Biological Basis for Problem Gambling

Everyone understands that gambling is an addiction, however, most people believe that a person brings it upon themselves because they simply like to gamble too much. However, recent research has found that there is a biological basis for problem gambling which means that many of those who suffer from a problem with gambling simply cannot help themselves.

So what are these biological basis? According to research those that are diagnosed with a gambling problem have lower levels of norepinephrine, which is what those with chemical or substance abuse also demonstrate. When they compared those problems gamblers with those that could gamble and simply walk away easily they found that these levels were extremely lower. Norepinephrine is released when a person is under stress or in a time of arousal or thrill. Since these people have such lower levels, it is thought that they gamble excessively to make up for these lower levels.

When research was conducted in which they monitored the brain image and wave via MRI, and patients were given the option of gambling in a situation in which they would lose money, gain money and break even that those with a gambling problem had a brain image much similar to a cocaine addict. Meaning that those people with an addiction to gambling need treatment just like a cocaine or heroin addict would. Going untreated will only make the problem worse over time.

Along with these brain differences and chemical differences, those with a problem of gambling often demonstrated to have other problems. For example, many of these people had deep psychological problems. This has led researchers to believe that taking a person's mental problems and then adding them into an environment of gambling, will increase the chances of them developing a gambling problem because they are more susceptible to develop a gambling problem.

A recent thought is that a gambling problem is hereditary. Meaning that if a husband or wife has a gambling addiction then the children are at an increased risk of having the problem. Years ago this myth was considered fictional, however with the new research that points to mental problems and the lower levels of chemicals in the brain, it stands to reason that a person could inherit the need for gambling. Because, these disorders and the lower levels of chemicals in the brain are genetic in most cases.

So when it is determined that a person has a gambling problem that is based on biology, what are the treatment options? As of right now, researchers are still experimenting, however it stands to reason that giving drugs that increase the levels of norepinephrine or serotonin, such as anti-depressants of anxiety medication could reduce the urge to gamble to the extent that the person has a problem.

If you find that you are experiencing the signs of having a gambling problem, then you should not wait to seek help. A great place to visit is GamblingRecovery.org in which you can find useful information to help you. In addition, those problems gamblers have who never receive any help at an increased risk of suicide due to this biological abnormalities present in their body, meaning that finding help is vital in order to keep your life.