Scientists Find a Way to Reduce Gambling Impulse | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Scientists Find a Way to Reduce Gambling Impulse

Using mice gambling for sugar pellets in a "rat casino," researchers have discovered how to curb behaviors associated with pathological gambling.

Image: 

Come on lucky seven... Photo via Shutterstock

By Allison McCabe

12/06/13

| Share

According to the National Institutes of Health, pathological gambling is “being unable to resist impulses to gamble, which can lead to severe personal or social consequences.” Symptoms of pathological gambling are similar to those of other addictions and include anxiety, depression, financial and social problems, and relapse. Without treatment, the prognosis for gambling addicts is bleak.

Recently, however, scientists in British Columbia have found a way to decrease behaviors associated with problem gambling, at least in rats. Using a “rat casino” which featured a slot machine-like device with levers and flashing lights, rats gambled for sugar pellets. The rats soon displayed behavior consistent with problem gambling in humans, such as treating “near misses” as wins.

The dopamine D4 receptor has been shown to play a role in other behavioral disorders, although it has never been used for treatment. The scientists found that by using a medication that blocked the dopamine D4 receptor to treat the rats, they were able to reduce the behaviors consistent with pathological gambling, in particular the reward behavior that occurs with “near misses.”

Paul Cocker, the lead author of the study and a PhD student in the University of British Columbia’s department of psychology, was hopeful about the results. “More work is needed, but these findings offer new hope for the treatment of gambling addiction, which is a growing public health concern," he said. "This study sheds important new light on the brain processes involved with gambling and gambling addictions.”

Three to five percent of the general population are gambling addicts, but that figure is much higher in states that allow legal gambling. With the growing popularity of gambling online, that number is expected to rise even higher, especially with younger populations. In New Jersey, where online gambling just became legal, there are an estimated 350,000 gambling addicts. According to Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling, "The evidence is overwhelming that internet gambling – of all forms of gambling – is the most addictive.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv