A GREENOCK dad who has gambled more than £100,000 over the last 14 years is using his experience of addiction to bring people back from the brink.

Michael Mitchell, 32, recently passed more than 50 days without gambling after seeking help for his addiction to football bets and slot machines in bookmakers shops.

The construction worker, who usually works abroad, admits that at his lowest point, he was spending £4,000 a month and knows that he put his family through hell.

His darkest days have helped him understand how addiction can drive people to suicide and he now wants to do all he can to help people conquer their problems.

Michael, from Braeside, said: "Gambling dictates every minute of every day for you.

"It gets you so down and can lead you on a very dangerous path.

"I can understand how it could push someone to suicide.

"I've been open about my story and now I want to help people."

Michael started putting on minor football bets for a bit of fun when he was 18 and two years later, the addiction started to take hold.

He began placing higher bets and quickly became addicted to betting machines in bookies.

Michael said: "I would play roulette which is hugely addictive.

"You put on £10 and can get as much as £360 back.

"It's such a thrill when you win.

"Soon I would be £100 down and would start to get anxious and wound up.

"You're trying to win it back and you end up chasing it."

One of Michael's biggest losses in a day was £1,000 on a game of football when he was working in Denmark.

At the height of his addiction, Michael was spending £4,000 a month and it was at that point that he realised he needed help.

He said: "I had hit rock bottom.

"I was betting with money that wasn't mine and hitting really extreme lows.

"The more money I was earning in a job, the more I was gambling.

"It just buries you."

Michael is in no doubt that the unwavering support of his family helped him overcome his gambling demons.

After losing his mum five years ago, he continued to gamble, and says that despite the devastating loss, his family continued to stick by him.

He said: "We're a close family but I've really pushed them to the limit over the years with the lying and gambling.

"I know I've caused them a lot of stress and hurt.

"They've always known about my addiction and have always been very supportive."

Michael was proactive in trying to get help and a former employer put him through a course of counselling, which unfortunately came to an end when he left the job.

He is now in touch with Gamblers Anonymous and gets the chance to speak to people who have been through journeys very similar to his own.

Support organisation Man On Inverclyde has also been a lifeline for Michael - so much so that he's now part of the team, volunteering his time to help people struggling with gambling addiction.

Michael is in no doubt that the support of Man On founder Chris Paul and the team has helped him get past the 50-day milestone, and he now wants to help others reach their goals.

He added: "Too many people are killing themselves due to addiction.

"Gambling is hidden. If someone has a drug and alcohol addiction it's so much easier to see.

"I'd say to people you have to have a desire to stop and be willing to get help - be honest and talk about how you feel

"There are people and organisations that will help you and listen to you.

"I've never felt better.

"I'm so happy to be helping people get through to the other side."