What if you were getting addicted to gambling and didn’t even know it?
It all comes down to a chemical called dopamine and what it does when you begin to gamble. If you don’t understand dopamine and gambling, you may risk addiction without even knowing it!
Keep reading to discover our complete guide to dopamine and gambling addiction.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a chemical called a neurotransmitter. It is released by various nerve cells and basically tells your body how to react to different stimuli you encounter.
Most specifically, dopamine tells your body when something is pleasurable. It’s like your brain’s rewards system, and it encourages you to keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.
For many very specific reasons, gambling activates the dopamine in your brain. And if you’re not careful, this will eventually become a problem for you!
Dopamine and Gambling
Genetically speaking, dopamine’s purpose is to help keep you alive. It tells you and your body to avoid pain, embrace pleasure, and generally get the most you can out of life.
However, a big release of dopamine in your brain results in feeling like you are high. And because pleasurable things release this dopamine, many people end up getting this “high” feeling from gambling.
Gamblers get the biggest dopamine spike from winning. Whether it’s beating the dealer at blackjack or actually winning from the slot machine, it’s a feeling like no other.
However, nobody can win all of the time. And gambling addiction begins when gamblers risk more money than they should (and sometimes more money than they have) to try to chase down that high.
How Addiction Starts
Once upon a time, the medical community thought of a gambling addiction as a compulsive disorder. Basically, that means they thought that people were more focused on relaxing at any cost than chasing down pleasure.
More recently, though, gambling addiction has been acknowledged as something like a drug addiction. This is typically caused by a dopamine imbalance in someone’s brain.
Long story short: if your brain releases less dopamine than average, you may end up seeking out gambling as a way to get more dopamine released into your body. This creates a vicious loop, as these individuals have a higher dopamine tolerance and feel they must seek out bigger and bigger dopamine releases.
Eventually, some people feel they must gamble in the same way that alcoholics feel they must drink: they cannot help it. At this point, gambling addiction has begun.
Other Effects On Dopamine
As we said earlier, you are likeliest to develop a gambling problem if you suffer from a dopamine imbalance. However, other factors can increase your risk.
Early research indicates that medicine taken to treat Parkinson’s may cause gambling disorders. This is because such medicine stimulates dopamine receptors and may make them a little too effective, resulting in disorder or even addiction to gambling.
The Bottom Line
Now you know the relationship between dopamine and gambling. But do you know where you can get help?
At Compass Recovery, we are devoted to helping addicts get back to their lives. If you need help for yourself, a friend, or a loved one, reach out to us today!