Compulsive Gambling – a psychiatric disorder

by Gayatri on  September 11, 2006 at 4:22 PM Mental Health News   - G J E 4
Compulsive Gambling – a psychiatric disorder
Some of the gamblers have strong addiction to it. "I'd say that there is nothing that matches gambling. Not even sex matches the high I get from gambling," said one addict.

There has been an upsurge of gambling places across Canada recently, thereby, creating more attraction for those with gambling problems. According to some experts, this has led to the increase in the number of addicts.

"It's related to other addictions, like alcoholism and tobacco addiction. It's a consequence of doing something so often that it changes the way your brain works," said Nigel Turner from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Nearly 2 % of adults across North America are categorized as pathological gamblers, say addiction experts. Compulsive gambling is a psychiatric problem, though; previously it was thought to be a moral weakness. Addicts reveal physical difference in brain, particularly, in the frontal lobe.

"The person with the gambling disorder has a little bit of less blood flow to the frontal lobe than do people without the compulsion," said one U.S. researcher. Turner said, "Some gamblers with addiction problems actually re-wire their own brains, just from the act of constant gambling. To some extent, gambling itself rewrites the brain. Whenever you do something that is very stimulating, like winning, you are changing the way your brain works."

But, therapy and support groups can effectively cure this addiction. Nalmefene is the drug used for treatment of alcoholism. Of late, it has been found that this drug may obstruct the brain's processing of pleasure. Thus it may help in treating gambling addiction by taking the thrill out of winning.

For now, measures have been taken by Nova Scotia to reduce video lottery terminal usage in the province. According to The Canadian Press, Machines must now stop functioning after midnight, the stop-button that controls the speed of the game has been detached, and ever since Jan. 1, the speed of play has gone down by 30 %. Ultimately, less number of people are now using the machines, resulting in the decrease of revenue from $200.2 million last year to $182.2 million this year.

Source: Medindia

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