What do sex, drugs and gambling have in common?
Mar 25, 2014
Sex and gambling often meet on the same page, whether it’s from the latest politician caught for his casino habit and love of prostitutes to Freud’s theory linking gambling as a masturbation substitute, it’s an edgy combo, but is there any science behind the allegations?
There has been a fascination between the vices of sex, drugs and gambling, often grouped together due to their similar effects and addictive properties.
Psychologists have been trying to link gambling and sex together for a long time, however thanks to the wonders of science, we know the same thing happens chemically whether you’re winning at blackjack or having an orgasm.
The happy chemicals dopamine and endorphin have been linked to the highs experienced in pleasurable activities or more extreme risk taking activities like bungee jumping, high-roller game play or dangerous situations.
So, let’s looks more at gambling, sex, drugs and what they have in common.
Other Happy Hormones:
• Serotonin regulates your mood and makes you happy, this can come from high carb food, sunlight and exercising
• Phenylethamine gives us that loved up feeling early on in the relationship, chocolate contains this, which is why we feel happy after chocolate
• Ghrelin reduces stress and makes you feel more relaxed overall
Even before we learned about the happy chemicals that give us the same effect in sex and playing a hand of blackjack, Freud and his cronies were already conjuring up their own theories and links on gambling.
Freud likened gambling to masturbation, citing that the two acts shared a lot in common, from the play itself, the use of hands, the intoxicating pleasure and the guilt experienced once it was over.
However, Freud’s gambling research mostly came from Dostoyevsky’s novel The Gambler, which being a piece of fiction, is not exactly a scientific doctrine to use in a case study.
However, other psychologists also likened winning at gambling to having an orgasm, with losing being more dramatically and less attractively compared with castration and defecation.
Much of the language used in gambling has been given the Freudian look over, with psychologists finding sexual undertones everywhere they looked.
Is there anything to this or just because sex sells?
Dopamine: blackmailing the body to stay alive
When the chemical dopamine is released, it fills us with a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.
Often the most common releases of dopamine come from food and sex, which are evolutionary mechanisms that keep the species going by inspiring our desire to eat and to procreate.
But dopamine also comes from other activities, gambling being one of them.
The dopamine high works in that it is released when something pleasurable happens unexpectedly. This can be a caused by some intense sex or winning at a mobile casino game.
One of the risks of the dopamine high, is that you keep looking for the next thrill, which isn’t going to be unexpected so unlikely to happen, hence why thrill seekers are looking for the next extreme experience to satisfy their addiction.
Basically, dopamine is the chemical behind our sinful desires, be it love, lust, drugs and gambling. It’s the feeling associated with pleasure and elation, that can be had from a hug, sex, or winning at bingo.
However, when it comes to addictions, even though it’s possible for people with low dopamine levels to depend on gaming, it’s not going to be the same as a drug addiction, since there is no actual external chemical involved.
However, with 4% of gambling participants experiencing addiction, it is still something to watch out for.
But the association between orgasms and hitting the casino jackpot don’t stop there, since this is also coupled with the endorphins mechanism.
Orgasmic card play and getting high on endorphins
Endorphins are nature’s natural drug and happy chemical. While dopamine fills us with happiness, endorphins yield a crazy rush that causes us to search for the next high.
One of the most common forms is the runners’ high, reached by extreme levels of exercise.
However, the most general causes of endorphin release stems from drug use, sex and again our good friend gambling.
Endorphins work as neurotransmitters that send a surge of chemical signals to our nervous system and release amino acids when we experience stress, pain or even pleasure.
In fact, endorphins are linked with the feelings we get when we are in love, but in people who have exhausted their endorphin system, they’re always looking for the next extreme high.
For a person with a healthy endorphin system, gambling is just a pleasurable flutter, whereas in a person with a depleted system could risk themselves to succumbing to the darker side of addiction.
So can gambling and sex be linked? The answer is yes, there is a chemical link, but we haven’t seen anyone pull a “When Harry Met Sally” at the casino tables in Vegas lately.
The degree of excitement to winning at the roulette wheel and in a game of craps might release the necessary dopamine and endorphin to beat the best sex you’ve ever had, but you’re not going to start inappropriately moaning on the table floor, are you?
And if you are prone to spontaneous climaxing when you beat the dealer, perhaps it’s time to start playing online blackjack instead?