The Brain Connections Clinical Handouts provide:

  • More in-depth answers than in the BE Briefs!
  •  A tool for clinicians to use for therapeutic purposes

Here, 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?

This enhanced version of the handouts has four parts: 

  • a summary of the research to answer these questions
  • an activity that highlights key points in the handout  
  • discussion questions to help you apply the information 
  • a take-home message summarizing the main ideas

How Can the Handouts Help Me?

There are many benefits to understanding how the brain is affected by problem gambling. This Clinical Handouts can:

  • Be comforting to people who feel like their brains are on ‘autopilot’ or working against their goals
  • Help prevent relapses. You will learn about traps to avoid such as substitutions and high-risk situations that lead to strong urges
  • Educate people about how addiction alters the brain
  • Make it easier to understand this complex problem 
  • Inspire confidence because the information comes from trustworthy sources 
  • Give hope that change is possible
  • Empower people to take those first steps towards change 

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. A counsellor can help advise how this information applies to alcohol, drugs or other kinds of addictions.

Who Is Behind Brain Connections?

Brain Connections was 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 originally funded by the Gambling Research Exchange of Ontario (GREO). The research was selected based on both its recency and impact. The references for the original studies are also included in the handouts. 

Where Can I Get More Information on Problem Gambling?

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.