A recent study out of the Imperial College London shows further proof that gambling is as much of a problem as drug and alcohol addiction- and may also help explain why the two are so often linked.
Brain Pathways in Gambling and Addiction
An international research study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry revealed that the brain pathways involved in drug and alcohol craving are the same ones that are activated by gambling addiction. Further, the study found reduced connections in the “impulse-control” portions of the brain in gambling addicts- a characteristic that is also found in those with substance abuse issues. Specifically, the insula and nucleus accumbens (also responsible for decision making and reward processing) were shown to “light up” when gambling addicts experience cravings- the same effect seen when addicts crave drugs or alcohol.
Possible Directions for Treatment
The identification of these key brain areas could provide a necessary link to preventing craving and relapse in gambling addicts. The research suggests that targeting these same pathways (possibly with the same treatments used to help drug and alcohol addicts) may provide significant help for those struggling with a gambling problem. The fact that there are specific biological areas at work in gambling addiction also further highlights the possibility of a strong genetic component, which could provide targeted education and therapies for people at-risk for gambling addiction.
It is already known that people with “addictive” personalities may switch from one “drug” of choice to another. Meaning, people in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol may begin doing other behaviors addictively- whether it be gambling, sex, exercise, or food control. The fact that these brain pathways are so similar highlights not only this risk, but also the risk for relapse. People in recovery who engage in other addictive behaviors, such as gambling, may inadvertently “trigger” their other addictions by activating the same brain pathways that controlled their primary addiction. This is why these behaviors are so dangerous for people in recovery, and why thorough treatment is needed, to not only kick the addiction physically, but to develop healthy habits and coping mechanisms that will promote a life of sobriety and recovery.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.