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The ‘Merry-Go-Round’ of Habitual Relapse: A Qualitative Study of Relapse in Electronic Gaming Machine Problem Gambling

1
PsychMed, Wellbeing and Recovery Research Institute—WARRI, Monash Addiction Research Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, 5000 Adelaide, Australia
2
Flinders Human Behaviour and Health Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Flinders University, 5042 Adelaide, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2858; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162858
Received: 17 June 2019 / Revised: 26 July 2019 / Accepted: 8 August 2019 / Published: 10 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intergenerational Effects of Psychosocial Factors on Health)
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Abstract

Background: Our understanding of gambling relapse is limited despite the damaging consequences affecting many aspects of the gambler’s life. Paradoxically, regardless of these negative consequences problem gamblers (PGs) continue to relapse, seemingly unable to stop this cycle of harm. This paper addresses the phenomenon of repeated gambling relapse shedding some insights into why gamblers continue to relapse. Methods: The study comprised of (n = 54) participants purposefully selected who participated in either 1 of 5 focus groups (n = 35) or in-depth interviews (n = 19). The new knowledge obtained was from PGs, significant others, and workers with direct experience of gambling relapse. Interview recordings were analysed using thematic, textual analysis. Results: The avoidance of negative emotions from the consequences of the destructive behaviour associated with repeated relapse leads to a hopeless “merry-go-round”. Once on this “merry go round”, relapse becomes a habitual way of life where behaviour change and learning from the devastation of a gambling relapse is challenging. Exiting this cycle means PGs must face the consequences of their gambling which for many is overwhelming, and relapse is a way to avoid despair. Conclusions: These findings provide insights into relapse which has implications for gamblers seeking treatment, assessment and treatment “drop-outs”. View Full-Text
Keywords: problem gambling; relapse; focus group; in-depth interviews; despair; gambling harms; negative emotions problem gambling; relapse; focus group; in-depth interviews; despair; gambling harms; negative emotions
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Oakes, J.; Pols, R.; Lawn, S. The ‘Merry-Go-Round’ of Habitual Relapse: A Qualitative Study of Relapse in Electronic Gaming Machine Problem Gambling. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2858.

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