Articles of Interest

12 September 2021

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When life was kinder – reflections of a disillusioned mental health activist

“I meet people who, desperate for their own vision, will do whatever they can to force their point forward. They don’t care if they damage other people in the process. If in their need to win, they send fellow people with mental illness back into despair; that is just collateral damage.”

Graham Morgan, Mental Health Today 7 September 2021

A mathematician, a philosopher and a gambler walk into a bar.

As the barman pulls each of them a beer, he decides to stir up a bit of trouble. He pulls a die from his pocket and rolls it ostentatiously on the bar counter

Interesting article which nrings together probability, philosophy. psychology, therapy. And what makes us poor humans behave as we do.

aeon 2021

Homogenizing Addiction & Recovery

We should not be chastising each other for talking about our own realities with severe addiction, even as there is growing awareness that there are people with less severe forms of substance use.

Recovery Review 29 August 2021

Guns, oil, fags, booze: Where should charities draw the line on funding?

Free eBook:

Games Without Frontiers?

Socio-historical Perspectives at the Gaming/Gambling Intersection

Heather Wardle is Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Reader in Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow, specialising in gambling research, policy and practice.

This open access book focuses on how and why digital games and gambling are increasingly intertwined and asks “does this matter?” Looking at how “loot boxes” became the poster child for the convergence of gambling and gaming, Wardle traces how we got here. She argues that the intersection between gambling and gaming cultures has a long lineage, one that can be traced back throughout the 20th century but also incorporates more recent trends like the poker boom of the 1990s, the development of social media gambling products and the development of skin betting markets.

Palgrave Macmillan

Reducing stigma around mental health

by Michelle Stebbings, Head of Outreach and Engagement, Gambling with Lives

“From a suicide prevention point of view, the message is clear: as a society we must learn to talk about mental health, ask about suicide, encourage normalisation and think about how we talk about suicide. But that’s only a tiny part of the problem.”

Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland 16 June 2021

Are Addicts Truly Powerless?

“Some addicts lose everything. This is sad. But it is also what makes it reasonable to think that addicts really are, in a morally relevant sense, powerless.”

Institute of Arts and Ideas  5 April 2009

Addiction as a passion – the philosophy of addiction

From a historical point of view, it is not necessarily as simple as a “negative connotation”. In early modern history the word “addiction” has been used in two completely different ways: as a disease and compulsion but also as something praiseworthy such as loyalty and devotion. For example, the theologian John Calvin thought that being addicted to God was perfectly normal and a good thing while he also recognized that addictions can be dangerous. Alas, “addiction” could be used in both positive and negative contexts. That stands in opposition to the argument that the committee of the DSM presents.

Nordic Welfare Centre February 2019

‘I was going down a dark route’: Young people on fighting gambling addiction

Personal stories of gambling addiction

The Tab July 2021

 

A public health approach to gambling regulation: countering powerful influences

The industry cannot be expected to adopt measures that might curb profits, as is assumed by policies based on self-regulation.

Transformational, bold, and innovative policy change, guided by the best available evidence and principles of health, equity, and social justice is essential to creating a UK gambling regulatory regimen that prevents and minimises harm, is adaptive and proactive as markets and products change, and is shaped by democratic processes that welcome public voices, particularly those affected by gambling harms.

The Lancet 21 June 2021

It shouldn’t be left to charities to catch the increasing numbers falling through the government’s threadbare safety net

It shouldn’t be left to charities to catch the increasing numbers falling through the government’s threadbare safety net

4 min read

The government has a duty to deliver the public services that guarantee provision and underpin the social fabric that helps prevent mental ill health and addiction in the first place.

The House 23 June 2021

 

“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

 

 

Experts by experience are invaluable in mental health: but how exactly?

But what, exactly, do they bring?

Dr Amy Pollard, Senior Policy Officer

Mental Health Foundation 8 January 2018

 

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.

Guardian.com

 

 

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

Toxic wellness and The White Lotus

A sharp riposte from philosopher Jules Evans. The sickness of the wellness industry.

Warning: contains rude words and reference to candles which may offend some readers.

Jules Evans 20 August 2021

The Humanity Within Addiction: Understanding The Needs For Existential Freedom, Power and Meaning That Addictions Fulfill

If one does not find a way to feel free as an element of their felt experience of existence, they may be preoccupied with finding some sort of outlet or context, that might allow them to embody autonomy and freedom, somehow.

Dr. Ava Pommerenk 9 August 2019

Addiction Isn’t a Bad Choice, It’s a Solution

If one does not find a way to feel free as an element of their felt experience of existence, they may be preoccupied with finding some sort of outlet or context, that might allow them to embody autonomy and freedom, somehow.

Our oversimplified narrative completely misses the real problem

Much of the stigma relates to common misconceptions about addiction. There are  that we are sold. One is that addiction is the result of poor decision making — essentially a series of bad choices made in defiance of reason and logic. The other is that addiction is a biological disease of the brain.

–  Russ W Invisible Illness August 2021

Dr Gabor Maté on Why We Are All Addicts

Dr Maté firmly believes that addiction is not a choice, neither is it all about drugs and illicit substances. Instead, he believes that addiction affects most of us – whether it be to alcohol, nicotine, sugar, work, or exercise…the list is endless.

Dr Chaterjee 31 March 2021

On a losing streak: when drinking and gambling collide

There are many commonalities between alcohol consumption and gambling that go beyond the potential for dependence and harm for individuals and society; here, Prof Roderique-Davies looks at the growth of gambling in the UK, and what happens when punters bet under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol Change UK

Gambling addiction as a mitigating factor at sentencing

One thing we do know is that there is nothing fixed or static about the range of mitigating and aggravating factors that courts can, and do, consider at sentencing. Some, such as the discount for a guilty plea, are very well established and, as Jane Austen might say, universally acknowledged (in the common-law world at least). But the means by which, and the background against which, certain offences are committed are constantly changing, especially through the exploitation of new technologies, and the use of some of these means must now be regarded as aggravating. On the other side of the coin, emerging knowledge about certain conditions or disorders such as addiction can doubtless justify courts in treating them as mitigating, assuming the necessary causal nexus between the condition and the offence is found to exist.

Sentencing, Crime and Justice  August 2020

‘The House Always Wins’, but it wins big online: A behavioural perspective to online gambling

With inconsistent regulatory or legal framework, online gambling poses danger to users from the perspective of consumer protection and public health.

Behavioural science tries to understand how people make decisions. A report by behavioural scientists in the UK , highlights how the persuasive design of betting websites continuously enables players to place more bets. For starters, money spent online rarely feels like spending in the real world. Gambling platforms can offer a slippery slope to addiction, and therefore their regulation becomes important in terms of public health as well.

Indian Times 15 June 2021

 

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

Recommended! Youtube: https://youtu.be/d4TIM9gxkwg

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

RESEARCH IS FUNDED TO CREATE A PUBLIC RELATIONS BENEFIT AND TO DIVERT EFFORTS AWAY FROM POLICY-RELEVANT AREAS

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

W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model

On June 10 the W.H.O. called for a fundamental change in mental health services.

“I cannot be the only person to be sickened by the sight of parties of psychiatrists standing at the airport desk with so many gifts with them that they might as well have the name of the drug company tattooed across their foreheads.”

– by John Read PhD,  Psychology Today 21 June 2021

Why I Chose To Write About My Struggle With Addiction Without a Pseudonym

It was a big decision

Doran Lamb 26 May 2021

Constant craving: how digital media turned us all into dopamine addicts

According to addiction expert Dr Anna Lembke, our smartphones are making us dopamine junkies, with each swipe, like and tweet feeding our habit. So how do we beat our digital dependency?

Gambling harms need situating in the universal ‘machine zone’ which represents the complex multi-factored interactions for everything from business and exploitation industries to human lives and brain chemicals.

The Observer 22 August 2021

Addiction as an Existential Issue

A feeling of meaninglessness – in one’s personal life, life in general, or the world’s affairs – can drive addiction for two different but often related reasons: firstly, an addiction is an attempt to fill up the dark, cavernous pit that is meaninglessness, and secondly, addiction is a way to relieve the pain of depression, which meaninglessness often causes and fuels. 

Sam Woolfe 25 September 2020

Feel-good platitudes are one way to talk about mental health, but they do nothing to change the status quo

… the gentle, feel-good, platitude-heavy approach, which has characterised the last decade or so of public conversations around mental health, continues its reign. Mental health awareness campaigns, which serve a clear purpose, but simultaneously are in abundance, have told us for years now to Be Kind™ and Reach Out™ about our problems. Memoirs and personal essays, which again, are crucially important for deepening our understanding of what it’s like to have mental health problems, have become a booming industry. Personal accounts of depression and anxiety – largely from white and middle-class perspectives – are climbing the bestseller lists faster than ever. 

Guardian 23 September 2020

The Social Factor

An excellent article about the importance of social factors in recovery. Although focused on drugs, applies to any addiction. The social approach can ‘shine a light, turning things around and presenting the opportunity for the social contagion model to operate as a catalyst for recovery. I often paraphrase this as ‘if you hang around people in recovery long enough, you are likely to catch a dose of it.’’

Recovery Review July 2021

The Social State

The Social State is calling for a system of relational public services that can bring together local communities and make it easier for people to build relationships with other users, the community at large and people who provide the services. Relational public services can improve outcomes by giving citizens more control and confidence to resolve their problems.

Demos July 2021

Does morality have a place in discussions of addiction recovery?

– Jason Schwartz, Recovery Review 25 July 2021

People with lived experience will make Black report ‘a meaningful strategy’

‘Is this one of the most important documents we’ve seen in a long time – or a rehash of old ideas?’ This was the opening question to an online conversation hosted by the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations (CLERO) – the first of several events to gather feedback from LEROs on the Carol Black report.

DDN (Drink and Drugs News) 18 July 2021

 

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.

Aeon

Doctors and Nurses in Recovery

What happens with medical practitioners who suffer from substance use disorder?

“The skills that become impaired in addicted healthcare professionals can flourish again in recovery and it is important that we are aware of the issue, can help identify it and support colleagues to seek treatment and recovery support.”

This Recovery Review post is by David McCartney, who is an addiction medicine specialist and clinical lead at LEAP, a quasi-residential therapeutic community addiction treatment program in Scotland.

The mind does not exist

The terms ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ are messy, harmful and distracting. We should get rid of them

Someone’s probably told you before that something you thought, felt or feared was ‘all in your mind’. I’m here to tell you something else: there’s no such thing as the mind and nothing is mental. 

– Joe Gough Aeon

Alcohol advertising and its impact on young people

“There is nowhere alcohol ain’t… If we go to the cinema people are lying back with a drink. I can’t get popcorn from the counter because alcohol is right there in your face and they even show deals for alcohol on the screen.”

– article by Ruth Spencer for Aquarius 24 August 2021

The trillion-dollar gambling game

Is the Premier League used as part of an unprecedented money-laundering operation?

By Philippe Auclair

– Josimar 12 August 2021

No Fix for the Fix

The brain doesn’t cause addiction. Brain changes follow on from addiction. Addiction is the horse, the brain is the cart.

Aeon

‘I was going down a dark route’: Young people on fighting gambling addiction

‘You cannot win in the long term. Bookies will not allow that to happen’

There are 330,000 adult problem gamblers and 44,000 adults at risk of going down that path. And shockingly, the gambling industry makes 60 per cent of its profits from problem or at-risk gamblers.

The Tab

 

People are dying because we misunderstand how those with addiction think

A philosopher explains why addiction isn’t a moral failure.

Vox 16 May 2018

 

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.

Guardian

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.”

Guardian

 

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