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 “It’s like heroin”: gaming addiction at play

Interesting long article exploring gaming-gambling addictions. Personal experience and research based from Palatinate, Durham University Student produced magazine.

Palatinate 11 May 2021

April 2021. GambleAware_Organisational_Strategy_2021-26


Addiction is a chronic health condition – why isn’t it treated like one?

Drug, gambling and alcohol treatments are underfunded and inconsistent. Lubman compares someone presenting to a GP with a breast lump, and having “healthcare doors open up” and support teams emerge. But with addiction, health professionals might not know how to respond, and treatment and support can be fragmented.

This lack of understanding and negative stereotypes increase marginalisation. Crucially, this stops people seeking help.



Why aren’t we talking about addiction stigma in the way we’re talking about mental health stigma?


I’ve been involved in the Time to Change anti-stigma campaign for a few years now. In fact, most of my writing has been on the subject of mental health stigma. It’s something I’m hugely passionate about – not only because I’ve experienced it, but also because I work in media and communications, so media portrayals and the impact they have on everyday lives greatly interest me.


But one thing I continually notice is that addiction stigma, generally, isn’t part of the conversation.


The difficulty here is knowing where you need to start to tackle this. Do you start with the stigma, or do you start with the law, services and policy?


Is the stigma driving the policy, or is the policy feeding the stigma?


Road to Recovery Trust, 2019


Gambling: a threat to public health?


When a nurse is presented with addiction, they may expect to be dealing with alcohol abuse, or a drug dependence. However, problem gambling is being increasingly recognised as a major public health issue, due to its potentially devastating consequences on mental health.


Independent Nurse 24 Marcch 2020



The word ‘addiction’ started life in Roman times. A slave was addicted to a master by a formal contract. In mediaeval times monks wre similarly ‘addicted’ to God. In both the case of slave and monk, the whole being was given away. One’s will, one’s desires, one’s identity were no longer one’s own. Every thought and action was under the sway of Master or God. One had given oneself away, one had lost oneself. All choices, all decisions such as they were in a very limited spectrum were determined by the Other….


The Machine Zone 26 August 2017



As time progressed and my feelings of isolation increased, slot machines became my therapists, best friends, lovers, confidants, and mood regulators.


If I was angry, anxious, bored, elated, lonely, overjoyed, or worried, I sought the company of slot machines. They never asked questions or judged me. As long as I provided money, they happily whisked me to a dream world where I could forget how disconnected, alone, unsatisfied, and deeply flawed I felt.


Medium 19 December 2018

BRITAIN HAS SOLD ITS SOUL TO THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY. | A brief history on Gambling in Britain

Recommended! Youtube:

The 24-year old who stole £60,000 to fund her gambling addiction

Female problem gambling is on the rise, so why aren’t women getting the same support as men?

People associate gambling with betting on football or horses at the bookies — traditionally a male pastime. But the number of female problem gamblers is rising at more than twice the rate of men, according to data from charity GamCare. In recent years, the internet has transformed the gambling landscape and many of the new online games target women. For example, games like ‘Kitty Payout’ and ‘Agent Jane Blonde’ feature cute animals or female characters, and ITV’s Loose Women is sponsored by bingo game Jackpot Joy.

Cosmopolitan 25 March 2021

If you don’t think the Government should take action on gambling, you need to hear what happened to me

At 17, I was already enough of a problem gambler to carry a forged passport. But I still count myself lucky compared to some of the people I’ve seen.

The Independent 20 March 2018


Industry funds research in these ‘dangerous consumptions’ as a public relations tool, so that it can claim ‘corporate responsibility’. The research literature has clearly demonstrated that funding by tobacco, alcohol or gambling industries is primarily aimed at supporting their overall agenda of ineffective industry-friendly interventions, such as school education or TV advertising campaigns. In addition, they seek to muddy the water around interventions which have a sound evidence base… Grant amounts are normally small and widely spread, and some specifically target early career researchers. They are in effect cheap forms of advertising.

Health Promotion International, Oxford University Press, 1 Sptember 2012

The Myth of the ‘Responsible’ v ‘Problem Gambler’

Having placed the ‘problem gamblers’ into a sort of pathological ghetto, the logic goes that everybody else is a ‘responsible gambler’, enjoying a harmless flutter. This isn’t so.

Beat the Fix 29 July 2020

Gambling: a sure bet? The global challenges facing young people

According to my research, young men who experience problems with their gambling are nine times more likely to attempt suicide than those with no problems, and young women are five times more likely. This was after other things suchh as impulsivity, poor wellbeing and anxiety were taken into account, suggesting that young people who experience problem gambling are at considerable risk of suicidal ideation and attempts regardless of other pre-existing issues.

Heather Wardle The Conversation 28 April 2021

As gambling apps explode in popularity around the world, the documents show how one of the gambling industry’s most popular apps has adopted some of the internet’s most invasive tracking and profiling techniques. Instead of using data to identify and help problem gamblers like Gregg, critics of the industry said, information is used to keep players hooked.

New York Times 24 March 2021


When Did Problem Gambling Start?

Gambling is a sure way of getting nothing for something
From the great Gamban

Designed to deceive: How gambling distorts reality and hooks your brain

As an addiction researcher for the past 15 years, I look to the brain to understand the hooks that make gambling so compelling. I’ve found that many are intentionally hidden in how the games are designed. And these hooks work on casual casino-goers just as well as they do on problem gamblers.
The Conversation 13 August 2018
UNITE the union has a charter for employers and employees about gambling. Download it at Unite Gambling in the Workplace Charter

Justyn Rees Larcombe talks to Stephen Tomkins about the gambling addiction that lost him his family, his job and £750,000

He may not have had it all, but he had quite a lot of it: A grand house, fast car, glittering career, happy family, even the Sword of Honour from his heady military career. Justyn Rees Larcombe lost all of that, and more, when he developed a secret addiction to gambling. His book Tails I Lose (Lion Hudson, 2014) is a gripping story of a proud, gifted, driven man who found himself slipping into a way of life that was out of his control. It became dangerous, dishonest and ultimately degrading – and yet, the only way out seemed to be further in.

Reform magazine September 2014

Playing games for real

Why do people enslave themselves to games of chance? I’ve asked myself this many times. I’ve talked to experts, done my reading. But the sum of explanation amounts to less than its individually insightful parts. In a fragment written in 1929 or 1930, the philosopher Walter Benjamin identified the gambler’s particular brand of ecstasy, what he termed the ‘remarkable feeling of elation’ that comes with a win. It is a feeling ‘of being rewarded by fate, of having seized control of destiny’. The gambler, in other words, is after a high.


Not a Game:
A call for effective protection
from the harms of gambling

Not a Game

Report from The Centre for Social Justice, May 2021

Why We Are All Addicts

We need to define addiction in a new way: addiction is the manic reliance on something, anything, in order to keep our dark or unsettling thoughts at bay. What properly indicates addiction is not what someone is addicted to, for we can get addicted to pretty much anything. It is the motives behind their reliance on it – and, in particular, their desire to avoid encountering the contents of their own mind.

Being inside our own minds is, for most of us, and very understandably, a deeply anxiety-inducing prospect. We are filled with thoughts we don’t want properly to entertain and feelings we are desperate not to feel.

The School of Life

Addiction hijacks the brain’s neural pathways. Scientists are challenging the view that it’s a moral failing and researching treatments that could offer an exit from the cycle of desire, bingeing, and withdrawal that traps tens of millions of people.

This is a brilliant edition of National Geographic magazine given over to looking at addiction through a neuroscientific lens. Although focusing mainly on drugs the articles are more than relevant to gambling.

National Geographic 2015

The true horror gambling has on everyday life

‘The high that you get from winning is like nothing I can describe. You feel untouchable, like you have defeated them. You have won back the money they have took from you. It’s not a hole that you can fill, though. After my first big win I didn’t gamble again for at least a week. I enjoyed myself, payed a few things off but I went back and I lost it all. Straight back to where I was. If it wasn’t the roulette machine it was the slots, blackjack, the horses, the virtual horses, and the virtual football. Just anything I could bet on really.’

Bella Caledonia 5 March 2020

Getting addicted to these games is not about money. It’s about falling out of space and out of time. –Natasha Schull

“You almost forget you have a body. They use surround sound, touch screens, and devices called haptic actuators, which create these little buzzing or pulsing haptic effects behind the screen or in your chair. And the shocks, vibrations, or zaps from the chair are choreographed to synch up with whatever game effects are happening, so it acts as a confirmation of whatever’s going on in the game and brings you further into the zone.”

Vice 11 April 2015

Gambling and the Attention Economy

The gambling industry does not exist in a vacuum, nor does the consumer of products. Every business seeks to grab our attention – through advertising, social media and other ways. As individuals, we are saturated by claims on our attention. Our shared psychology in the digital age is marked by fragmented impulses, by accelerated time, by an imperative ‘normality’ that works against any hope of rest or peace.

The 24/7 stream of hooks on our attention is relentless. In the case of gambling, this is supplemented by products themselves which are designed to be addictive. They offer, paradoxically, a single point of attention which is, like any addiction, the release from the never-ending pressures of time, the chaos of information.

The Machine Zone 15 September 2020

It’s time to change the way we view addiction

Like all chronic health conditions, addiction is complex. But simplistic narratives can prevent us from seeing this.


Addiction is a chronic health condition – why isn’t it treated like one?

Lubman compares someone presenting to a GP with a breast lump, and having “healthcare doors open up” and support teams emerge. But with addiction, health professionals might not know how to respond, and treatment and support can be fragmented.

“You’re not offered messages of hope or support,” he says. “People are expected to sort it out for themselves. They’re judged and blamed. If you applied these attitudes and approaches to other areas of health, we’d be disgusted. We’d see it as an injustice.”



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