Once upon a time people who threw their lives away gambling were seen as heathens that didn’t understand how to be an upstanding citizen. But now, scientists have discovered that pathological gambling is a neurological issue. Considering that CBD has shown to help people quit their cravings for hardcore drugs like painkillers, can CBD help with gambling addiction?
Cannabidiol (CBD) may be able to help with gambling addiction because of how it interacts with the reward system. It also has shown to help regulate activity in certain parts of the brain that may help with impulse control issues and decision-making skills. But to know if CBD even has a chance to help with this issue, knowing how exactly gambling addiction works is where we need to start.
Gambling And Your Brain
Researchers published a study in 2017 that targeted the brain pathways and their link to gambling addiction. They found that parts of the brain that control impulses can be weakened by people who pathologically gamble. It’s still largely unknown how it all works, but they are gaining more as research on this topic progresses.
The Insula And The Nucleus Accumbens
In this study, they found that the insula and the nucleus accumbens are affected by gambling addiction. These parts of the brain are involved in decision making, the reward system, and impulse control and are also linked to alcohol addiction. When they had test subjects looking at electronic casino images, the insula and the nucleus accumbens were active while the test subjects reported a craving to gamble from the pictures.
They also found that people who had weaker connections between the nucleus accumbens and the frontal lobe had more severe cravings. These same weak connections are also found in people who have drug addiction issues. Scientists note that these weakened connections can be weakened by mood and further reduced by stress which could be the reason that gamblers relapse when they go through a hard time.
The Reward System
Researchers have also discovered that pathological gambling alters the reward system. When gambling addicts and healthy volunteers were both tested, they found that the gamblers didn’t receive the same level of euphoria as the healthy subjects. This leaves researchers to believe that this is why it becomes an addiction.
The Prefrontal Cortex
Scientists have discovered that the prefrontal cortex in gamblers is altered, hindering their decision-making skills. This problem in the brain can also result in sensitivity to cues that cause cravings, a poor working memory, and the feeling that the value of the simulation from the drug holds more value than it really does.
Gambling addiction is very harmful, and not just for the wallet. Research has shown that people who are pathological gamblers are more likely to exhibit poor mental and physical health.
Physical Health Issues With Gamblers
- Sleep Deprivation
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
Mental Health Issues With Gamblers
- Exacerbation Or Initiation Of Depressive Episodes
- Intense Levels Of Guilt Or Shame
- Inclination Toward Deceptive Practices
- Impulse Control Issues
- Impaired Decision Making
Social Issues With Gamblers
- Loss Of Productivity In Work
- Involvement With The Law Enforcement
- Strained Interpersonal Relationships
How To Gambling Addicts Get Treated?
Gambling addiction isn’t like a sprained ankle that you can just put on ice and be done with. It is a psychological issue that some think never goes away. Instead, it is something that you learn how to manage, like most addictions and other psychological problems.
Not all therapies work for everyone. Someone might find more success in group therapy while others may feel that the one on one connection is what they need to get better. If you or your loved one are truly committed to kicking this addiction, learning all of your options before you dive in may be able to help speed up the process.
Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are also used to help with the craving to gamble. These can also help with issues that come along with pathological gambling. While pharmaceutical options exist, studies have begun to reveal that cannabidiol may be able to help in the same ways.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a chemical that comes from the cannabis plant. CBD is found in both species of cannabis, the marijuana plant and the hemp plant. In states where marijuana is legal, you’ll likely find CBD oil that comes from the marijuana plant. In areas where it is illegal, hemp-derived CBD oil like at CBD Instead is the legal option because it contains less than .03% of THC.
CBD, unlike THC, is one of the many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that doesn’t get the user high. Compared to other cannabinoids, it has a broader range of abilities making it a prime subject for scientists to research for medical purposes.
CBD works by enhancing chemicals in your body, opening pathways in the brain, and stimulating certain receptors. The system in our body that it most closely works with is our endocannabinoid system.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is a system in your body that is in charge of regulation. When you get sick, it gives you a fever. When you break your leg, it dulls the pain and promotes healing. Scientists believe that CBD works so well because it may help enhance this regulation process by elevating endocannabinoids which bind to your cannabinoid receptors.
Endocannabinoids And Cannabinoid Receptors
There are two main endocannabinoids that influence a wide variety of things in the body and brain by binding to two different cannabinoid receptors. While the endocannabinoids interact with both receptors, each chemical has a stronger bond to a particular CB receptor.
The first endocannabinoid, anandamide, mainly binds to the CB1 receptor. This receptor helps mediate the neurological functions in your body like your sensitivity to pain, sleep cycle, appetite, and mood. The other endocannabinoid, 2-AG, mainly binds to the CB2 receptor which helps to regulate your immune functions. CBD may be able to help regulate all of these different areas because of its ability to enhance endocannabinoids. It may not be able to treat everything, but this variety of potential has a pretty wide range.
How Could CBD Help With Gambling Addictions?
CBD And The Insula
One of the areas of the brain that links to gambling addiction is the overactivity of the insula. In a study with patients who had panic disorder, neural imaging showed that CBD oil reduced the activity in parts of the brain, including the insula.
When studying people who smoked cigarettes, which is also an addiction, they were trying to see if CBD could help with the cognitive deficits related to nicotine withdrawal. In the report, they note that CBD did reduce the activity of the insula which may be why it was successful in reducing smoking cessations.
When researchers were testing to see if high doses of CBD would bring on THC-like effects, they reported that high doses of CBD at 600MG functionally deactivated the insula. They also reported that even at high doses, you still do not receive any THC-like effects.
CBD And The Reward System
When someone is addicted to a substance like alcohol or heroin, their reward system lights up when they use the substance, but it gets harder to achieve that initial euphoria creating the chase. This same process happens to people who gamble.
Cannabidiol has been studied on its ability to help regulate the reward system to offer as a treatment to people who are abusing substances. They found that CBD influenced the relapse stage of drug abstinence, helping to reduce cue-induced drug-seeking behaviors.
CBD And Depression
Studies have indicated that depression can play a role in the impulsivity that drives someone to gamble. This makes sense because there is evidence that there is more activity in the prefrontal cortex in patients with depression due to damage.
Recent rodent models have given us exciting things to look forward to as the research progresses, showing that CBD may act as a fast-acting antidepressant. In the study, the rodent models received antidepressant effects in just thirty minutes. One of the chemicals that was elevated was the chemical called BDNF, which acts as a brain fertilizer helping to repair the brain. One of the areas in the brain that received this elevation of BDNF is the prefrontal cortex.
Talk To Your Doctor
If you or your loved one are struggling with a gambling problem, get help now before it is too late. Many families have been torn apart and lives ruined because of this addiction, but it isn’t incurable which is good news for you.
When you see your doctor, they can help you figure out new coping mechanisms and help you become accountable. If you are taking any other medication, they can help you determine whether or not CBD may interfere with those medicines. The medicine won't make it all go away and cure you forever, but it may make the journey to recovery a little easier. Stop by our shop today to pick up the tools you need for success.
Have you ever had a gambling problem? What did you do to help get your life back on track? We would love to hear any tips and tricks you might have and we always love a good success story. Leave yours in the comment section below!