ever to investigate whether your gambling habits are harmless fun or an uncontrollable addiction.
How gambling affects the brain
Numerous studies in psychology, genetics, and neuroscience have revealed the striking similarities between gambling and substance abuse. When stimulated by addictive drugs or gambling, the neurotransmitters in the rewards system in our brain increase. The more one bombards the system with these neurotransmitters, the less responsive the brain becomes to its effects, thus requiring more and more of the drug to get to the original high. Likewise, compulsive gamblers will spend more and more money, and take greater risks, in order to reach the same high.
Drug abusers and gambling addicts have been shown to share the same genetic dispositions toward reward seeking and impulsivity.
Additionally, gambling and drugs affect the brain’s circuits in a similar manner, as demonstrated by studying blood flow and electrical activity in the brain.
Click here to read Scientific American’s article about the neurological similarities between gambling addiction and drug addiction.
Get help for your gambling addiction
The world used to classify addiction as a dependency on a chemical. Now people define it as pursuing a pleasurable experience, despite serious consequences.
If you suspect you have a gambling addiction, take our quiz to find out.
Retorno offers treatment programs for a wide variety of addictions, including gambling. Don’t wait. Contact Retorno to get help now.Please share this post!