To help raise awareness about services available for Louisiana residents who are experiencing problems with gambling, Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared March 4-10 Problem Gambling Awareness Week.
According to a 2008 study the Department of Health - Office of Behavioral Health conducted, problem gambling is a serious health issue facing approximately 99,000 Louisiana residents and their families. Research has shown that children of problem gamblers often experience abuse and neglect as a result of parental problem gambling. Half of compulsive gamblers have abused their spouses. Problem gambling can cause individuals to commit crimes to pay their debts. Additionally, research shows that one in five problem gamblers have attempted suicide. Problem gamblers often maintain outward appearances while continuing to gamble.
"Compulsive gamblers often don't exhibit outward signs of addiction, but they suffer the same social, family and financial challenges as those who struggle with drugs and alcohol," said LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "Like we tell individuals to own their own physical health, the same applies to those facing addiction. Louisiana has some of the best treatment programs in the country to help problem gamblers. Recognize your condition, seek help and live a better, fuller life."
The state offers a range of counseling and treatment programs for problem and compulsive gambling at no cost to Louisiana residents. Louisiana was among the first states to have a publicly-funded residential treatment center for compulsive gamblers, called CORE (Center of Recovery), in Shreveport. Since it opened in 1999, CORE has treated more than 3,000 compulsive gamblers. The state's toll-free helpline handled more than 1,700 "intake calls" or direct requests for help last fiscal year. Louisiana also has a website aimed at preventing problem gambling among youth, http://www.thegamble.org/. For more information about problem gambling, please call the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline at 1-877-770-STOP (7867) or visit http://www.helpforgambling.org/.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.