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Gambling and how it affects the brain

When we have a gambling win, the brain releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine.

But when we gamble often, our brain gets used to the dopamine, which makes that winning feeling difficult to achieve. Consequently, we may have to gamble more and more to feel the same level of pleasure.

Some gambling products, like pokies and roulette, make us feel like we’re winning, even when we’re not. This encourages us to keep gambling to try to recapture that winning feeling.

Dr Jared Cooney Horvath is a neuroscientist at the University of Melbourne. He explains all this and more in these videos.

How gambling changes the brain

How gambling can trick the brain

The brain constantly changes as we learn, creating associations and establishing patterns. This means it is never too late for us to change our brain.

Learn more in these videos

How can I change my brain?

Is it too late to change?

What are your experiences of gambling? Sharing stories with others can be helpful for them and for you. We’d love to hear your story.

Share your story

Dr Gabriele Byrne retrained her brain and changed her relationship with gambling. She shares her story here.

View video transcript

We understand how gambling affects the brain and encourage anyone who needs help to access our free, therapeutic counselling and support.

Call 1800 858 858 – 24/7 for immediate support or to book a free and confidential session.

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Help yourself

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Follow these practical tips to help ensure that gambling doesn't sneak up on you.

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Families and friends

If someone close to you is experiencing harm from gambling, we can help you.

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