Psychiatrists warn of the damage of online bets in developing brains

Experts in psychiatry consider online bets to be "truly dangerous," since they generate especially rewarding luminous and rewarding stimuli in young people with developing brains, in whom addiction problems can develop "for the rest of their lives."

The psychiatrist Augusto Zafra, responsible for the units of Mental Health and Hospital Detoxification in the Vithas Nisa Valencia al Mar and Aguas Vivas hospitals, warns of the "cerebral frenzy" that occurs with these immediate and "very powerful" stimuli, and warns that the pathological pathology circuit is an "addictive behavior".

Zafra has participated along with also psychiatrists Gonzalo Haro, responsible for the program of Dual Pathology of the Provincial Hospital of Castellón, and José Martínez Raga, vice president of the Spanish Society of Dual Pathology (SEPD), in the "Dialogues EFE Health: Mental Health and addictions. "

At the meeting, organized by the EFE Agency in collaboration with Vithas Nisa Hospitals, Pilar Martínez has also participated, which is being treated for her addiction to alcohol.

The concept of addiction, according to Zafra, is "intimately related" to those of immediate and rapid stimuli but has explained that it is not the same "the classic gambling machine of the casino machine that one who connects to the Internet 24 hours and has luminous stimuli, of reward ".

"If we take a photograph of a person who uses cocaine and another who plays, we would not know which brain is which," he said to add that new technologies are an "easy access tool to perpetuate young people who are in the era digital "and has advocated" judicious use "as a prevention mechanism.

Haro stressed that currently it can be said that "only the behavior of gambling with money generates addiction, and then we have the 15-year-old kids with the mobile betting to see who wins" Real Madrid-Barcelona.

"You have to be clear that addiction is a chronic disease" and if when you are an adolescent you develop an addiction to betting is for "all your life" because the system of motivation "you already have it damaged," he indicated.

According to Haro, alcoholism is also very prevalent in people with a gambling disorder. "The substances, in some way, act in the same nucleus" and if this one is damaged, the person becomes vulnerable "to the development of other addictions".

"There is a common vulnerability because, after all, behavioral addictions act on the same pathways and mechanisms as addictions with substances," says the expert to add that brain "has changed and encourages cross addictions."

For Martinez Raga, the only thing that has the scientific consistency in terms of behavioral addiction is the addiction to the game, and clarifies that the fact that a child is playing a particular game or social networks plus hours that touch " It can be a problem in the context of other aspects of that child's brain development, but it's not an addiction. "

The problems of addiction that are occurring with the game "reflect the whole problem of vulnerability: when we expand the exposure to a certain behavior or addictive substance, we open the umbrella so that more people are exposed and can develop an addiction."

To the question of where in the world there is more prevalence of addicts to the game, he answers: "In those where it is legalized, where there is easier access, and it is not because everyone travels there".

He pointed out that he has even seen that in the bars have installed units to bet on the Internet: "This is a lack of control, we had achieved a lot because the noise was banned in the slot machines of the bars, there were only lights, and now we have taken a step back and we have increased the stimuli everywhere ".


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