In the past, mental health has been stigmatised, minimalised, and marginalised. Individuals have been made to feel like a lesser part of society. Change is afoot, and while there’s a long way still to go, the topic of mental health is no longer taboo in daily conversations. In most instances, admitting to others that you’re struggling is now likely to be met with understanding nods and empathetic sentiments.

However, certain mental health conditions continue to be largely misunderstood, resulting in those experiencing them feeling too guilty or ashamed to speak out and ask for help.

Addictions, like problematic gambling or substance use, still receive a lot of negative press with some holding the view that individuals suffering from them bring it on themselves. “They have a choice, why don’t they just stop?!”, is a comment we hear regularly at PsychMed.

Let’s put this view to bed; addiction is a complicated problem but engaging in the problematic behaviour is not a choice. Addictive disorders essentially involve a loss of control, as the individual continues to gamble or use despite realising the detrimental mental, emotional, financial, and even physical consequences to themselves and others.

The shame many feel because of others’ mistaken perceptions about addictive disorders can be a barrier to seeking the help that could reinstate their autonomy. If you think someone close to you may be struggling with addiction, consider approaching them without judgement or call one of these help lines to find out more about how you can help them.

  • Counselling Online – 1300 131 340 (SA) – www.counsellingonline.org.au
  • Family Drug Help (Self Help Addiction Resource Centre) – 1300 660 068 – www.sharc.org.au
  • Family Drug Support – 1300 368 186 – www.fds.org.au
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14 – www.lifeline.org.au
  • PsychMed’s Intensive Gambling Help Service – 8232 3333 – www.psychmed.com.au