Fear of stigma stops people from seeking problem gambling help

November 18, 2013
Photo by Jeff Kubina via Flickr.

While gambling is an accepted past-time in our community, having a problem with your gambling is not.  There is also significant public stigma connected to seeking help for gambling problems – so much so, that it may stop people from seeking the help they need.

Research released today from the ANU Centre for Gambling Research indicates that problem is not well understood by the community in the way that alcohol and drug addictions are understood, and that this contributes to stigma associated with having a gambling problem.

"Our research found that people with gambling problems feel ashamed and feel stupid, and that other people perceive them as being stupid, selfish people who hurt their families," says Dr Annie Carroll from the ANU Centre for Gambling Research.

"Under these circumstances, people experiencing problems with their gambling don't want to seek help because they don't want to be labeled a problem gambler."

"While people with alcohol and other drug problems who seek treatment elicit some public sympathy because they are understood to have an addiction, people with gambling problems tend to be blamed for their lack of control and are more likely to be viewed as being desperate if they seek help."

The research also found that the promotion of the 'Gamble Responsibly' message can be counterproductive when viewed by some people experiencing gambling harms which can lead to feelings of shame.

"The slogan promotes the notion that responsible gambling is within individual control while ignoring the fact that there are innate risks in gambling products," says Dr Carroll.

The report concludes that people experiencing gambling problems should be encouraged to view seeking help as a wise and mature action, as they would view seeking advice or help for any other health problem.

"The general public should be encouraged to view seeking help for gambling problems as being a sensible action, rather than as a sign of weakness or desperation," says Dr Carroll.

Greg Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, welcomed the research and indicated that it would be useful in guiding the Commission to refine and further develop its harm minimisation strategies.

"The Commission's aim is to encourage early intervention with gambling problems and this important research project will assist in achieving this goal."

The Stigma and Help-seeking for Gambling Problems Report was based on over 100 in-depth interviews with professionals from health and welfare services in the ACT, people who played electronic gaming machines at least once per week, people who self-identified as having a gambling problem and counsellors and financial counsellors from around Australia.

Explore further: Psychological treatments reduce problem gambling

Related Stories

Psychological treatments reduce problem gambling

September 26, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Early findings from an ongoing major Victorian study indicate that people who have received psychological treatment are spending less time and money gambling.

Stakes are high for problem gamblers

October 31, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- People with gambling problems are unlikely to identify as having a problem or to seek help unless they have experienced serious impacts or harms, according to new research released today.

Scientists reduce behaviors associated with problem gambling in rats

October 29, 2013
With the help of a rat casino, University of British Columbia brain researchers have successfully reduced behaviours in rats that are commonly associated with compulsive gambling in humans.

Review highlights links between problem gambling and substance abuse, and lack of treatment options

September 4, 2013
Problem gamblers are a hidden population among people with mental health or substance abuse issues who often don't get the treatment they need, a new study shows.

Expert warns of dangers of Internet gambling, especially on youth

March 16, 2012
Participating in an online March Madness bracket or fantasy sport league is harmless fun for most people, but for someone with a gambling addiction, it can be a dangerous temptation.

Problems of pathological gambling differ for younger and older gamblers

March 14, 2013
To successfully treat pathological gambling, you need to intervene at an early stage, according to Susana Jiménez-Murcia from the University Hospital of Bellvitge in Spain and colleagues. Their study shows that a patient's ...

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.