“Recovery Flashback to June2017 ~ SHARING My Story With Facing Addiction”
“Living in recovery with mental health issues can be a tough journey, as I have learned. I am a loud advocate for gambling addiction and mental health. Many people don’t understand that gambling is a real addiction, just as dangerous as drugs and alcohol. Today, suicide claims the lives of more people with a gambling addiction than any other kind of dependency.
I myself have attempted it twice.”
My recovery journey re-started in 2006. I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt, then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them and that I could be normal like everyone else around me. That didn’t work out too well for me.
I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone.
What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the court process, and paid steep consequences for my poor choice.
“My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances.”
I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to more work. After my problems emerged, I worked with an addictions expert for a year as I went through the legal mess I created.
After this second suicide attempt, I learned I did not have a full plan. I also learned that God, my Higher Power, had bigger plans for me. My purpose is helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and began working with the expert, I got my mental health under control. I also began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who choose to live in recovery. The people who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.
Being a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges, obtaining recovery is a wee bit more work. The addicted thinking habits I’d relied on in the past needed more correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down the cycle of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise in recovery.
I was given a fantastic recurrence prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t revert back into gambling, this book has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.
Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. My journals helped in writing my memoir, which is now a published book. Writing my story and experiences was a very healing process for me. I shared about my gambling addiction and alcohol use; my past childhood trauma, abuse, and sexual trauma; and what it is like living with mental illness.
By doing this, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental health. I want to be a voice for those who feel they do not have one. I also want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how one can become addicted. It truly is a silent addiction!
It is time to have a discussion about gambling addiction. I want to inform and educate people, and I raise awareness of the effects it has on our communities and families’ lives. The expansion of casinos and for-profit state lotteries is making gambling more accessible today and is now touching our youth.
Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Gambling Addiction is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide as 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try. The best advice I can give? When starting off in recovery, learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery expert to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.
Also, a reliable recovery needs to encompass the mind, body, spirit, and finances. There are many ways to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12 Step meetings, and whatever works for you. Try anything and everything you can find. Sticking with only one option may not be enough for success and longevity in recovery and being “bet free.” I learned this the hard way.
I have reached over 10 years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol. Now, my mission and God-given purpose are to reach out to others and share my story. I hope that one more life isn’t taken by suicide due to gambling addiction, alcohol addiction, or mental health issues.
No more suffering. I am loud, proud, and Facing Addiction!