Bad mouthed by the press as a pastime that wreaks homes, brings financial ruin and breaks lives in many ways but is there another side to gambling? Many people buy weekly lottery tickets, scratch cards and play bingo yet these are forms of gambling. It seems that the world has a conception that these forms of gambling are acceptable and not as bad as card games, horse racing or visiting a casino.
It is as if the blame of the gambler’s addiction lies at their own door and they are either weak willed or stupid. This is not the case and there is far more to a gambling addiction than many people realise. Taking a look at the real reasons behind a gambling addiction should change the minds of those who have the opinion that all gambling addicts are degenerates.
Are We All Addicts?
When you ask yourself the question ‘how much have I gambled in the last year?’ you may well be you haven’t. This is probably not true. If you buy a weekly lottery ticket, go to a bingo hall or even put some money in a slot machine or even bought a raffle ticket for the school bazaar, the answer should be that you have gambled. For some people these actions can lead to addiction. If this is the case why are you not a gambling addict?
There must be more to it as most people who gamble are not addicted so when does the addiction start. The answer could be within their body or biology. We are all different but is there a common denominator for those who do become addicted.
The chemical dopamine is released by the brain when the feeling of pleasure or achievement is experienced by the person. Getting a cuddle from a loved one, passing an exam, during sex and winning at the bingo are all examples of when dopamine levels rise. Dopamine is also released when drugs are taken but these levels are far higher. This will explain the great feeling of euphoria during that particular activity.
The purpose of dopamine is to encourage us to continue doing these pleasurable actions. We need to have sex in order to reproduce and we need to eat in order to stay healthy and alive so dopamine is released to keep us doing these things. Dopamine makes us feel good and we want to keep feeling good again and again. Gambling is another feel good activity and our brain wants us to chase the high, experience the adrenaline rush and keep doing it. Some people are able to control the urges so don’t get addicted but unfortunately for others they cannot.
Why Is It That Not All People Get Affected by Dopamine?
Studies have shown that dopamine presence is not the issue with a gambling addiction, it is the body’s inability to respond that is the problem. As with those addicted to drugs, a gambler will need more and more dopamine to get satisfaction. Those with a tendency to over produce dopamine are more likely to suffer an addiction than those with a normal level.