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Overcoming stigma key to overcoming gambling addiction

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is calling on the community to assist in breaking down the stigma associated with gambling addiction, which causes many people to feel too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week (18–24 October 2021) is the ideal time to start a conversation with family, friends, neighbours and others about the negative effects of gambling, share ideas to prevent gambling harm, and find ways to support people who experience harm as a result of their own or someone else’s gambling.

Continuing the theme TALK.SHARE.SUPPORT. for a third year, the aim of Gambling Harm Awareness Week is to create community awareness and understanding about the issue, especially through stories of lived experience, and to make it okay for those affected to reach out.

‘People who experience gambling harm are not only stigmatised by community attitudes, but often by their own negative thoughts,’ the Foundation’s chief executive, Shane Lucas, said today.

‘But the truth is that gambling affects how the brain functions, which means anyone can become addicted to it.

‘Open, informed community conversations about gambling harm are key to taking away the stigma associated with addiction and encouraging those affected to seek help.’

A new series of videos created by the Foundation, with the expertise of University of Melbourne neuroscientist Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, explain how gambling affects the way the brain functions and, importantly, how an addiction can be reversed.

‘The videos cover why some people become addicted to gambling – for example, products like pokies and roulette are designed to trick a person’s brain so that they feel like they’re winning even when they’re not – and what they can do to overcome the addiction.

‘The good news is that it is never too late to retrain the brain, which changes constantly as we learn and take in new experiences,’ Mr Lucas said.

More information about how gambling affects the brain and the videos are available here .

Anyone negatively affected by their own or someone else’s gambling is encouraged to call the 24/7 Gambler’s Help line on 1800 858 858 for free, confidential advice, support and referral.

Media contact:
Fiona Skivington, Manager, Media & Communication
on +61428248931 or

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