According to a British study, gambling addiction is different from other forms of addiction, the fault to an alteration of the brain’s reward system.
A British study from the Universities of Cambridge and London, presented at the Berlin Congress of Psychopharmacology, found that pathological gamblers have an altered brain reward system.
The reward system, also known as endogenous opioid system, is one of the systems linked to addiction. The opioid receptors are present in brain structures controlling the system of reward and induce addiction opiates (opium, morphine, codeine,gambling, endorphins), cannabis, psychostimulants (caffeine, cocaine, ecstasy), with the alcohol or nicotine.
And if pathological gamblers become less euphoric over time is that their brains respond less strongly to opioids.
Two experiments were conducted to arrive at these conclusions, on 14 pathological gamblers (betting money and other players), and 15 healthy volunteers.
The researchers first measured the number of opioid receptors in both groups by PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography), and found that there was no significant difference between the two types of profile. This is a first difference with other addictions, since they normally induce an increase in the number of opioid receptors of gambling.
A difference in reaction to be taken into account in the treatment of gambling.
The scientists then gave participants amphetamine tablet to release endorphins, naturally secreted hormones after sport.
The results showed that pathological gamblers endorphin release less and show less euphoria than non-players. The brain of pathological gamblers react less to stimulation, thus encouraging dependency and the need to always play more.
Asked about this study, the chairman of the scientific committee of the Congress of Berlin said that “for now, treatment with opioid antagonists, such as naltrexone and nalmefene seem to have positive effects in the treatment of pathological gambling. But the study by Dr. Mick and his team is an interesting work, which, if confirmed, could open doors to new therapeutic approaches for pathological gambling. ”
And when we know that this type of addiction affects 1-5% of the population continues to grow, it is not negligible.