The Science

 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) categorizes Gambling Disorder under “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” – that’s because there are similarities between drug addiction and a gambling problem.

Multiple neurotransmitter systems ... have been implicated in gambling
— Potenza, M. N. (2013). Neurobiology of Gambling Behaviors.

You’ve probably heard of dopamine and how it increases pleasure. Or you could probably describe a time you had an “adrenaline rush”. These neurotransmitters are messengers that tell your brain, “I like it, give me more!” Unfortunately, certain substances can hijack the system. Gambling can affect the brain using the same reward pathway as drugs or alcohol.