Is Hydrocodone Abuse Related to Gambling Addiction?

Is Hydrocodone Abuse Related to Gambling Addiction?

The same neurological patterns drive behavioral addictions and substance abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse functions in much the same way as compulsive gambling, sexual behavior, eating disorders and hoarding. Understanding the science behind addiction can help people find more complete healing for themselves and their loved ones.

How Hydrocodone Abuse Affects the Brain

A wide range of physiological and psychological functions are managed in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. In this small area, also known as the “pleasure center”, a system of chemical triggers creates connections to both positive and negative emotions, as well as physical cravings such as hunger, sexual desire, thrill-seeking, waking and sleeping. By managing these things in the background, or subconscious part of our brain, the conscious or rational thinking resources can be used for critical thinking and decision making. This underlying psychological process is very powerful. It uses neural pathways, chemical receptors, and pleasure responses to turn frequent tasks into subconscious habits. This natural process can be hijacked by spikes of “feel good” chemicals—induced through substance abuse or compulsive behavior—that the brain then craves relentlessly.

Hydrocodone, along with its relative heroin and all of the other narcotic painkillers, blocks physical pain by binding to the chemical receptors in the prefrontal cortex that send and receive pain signals throughout the central nervous system. In the process, however, it also blocks the following negative psychological or emotional responses:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Trauma
  • Self-esteem deficiency
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety or panic disorders

In this way hydrocodone medicates emotional as well as physical pain. Because this process happens in the habit-forming area of the brain, the dependence on its numbing effects can extremely difficult to overcome.

Gambling Addiction as a Chemical Reaction

Many aspects of gambling can create very powerful chemical reactions in the prefrontal cortex, including the following:

  • Risk of loss
  • Reward
  • Stimulating colors, lights, and sounds
  • Thrills

The same natural chemical response that the brain uses to give people a burst of energy when they are being chased by a wild animal kicks in at a smaller level when a person risks losing money in order to potentially win more money. Though the rational mind knows that the odds of winning are incredibly low, the emotional part of the brain begins to crave the chemical thrill regardless. Continued losing creates feelings of stress, frustration, and shame, which are then relieved for a very short time with additional gambling. A vicious cycle is created that is often exacerbated by the use of alcohol or other drugs.

Gambling or other compulsive “thrilling” behaviors trigger the same chemical relief in the pleasure center of the brain as hydrocodone, alcohol, heroin, or amphetamine.

24 Hour Addiction Helpline

Many people struggling with a substance abuse issue and a process addiction such as gambling, sex addiction or an eating disorder do not see the connections and fail to treat them comprehensively and holistically. A hydrocodone addict may attempt to end his use of the drug, but will allow his gambling addiction to proceed. This will inevitably lead to relapse. The key to successfully ending painkiller addiction as well as life-controlling behavioral addiction is to treat them with one comprehensive program. Treatment centers that offer this kind of Dual Diagnosis treatment can provide real and lasting relief.

Our toll-free helpline is open 24 hours a day and is staffed by caring and well-trained professionals who will answer your questions compassionately and confidentially. We can help you find the best treatment program for your specific needs. Call now.