Problem Gamblers Have a Dysfunctional Brain Activity
A new UCLA study revealed that people with problem gambling issues have physically different brains from the normal people.
The study included sophisticated diagnostic techniques which were applied on pathological gamblers. The results proved that the brain's chemical response to gambling is similar to a drug addict's response to a fix or an alcoholic's response to a stiff drink.
A high level of dopamine is released when gambling is consistent and the gambler loses its control. It has the same effects as among drug addicted and alcoholic individuals.
Increasing wagers is a result of a dysfunctional brain activity, which may even cause a moral breakdown of the weak individuals.
Although gambling stimulates a hyperactivity of certain areas of the brain, other parts, such as the areas dealing with limits on behavior, job, family, responsibilities, etc, becomes under-active.
“The higher executive functioning skills and problem solving become impaired. It's similar to patients with methamphetamine addictions. The real challenge in treatment is to reverse that,” said Fong, who is co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program and director of UCLA's Addiction Medicine Clinic.
Hae Wang Lee, gambling addiction counselor in Walnut, thinks gamblers can hide their compulsive behavior because most of the gamblers have an IQ that is 120 or higher. They are bright and they can lie easily.
Jane Shultz, who runs an intensive outpatient program in West Los Angeles and Redlands treating all kinds of addictions, thinks there are four phases of progressive deterioration in problem gambling:
The winning phase, when occasional gamblers increase their amounts of money;
The losing phase, when the debts begin to accumulate;
The desperation phase, when the gambler begins to steal money in order to support his habit;
The hopeless phase, when he becomes overwhelmed by debt, divorce and even suicidal thoughts.
The study also revealed that compulsive gamblers suffer from their mental instability whether legal gambling is present or not.
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