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Peer Support Now Available to Loved Ones of Those with Gambling Problems

Beth Hess - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Peer support and services navigation is now available through MCF to spouses, siblings, parents and other loved ones of those who are experiencing problems related to their gambling activity. Loved ones in every Maryland county and Baltimore City can receive one-to-one support and assistance from an MCF Family Peer Support Specialist who has personal experience as the loved one of a person whose gambling has become problematic or is struggling with gambling addiction.

An MCF Family Peer Support Specialist will listen to the loved one’s concerns and help them to:

  • Identify available resources and supports 
  • Understand how to protect yourself financially 
  • Identify assessment and treatment services 
  • Connect to others dealing with similar challenges 
  • Learn about the continuum of services and supports available for problem gambling
This expansion of services builds on MCF’s history supporting families with behavioral health needs. Since 1999, MCF has provided peer support and services navigation to parents and caregivers of young people with mental health challenges. In 2016, MCF expanded to also intentionally support parents and caregivers of young people with substance use challenges.

“As Maryland’s statewide family peer support organization, MCF has experience providing one-to-one peer support to families with behavioral health needs,” said MCF Executive Director Jane Plapinger. “We look forward to working with the Behavioral Health Administration, the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling (the Center) and providers across the state to strengthen this support for families struggling with problems due to gambling.”

“Gambling is not just an individual problem; an individual struggling with problem gambling or gambling addiction will adversely affect 7-10 people in their immediate circle,” said Mary Drexler, Program Director for the Center. “In addition to peer support, families can now receive counseling at no cost from a designated behavioral health provider. We welcome MCF’s partnership and the expertise they bring in relating one-to-one with family members and other loved ones.”

Loved ones seeking support may contact directly their closest MCF Family Peer Support Specialist (listed below), call 410-730-8267 or send an email to Family members who contact the Maryland Helpline (1-800-GAMBLER) will also be referred to MCF.

MCF is also currently recruiting for a Program Coordinator to assist in developing and implementing this new statewide program.

Funding for this program is provided by the Maryland Department of Health, Behavioral Health Administration.

Connect in your community:

Eastern Shore
Sherri L. Allen, CPSP, Family Peer Support Specialist
office: 410-220-4066, cell: 443-896-6791,

Baltimore City, Northeast/Central Maryland
Afiya Smith, Family Peer Support Specialist
office: 443-741-8336, cell: 443-472-1016, fax: 410-235-6344,

Southern Maryland
Nicole Ukoumunne, Family Peer Support Specialist
office: 410-844-4132, cell: 443-896-8275,

Western Maryland
Ula Slider, Regional Peer Support Supervisor – Western Maryland & Family Peer Support Specialist
office: 443-741-8682, cell: 240-818-3534,

Heidi Rochon, CPSP, Program Director – Family Peer Support
cell: 410-200-1172, office: 443-741-8673, fax: 410-730-8331,
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