BATON ROUGE- Similar to others with addictive disorders, those with compulsive or problem gambling disorders are at increased risk during difficult times. As Louisiana recovers from the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, health officials are taking steps to address this issue. 

To help raise awareness about Louisiana’s efforts to expand treatment and prevention of problem gambling, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has declared March 6-12 National Problem Gambling Awareness Week in Louisiana.

“Problem gambling was a serious health issue in our state prior to the hurricanes, and it has become an even bigger concern, since we know people who have addictive disorders are more prone to relapse when they are under a lot of personal stress, such as dealing with the loss of their homes, jobs or loved ones because of these natural disasters,” said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. 

The LDH Office for Addictive Disorders has recognized the needs of the shifting population and is planning to add intensive outpatient gambling services in the Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport and Jefferson Parish areas. 

“We know that before the recent hurricanes, there were as many as 126,000 problem and pathological gamblers in Louisiana who could benefit from services aimed at curbing their addiction,” said OAD Assistant Secretary Michael Duffy. “Now many of these people have probably relocated to other parts of the state, and we have taken steps to make sure our services are there to help them as needed.”

The state had to close CORE South, an inpatient gambling treatment center in New Orleans, because of Hurricane Katrina. However, OAD has plans to fund a halfway house specifically for people recovering from gambling addictions near the location of CORE: Center of Recovery in Shreveport to serve people from throughout the state.

In addition, the state offers a toll-free helpline (1-877-770-7867) that handles calls from people with gambling problems and a Web site aimed at the prevention of problem gambling in youth at http://www.thegamble.org/. 

For more information about gambling treatments available through the state, please visit www.dhh.lousiana.gov and http://www.laprobgam.org/.

-end-