Addiction specialist discusses recovery after Sen. Karen Carter Peterson resigns

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 10:14 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Longtime State Lawmaker, Karen Carter Peterson, abruptly resigned her seat today in order to focus on her recovery from gambling addiction and depression.

Peterson hasn’t made it a secret, it’s been a struggle she’s dealt with her entire legislative career that spans more than two decades.

“I want you to know that this addiction and this disease is insidious, many people suffer from it. The highest rate of suicide from all addictions,” Peterson said Thursday.

In an emotional speech before leading prayer from the Senate dais Thursday, Peterson may have been hinting at her Friday resignation.

“Over the last few years I’ve participated in successfully and received in-patient and outpatient treatment,” Peterson said.

Peterson said in a statement, “I must place all of my energy on my mental health and personal well-being, and therefore have tendered my resignation effective immediately.”

“I’m thrilled that someone in her position can bring attention to this, not only that it is a real addiction, of course, and the consequences are great but she’s also focusing on the recovery aspect which is huge,” Felicia Kleinpeter, CEO of Imagine Recovery said.

Kleinpeter says a gambling addiction is one of the hardest to overcome and there is still stigma hurting the millions who struggle with addiction. So Peterson’s openness can help others not feel isolated.

“We hear a lot about alcohol and drugs, right? Overdoses and people dying of alcoholism and car crashes and all that, but to bring awareness to process addiction, like gambling addiction, which can be just as debilitating just as harmful,” Kleinpeter said.

She says with the ease and accessibility of gambling and gaming today, it’s hard to turn away and the consequences can be more instant and harmful than drugs or drinking.

“I know of people who have died by suicide because they’ve gambled their children’s college funds away or can’t make the rent,” Kleinpeter said. “That hopelessness, how am I ever going to get back on track? How am I ever going to make this right?”

Kleinpeter says devoting time like Peterson to focus on recovery is the greatest thing someone can do for themselves because it is a process. Peterson says she’s struggled with this for her entire legislative career.

“There are a lot of very successful very educated, accomplished doctors, lawyers, pilots, congressmen, whatever, who have a lot of stress,” Kleinpeter said. “As people, we have stress and stress is something that is the real trigger for wanting to lapse back into those behaviors. So, her focusing on her recovery is really really admirable and it’s the greatest gift you can give to herself and people who love her.”

Peterson says she will continue to help others avoid the devastation, guilt, shame, and pain of this insidious disease.

She asks for prayers as she continues her journey of recovery and redemption.

RELATED STORY: Sen. Karen Carter Peterson calls it quits and resigns from the legislature

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