Gambling addicts release fewer endorphins than healthy individuals, according to a new study that was presented in Berlin this weekend.
The study examined the brains of compulsive gamblers and healthy individuals, looking at the opioid system, the brain’s reward center. Initially, brain scans found no difference in the opioid systems of the two groups. However, after the participants were given an amphetamine tablet – known to create an endorphin rush – the gambling addicts did not release many endorphins or experience the pleasure that accompanies an endorphin rush.
“From our work, we can say two things,” lead researcher Dr. Inge Mick said in a statement. “Firstly, the brains of pathological gamblers respond differently to this stimulation than the brains of healthy volunteers. And secondly, it seems that pathological gamblers just don’t get the same feeling of euphoria as do healthy volunteers. This may go some way to explaining why the gambling becomes an addiction.”
In the United States, 2 to 3 percent of the population suffers from gambling addictions.
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