Gambling addicts get help at center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ferriday &8212; A state-funded center is hoping to reach out to Miss-Lou gambling addicts, offering them the help they need.

Counselor Edward Lytle of region six office in Pineville, La., was assigned to give group and individual therapy sessions at the Avoyelles Gambling Recovery Center office in Ferriday Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

&8220;I asked to be assigned to Concordia Parish because I lived here for a time and because I believe there is a huge need for gambling recovery in the Miss-Lou,&8221; Lytle said.

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The recovery center is state funded and offers inpatient gambling recovery treatment based on a person&8217;s income, Lytle said.

Lytle said the center offers a number of different ways to help those on the road to recovery including helping clients get their finances back in order, help with self-exclusion by calling casino operators and advising them about a patient and applying the 12-step recovery program though Gamblers Anonymous.

&8220;For our patients, abstinence seems to be the only route they can take, and so we preach that,&8221; Lytle said.

Lytle said there are several reasons why people develop a habit of gambling and that the age range is broader than any other addiction.

&8220;The gambling addict differs from the drug addict because gambling is legal,&8221; Lytle said.

&8220;Even sports betting, even though it&8217;s considered illegal, is part of our culture.&8221;

One reason Lytle gave for gamblers to develop an addiction is because they have a lonely home life.

&8220;You see this all the time with elderly people in casinos,&8221; Lytle said.

&8220;They turn to the games like slot machines like they are

a friend and because all the sounds they make when they go off are exciting.&8221;

Lytle also said gambling is beginning to affect younger people.

Lytle said he notices that a lot of participants in the World Series of Poker are college students.

&8220;I think kids see the glamorous and thrilling life these guys lead on TV and think anyone could do it,&8221; Lytle said.

Lytle said he has talked with pastors and church leaders in the parish and hopes to gain the support of local law enforcement and the courts to refer patients to the center.

&8220;I haven&8217;t really locked a core group in Ferriday but I hope with the help of town leaders and courts we can really get the program going,&8221; Lytle said.

Lytle meets patients in Ferriday every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at 112 Tennessee Ave., next to the fire station.

For more information contact Edward Lytle at (318) 487-5190 or the Avoyelles Gambling Recovery Center 24-hour hotline at (318) 308-6207.