Monday, Aug. 14, 2017

GAMBLING

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The invisible addiction

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” author Mark Twain wrote.

In Louisiana we talk about gambling but not always about the problems some people are having with their gambling.

The Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling (LACG) has decided to “have the conversation” about gambling and what we can do about it.

Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself, or someone you care about: “Have you ever lied to people about how much you gamble? Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money? Have you had to get help from family or friends for financial trouble?”

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, we think it’s time for you to talk to us at LACG. We challenge you to look around – you may know someone struggling with financial problems: They seem to be working hard, but can’t ever seem to stay ahead of their bills.

What about that person that used to be involved with your family or friends? You know the one, who seems to be cheerful, yet distant, saying all the right things, yet doesn’t follow through with their commitments.

How about the co-worker that borrows money from others, or always talks about money, but doesn’t ever seem to have any? I’m sure you know him or her. He could be your Dad or Mom, husband, wife, brother, sister or best friend. He works long hours, but doesn’t seem to have money to pay his bills. He’s respected by his family and friends, yet acts in ways that he knows isn’t the best for his family with money. He’s able to give good advice about business practices or money managing skills, but isn’t able to live by the same sound advice. He never looks like an addict to anyone.

Often, someone who has gambling problems seems to exhibit “fantasy or magical thinking”; this is a loss or disconnect to their reality in life. “It’ll be OK today. I’ll get that money back into my savings and then pay that loan off. Might even get a better paying job soon. I can’t believe that everyone is so upset with me about the bills. I’m OK … I just need to make more money.” Most days he never thought he had a problem either.

“Janet, wouldn’t it be great if we could see it, smell it or drug test for it?” This is often the statement from family and friends I’ve heard over the years.

Gambling problems which can lead to an addiction are what we refer to as the “invisible addiction.” You cannot look at people and tell they suffer with it: struggling daily with it, trying to move money around so no one sees the losses, or covering up their deep depression due to it.

Recently, a woman wrote to me and said this: “My head and my life were in such darkness, it was as if life was happening all around me, and I was just breathing because that came natural. I had decided that I would put an end to that natural process if I didn’t get help, the kind that would change me. I found that help. I went to CORE.”

CORE is a confidential residential treatment facility for Louisiana adult residents to receive help for their gambling problems at no cost. No insurance needed, no co-pay, no referral – just call 1-877-587-LACG (5224) and talk to the intake specialist. They can determine with you what type of services you need. If you’re in the Shreveport/Bossier area, LACG can provide outpatient counseling for you and your family, if CORE is not the best option for you. If you want to ask questions about gambling, have a free assessment or receive information about all the help in Louisiana available to you, then call 1-877-770-STOP.

We also provide an online chat www.helpforgambling.org or texting through our 1-877-770-STOP. LACG has helped over 1.5 million Helpline callers and over 4,500 people in treatment to reach successful changes.

Janet Miller has been the executive director for the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling (LACG) since 2014 and served as deputy executive director beginning in 2008. Previously, Miller was the program director for the Center of Recovery (CORE). From 1985-1999, she worked with Charter Hospitals in substance dependence inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. She has a private counseling practice working with addictions and co-occurring disorders since 1987.

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