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Spotlight Series | Hour House

Emily Bernard is an addictions counselor at Hour House.  Recognizing that recovery and change happen “one hour at a time”, Hour House offers treatment services to address substance use & gambling disorders, co-occurring dependency & other therapy needs.

Emily shares her passion for her work and why a focus on the individual is important to affect lasting change for their patients.

More about Hour House is available at: https://hourhouserecovery.org

Call Gateway Foundation: 855-723-0963

Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

Transcript: 

WAGER DANGER EPISODE 15: SPOTLIGHT SERIES – HOUR HOUSE

Host: Shane Cook

Hey, it’s Shane Cook with Wager Danger. We’re here at Heartland Community College in beautiful Bloomington, Illinois. And with me, this afternoon is Emily Bernard, and she is an addictions counselor at Our House. Emily, welcome to the show. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Hi, thank you. Happy to be here. 

Host: Shane Cook

It was great to meet you today. And it would be wonderful if you can share a little bit about what our house is about. And that’s our H-O-U-R house. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Yes. Our house? Yes. So our slogan is kind of like, change happens sometimes 1 hour at a time. So were originally Seed Council, which was Central East Alcoholism and Drug Council. They rebranded recently to Our House just to encompass all of our different programs. So we are mainly for substance use, treatment, and prevention. But I think it was about three years ago we applied for a grant for gambling. Right. Really what were trying to do is were seeing a lot of patients coming in for substance use treatment, but they also were gambling a lot, or they would start gambling as kind of a replacement for their substance use. So they were trying to help out some of those patients that were coming in with multiple issues. But it’s been great so far. 

I’m doing the gambling group on Fridays now, and it’s really good to hear these people’s stories, and where they started and how far they’ve come now is just amazing. 

Host: Shane Cook

Right. So in terms of the community that you serve, is it limited to a particular community or you have a cast, a wide net? 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Oh, we have a very wide net, if you ask me. So we do get a lot of patients from our area, which is the Coles County area in Illinois. 

Host: Shane Cook

Okay. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

South of Champagne, we do get a lot of people also from, like, Effingham County, but we recently started having our Rosk program, which is Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, and they’re reaching out to other local counties. So we have Shelby County, Effingham County, Clark and Cumberland County, and then Moultrie and Edgar County. 

Host: Shane Cook

Okay. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

I think I covered all of them but might have missed one. But that’s been really great in casting an even wider net, we have people coming from all these outside counties now, and we still do telehealth services, which was a great thing from COVID that’s kind of carried over, is that we can still meet with these patients. They usually just come in for the first appointment to sign the paperwork, and then they’ll come in for the third appointment, which is treatment planning, and then from there on, they can basically do telehealth services. 

Host: Shane Cook

Okay. Yeah. 

Host: Shane Cook

At least in our case at Gateway, our gambling groups are conducted virtually, so that is a bit of telehealth in and of itself, but something that was introduced during the COVID period. And I think there are many people who appreciate the option of joining virtually as opposed to going to a particular location for those services. 

Host: Shane Cook

Yes. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

It can be really helpful too, especially if you have patients coming in for DUI treatment hours. And they currently don’t have a license, so unless they can have someone bring them or give them a ride, they don’t have transportation to get the help they need. 

Host: Shane Cook

Right. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

So telehealth really helps with that. 

Host: Shane Cook

Yeah. 

Host: Shane Cook

And a great example of breaking down the barriers to treatment. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Right, right. 

Host: Shane Cook

You have to meet people where they are and any way you can do that. Well, tell me a little bit about what led you to this path to serve as an addiction counselor. 

Host: Shane Cook

Yes. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

So, honestly, I didn’t see myself going down this route probably even a year ago. I started in July, working at our house, in July 2022. I had just graduated with my Masters and they were posting ads all over that they needed help. And so I went and I interviewed and they told me all about the requirements and stuff. So I’m currently working towards my CADC. So certified alcohol and drug counselor. I’ve completed my 30 hours of gambling training. So that was really exciting. But my mom, she was an alcoholic and gambler and she passed away in 2017. And so that was really hard for me. And going straight to college right after that. 

Host: Shane Cook

Sure. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

So seeing how I wasn’t really able to help her kind of motivated me and wanting to help other people that were kind of struggling with some of those same things. And I get a lot of that. Like helping people with alcohol, Cessation or even marijuana cessation or meth addiction, it’s just across the board, people really don’t understand how big the problem really is out there. 

Host: Shane Cook

Right, yeah, naturally. And we’ve already talked about it, you mentioned it earlier how that can lead to problem gambling or disordered gambling in an individual as well. Yeah, it’s just kind of a natural fit to be in this space as well. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Yeah. In my trainings, I’ve learned a lot about the brain and how it changes in addiction. The drug itself can cause changes in the brain, but then when you think of things like gambling and sex, it’s the process of addiction. So you’re actually just the highs and lows in your brain becoming addictive. So that’s how you see kind of those substance use disorders and the gambling going hand in hand, the excitement that. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

You get right. 

Host: Shane Cook

Real quick. I know you’ve been doing this fairly short time, just coming up on a year, and is there anything that has really stuck out or anything that you would say? I never anticipated this, especially when it comes to working with people that are facing disordered gambling or gambling addiction. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Yeah, I guess probably looking at the legal consequences that some of my patients are facing, like a lot of theft and burglary. I never would have thought about that. That they would go and steal these things in order to have something to sell to get the money to gamble. So now they’re dealing with not only their gambling disorder, but all of these legal consequences so that they would be able to gamble. 

Host: Shane Cook

Sure. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

So I never thought about that side of its impact. 

Host: Shane Cook

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. There are just heartbreaking stories all around with that. It was fantastic getting to meet you today and learn a little bit more about you. I look forward to our paths crossing again. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Yes, me too. 

Host: Shane Cook

All right, well, thank you, Emily. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

Yes, thanks for having me. 

Host: Shane Cook

All right, take care. 

Guest: Emily Bernard

You too. Bye bye. 

Host: Shane Cook

We love hearing from you, so please take a moment to like, share and comment on our podcast. You can reach out to us directly. 

Via email at wagerdanger@gatewayfoundation.org. 

Look for us on Facebook and Twitter at recovergateway on LinkedIn at gatewayfoundation or through our website@gatewayfoundation.org. Wager Danger is supported through funding in whole or in part through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery. And remember, recovery is a lifelong process. If you or a family member is struggling with a gambling problem, call Gateway at 844-975-3663 and speak with one of our counselors for a confidential assessment.

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