The riskier the bet, the more exciting the game. That is how many gamblers feel when they are playing at the tables or even the slots. Researchers have recently found that there is a link between a gambler’s brain activity at the time of making a bet and the risk he or she is prepared to take for the sake of the bet.
What Is the Link Between Gambling Addiction and Your Brain Activity?
New research has proven that gamblers have a low ability to adapt to risk. This is due to the areas of the brain that are affected when the risk behaviour decisions are made. Japanese researchers have also shown that gamblers have difficulty to switch behaviours. This means that addicts find it hard to make risk decisions based on the assessment of all the circumstances surrounding the decision and its risk that they have to make.
One researcher, Dr Takahashi, explains, “We observed diminished activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in cognitive flexibility. This indicates that these subjects lack an ability to adapt their behaviour to the risk level of the situation.” The researchers made this finding after studying subjects (both addicts and non-addicts) who took part in a test where the aim of the game was to win a certain amount of credits. The addicts tended to take higher risks with less chance of success than the non-addicts.
British Columbia researchers found that the areas of the brain usually connected with drug and alcohol cravings are also active when the gambling addict is gambling. This means that the gambler’s decision-making ability is definitively adversely affected.
How Is Gambling Addiction Treated?
Since problem gamblers think differently to other people, psychiatrists and other therapists have found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a very effective treatment for the addiction. CBT is a talk therapy with a focus on the ‘here and now’. It provides practical steps to deal with immediate issues and helps the addict deal with the consequences of his/her addiction. It also helps the addict to learn new ways of dealing with temptation and cravings/urges to go gambling and provides a support structure for the gambler to use when faced with a possible relapse.
Another successful treatment option is a 12-step programme. This helps the addict to come to terms with his/her addiction and to learn new skills and strategies to deal with the addiction. The 12-step programme also provides a safe structure for the addict to fall back on in troubled times. Usually, there is a dedicated ‘sponsor’ or therapist who will be available to the patient at any time of the day or night.
How Do I Get Help If I am Addicted to Gambling?
The first thing you need to do is to admit that you have a problem with gambling. This is a vital step in your recovery process. If you do not see an issue with your behaviour or actions, you are unlikely to want to change, and recovery is all about changing your behaviour.
The next step is to contact us at Middlegate for professional advice and treatment. We have well-trained staff who are ready, willing, and able to assist you at any time of the day or night. Our friendly staff are skilled and experienced and will be able to help and advise you on any issue that you may face when you decide to come for treatment.
It is important that addiction is a disease that can be treated. Although there is no medication available for gambling addiction in the UK, the treatment offered is widely accepted and effective. As with any other addiction, recovery from a gambling addiction is a long-term, ongoing process that requires a continuing commitment by the addict.
We are a phone call away. Take that first, critical step and then give us a call. The sooner you get treatment, the better. The longer an addiction is left untreated, the more difficult the recovery process could be.