The brain craving for gambling? Neurosciences and addiction concept in clinical practice

Ilpo Helén, Joonas Toivio


Helén, I., & Toivio, J. (2015). The brain craving for gambling? Neurosciences and addiction concept in clinical practice. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 4(1), 45-51. doi:

Aims: Paper discusses the impact of the neuroscientific concept of addiction and expectations related to neurosciences in a clinical setting for treatment of addiction disorders.

Design: A case study based on qualitative analysis of scientific publications, research plans, presentations, and interviews of Finnish experts in gambling addictions.

Setting: The case studied is a joint project for experimentation of medication (naltrexone) in treatment of gambling addiction by National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) and Gambling Clinic, a center specialized in counseling for gambling addicts in Helsinki.

Results: Although Finnish experts think that deep down all addictions share the same neural mechanisms, they consider gambling addiction a complex phenomenon. Clinical experiments seem to have two parallel objectives: neurophysiological malfunctions of the brain and the addict as the person. Two epistemologies and two concepts of addiction are working side by side in the clinical reasoning of the Finnish experts: the neurobiological one for framing the ‘addicted brain’, and the one derived from cognitive behavioral therapy for the addict.

Conclusions: The role of the neurobiological concept of gambling addiction is to back up the therapeutic promise of the experimental project. In a reciprocal manner, the expectation to extend treatment options by the project findings justifies the neuroscientific approach.


gambling; addiction concept; neurosciences; naltrexone; treatment of pathological gambling

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.