Doctors join State Government to tackle problem gambling
The State Government is partnering the Australian Medical Association to urge more GPs to screen patients for a gambling addiction.
Communities and Social Inclusion Minister, Tony Piccolo, says general practitioners can play a vital role in helping problem gamblers.
"Problem gambling is a very damaging addiction and GPs are likely to be seeing patients who are affected," Mr Piccolo said.
"A large proportion of the community visits their doctor annually and problem gamblers often have other health issues like headaches, anxiety and depression.
"The GP might not know an underlying problem exists unless they ask.
"We know there are feelings of shame and stigma attached to this type of addiction, and that many problem gamblers will not volunteer this information. However, if their trusted GP asks them, it might be the first step toward rehabilitation."
The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion has a dedicated webpage for GPs with fact sheets and advice at www.problemgambling.sa.gov.au/professionals/gps
Australian Medical Association SA branch president, Dr Patricia Montanaro, said screening involves asking simple questions and would not take long.
"We know that GPs are busy but screening patients for problem gambling is a simple exercise," Dr Montanaro said.
"GPs regularly screen their patients for various health issues, and a quick question such as 'have you, or anyone in your family an issue with gambling?', as part of a routine assessment is not onerous and can open the door to much needed help."
Mr Piccolo said that for every problem gambler, many others including children, family and friends are affected.
"About 5500 people over the age of 18 suffer from problem gambling and for every one of them it is estimated that five to seven others are impacted," he said.
Gambling Helpline 24/7 Free Confidential: 1800 858 858
Online Gambling Help 24/7 Free Confidential: www.gamblinghelponline.org.au
Problem Gambling website: www.problemgambling.sa.gov.au