Maureen Michael Joins Prescott House
Maureen Michael has a great life. She works in a career field she’s passionate about, she enjoys exciting hobbies and she loves spending time with her husband, her children and her grandbabies. She earned her bachelor’s degree a few years back and is now working on both a master’s degree and a professional certificate. She takes time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the northern Arizona town she calls home.
And, most importantly, she’s in a much better place than she was 10 years ago.
Maureen, who goes by Mo, battled an addiction to gambling for many years until she began her recovery on March 27, 2007. Since that date, she has not once gambled or touched alcohol or illegal drugs. And now, as a counselor in the addiction recovery field, she helps other people overcome their addiction to gambling and turn their own lives around.
Mo isn’t shy about sharing the story of her former life as a person addicted to gambling, because she knows that her experience helps her relate to and coach her clients. She has good ideas about what works for kicking the addiction because she’s been there.
“An important part of recovery is redirecting the person’s energy and focus from a risky activity like gambling to some kind of healthier habit,” says Mo. “Sometimes I’ll have a client go home and cook a three-course meal, or I’ll take them out hiking in the dells. I want them to start channeling some new interests and beginning to do other things that get them excited.”
Mo knows from her own experience and from her work in the field that people who are addicted to gambling have a particularly hard time recognizing and admitting they have a problem.
“It’s a pretty insidious disease,” she says. “I think in a lot of ways it’s harder to recover from than other forms of addiction. I’ve heard from every single one of my clients that gambling is so much harder to get over than alcohol or drugs.”
The main reason for that, Mo says, is that people addicted to gambling, even if they do recognize that they have a problem, see only one possible solution to their gambling problem: more gambling.
“As gamblers, we think our problem is monetary. But it’s not,” she says. “Our problem is gambling. And we have it in our minds that the only way to resolve the issue of a losing streak is to keep gambling until we hit a winning streak. And then everything will be fine.”
Mo says the road to recovery is different for alcoholics, though: alcoholics, if they realize they have a problem, know that the way to resolve the issue of drinking too much and/or too often is to stop drinking—even if that’s not something they are ready to admit.
“For people addicted to gambling, the drug of choice is money. And obviously we can’t just choose not to be around that “drug”,” Mo says. “So part of my job as a counselor is to help the person recognize and draw on their strengths and other interests so money can become less and less of a central focus of their life.”
Mo has been working in the addiction recovery field since 2008. This month, she joined the counseling staff at Prescott House addiction recovery center in Prescott, Arizona, where she will specialize in gambling addiction counseling. She’ll work with clients in both a process-group setting and in individual financial counseling sessions. The gambling recovery program lasts between six and nine months, which includes intensive residential treatment for three to six months followed by three months of continuing care.
Mo knows firsthand the hardships that a gambling addiction can create in a person’s life and in the lives of their family and friends. Even though she’s nine years “off the bet” (as we say in the recovery industry), the feelings of despair and desperation are still fresh in her mind.
“Gambling addiction is devastating,” she says. “And it leads a lot of people to suicidal thoughts or actions. So many of my clients have told me that they have had serious thoughts of wanting to ram their car into a wall as they drove away from the casino after a losing streak. Usually gamblers don’t seek treatment until they can no longer figure out a way to get out, when the financial devastation becomes bigger than our need to keep gambling.”
If you or a loved one has a problem with gambling, know this: there is a way out. Recovery is possible. Take it from someone who knows.
Contact Prescott House today to learn how Mo and the rest of our counselors and support staff can help you get on the road to recovery.