An Exploratory Study of the Impacts of Gambling on Affected Others Accessing a Social Service

Jason Landon, Elizabeth Grayson, Amanda Roberts

Problem gambling affects many people beyond the problem gambler themselves. Help-seeking is relatively rare among affected others, especially those in lower socio-economic communities. However, these affected others are sometimes in contact with other support agencies. The present research interviewed 10 people seeking support through a social agency who reported being affected by someone else’s gambling. Data from semi-structured interviews were analysed using an inductive descriptive approach to identify three themes: (1) This is ugly, (2) It affects everything and (3) I just do it by myself. The results highlight the normality of harmful gambling across generations, the lack of any positive aspects to gambling for affected others and the impacts on families and children. Specific gambling-related help-seeking remains rare; however, the opportunity to provide support, information and advice on approaches to coping to affected others as they contact social services is highlighted.

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How does the stigma of problem gambling influence help-seeking, treatment and recovery? a view from the counselling sector

Problem gambling attracts considerable public stigma and can cause significant self-stigma. However, little research has investigated the role of stigma during treatment-assisted recovery from problem gambling. This study aimed to examine gambling counsellors’ perspectives on whether and how the stigma associated with problem gambling influences problem acknowledgement, help-seeking, treatment and recovery. In-depth interviews with nine gambling counsellors from Victoria, Australia, were analysed to extract shared meanings of experiences using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Counsellors indicated that the burden of problem gambling is typically increased by the addition of stigma and its impacts. This stigma is created and maintained by a lack of public understanding about problem gambling and its causes, and internalization of self-stigmatizing beliefs, leading to delayed help-seeking, anxiety about attending treatment, concerns about counsellor attitudes, and fear of relapse. Counsellors maintained that, before effective gambling treatment could occur, they needed to help clients overcome their self-stigmatizing beliefs to establish confidence and trust in the counsellor, restore self-esteem, enhance stigma coping skills and foster a belief that recovery is possible. Harnessing support from significant others and preparing clients for relapse were also important inclusions to lower stigma. Addressing stigma early in treatment can help to improve treatment adherence and recovery.

Perceived stigma and self-stigma of problem gambling: perspectives of people with gambling problems

Open-access article.

Minimal research has investigated the stigma associated with problem gambling, despite its major hindrance to help-seeking and recovery. This study explored perceived stigma and self-stigma to examine stigmatizing beliefs held, how they may be internalized, coping mechanisms, and effects on help-seeking. In-depth interviews with 44 people experiencing gambling problems were analysed using interpretive phenomenology. Results revealed an overwhelming perception that problem gambling attracts acute public stigma and is publicly viewed as caused by personal failings. Participants had serious concerns about being viewed as ‘a problem gambler’, fearing demeaning stereotypes, social rejection, hostile responses and devaluing behaviours.

Source: Hing, N., Nuske, E., Gainsbury, S. M., & Russell, A. M. T. (2015). Perceived stigma and self-stigma of problem gambling: perspectives of people with gambling problems. International Gambling Studies, 0(0), 1–18. http://doi.org/10.1080/14459795.2015.1092566

Gender Differences in Felt Stigma and Barriers to Help-Seeking for Problem Gambling

Background: Men and women differ in their patterns of help-seeking for health and social problems. For people experiencing problem gambling, feelings of stigma may affect if and when they reach out for help. In this study we examine men’s and women’s perceptions of felt stigma in relation to help-seeking for problematic gambling.

Methods: Using Concept Mapping, we engaged ten men and eighteen women in group activities. We asked men and women about their perceptions of the pleasurable aspects and negative consequences of gambling; they generated a list of four hundred and sixteen statements. These statements were parsed for duplication and for relevance to the study focal question and reduced to seventy-three statements by the research team. We then asked participants to rate their perceptions of how much felt stigma (negative impact on one’s own or family’s reputation) inferred with help-seeking for gambling. We analyzed the data using a gender lens…

Source: Baxter, A., Salmon, C., Dufrense, K., Carasco-Lee, A., & Matheson, F. I. (n.d.). Gender Differences in Felt Stigma and Barriers to Help-Seeking for Problem Gambling. Addictive Behaviors Reports. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2015.10.001