Research indicates teen gambling is on the rise and often starts in middle school. Adolescents are at risk for developing gambling problems as they are more likely to act impulsively and take risks. Compulsive gambling overstimulates the brain and impairs the region that produces feelings of reward as the habitual behavior decreases dopamine release over time and we increase frequency/intensity to achieve the same effects we did before tolerance development.

Compulsive gambling among teens is associated with an increased risk of:

– Symptoms of depression and anxiety

– Alcohol and substance abuse

– Poor academic performance

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Gambling: The impact on the teen brain.

Research indicates teen gambling is on the rise and often starts in middle school. Adolescents are at risk for developing gambling problems as they are more likely to act impulsively and take risks. Examples of risk-taking behaviors might be engaging in behaviors to obtain money (i.e., selling personal property, offering to do things for others that are unsafe) to support gambling or stealing to support their habit.

 

Compulsive gambling overstimulates the brain and impairs the region that produces feelings of reward; the habitual behavior decreases dopamine release (a chemical associated with feelings of reward) over time and adolescents need increased frequency or intensity of experiences to achieve the same reward/pleasure effects. Activities or experiences that would have previously brought your teen feelings of excitement, reinforcement or reward may no longer bring the same feelings when the brain’s reward system is impacted by gambling or other addictions.

 

Compulsive gambling among teens is associated with an increased risk of: symptoms of depression and anxiety; alcohol and substance abuse; poor academic performance (in relationship to time spent away from academics/focused on gambling behaviors). For more information on gambling addiction, please visit the resources below:

 

Mayo Clinic – Compulsive Gambling

Healthy Children – Teen Gambling

For help and more information, contact:
Lauren McArdle, Ph.D., District 95 at 847-540-4973
or Sara Marx, LCPC, NCC, Ela Township at 847-540-8380