23 Nov 20
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Addicted Australia - Episode 3

Trigger Warning: Some people in recovery may find watching some parts of Addicted Australia triggering, particularly in relation to gambling and trauma. You may want to seek support while watching if this is the case.

In this episode the participants are halfway through the treatment program. We check in on how they are and follow the ups and downs experienced by people in recovery.

Note: You can join the peer forum conversation about the episode here and see what Lucas, has to say about what it was like being involved.

Being tired

“It’s tiring to wake up every single day and that’s what you think about,” Heidi, 31, addicted to alcohol.

In this episode, addiction affects the mental health and wellbeing of some of the participants. It is normal for people to feel a range of emotions during their recovery journey, including grief, self-doubt, fear, anger and failure.

There is no single path to recovery

Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to managing addiction and people can experience an array of challenges on their way to recovery. It’s also important to understand that the process of making a change is not the same for everyone and treatment goals can vary, depending on where people are at. For some people success might be that they are staying engaged with treatment to keep working towards recovery, for others it can be maintaining sobriety, or reducing their use of alcohol, other drugs or gambling. People need to able to access support regardless of where they are at, or where they have been in their journey, to have the opportunity to manage their addiction.

Taking that first step to getting help should be celebrated

“It takes an enormous amount of bravery to accept that you have a problem that you’ve been struggling with for years, and taking that first step to getting help should be celebrated.” Professor Dan Lubman, Executive Clinical Director – Turning Point

Research has shown that people wait almost 20 years before getting help for their addiction, and that most people affected by addiction don’t access treatment and support. What stops people affected by addiction feeling able to ask for, and access the help they need is stigma and shame. This needs to change. Services like Gambling Help Online are here to help people take those first steps in making a change as well as being a support through their whole change journey.

Lapse and relapse

It is common for people recovering from addiction to go through periods of lapse and relapse and that finding ways to maintain changes can be really important. During the peer support group, Oscar explains that people will often experience lapse and relapse during the Christmas and New Year period, when there is a lot going on and people are feeling added pressure. It is important to remember that lapse and relapse are not signs of weakness or failure, and rather can be an opportunity to recognise individual triggers and vulnerabilities to learn strategies to better manage these in future. It’s crucial to understand that people who experience lapse and relapse can overcome these obstacles and are able to continue with their recovery as planned.

“It is not a surprise if there is a relapse or a slip up, or if someone ends up in a rough spot again, because that is just the nature of it,” Oscar, Peer Support Worker.

The link between trauma and addiction

“It’s not heroin that I want treated, it’s my depression. It’s what’s behind the addiction,” Keegan, 30, addicted to heroin.

Trauma is a common underlying factor among people affected by addiction. Keegan’s substance use has been a way for him to cope with things that have happened in his past. Sometimes, for people with lived experience of trauma, there is a risk of them engaging in self-harm as a means of numbing their pain.

“One of the things that is most misunderstood about addiction is that it’s not just purely about the alcohol, drugs or gambling. What’s core to everyone we see is often a story of trauma or a story of mental health, and I think that’s something the broader community doesn’t understand,” Professor Dan Lubman, Executive Clinical Director, Turning Point.

Treatments for gambling

Many people will be surprised to know that there are a range of treatment options available for people with a gambling addiction, including prescribed medication. As we see with Lucas, part of his treatment program includes being prescribed a medication called naltrexone to help him manage his gambling addiction. Naltrexone is a drug that has been shown to be effective in reducing cravings. However, it is very important to consult with your doctor to be aware of side effects and how different medications and dosages can affect you.

“Like we have medications for the treatment of heroin addiction and alcohol addiction, similarly we can use medications that have shown to be effective in the treatment of gambling addiction,” Professor Dan Lubman, Executive Clinical Director, Turning Point.

We hope you found episode three of Addicted Australia to be empowering and insightful. If you would like to help us change the conversation about addiction you can join the #Rethink Addiction campaign.

About addiction

If you watched the documentary and are concerned about your gambling or that of someone close to you, check out our resources or even take a self-assessment.

You may like to find out a bit more about where gambling problems start and the impacts of gambling.

Remember if you or anyone you know is affected by addiction and need support, help is available:

For support relating to sexual assault, domestic or family violence call 1800 737 732 or 1800 RESPECT.

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