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McNeese Gambling Treatment Program

McNeese Gambling Treatment Program

(March 27, 2017) March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Have the Conversation.”

Since 2003, the McNeese State University Gambling Treatment Program has reached out to educate the general public about the warning signs of problem gambling and to raise awareness about help available locally through radio, TV and billboards.

“We are trying to combat the stigma attached to problem gambling and make the public aware of McNeese’s Gambling Treatment Program,” according to Mari Harris, an addiction counselor with the program.
Gambling addiction counseling

The primary intention of the gambling treatment program was to conduct research in this particular area of addiction.

Since then, it has grown to be the only on-campus counseling service offered to anyone - free of charge - on a Louisiana campus with treatment services conducted by specifically trained counselors, using evidence-based treatment strategies.

“The McNeese Gambling Treatment Program has been delivering free gambling treatment for problem gamblers and their families for more than 15 years,” notes Harris.

According to some studies, 5 percent of the population suffers from problem gambling. “That means roughly 3,700 people in Lake Charles are putting their livelihood at risk every day in truck stops, bars, casinos or in online gaming,” says Harris.  

She said people feel there’s a stigma attached to gambling addiction and gambling problems. “But this is a problem that transcends race, gender, age or level of income.”

Despite the national awareness campaign during March, most clients come in by word of mouth. “It speaks volumes to me that so many of our clients tell others about us,” she states. “That tells me we’re making progress.”

“It’s not admitting a weakness,” adds Jimmy Trahan, another counselor in the program. “It actually shows a real inner strength when you can admit you have a problem controlling your gambling behavior.”

Harris says that people who receive treatment often stop gambling and experience improvement in depression, anxiety and worry. However, many times a problem gambler isn't ready to make a change.

“McNeese’s gambling treatment program is using an intervention called the Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training that helps families learn to motivate their loved ones to make changes, which increases the chances the problem gambler will come into treatment,” explains Harris. “CRAFT is a positive, supportive approach that protects family relationships because it doesn't use confrontation.”

For more information about problem gambling and the McNeese program, call 337-475-5964 or visit online at