Neurobiological Influence on Gambling Addiction

Interest of research studies conducted and funded by national organization is directly focused on the neurobiological aspect that causes gambling addiction. Researchers believe on the existence of neurobiological influences that can create erratic gambling behaviors. The identified erroneous behaviors related to gambling are addiction, alcoholism and compulsive or pathological gambling. There is a focus of relating these behaviors as consequences of an occurring generic and neurobiological cause.

Consequently, gambling addiction is not mere an immoral, illicit and self centered behavior but with neurobiological basis that affects emotional and mental behaviors. These functions are controlled by the brain itself which is believed to be bundles of nerve cells that controls all aspect of human behavior. The brain is likened to be a bio-organic computer that creates bio-electric signals through chemicals called neurotransmitters.

There are three identified neurotransmitters to be significant in role related to gambling addiction. These are the neurotransmitter dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Each neurotransmitter has distinct functions that affect behavioral manifestations found in gambling. Known to be the reward system of the brain, dopamine is highly responsible for the feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. The feeling of response to reward and punishment is basically controlled by dopamine which also affects learning and memory while identifying what is satisfying and pleasurable.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter largely managing the emotional system. Depletion of serotonin can emphasize its contribution on the occurrence of emotional instability, depression and impulsive behavior seen in gambling behaviors. The norepinephrine is responsible for signal transmissions related to the stress management, alertness, attention and response to potential stressful and dangerous situations.

It is believed that the differences of functions of these neurotransmitter substances in the brain system which is usually genetically influenced may increase the risk for gambling problems to occur in one individual compared to others. This genetic influence can be a predisposing factor for gambling activities to be exaggeratedly observed in an individual’s behavior.

A coping mechanism of the body is believed to response to the stress and forces applied to it. Any stressful condition can make a gambler become an escape gambler where better satisfaction and relief is felt with gambling activities to escape a frustrating situation. The rewarding effect of winning from a gambling activity is so high that there is an excessive force that drives the release of more dopamine to excite a gambler to play more in order to reach the heights of the challenges in gambling. If a gambler becomes unsatisfied with their gambling performance and outcome of their games, the serotonin immediately takes action in response with depression and anxiety occurrence.

The brain system creates a coping mechanism in response to the different behavioral factors brought about by gambling activities. The addictive substances and behavior somehow act to fix an occurring problem but instead of the cure it aims to achieve, the result is diverted into aggravating factors that contribute to the behavioral gambling addiction problems.

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