Psychiatry Professor Leads by Example on Studying Gambling Addiction

Jon Grant, MD, JD, MPH

Sam Cholke from DNAinfo interviewed Jon Grant, director of UChicago’s new Center of Excellence in Gambling Research, about the continuing need for gambling addiction services in Chicago, despite Gov. Quinn’s recent move to curtail casino expansion in the state. The new center is one of only two such designated centers in the country focusing on a multidisciplinary approach to gambling disorders and other impulse-related addictions.

What I found most interesting in Cholke’s piece was this tidbit from Grant’s work habits. He’s a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, and despite surely being a busy guy, he tells Cholke:

Personally, Grant does not eat fast food, doesn’t have a computer at home or own a cell phone to chronically check e-mail. He said the foreignness of the gambler’s mindset makes the subject fascinating to him, and his distance from the desire for immediate rewards makes him much more attentive to that compulsion in gambling addicts.

“Gambling addicts are wonderful people and they really are trying to understand why they’re doing it,” Grant said. “It is very moving, to see how long people have struggled.”

We’ve written about the links between gambling and other kinds of addiction before, including a 2011 study by neurobiology grad student Bryan Singer showing that gambling can actually “prime” the brain to be more receptive to the addictive effects of drugs and alcohol. But a college professor with the discipline and impulse control to not check his email on a smartphone? That’s the kind of person we want doing research on gambling addiction.

About Matt Wood (513 Articles)

Matt Wood is a senior science writer at the University of Chicago Medicine and nonfiction editor for Another Chicago Magazine.

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