Quick Science: The Chemistry of Addiction

The Chemistry of Addictions
Psychology, The Brain
12 minutes 8.0/10

In this documentary Hank describes how our brains respond biochemically to various addictive substances and behaviors and how those behaviors originate.

Humans have figured out how to make their brains experience pleasure without having to be engaged in any activity. Sometimes the craving for that feeling can become larger than life. That’s the reason why the term addiction is not limited to drugs.

There are many behaviors such as gambling, sex, or eating that can be pathologically addictive too. They have the same circuitry in our brains as drug addiction and are just as difficult to overcome.

In regards to gambling, recent research has discovered that it’s not only winning that enhances dopamine transmission in the lymbic system, but missing the mark or almost getting the reward has an even greater effect than winning the jackpot.

What happens is that our brains love to find and predict patterns, but when it focuses or becomes fixated on trying to predict something as inherently unpredictable as a slot machine, it becomes addicted to gambling.

Researchers have announced that they’ll be adding a new category for behavioral addictions in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. This new category will definitely include pathological gambling.