AnyGamble

Nov 20, 2017
Casino Blog

How Does the Brain of the Addicted Gambler Work? [Gambling Test]

Addiction to gambling is a very serious problem, although it may not seem so at first sight. The biggest issue is that only 21 % of all pathological gamblers undergo any kind of treatment. Most players don’t even admit to themselves that they have a problem.

>>Take the gambling test

Brief History of Gambling Addiction

In the 1980s, pathological gambling was considered as an impulse control disorder like kleptomania or pyromania. Therapists defined it as a need or urge, rather than as a full addiction. At that time, doctors assumed that this kind of behavior is motivated primarily by the necessity to reduce anxiety and not by the desire for satisfaction.

It was only in 2003 when pathological gambling was included among addictions. Over recent years, great progress has been shown in the understanding of how gambling works. As a result, psychiatrists have had to completely rethink and change the treatment for gambling.

What Does Gambling Do to the Brain?

A large number of recent psychology, neuroscience and genetics studies have shown that gambling addiction is similar to drug addiction. At least up to the point that the chemical dopamine is involved.

Dopamine Is the One to Blame

Dopamine functions as a transmitter of electrical impulses between nerve cells. The most important function of dopamine is in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which runs from the midbrain to the frontal cortex. This pathway plays a crucial role in forming motivation, emotions and, in particular, in activation of the rewards center in the brain. This center produces pleasant feelings in response to various activities or events. If you use a drug such as cocaine or other amphetamines, the rewards center produces 10 times more Dopamine than usual.

Addictive substances keep our brain constantly flooded with Dopamine. But the problem is that our brain slowly gets used to such a state. And as a result, there is a reduced production of Dopamine and the addicted person needs to increase the dose to reach a state of euphoria. In severe addiction, there are withdrawal symptoms, such as decreased physical sensation, sleep deprivation or an uncontrollable tremor.

Common Signs of Drug Addiction

Research has shown that gambling and drug addiction share a large number of genetic predispositions in the sphere of reward. In other words, just like an addict needs a bigger dose, a gambler must experience higher risk to achieve the same feeling of satisfaction. And also when the gambler is separated from the source of excitement, he experiences the same withdrawal symptoms.

Some studies also indicate that many people have increased vulnerability to addictive behavior. Their brain circuit system in the reward center is less active and thus the effect of these stimulants is multiplied.

The similarity with addictive substances has also been confirmed in a study by German scientists who worked on identifying gambling issues. As with drugs, when it comes to satisfaction, electrical activity was more decreased in the crucial areas of the reward system than it should be. Low values were measured mainly in the frontal area of the brain, which predominantly assists in the evaluation of danger and suppression of instincts. In drug addiction, this part of the brain is almost inactive.

Gambling Has Helped Define Addiction

New findings on notorious gamblers have helped to define the very conception of addiction. Timothy Fong, a well-known psychiatrist and expert at the University of California, said: "Previously, we worked with the idea that, in order to be a drug addict, you must take some drug to change the neurochemistry of the brain. But now we know that even some activity can change everything. "

The new definition of pathological gambling as an addiction was not just a change in semantics. Therapists soon realized that gamblers respond much better to the same therapy used for drug addicts, rather than to strategies to suppress the urge, as is the case e.g. in kleptomania.

Other studies also have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments. In this case, therapists are focused on current experience and behavior. The main goal is to change the belief in gamblers’ fallacies, like Hot Hand, the illusion of control and other popular gambling myths.

How Is Gambling Addiction Different?

Gambling Addiction

On the other hand, we cannot lump risk and drug consumption together. Gambling is primarily intended for amusement, excitement and perhaps for relief from day to day stress. And most players do it for these reasons.

For example, research shows that four out of five Americans admitted that they have at least once in their lifetime tried some form of gambling. It is essential to find the borderline between entertainment and addiction and to adhere to the basic rules for safe gambling, such as correct money management.

Gambling Addiction Test

If you are experiencing symptoms of addiction, it is important to seek professional help. You can also try gambling addiction test:

Are you addicted to gambling?
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Have you ever gambled during work hours?
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No
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Wrong
Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
Yes
No
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Did gambling affect your reputation?
Yes
No
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Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
Yes
No
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Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
Yes
No
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Wrong
Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
Yes
No
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Wrong
After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
Yes
No
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After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
Yes
No
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Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
Yes
No
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Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
Yes
No
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Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
Yes
No
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Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
Yes
No
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Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
Yes
No
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Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
Yes
No
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Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, loneliness, grief or loss?
Yes
No
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Wrong
Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
Yes
No
Correct
Wrong
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Test results

Gambling is not a problem for you yet. You're just playing for fun. And that's the way it should be. Still, we recommend that you limit your gambling rather than gamble more.

Remember, this is NOT a diagnosis. Only a doctor or qualified mental health professional can make a diagnosis of any type of addiction and recommend treatments. And no matter what your score on this test, if you have concerns about a gambling problem, we urge you to seek help.

Test Results

Your gambling can already be considered harmful and interferes significantly with your life. We strongly recommend that you reduce your betting significantly or preferably stop playing altogether.

Remember, this is NOT a diagnosis. Only a doctor or qualified mental health professional can make a diagnosis of any type of addiction and recommend treatments. And no matter what your score on this test, if you have concerns about a gambling problem, we urge you to seek help.

Test Results

Gambling is likely a big problem for you. We strongly recommend that you stop betting altogether. If you want to stop but are unable to do so, contact one of the relevant institutions, such as:

Remember, this is NOT a diagnosis. Only a doctor or qualified mental health professional can make a diagnosis of any type of addiction and recommend treatments. And no matter what your score on this test, if you have concerns about a gambling problem, we urge you to seek help.

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