What’s in the Handouts?

In the handouts, you will find answers to five different questions about problem gambling and the brain. These questions are:

  1. How is problem gambling like an addiction to alcohol or drugs from my brain’s point of view?
  2. Why do people keep gambling even when it’s not fun anymore? 
  3. Why is it hard to say ‘no’ to a gambling urge?
  4. Since I’ve stopped gambling, why does nothing else feel fun?
  5. Why do people sometimes switch from gambling to another addiction?

Each handout has four parts: 

  • a summary of the research to answer these questions
  • an activity to help you understand the information in the handout
  • a discussion question to encourage you to think about how the information might personally apply
  • a take-home message summarizing the main ideas in the handout

How Can the Handouts Help Me?

There are many benefits to understanding how the brain is affected by problem gambling, This information can:

  • Be comforting, especially if you feel like your brain is on ‘auto pilot’ or working against your goals
  • Help you prevent a relapse. You will learn about traps to avoid such as substitutions and high-risk situations that lead to strong urges
  • Prepare you, because you will know what to expect from the brain as it heals from an addictive behaviour
  • Make it easier to understand this complex problem 
  • Give you confidence that you are reading information from trustworthy sources 
  • Give you hope that healing the brain is possible and empower you to begin that process 

Does This Information Apply to Addictions Other Than Gambling?

Though the information and the research used to write these handouts comes mainly from the field of problem gambling, many of the concepts can apply to other addictions as well. If you are in counselling, your counsellor can help you see how this information applies to alcohol, drugs or other kinds of addictions.

Where Does the Information in the Booklet Come From?

The handouts and video were created by the team of Dr. Iris Balodis (a researcher in problem gambling and neurobiology working at the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research) and Deirdre Querney (a Registered Social Worker and Certified Problem Gambling Counsellor working at Alcohol, Drug & Gambling Services) in the City of Hamilton. Brain Connections was funded by the Gambling Research Exchange of Ontario (GREO). The research was selected based on both its recency and influence to ensure that you are reading the most accurate information that is available. The references are included in the handouts in case you want to look at the original studies. 

Where Can I Get More Information on Problem Gambling?

If you are looking for more information about problem gambling, please visit This site has a variety of articles, information and self-help tools for those who are affected by problem gambling.