Family, friends, co-workers, society — all face strain when someone struggles with an addiction to gambling.

Problem gambling, an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or desire to stop, continues to plague Louisiana. As many as 280,000 Louisiana adults may be involved in problem gambling, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health.

In tandem with National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, Gov. John Bel Edwards has proclaimed March 2019 as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Louisiana. The month-long observance promotes awareness of the resources available to those experiencing problems with gambling.

The 2016 study conducted by the Office of Behavioral Health shows gambling spans all ages, genders and races in Louisiana.

          ? An estimated 5.4 percent of Louisiana’s adult population is at risk for addiction.
          ? About 2.9 percent of Louisiana adults are pathological gamblers.
          ? Calls to the toll-free Problem Gamblers Helpline show 56 percent of callers are men and 44 percent 
             are women.
          ? Most of the callers identified themselves as either Caucasian (49 percent) or African American 
             (47 percent).

Financial problems overwhelmingly are the events that spark the helpline calls, followed by marital or family problems and mental health problems.

“Thousands of Louisianans struggle with the hidden addiction that is problem gambling, but they don’t have to struggle alone. From helplines, to counseling and treatment programs, to residential treatment, the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health provides a variety of free resources to our residents,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary. “Problem Gambling Awareness Month affords us a wonderful opportunity to highlight these resources and to urge anyone affected by problem gambling to seek assistance.”

Signs of a gambling problem include: 

          ? Lying to loved ones about gambling activity
          ? Deterioration of work performance 
          ? Trouble concentrating 
          ? Missing deadlines and important responsibilities 
          ? Worrying about mounting debts and inability to pay them

“When you can’t stop gambling, it’s time to seek help,” said Karen Stubbs, assistant secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health. “Gambling can cause serious problems with finances, relationships and more. The Office of Behavioral Health is here to provide assistance, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime if you’re a resident of Louisiana.”

Louisiana offers multiple resources to support gamblers and their families. Counseling and treatment programs are available at no cost to Louisiana residents including the country’s premiere residential treatment facility, The Center of Recovery (CORE), located in Shreveport.

If you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling, hope and help is available anytime. Call or text the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline toll free at 1-877-770-STOP (7867) or chat live at