Flash-Back Friday and a Guest Article Re-Share of My Dear Recovery Supporter and Friend, Author Marilyn. She Shared Her Story In The NY Times …

Flash-Back Friday and a Guest Article Re-Share of My Dear Recovery Supporter and Friend, Author Marilyn. She Shared Her Story In The NY Times …

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I wanted to re-share this post, article, and my dear friend Marilyn Lancelot who has authored several books about her gambling addiction and road maintaining recovery long-term. She has been such a help and support to me since moving to Arizona 6-years ago from Southern Oregon. When I need a should to lean on or an ear to listen, Marilyn is always there when I call. It may not sound like much, but when you are maintaining recovery from a cunning disease like ours? Just a phone call means the world to me and in knowing I am not alone. I hope you find something from this post to use in your path to being and staying BET FREE . . .  ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate

“Author and Advocate, Marilyn Lancelot, 86, said that after being a compulsive gambler for seven years, she was arrested at age 61 for embezzling $350,000 from her job and served nearly a year in prison.”

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New York Times – “Fighting Compulsive Gambling Among Women”
by:   APRIL 28, 2017.
(Photo Courtesy Deanna Alejandra Dent for The New York Times.

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Blinking lights, the clicking sound of coins, and perks like free or inexpensive food, drinks, and casino bus trips are enticing many older women to gamble.

For some people, that seductive environment can be extremely dangerous.

“Casinos are trained to make you feel welcome, while you lose your life,” said Sandra Adell, 70, a literature professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who recounted her experiences as a compulsive gambler in the book “Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen.” In an interview, Professor Adell said that advertisements aimed at older adults often show smiling people, dressed up and looking glamorous, “to create an illusion that plays to people’s weaknesses.”

“What the industry is doing,” she continued, “the way it markets and keeps casinos filled with elderly people, is morally reprehensible.”

Hard numbers are difficult to find, but Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said that gambling addiction among older women near or in retirement appears to be increasing in scope and severity, with a devastating impact on personal finances.

Marilyn Lancelot, 86, of Sun City, Ariz., for example, said that after being a compulsive gambler for seven years, she was arrested at age 61 for embezzling $350,000 from her job and served nearly a year in prison. “I really thought I’d win the big one deep down in my heart,” she said in an interview. “Every gambler says that.” Ms. Lancelot has described her experiences in the book “Gripped by Gambling.”

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Product Details

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Many experts say that men are often “action” gamblers, who favor blackjack and poker, while women tend to be “escape” gamblers, drawn to games based on luck, like slot machines and lottery tickets. Women often begin gambling later in life than men, sometimes after a major life event, like the death of a spouse or when they become empty nesters.

Women are less likely to develop gambling problems than men, Mr. Whyte said, but “telescoping, the rapid development of problems, is especially pronounced in senior women.” It may seem surprising to some people that women have severe gambling problems, he said. “Grandma is not seen as someone who embezzles money and is taken off to jail,” he said, yet it happens.

Many women lose significant amounts of money and jeopardize their futures. “Once they tap into retirement savings, it’s incredibly hard — if they are ever able — to rebuild those savings,” Mr. Whyte said.

Stephanie Iacopino, 63, of Toms River, N.J., who works part-time in retail sales, said that during years of compulsive gambling, she stole money from family members, friends, and clients in the travel business, and ultimately went to prison in 2010 for embezzling about $18,000 from her church.

She said she served nearly four months at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women near Clinton, N.J., followed by 22 months in New Jersey’s Intensive Supervision Program, which, the state says, is “more onerous” than traditional probation. “We don’t have a nest egg,” said Ms. Iacopino, who is married. “We live paycheck to paycheck.” But she said that while she is struggling financially, she is happy to be recovering from her addiction.

Some women have medical issues associated with gambling, Mr. Whyte said, like bladder problems aggravated by not getting up from slot machines to go to the bathroom. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that among older people, some medications may lead to compulsive behavior, including a gambling addiction. Decreased cognitive functioning can also interfere with the ability to make sound decisions, he added.

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There is a strong connection between gambling and substance abuse. “If you are a problem gambler, you are four times more likely to have a problem with alcohol at some point in your life,” he said. “At a minimum, the rate of problem gambling among people with substance-use disorders is four to five times that found in the general population.” (The council operates a national 24/7 help line for problem gamblers and their families.)

Patricia A. Healy, clinical director of Healy Counseling Associates, in Toms River, N.J., which specializes in addiction counseling, said problem gambling among the elderly “is a hot issue and under-noticed in this country.”

“Gambling is the stepchild of the addiction world,” she said. “You can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you can’t observe it,” unless you see someone in action.

For certain people, she said, there is an adrenaline rush and “suddenly they’re in the chase. Sadly for some, it’s a death spiral.” Bus trips to casinos are sometimes arranged to coincide with the arrival of pension and Social Security checks, she said, and cases of retirees who cash in their I.R.A.s and pensions, or mortgage or ultimately lose their houses are not uncommon.

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“There is a tremendous amount of shame.”

Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said some older people gamble with money intended for medication and find themselves in desperate straits. Some who become suicidal may “drive out in traffic and get killed so families can collect insurance,” she said.

Sam Skolnik, author of “High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America’s Gambling Addiction,” said the aftereffects of pathological gambling include social costs that range from loss of productivity at work, domestic crime, suicide and harm to families from rising indebtedness, home foreclosure, and bankruptcy. “When the elderly gamble, they are often harmed in a more permanent way, sadly,” he said.

“There’s no question the industry knows that they lose more money than they should.”

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It's Not Just a Penny Slot Machine: Gambling Addiction in Seniors

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Sara Slane, senior vice president for public affairs at the American Gaming Association, which represents casinos, said in an email statement, “While problem gambling has not increased along with the increase in casinos, the industry and the A.G.A. continue to increase their investment and commitment to responsible gaming programs.”

She cited research in The Journal of Gambling Studies that compared telephone surveys conducted in 1999 and 2000 with those from 2011 to 2013 and found that rates of problem gambling remained stable overall and actually declined among women.

Rachel Volberg, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, who studies gambling, said the state of knowledge about the issue in the United States is still inadequate.

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“There’s not much support for gambling research in the U.S.,” she said.

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It wasn’t until 1980 that pathological gambling was designated as a mental health issue in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, she said: “It’s a relatively young disorder as far as having recognition.”

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Ms. Lancelot, of Arizona, who is now retired, said she left prison with nothing but eventually recovered financially. As a felon, getting a job and an apartment was difficult, but she borrowed three months’ rent from her brother, offered to pay the landlord in advance and found work as a secretary with the Arizona state government. Within 10 years, she said, she had two homes, a new car and checking accounts. “I want older people to know that it’s not the end of the world,” she said.

Ms. Pryor, of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said older adults can protect themselves from potential gambling problems in retirement by seeking help in managing their finances — and in planning how to spend their time — long before they stop working.

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“What people need to realize,” she said, “is, they may win a little, but ultimately, the house always wins.”

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Another Holiday Guest Article. The Meyer Family Support Him As Media Spins His Gambling Addiction & Prison.

Happy Holidays and Welcome Recovery Friends,

 

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So The Media Portrays a Father and Husband  Like THIS:

 

“Day of Reckoning for Crooked Accountant”

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“A Long Island accountant may spend up to 13 years in prison for stealing a total of nearly $800,000 from clients, including some victims who were ill or disabled.”

Scott Meyer, 48, of Seaford, is a former partner of the Johnson and Meyer accounting firm in Huntington. He was sentenced in Suffolk County court to serve four and one-third to 13 years in prison Tuesday. Meyer had pleaded guilty to 24 criminal counts, including grand larceny, in March.

“By carefully choosing his victims to prey on their vulnerabilities, he used his skill as an accountant to steal over $800 thousand dollars and kept the thefts undetected for over five years,” said Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.” Following his conviction earlier this year, an attorney reportedly blamed Meyer’s behavior on a gambling addiction caused by a brain lesion.”

 

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So, the Meyer Family have come together to support Scott and his recovery from gambling addiction this holiday season with the fine folks and excellent resources of the National Council on Problem Gambling. It is why I chose them as my guest article. It’s important to know “the other side” of this story, not just what the news media spins.

They want to advocate that this can happen to anyone. That includes myself as I shared my criminal and consequences of my of my own “stupid thinking and choices” in my book. And yes, I paid high consequences like Scott but didn’t go to prison as he did. Here is what The Meyer Family want you to know about Scott, how many are supporting Scott in prison, and the folks of the national council are helping him and the family through this loss from addicted gambling and giving to them support through Holidays .  .  .  .

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THE MEYER FAMILY SHARES THEIR STORY TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT GAMBLING ADDICTION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
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Kim Meyer and her five children live in a small Long Island community, in the home where she and her high school sweetheart/husband Scott built a full and happy life together over the last 27 years. They co-funded a business, Scott coached the kids’ sports teams, and both were involved in their community, schools, and church. Scott is now serving a 4½ – 13-year prison sentence for grand larceny and forgery, for using clients’ funds to chase more than $500,000 in gambling losses.

With New York state recently legalizing online gambling and preparing to build several new casinos in 2017, Kim has decided to go public with their private nightmare, to help raise awareness about gambling addiction and reduce the stigma that persists – lessons she and her family learned through painful personal experience.

Kim’s daughters created this video to raise awareness and let their dad know how much they love and support him.

As Kim tells it, Scott began gambling many years ago for fun, as the vast majority of people do without any negative consequences. For Scott, the fun quickly escalated to a problem. He exhibited symptoms of pathological gambling – symptoms that often go unnoticed by family and friends.

Mayer family

 

“Unfortunately, gambling is rarely viewed as a disease in society, as drug and alcohol are,” says Kim. “Instead it is seen as a moral issue and a choice. The criminal justice system is ill informed and prosecutors refused to consider gambling addiction as the explanation for how a smart, loving, hard-working man could sabotage his life and that of his family.”

After Scott was arrested, his doctor recommended a neurological workup, complete with MRI’s. He was found to have bilateral white matter brain tumors, which cause behavioral and cognitive changes such as poor insight, lack of impulse control and poor judgment.

“Further proof that addiction is not a choice, not a character flaw, and not a moral issue,” Kim notes. “In spite of an addiction and underlying brain impairment, Scott went to jail. We are lost without him.”  Scott primarily gambled at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, and from 2008 to 2013, he lost in excess of $300,000 on slot machines there alone. No casino staff discussed his high losses and other behaviors with him or contacted his family. Instead, they continue to send him promotional mailings with special offers to draw him back.

“To be clear: I am in no way suggesting that Mohegan Sun is responsible for my husband’s gambling disorder, or his physical disability,” says Kim. “What I would like to see, however, is for casinos to use a very small amount of their profits to help raise awareness and to protect others by instituting some simple safeguards, such as:

  • Use casino reward card tracking systems, not just to make offers to entice gamblers to continue gambling, but to identify problem gamblers and reach out to them and their families;
  • Work with gaming industry leaders and state and national gambling prevention groups to create state certification programs that train casino employees to recognize problem gamblers, to identify people who are obviously in trouble, and to offer assistance. As a bartender is required to stop serving a problem drinker, so too should casino employees know when to intervene;
  • Take identified problem gamblers like Scott off their promotional mailing lists;
    Provide 1% – 2% of their profits to support organizations that offer treatment and other assistance for problem gamblers and their families.

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    In spite of extensive evidence of his medical problems and his addiction; being in treatment and rehabilitation for two years; having a new job with a boss willing to testify on his behalf; another judge who was an expert on gambling addiction willing to testify for him; and his steady paying off of bills and beginning to make restitution to his victims; the judge believed that Scott “should have simply stopped when he realized his gambling was a problem” and found him guilty. Kim continues to work with attorneys to get Scott released as soon as possible so he can continue his treatment and recovery, and continue paying back his debts.

    “Our family made the decision to share our story and to work side by side with the National Council on Problem Gambling, as well as the New York and Connecticut state councils in an effort to change things for the better. I have faith that together we can encourage gaming executives to increase their commitment to helping families like ours, and save others from this destruction. It’s a promise I’ve made to my children – that something good can come from this.”

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    Happy Holidays All ~ Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author/Columnist.

Putting A Face Behind Addicted Compulsive Gambling. Meet Adnan Alisic & His New Book “ARIZONA DREAM”. .

A true story straight out of the News Headlines about an Addicted Gambler ~ Lets put faces behind Gambling Addiction the Disease. . .
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“Not only is a group of men charged in the theft of $2 million cash from an armored truck at an East Valley casino, but they could also be accused of stealing from some Hollywood scripts. A FBI search warrant affidavit and federal indictment records provide new details of the July 21 attempted robbery of Casino Arizona at Talking Stick that some movie buffs might find familiar.”

Attempted Casino Arizona robbery like a Hollywood movie” ~ said the Associated Press ~

ASSOCIATED PRESS – The attempted robbery of $2 million from a casino on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community east of Phoenix sounds more like a Hollywood movie than a real-life incident, according to newly released court documents.

Officials are charging Ismar K, Adnan Alisic, Bakil, and Daniel M{ not wanting to use the others charged – full names}, with conspiracy, interference with commerce by threats, violence and robbery, and use of a firearm in a crime of violence in the July 21 attempted robbery of Casino Arizona at Talking Stick, according to their indictment and a FBI search warrant affidavit outlined.

Adnan Alisic made fake manhole covers so they would be lighter and easier to lift, and then switched them with two others the day before the robbery. The men placed ladders and ropes in the manholes and parked an all-terrain vehicle in the sewer system so they could race the money from one manhole to the other. Holes were cut in the floorboards of two vans for access to the manhole covers, a trick Steve McQueen pulled in 1972’s “The Getaway.”
The men’s gear included blue coveralls, gas masks, pepper spray, bear attack deterrent, smoke grenades, cell phones, two-way radios, a 9-millimeter handgun and a plastic pellet gun.

On the night of the attempted robbery, Bakir M and Daniel M parked a white van across the street from the casino and then got into a Lexus to watch the robbery. After ramming their green van into an armored car, K and Alisic jumped out and sprayed one of the guards with pepper spray. The two grabbed bags of money and fled to the first manhole cover. They set off a smoke grenade, but couldn’t raise the manhole cover.
So, the group fled. . . .

So these were the news headlines and in newspapers of The Associated Press, The Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune newspapers in Arizona back in July & October 2006.

Now fast forward to today.

What really happened that day back in July 2006? Most importantly, why did this crime take place? What happened to those who were arrested? Well as many of you know, I’m not a news reporter or even a professional writer. I’m just another face behind this disease! And I share what I feel strongly about, and my passion for recovery from this addiction.

I can give however give you an answer from one of the men that was involved and caught, taken into custody, charged, prosecuted, and is still in a federal prison today.
He reached out to me recently by email, asking if I could help him promote his new book about his story of addicted gambling, and of course I said, “YES”. . .

So please meet Adnan Alisic. Now a writer, and new author of his explosive debut book titled; Arizona Dream: A true story of a real life “Ocean’s Eleven” and
currently he is in Adams County Correctional Institution, a Federal Prison in Natchez, Mississippi. His release date is not until 2021, but this is where his book was written.

Like me, Adnan is another face behind gambling addiction. These are some of his thoughts, words, feelings looking back, and taking not only ownership for what he has done, but also accountability for the poor choices we all make when entangled in the depths of HELL called addicted gambling. It’s a very cunning and devastating disease.

We all come from different paths, and many, many different stories of addiction to gambling.
Some stories are more sensationalized then others, but the public needs to know about the faces behind this addiction and their stories.

So here is more of Adnan’s story, back story, and about his new shocking reveals in his debut book release of “Arizona Dream: a true story of a “real life ocean’s eleven” now available on Amazon books and Barnes and Noble online.

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Product Details

Arizona Dream: A true story of a real-life “Ocean’s Eleven”

Haunted by the demons from his past, Adnan Alisic escapes Bosnia and comes to Phoenix, Arizona, where he starts a new life. Fueled by ambition on and drive, he starts a successful car dealership, settles down, and lives the American Dream.

Tortured by his past, he seeks relief in gambling and loses everything. After being tossed out of the casino, Adnan vows to get back at them.

Forced by the gambling debt and driven by the revenge against the casino, he plans an elaborate casino heist. After discovering the tunnel running under the casino, he devises an intricate scheme to get his money back and pay off the debt.

From ethnic cleansing and mass killings in Bosnia, to gambling and underground tunnels in Arizona, you will read Arizona Dream until l the last page where you’ll find the real reason and motivation behind the heist. . . .

“In likable, plain-spoken, and insightful prose, full of lush and vivid detail, Adnan Alisic reflects on the suspenseful twists and turns of his one-of-a-kind life path. From the first page to the last, I was completely riveted. This is one hell of a book.”  – Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart is an Idiot, and creator of FOUND Magazine. . .

About The Author Adnan Alisic, and how his book came to light:

Entangled in a gambling addiction, he was forced to execute this sensational casino heist. He is currently serving seventeen-and-a-half years in federal prison in Mississippi.

“Haunted by the atrocities of war, a Bosnian refugee pursuing the elusive American dream finds himself committing the heist of the century.”

Ališic’s debut memoir, composed entirely in prison, begins in the mid-1990s: “This is my story as I remember it,” he writes in the foreword-and if even half of it is true, it’s enough adventure for 10 lifetimes. The author escaped the clutches of ruthless Serbian militants following Yugoslavia’s breakup, relocated to Phoenix and achieved success selling used cars. But the only thing more rewarding than making money was spending it, and with the help of the nearby Casino Arizona, Ališic did just that. What should have been merely recreational begins to invade him in a way he could never have imagined.

Helpless against gambling’s siren song, his small empire crumbled as his company’s profits fueled his habit. Although the finer details of his business operations tend to be long-winded, even extraneous, they underscore just how easily the blackjack table ripped away what took so long to build. As his desperation increased, Ališic’s financiers threatened to sue; his unsupervised employees embezzled from the company coffers; and his cherished girlfriend, Selma, left him – his world falling apart.

“Last night, I gambled away a 2002 Mustang,” he confides. “I realized that the more I was going there, the more I craved it. Not because I wanted to be there. Not because I liked it. But because I knew I wasn’t a loser, and I wanted to even the score.” In this case, evening the score meant boosting $2 million from Casino Arizona. Yet his self-styled description of his story as a “real-life Ocean’s Eleven” sells the reality short.

Far from the devil-may-care attitude of those films, his memoir reveals the scheme as the remarkably human outcome of a life marked by anguish and the hope of redemption. A series of harrowing flashbacks to Bosnia-illegally selling cigarettes in Prijedor, leaping into a sewage canal while outrunning a barrage of bullets, witnessing a massacre, being tortured nearly to death-transforms Ališic into a hero worthy of anyone’s admiration.

Here is what others are saying about Adnan’s book:

“A riveting read from beginning to end, “Arizona Dream” is an expertly written, true-life tale that reads like a thriller novel, documenting author Adnan Ališić as an extraordinary storyteller. This is the stuff from which Hollywood blockbuster movies are made.”
– Midwest Book Review

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So as I wrote earlier, Adnan happen to reach out to me by email. He wanted to know if I could help promote his book for him. At first I was wondering if this a spam email or joke. But as I read his email, it was clear he to was another victim of gambling addiction the disease. Another face behind this cunning addiction. It didn’t occur to me that Adnan was emailing me from federal prison. So I wrote him back with a few questions, and shared a little of my story with him.
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So I did some research to see what I could find about his story, as I now live in Arizona temporary myself. There are many news reports from the Arizona Republic newspaper here in Phoenix, AZ. And a few from the Associated Press. Of course, being a recovering addicted gambler myself, I wasn’t real surprised about what these 4 men, including Adnan had done.

I knew how Adnan felt about feeling taken for a ride by Indian Casinos, and for me, State Lottery. I also felt the same way he did when sitting in a cold jail cell waiting to be booked and processed for my crime. The reality of what you did hits you like a ton of bricks! All because of the strain of financial devastation, and overwhelming gambling debts. And this part of the work we do in recovery is sometimes missed, or not enough work done in taking our financial inventory.

And as Adnan said in his own words to me in his email; “In the beginning there were quite a few reporters who wanted to talk to me — but at that time I refused to talk to them, and as you know, the media only reported whatever was available from police reports and court records, so this is the time for the public to know the full story and put a face behind a compulsive gambler.”

And Adnan is right! media and news reports always seem to spin things to make more out of a story. And it is way past the time to talk about this. Not just his story, but the stories behind the faces of those who have been destroyed by this insidious addiction. It’s really not about the money, or the crazy shit we do all for the love of our addiction, or the financial aftermath of it all.

It’s about what it does to the human condition. It takes every part of us emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. We allow this addiction to invade our thinking, thoughts, actions, and choices when we are so invaded by addictions.
All addictions do that.

But through hard work in recovery, we can get better, recover, and be better than we were before addicted gambling consumed us. I know Adnan still has many miles to walk, but at least he now has the ability to see what his errors and choices have cost him, and he has taken accountability for them. Having your freedom taken away is a hard thing to process.

Having to relearn awareness of our feelings about ourselves is very important in recovery, because we have learned to escape from feeling anything. We become comfortably numb.
So I choose to be of recovery service to Adnan. WHY?
His Story Needs To Be Heard. . . .

Because like myself, he to was brave enough to write and publish his personal story about his addicted gambling addiction, the disease. I commend him, and all those who do. That is how we can continue to raise awareness, shatter the stigma, educate and inform others of this addiction!

If you’d like to support Adnan in recovery, buy his book here: http://www.amazon.com/Arizona-Dream-Real-life-Oceans-Eleven-ebook/dp/B00OZ0S9WC  {Now an e-book promo price .99 cents}

Send him an email of support here:  alisic.adnan6@gmail.com
Visit his website: www.arizonadreambook.com
Follow him on FB: https://facebook.com/Arizonadream

And I will keep you posted on how he is doing to here in future blog posts.

God Bless Recovery Friends,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 🙂
http://www.amazon.com/Arizona-Dream-real-life-Oceans-Eleven/dp/B00OZ0S9WC