Gambling addiction is a brain disease, says psychiatrist‍

A psychiatrist, Dr. Tiwatayo Lasebikan, says that gambling addiction is a brain disease, warning that its symptoms bear semblance to other neuro-degenerative disorders.

Lasebikan, who is a senior resident at Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, said this on Thursday while speaking on Nigerian Info 99.3 FM ‘s Morning Crossfire show, monitored by The PUNCH.

Speaking on gambling addiction, the doctor made it clear that addiction, in all its forms, is a brain disease.

“As mental health specialists, we recognise that addiction is a brain disease. We call it a brain disease because when you investigate the brain of someone with addiction, either to cannabis, alcohol or gambling, you can also actually see brain changes that are similar to other neuro-degenerative diseases,” Lasebikan said.

However, the psychiatrist pointed out that the brain investigation can be carried out with special techniques and one can only determine addiction by its characteristics.

“One of the characteristics is intense craving. When there’s this compulsion and difficulty in controlling the urge to do whatever you want to do such that it becomes a cycle, that is craving” he explained.

He further explained that just like other forms of addictions, there are levels to gambling addiction.

“There are people who gamble and bet for fun and it just remains there. Then at some point, it becomes a problem when it begins to affect your functioning, either your occupation, your family, or your social life.

“Lastly, it becomes an addiction when it’s not just a problem but there is now a cycle. At this point, there’s an intense urge that you need to satisfy that urge to gamble,” Lasebikan explained.

He further revealed that gambling addiction “rewires your brain such that it begins to control the gambler’s actions.

He urged anyone who is seeking help for gambling addiction to consult a psychiatrist.

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