It is a rush. I am talking about that adrenaline rush you get when you hit a big hand on video poker or a slot machine pays off big or when the horse that you picked crossed under the wire first. It's that rush that gamblers look for, at least it's the rush I look for.

The good news for me is that I can find that similar kind of boost in other ways. Ways that won't destroy my financial security or become a threat to my way of life. For others in Louisiana that ability to "play responsibly" isn't so easy.

Executive Director of the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling Janet Miller recently told the Louisiana Radio Network that if you believe someone has a gambling problem there are some things you should be looking for.

Noticing changes in their behaviors, having a lot of financial issues and yet they seem to be working and working hard but they’re always in debt.

In my younger years, I certainly had several people in my circle that would have fit rather nicely into Ms. Miller's description.

What I believe is this, an addiction is an addiction. Whether it's gambling, alcohol, drugs, sex, the symptoms aren't exactly the same but the outcome usually winds up the same. In case you were wondering, I  know from personal experience.

This month, March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Unfortunately, as we observe this month we are seeing a rather large spike in compulsive or addictive gambling.  Janet Miller told LRN that in 2008  gambling addictions in Louisiana were at about the 2-3% mark.

And in 2016 that's up to 8.3% of people who say they have a problem. So that's a fairly dramatic jump.

There is a Problem Gamblers Hotline. If you want or need advice for yourself or for a friend simply call 1-800-770- STOP (7867). The person you'll speak to on the other end of the phone is not there to judge or reprimand you. They are there to help.

Asking for help may seem like a weakness. For someone like me who asked for help with my demons 20 years ago, it was the strongest and bravest thing I have ever done.

If you think you need help, you probably do. If you think a loved one needs help, they probably do.  If you think the person with the problem is going to fix it, they probably aren't. You need to step in. 

You're not badgering, nagging, or being a pain in the ass. You are simply showing how much you care. It's a lot better to be hated for a few months while someone gets their life in order. Than it is to head to the funeral home to say goodbye.  It seems to me that when a life is on the line, a phone call is a pretty easy thing to make.


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