Monday, January 16, 2017

Electronic Crack, Impaired Reward System and Impulse Control and Medicine Side-Effects: Causes of Senior Gambling Problems

According to Harrah's survey, 3 out of 4 adults age 65 and older identify slots,which is the biggest revenue producer for the industry, and video poker as their preferred form of gambling. Of all the forms of casino gambling, slots are the most addictive. The machines are designed to maximize your "time on device" until the person is out of money. The machines have been nicknamed "electronic crack". In a 2001 study, psychiatrist Hans Breiter used MRI scanners to discover that in subject's playing slots, the brain's neural circuits fired in a way that was similar to cocaine use. Also, serious age-related cognitive decline can add to gambling addiction. It was found in a 2012 study that changes in the anatomy and chemistry of brains in dementia patients 65 and up, may render them vulnerable to the stimulation provided by the slot machine. The changes happen particularly in the frontal region which controls executive functioning. About 14% of the U.S. population over 70 years old are afflicted with dementia. It is estimated that half of these(nearly 2 million people) are undiagnosed. The perfect storm for someone to develop gambling problems is created by having both the reward system and the impulse controls impaired. According to Michael Hornberger, a neuro-scientist at the University of East Anglia in England, cognitive issues can cause sufferers to lose their sense of the value of money. Those with dementia often repeat a singular behavior such as pushing the button on a slot machine over and over. "They just keep playing as long as the casino lets them." says Hornberger. Compulsive gambling, in some cases, can be a side effect of medications. After he had increased their dosage of drugs called dopamine agonists, Mark Stacy, a neurologist at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., noticed that several of his Parkinson's disease patients began to report gambling problems. Dopamine agonists are used to treat motor dysfunction. Stacy says that as many as 10 to 15% of Parkinson's patients who take the drugs exhibit this tendency. "I believe these drugs do cause gambling problems where they otherwise would not occur. When you stop the drug, the behavior goes away." Blogger:Being Sane Takes Too Much Work

No comments:

Post a Comment