What Does Gambling Do To The Brain?
Oscar Wilde once said, “Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always for the noblest motives.”
When a person first bellies up to the craps table or slot machine, chances are they intend to use their winnings to pay their bills and make a little extra money for themselves. However, gambling isn’t really supposed to pay bills. It is technically supposed to be a game of chance that might pay off, but probably won’t. Casino owners know that they can get you hooked on gambling. It is a good idea to be aware of their methods.
There are certain psychological hooks that casinos use to attract people to gamble. Addiction research has established that dopamine is released in the brain when people gamble. Dopamine is the chemical that the brain produces during sex, eating and other activities. The levels of dopamine are increased when outcomes are not easy to predict.
The areas of the brain in which the chemical is released are almost identical to those released during the consumption of drugs or alcohol. If you only gamble every once in a while, you are unlikely to have a problem. If you gamble often, you get used to the dopamine gambling produces. It eventually changes your brain chemistry and you slowly become accustomed to the feeling.
Ironically the same amount of the chemical is released when you lose as when you make money.
Slot machines are also designed to appeal to people’s emotions. Many machines are themed around popular television shows and films and some are based on classic sit-coms. For example, the Brady Bunch has a game that is certain to fill a generation Xer’s memory with nostalgia. As you play, the characters repeat catchphrases from the show. It reminds you of the comforting feeling you had when watching the show as a child as the machine gradually takes your money.
Knowing When You Have a Problem
There are some people who like to gamble and there are gambling addicts. If you spend more than you can afford to lose or if you gamble to earn money that you need to pay your bills, there is a good chance you have a problem. If you hide your gambling or shirk other responsibilities so you can play cards, you may be developing an addiction. If you find yourself making bets on random events like what the temperature will be in a week or who will win an Oscar, you may want to consider the possibility that you are an addict.
Treatment for Gambling Addiction
Gambling can bankrupt you and cause horrible problems in your relationships. If you have a gambling addiction, you can get help. Treatment for gambling includes both group and one on one therapy. In some cases, a doctor prescribes medication to get you over the initial symptoms of withdrawal.
Occasionally, a treatment center will employ behavioral therapy techniques to treat an addiction to gaming. In this case, the therapist attempts to distract a patient from other activities. The patient earns small rewards for completing tasks.
A treatment center should be staffed with medical doctors and therapists who work together with a consistent therapeutic process. They should hold your privacy in the highest regard. GIA is a treatment center that is staffed with trained professionals who are dedicated to helping you deal with your addiction.