“Gambling is a principle inherent in human nature” — Edmund Burke
“One of the healthiest ways to gamble is
with a spade and a package of garden seeds.”
Compulsive or pathologic gambling is the addiction marked by a nagging inability to resist the temptation to gamble. Up to 3 percent of the adult population are known to gamble pathologically.
Gambling has existed since ancient times, and there is evidence that most cultures endorsed it in one form or another. Paraphernalia associated with gambling has been found in sites in China dating back to 2300 BCE. Ivory dice made before 1500 BCE. have been discovered in Egypt and writings alluding to gambling have been found on a tablet in one of the pyramids at Giza.
Jerome Litt, M.D. is Assistant Clinical Professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Editor: Sehrish sarfraz
Gambling was so popular during the Middle Ages that some militaries barred their soldiers from taking part in games, as the gambling interfered with their appointed duties.
In Islamic societies gambling is either totally forbidden or very restricted. Gambling is explicitly condemned as sinful in the Koran.
Christianity has always been critical of gambling (Matt. 6: 25-26, Luke: 12:15 Hebrews 13:5). Early Church councils forbade games of chance, and up to the time of the Reformation the Church viewed gambling as wicked and reprehensible. With its emergence, ascetic Protestantism stressed arguments relating to the work ethic that opposed gambling. Lutheran churches have been harsh in their condemnation of gambling.
One of the most famous addicted gamblers was John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich. In 1762, he sat for more than 24 hours at a gaming table in his home, refusing to be present at meals. Finally, one of his servants offered the Earl a piece of salted beef. The Earl ordered the servant to place the beef between two slices of bread so that he could eat it in his hand at the table. This is how the sandwich got its name.
Imbalances in the brain chemicals: serotonin, nor epinephrine (adrenaline), and dopaminemay be factors in compulsive gambling. Dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in the way the brain controls movements. Brain cells release dopamine as part of the reward system through which one learns to seek pleasurable stimuli, such as food and sex, and dopamine plays a role in developing addiction. A reduction in its concentration within the brain is also associated with Parkinsonism.
Patients with Parkinsonism who take certain anti-tremor medications are at greater risk of becoming pathological gamblers. These anti-tremor drugs-dopamine agonists-are also associated with other addictive behaviors such as compulsive shopping, binge eating, drug use, and other pleasurable experiences such as alcohol intake and sex.
In addition to alcohol, brand-name medications that have been associated with compulsive gambling are Dostinex, Haldol, Intropin, Mirapex, Neopro, Parlodel, Requip, and Sinemet.