Scientists believe that Drug could cure Gambling Addiction

November 2, 2013 | by admin | posted in news

Scientists believe a special drug that blocks the dopamine receptor could be the cure for gambling addiction.

Paul Cocker, who’s a Ph.D. psychology student at the University of British Columbia, led a study involving 32 rats, and slot-type machines with three flashing lights and different levers. If the rats pushed a lever and three flashing lights came on, they’d win 10 sugar pellets, which were given when they hit the “cash out” lever.

Assuming all three lights didn’t flash, the rats lost and were hit with a 10-second penalty if they tried to push the cash out lever afterward. But if the rats pushed the “roll again” lever, they could play the slots-type machine again without any penalty.

One interesting observation that the scientists noticed was how, much like human gamblers, near misses made the rats feel like they won. So if two lights came on instead of three, the rats were more likely to push the cash out lever instead of the roll again one.

To introduce a new element to the equation, researchers gave the rats dopamine blockers. Dopamine D4 receptors have been linked with compulsive gambling and can cause people to keep betting, even when it’s against their better judgement. Once the dopamine blockers were given, the rats were less likely to feel like they won after near wins.

The fact that these drugs worked in rats is by no means an indication that dopamine blockers are the cure-all for gambling addicts. Cocked admitted so himself by saying, “More work is needed, but these findings offer new hope for the treatment of gambling addiction.” However, this could be the start to helping addicts kick their gambling habits and live healthier lives.

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