Three years ago I lost a very dear friend who was an avid advocate and a big support to me. She was an advocate of mental health, addiction, a fellow author, and had spent many years in the Jacksonville, FL., men and women’s jails & correctional system as a “Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist.” Her name was Marilyn Fowler. She was an amazing woman, strong, smart as a whip, and bursting with caring for others.
Marilyn and I worked together since 2014 as I helped her promote her books. I learned so much from her and she always would tell me; “when I leave earth, just know you will have a powerful angel in heaven watching over you, that’s me!” I loved her to pieces! I had started a new blog here on WordPress for her to share many self-help posts and has left us a beautiful legacy of life advice.
“I’m a retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist. My professional experience includes Mental Health Team Leader, then Director of Mental Health Services in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Florida; coordinating Mental Health Services in nursing homes, working on inpatient units, and in private practice for a number of years. I teach a class at the University of North Florida on The Influence of Childhood Messages on Adult Life, I belong to Chat Noir Writers Circle, and I write a self-help blog posts to help others live a better well balanced life!
My memoir, Silent Echoes, was published in 2010. My stories have appeared in several magazines and a book entitled When God Spoke To Me. I’m active in my church, and I believe that a sense of humor is a blessing to be used often. Life should be”…
How To Use Difficult Situations To Enrich Your Life Journey ~ By Marilyn Fowler
Imagine that when you wake up each morning a familiar feeling of dread reaches your mind, and your stomach immediately tightens with stress. You fold your hands over your chest and calm yourself enough to get up and go to a job where you have to face the monster who supervises you with criticism, insults, and anything his sick mind conjures up. You would have left long ago, but you love your work, and you keep thinking things will change. But they don’t. What would you do in such a situation?
On our journey through life, we each experience painful situations that hold us hostage with no visible way out. These situations can involve health, work, financial issues, damaging relationships, losses, various addictions, whatever causes us pain. We bring some on ourselves, and others invade our orderly world without explanation.
And we usually view each one as our all-powerful enemy. We may fight back, or leave the situation. Then another one is sure to come. And we move through life never really free to be who we are. Maybe we need to take a closer look and see what’s really happening.
“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” ~Lee Iacocca
Obstacles in your life are not enemies. They’re opportunities to learn, overcome, and grow into more of the person you’re meant to be. Without these opportunities, you may never realize the depth of how wonderful you are.
At times, the road is painful, but if you meet each encounter with faith and determination, life can be rewarding and meaningful.
Years ago I worked as a Mental Health Therapist in a Psychiatrist’s office, and I suffered the same experience as in my opening example. I awoke each morning with dread about going to work. I went to my Minister for help, and she carefully listened, then said, “This man is probably one of the most important teachers you will ever have. Pay attention, learn and grow, and you will be guided to the next plateau in your life.” She was right. I saw myself and my situation with new vision, and I finally left for a new rewarding position, as a wiser and happier me.
“If you can learn from the worst times of your life, you’ll be ready to go into the best times of your life.” ~Author Unknown
Methods For Change:
Meet each difficult situation as an opportunity with a willingness to learn and grow from it.
Analyze the situation and your response to it. You can learn a lot about yourself in the way you respond to a negative, even hurtful, situation in your life. The more you learn, the more powerful you become. And your situation’s power over you weakens. “Keep asking yourself: What am I supposed to learn from this?” ~ Unknown
Go within and examine your attitude and feelings, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Do you feel stressed with worry, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, forsaken, etc.? How immersed are you in your feelings? How clear is your mind? Where is your focus…on the situation, your inner response, or both? Do you view the situation as more than you can handle? Can you call on your Higher Power for help? Question and learn. You’re stronger than you think. Uncover your strengths, and let them shine. Use denials and affirmations ie: “I deny that this situation has any power over me. I am strong and unbeatable.” This process will reinforce your power.
Create a plan to deal with your situation. Then choose techniques that would work best for you…confronting, accepting, or getting away from it. As you go along, monitor your situation and your response, and know you have a right to the life you want. And make it so. Each time you pass a hurdle, you can look back with a grateful heart to where you were, compared to where you are now.
And what you learn now will lift you to a higher place for future encounters.
There are certain situations that people find themselves, that it is only the hand of God that can bring them out. Divine intervention is the sudden movement of God upon your situation and challenges and when God is fighting for you as no one can harm you when under the covering of God…
Let me share how I work my recovery and some of my backstory, if you will, about my recovery journey within my faith.
Now, I’m not going to preach a ‘Sunday Gospel Sermon’ to you all… lol.
These are just some of my personal experiences of why I believe my recovery wouldn’t work doing so all by myself. I believe in a higher power greater and my higher power happens to be God and his Son, our Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ.
In November of 2002, my mother had passed, and then my best friend due to cancer, and my addiction at that time got so severe I tried suicide. My gambling addiction was raging out of control. My 40th birthday was in a week, and there I was, suffering in an addictions/mental health crisis center. I became one of the gambling addiction statistics OF 1 in 5 will try suicide.
Thankfully God stepped in and helped me when I could not help myself. I ended up at a Indian Casino for hours on a bad gambling binge when I was supposed to be at my best friend’s memorial service.
All of these events and loss was too much for me to handle!
See, I had turned my back on God when I became a gambling addict. Sounds kind of corny, but I would tell myself, “how can Jesus love me when I hate myself and deep into my addiction?” I felt he probably gave up on me anyway. I learned this was not true. But I kept on within my addiction and was deep in selfishness. I was lost, broken, and spiritually gone. Not knowing God had been with me every step of the way!
Within almost 30-days in this crisis center, I began a gambling treatment program. I was also diagnosed with several mental health disorders and started a medication treatment plan as well. I became a dually diagnosed person and beginning recovery. It was way more than I could handle or wrap my mind around at that time. I had a tough time accepting the fact that I had several mental disorders. And, yes, I did have another failed suicide in 2006, but that was all from my two of the medications I was on had stopped working. And, well, that is another post for another time.
Soon after my release from the crisis center, and while I was in the center, my husband started attended Church with his friends from work. It was where he drew his strength from as all this chaos I created with my addicted gambling. Faith helped me shed the guilt and pain of knowing what I put my husband through. Because now I had even MORE GUILT of scaring our families and my husband with my failed suicide! My husband kept going to Church and didn’t push me to go.
See, we were both raised Catholics, but a few years into our marriage, we stopped attending mass as we both felt disappointed about all the media and news coming out about the abuse of many children at the hands of priests. We also didn’t feel right or agree any longer about “giving confession ” as it felt like it was an intrusion of our relationship, our personal relationship with God.
I finally decided to go with him to Church and we attended Calvary Chapel in late December 2002. By August of 2003, we rededicated our lives and faith to Christ by being rebaptized, still living in Grants Pass, Oregon at that time, and within the Famous Rogue River.
This was a miracle for me as I had my husband on one side and the Pastor on the other. When they lifted me out of the water? I honestly felt feelings I had never had before. It was like all the bad in my life and within addiction had slipped away and replaced by what I felt: God’s love, grace, and mercy, and I haven’t looked back since!
I still have and feel those same feelings today.
Without my faith in my higher power, GOD, I know that I would not be sharing this with you. I genuinely am a living, breathing, walking MIRACLE of God, his power greater than myself. It has enabled me to reach over 14+years maintaining my recovery path and counting.
Do I go to Church every Sunday?
No, because as God tells us in Matthew 18:20 – – “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
So, long story short, never underestimate the power of your higher power. It is where all your MIRACLES within recovery come from!
My dear friend Mark has been running this gambling recovery website since I began my own journey of recovery and shortly after my book had released. It sometimes is not as active as it should be, because just like gambling addiction itself? It is still a hush, hush, silent taboo topic to be open and talk about due to the heavy shame and guilt. Those who become problem gamblers or have lost control of their gambling, don’t want to admit they have a problem.
And that can come from denial or blame others, or they are just not ready to get help.
So I wanted share some from Mark’s website here as he shares that gambling addiction doesn’t care who you are or where you are from, it will touch even your teens! But there is help available and HOPE. I am living proof that recovery is possible, it does work if your are willing, and you don’t have to get to dire straights to gain your life back from this cunning addiction. Now, I will tell you that Mark and his website leans in heavy for Gamblers Anonymous and the 12-Step program. But, I can tell you it didn’t work for me alone.
My addiction was so bad I had to do ANY and EVERYTHING I could find, including a treatment in-patient program (NOT BY CHOICE) but it saved my life! Then I transitioned to out-patient treatment with therapy and group. It doesn’t matter what you choose to get back to a life without a “Monkey on your BACK,” just pick something and stick with it! So, here is the areas I wanted to share from Mark’s website as it is very informative as gambling addiction becomes a FAMILY addiction. Everyone becomes effected by the addict. Support is the KEY. . .
Help With Gambling Addiction – A Guide for Impacted Families
Are you looking for help with gambling addiction?
Do you have a loved one who’s a problem gambler? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet if they have a gambling problem, and you’re starting to research? Or maybe you’re already certain that there’s a problem, and are looking for help? Wherever you are in this process, this website focuses on all types of gambling problem recovery topics for the loved ones of problem gamblers. While there’s information on the site that problem gamblers themselves may also find helpful, the focus is to provide help to the loved ones of gamblers impacted by the gambling problem.
It’s important to understand that I’m not a professional in the field of problem gambling or addictions, nor I am even in the medical field. I am, however, someone with first-hand experience discovering that my spouse is a problem gambler, and living with the hardship and turmoil that comes from the progressive disease of gambling.
Fortunately, I also have experience working through the addiction recovery process with my spouse, and for myself. So while I’m not a expert in the field, and have no professional qualifications to give advice, I can speak from personal experience, and straight from my heart to yours to hopefully help you and your family start down the road to recovery.
Through my own research, including Internet searches, books, and individual therapy, I came to realize that while resources gamblers to get help with gambling addiction is plentiful, help for the spouses and loved ones is few and far between. Hence, seeing this gap, I became motivated to put together this website as a free resource.
If I can help even one person, or one family find the right path for helping your gambler and/or yourself, then it will have been worthwhile. Essentially, this site contains information that is from my personal experience, as well as concepts and techniques that I’ve compiled over the years, including talking with my individual therapist, talking with others with problem gamblers in their lives, as well as what I learned through the intervention experience that myself and my loved one went through.
What to look for if you think a loved or partner has a gambling problem
Your spouse disappears for long periods of time during the day and/or night, and doesn’t provide adequate reasons when questioned, or is obviously lying.
You know your spouse is gambling and money continually goes missing, and this is either creating financial strain in terms of paying for bills and activities, or you have already begun defaulting on loans and other payments.
When you discuss the topic of problem gambling, they either dismiss it as not an issue, or acknowledge that things have gotten out of hand, but that they can stop if they want to.
You’ve found yourself making significant financial adjustments, whether it’s moving (whether due to a foreclosure or voluntarily selling your home), downsizing cars (or repossessions), etc.
You’re credit cards have consistently higher balances due to cash advances, or are over limit, and you’re getting calls from collectors.
Money from your bank accounts is disappearing due to unexpected/unaccounted for withdrawals.
Large unexplained sums of money are deposited to your bank account.
Communication with your spouse is difficult, stressful, or generally ineffective or non-existent.
They’ve attended Gamblers Anonymous and either continue to gamble or have discontinued attending meetings.
They tried individual therapy and/or couples therapy with you, and they continue to gamble.
You generally feel that your life is out of control and unmanageable.
In addition to sharing experiences, ideas, and techniques in dealing with a loved one who’s a problem gambler, this site is also meant to provide information about problem gambling itself. What is it? How do you know your loved one is a problem gambler? Can it be cured? What’s Gamblers Anonymous? What’s Gam-Anon?
Other questions that you might be asking yourself at this point might include:
What can I do to help?
Should I do something to help or leave it be?
Should I stay with, or leave my gambler?
How should I handle finances?
Is gambling really a disease?
Although I’ve used the word “should” liberally, inferring that you’ll find all of THE answers here, that’s not going to be the case. Everyone’s situation is so unique, personal, and complex that no one could possibly tell you exactly what to do. The reality is that there’s truly no one right answer for your situation.
There are different paths you can take, each one with its pros and cons. Ultimately you’ll need to decide what’s best for you and your personal situation. In fact, I would venture to say that if someone purports to KNOW exactly what you should do, I would caution you, as nothing is that simple, even for a problem gambling professional or addiction specialist.
Unlike other resources available to you, it not only provides the background information regarding getting help with gambling addiction all in one place, but also provides a forum for people to share their experiences, as well as ask and answer questions. While hopefully you’ll come to believe that there’s no one right answer to your problems, it can often be very helpful to ask a question and have a direct dialog about possible answers/solutions. I’ve found that this type of forum is not readily available for loved ones of problem gamblers.
If you’ve read this far, it’s highly likely that you’re feeling overwhelmed by the gambling problem in your life, and you need help. While this site won’t cure your problems, you can rest assured that you’ve found a place to learn, share, and dialog with people who understands what you’re experiencing, and who can help guide you to the tools you’ll need for the learning process. As the site grows, it will become even more valuable for you as you read about others who have experienced similar situations, and learn about what they did to work towards rebuilding a healthy way of life.
I URGE All My Friends and Visitors to My Website Here of “Bet Free Recovery Now” take some time to visit Mark at his site and share your comments of hope and inspire those who may be needing it over this long 4th of July Holiday Weekend. https://www.help-with-gambling-addiction.com/
Who was William Cowper? William was born 26 November 1731 (My Birthday Too) – and passed 25 April 1800) known as an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. William was also considered one of the best letter writers in English, and some of his hymns, such as “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” and “Oh! For a Closer Walk with God,” have become part of the folk heritage of Protestant England.
GUEST POST BY Author Tony Roberts of Delight in Disorder Ministries
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)
The Longing of William Cowper in “Heal Us, Emmanuel”
Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are We wait to feel Thy touch; Deep wounded souls to Thee repair, And Savior, we are such.
Our faith is feeble, we confess We faintly trust Thy Word; But wilt Thou pity us the less? Be that far from Thee, Lord!
Remember him who once applied With trembling for relief “Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried; “O help my unbelief!”
She, too, who touched Thee in the press And healing virtue stole, Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace; Thy faith has made thee whole.”
Concealed amid the gathering throng, She would have shunned Thy view; And if her faith was firm and strong, Had strong misgivings too.
Like her, with hopes and fears we come To touch Thee if we may; O send us not despairing home; Send none unhealed away.
Poet and hymn writer William Cowper (1731-1800) was a man of deep longing that greatly affected his mind as well as his spirit. In his thirties, while battling some political factions in his work, he was afflicted with “madness” (as it was then called called) and admitted to Nathaniel Cotton’s Collegium Insanorum at St. Albans. He recovered and moved to the town of Olney in 1768 where he co-authored a book of hymns with the well-respected pastor and hymn-writer John Newton (who wrote “Amazing Grace”).
In 1773, Cowper became engaged to Mary Unwin, but he suffered another attack of madness. He had terrible nightmares, believing that God [had] rejected him. Cowper would never again enter a church or say a prayer. When he recovered his health, he kept busy by gardening, carpentry, and keeping animals. In spite of periods of acute depression, Cowper’s twenty-six years in Olney and later at Weston Underwood were marked by great achievement as poet, hymn-writer, and letter-writer.
Certainly, Cowper continued to fight back despair and may well have stepped aside from public prayer and worship, but the depth of his prayer life and relationship to God in Christ is abundantly evident in hymns that live on through the ages.
Which brings me back to the theme of longing. The longing expressed in this hymn, and also in Cowper’s life, is not evidence of a lack of faith. In fact, faith prompts us to recognize that all is not right within us, among us, or around us. Our faith, though feeble, keeps us crying out in prayer for our children who are hurting, for our bodies that need healing, for our world that is on the brink of collapse.
We come to God not only with “positive thoughts”, but with hopes and fears – hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst and humbly requesting that the Great Healer would touch us, would send not of us away unhealed.
“I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.”
Tony Roberts is a graduate of Hanover College (Bachelor of Arts; English and theology), and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity). He served as pastor for churches in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York, while battling bipolar disorder. He is the author of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission and is the founder and Chief Shepherd of Delight in Disorder Ministries. These ministries include A Way With Words publishing, Revealing Voices podcast, and Faithful Friends mental health support group.
Tony is available to virtually consult ministry leaders on issues of faith and mental illness. You may reach out to him on the contact page or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever wonder what happens in the mind of Stephen King, or Stanley Kubrick? Or the thoughts in the mind of a serial killer? These are areas that most people would never venture into. It’s too scary. It’s too dangerous. But danger is in the eye of the beholder. It’s a reflection of our life experience, individual biases and perception. But as we all remain indoors, the confines of our own minds can be the greatest danger.
As people, our outward actions toward the world reflect our own mindset, individual biases, and our outlook on the world. If that outlook is positive, we tend to see the world in a positive light and consequently treat people and situations with that positivity. The converse is also true. If, because of our life experience or chemical imbalance, we have a negative or pessimistic world view, we view the world through that lens. It’s how we think, act, and speak. It attracts or detracts others to or from us. How do mental disorders alter that world view?
~Gravitate Online (Dot Com)
The Different Mental Disorders
For individuals dealing with depression or bipolar disorder, the mind can be a very scary place. Many people are undiagnosed with depression or anxiety. In the U.S. two-thirds of all cases of depression are undiagnosed. That means that they are not getting the proper help or medication to help them see the world without a dark shroud. Through their prism, they see the world in a dark, negative and suspicious way when in reality may not be the case.
Unfortunately, this mental strife can sometimes lead to drug abuse and addiction. Teenagers and young adults are especially susceptible to this unfortunate reality which is why proper mental health resources in their in-person or online education are imperative.
There are more types of depression than most people realize. According to https://www.healthline.com/, these are some of the different depressive disorders:
Persistent depressive disorder
This is chronic low-level depression less severe than major depression and lasts two years or longer. This is accompanied by constant feelings of deep and dark sadness and hopelessness, as well as symptoms like indecisiveness, low energy and fatigue.
At times, this depression is spurred by aging. When family is out of the house, and estate planning decisions are to be made, it can have an effect on an individual’s sense of longevity. This, of course, is all part of a mental disorder that can have quite an effect on an individual’s day-to-day.
Another type of depression is bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder. It involves the episode of a manic, a heightened state of being or over-energized mood. These episodes may be followed by episodes of dark deep depression. Huge swings from high to low and sometimes back again. It is the very manic highs paired with the low depressive state that determines the type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed.
As much as 80% of new mothers experience the “baby blues” following delivery. Symptoms include sadness, mood swings, depression, withdrawal, lack of appetite, and negative thoughts. According to the American Psychological Association, about 10 to 15 percent of U.S. women have a depressive episode within three months of childbirth. and fatigue and typically pass within a week or two.
This is caused by the fluctuation of hormones following childbirth, combined with lack of sleep, and the stresses of caring for an infant. If these symptoms stay longer than a couple weeks and escalate in severity, it may be a hint of a deeper issue.
Many experience feelings of depression when seasons change. This is known as seasonal affective disorder. Up to 5% of the U.S. population (16,500,000) experience seasonal depression every year. Seasonal affective disorder is typically initiated at the beginning of autumn and lasts throughout the winter, during the dark and cold months of the year.
If any of these depressive situations are accompanied by paranoia, hallucinations or delusions, it is an indication of a major issue known as psychotic depression. This condition is rare. A quarter of patients admitted to a hospital due to depression actually have psychotic depression. The extreme cases are incapacitated and may need to be admitted to long-term hospitalization.
Many depression diagnoses are tied to an actual chemical imbalance in the brain and must be managed with medication. Some less severe conditions may be managed, at least in part, through more natural means.
These include the following: Physical exercise. The endorphins released in the brain during physical exercise can have long term positive benefits for depression.
Healthy diet. Eating fresh, clean, healthy food can boost positive vibes in the body and can be a helpful step in battling depression.
Good sleep. The power of good sleep is beneficial for all people, especially those with depression. Supplements. Natural remedies like fish oils and folic acid have been known to help individuals with depression. However, when using natural supplements check with your physician.
Positive mental thoughts
Fighting depression can be hard work. A lot of the work is mental, challenging your negative self-talk and changing how you think. Individuals with depression leap to the worst possible conclusions in many scenarios. Challenging those conclusions and replacing them with positive ones can help make depression just a little brighter.
Positive self-thoughts maybe act as the light switch that transforms a person’s negative outlook from continuous darkness into a much brighter view of reality. This can lead to a happier and more rewarding life.
Medications Many Americans that suffer some form of depression, live perfectly normal and healthy lives with the help from the advances in pharmaceuticals. Working with a doctor to find the proper medication and dosage can change the life of an individual with depression.
We all strive to make the world a better place. But for some, this is more difficult because of internal personal turmoil. For people to treat others in a way that makes the world a better place, they need to feel that way about themselves. Helping those with a chemical imbalance to see the world through a brighter prism has exponential benefits to society. So, never be afraid to explore all your options.
“By small means, great things are possible.” ~Catherine Lyon, Advocate
Visit my friends of SAMHSA for help and options for treatment, information, and much more!
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and to improve the lives of individuals living with mental and substance use disorders, and their families.
To provide leadership and resources – programs, policies, information and data, funding, and personnel – advance mental and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services in order to improve individual, community, and public health.
SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
Last Updated: 05/05/2021
Find Help and Treatment
The National Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential referrals and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery in English and Spanish.
I’m a veteran of the navy and in the process of determining my future. Given what I’ve learned about myself and the relationship between trauma and the ways in which we deal with it, I’ve given thought to taking a smart recovery position outside of St. Cloud.
After my deployment was over, I was faced with the challenge of trying to somehow match that excitement and high-tempo routine.
It’s hard to replicate the adrenalin rush that one gets working in the military. For me, nothing can match the sense of doing something dangerous, and doing something dangerous for a purpose.
In my role with the Navy, I was among the boots on the ground in the Middle East. I saw the effects of war and came home with a darkness inside me that so many other veterans have experienced.
After my deployment was over, I was faced with the challenge of trying to somehow match that excitement and high-tempo routine. Of course there is no substitute in civilian life for what I did while with the Navy, but I tried to find it.
The closest I could come was gambling. It offered me some of the same aspects of life in the Navy: adrenalin, something to engage in, and a form of escapism. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to understand the connection and similarity between the highs of gambling and my life in the Navy.
My gambling started in a very casual way. I remember taking a long drive into the mountains when I was based in the Washington, DC, area. I ended up at a casino in West Virginia by complete accident. I enjoyed myself and it was simply fun recreation.
My gambling didn’t really become a problem until I left the Navy in 2006. I started going two to three times a week and it was my only real outlet. It became my social pastime.
I continued to gamble for much of the next ten years. But things really went off the rail in 2016, when I was a taxi driver and made frequent stops at a casino in the small town where I lived. Rather than wait for the phone to ring to transport passengers from the casino, I would end up inside the casino spending all the money I earned that day. Things got very bad and life felt hopeless.
At this point, I knew I had a problem. But I wasn’t sure that anything could be done about it, nor did I know how I could actually get help.
Then an unexpected thing happened. While on Instagram, I was viewing photos from an old Navy colleague. I didn’t recognize the buildings in his photos and decided to message him to learn more. He told me they were from Minneapolis. When I asked, “Why Minneapolis?” he explained that he was in Minnesota after getting out of a VA rehab facility in St. Cloud.
When we eventually talked—for the first time in about 10 years—it all started making sense. I knew him personally and knew about his dangerous streak, so hearing that he was in rehab made sense. I also saw many parallels to my story. I asked him questions about the process and then obtained the link for the VA facility that could help me.
As soon as I got off the phone, I started packing my car. I drove three days to make it to St. Cloud from the west coast. I didn’t even call ahead of time and walked right to the urgent care desk and said, “I need help.” I was feeling suicidal and couldn’t take no for an answer.
When I got to St. Cloud, I told the doctor that in addition to a problem with drug and alcohol addiction I also had a gambling problem. I was placed in a residential treatment program on July 14 with a dual addiction diagnosis and stayed for 60 days. Until then, I didn’t know that treatment programs like this existed.
A part of the program involved cognitive behavioral therapy. During these sessions, I gained a better understanding of how my actions were related to the trauma I suffered in the Navy and how the things I did were efforts to try to deal with that trauma. When you get into a program like this, you see the bigger picture. More importantly, you see that this addiction can be managed and that it can be cured.
I’m trying to start anew in a place where I have no routine connected with gambling and where there is no casino in town. I’m living in the House of Charity in Minneapolis and am following through with my aftercare, including meeting with a therapist to keep me on my path.
. . . when I was a taxi driver and made frequent stops at a casino in the small town where I lived. . . I would end up inside the casino spending all the money I earned that day. Things got very bad and life felt hopeless.
I’m in the process of determining my future. Given what I’ve learned about myself and the relationship between trauma and the ways in which we deal with it, I’ve given thought to taking a smart recovery position outside of St. Cloud, something that would require a certification program. From past experience, I realize that I have to feel fulfilled in my occupation or it won’t work.
I’m prepared for this to be a long, slow process. But that’s OK. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point and I realize how important it was for me to get there.
OUR RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT on NORTHSTAR ALLIANCE
Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA), Minnesota affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling, is a non-profit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. NPGA is a coalition of individuals and organizations sharing the belief that problem gambling is a serious public health problem that is both treatable and preventable.
NPGA works to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the stigma that’s often associated with it. We advocate for funding for treatment programs and provide professional training for those who work with problem gamblers. The collective impact of our efforts helps individuals, their families and their communities deal with the devastating effects of problem gambling.
As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, NPGA is funded by membership fees, financial and in-kind donations, and state and private grants. A considerable portion of our funding comes from the state of Minnesota and from major corporate sponsorships from the Minnesota Lottery, Canterbury Park, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
To learn more or to arrange a visit, contact NPGA Executive Director Susan Sheridan Tucker or call (612) 424-8695.
GAMBLING TOLL-FREE HOTLINE: National Problem Gambling Helpline on 1-800-522-4700
In no way shape or form am I endorsing or encouraging others to gamble. But for those who can for the right reasons of a few hours of fun and entertainment, and share Responsible Gambling and my story when you don’t? That to me is progress! We know gambling will never be banned or prohibited, that wouldn’t be fair to those who can for enjoyment. Having a direct source to share my story on a gambling watch dog site is Ground Breaking…
~Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
A few weeks ago I had been approached with an invitation to be interviewed by an overseas company that is a gambling watch dog for gamblers of all types to keep them safe. They have a blacklist of venues who may use bad practices when it comes to online gambling options at all types of casinos.
Now, I know many who come to visit here may be maintaining recovery like myself, so I won’t mention the site by name. They wanted to do a interview as they are revamping their website and they are hosting new pages of resources and raising awareness about problem gambling and patrons to practice responsible gambling.
At first I thought? Hell No! I would NOT be willing to be on a site like this where people come to look for the best places to gamble. Because I thought it would be like endorsing GAMBLING! Then, I went and explored the website and seen that “The National Council On Problem Gambling” is listed as a resource and I do a lot of networking with them and am a member as an advocate.
So I thought, what an amazing way to reach people who may need help and these resources and be able to help them before they get way to deep into full blown addicted gambling?
In no way shape or form am I endorsing or encouraging others to gamble. But for those who can for the right reasons of a few hours of fun and entertainment, and share Responsible Gambling and my story when you don’t? That to me is progress! We know gambling will never be banned or prohibited, that wouldn’t be fair to those who can for enjoyment. Having a direct source to share my story on a gambling watch dog site is Ground Breaking…
It would be right at the source and where the people are who may need to hear MY STORY, Raise Awareness, and help Shatter Stigma by letting them no there is NO SHAMEreaching out for help if gambling begins to interrupt any areas of their daily lives.
So I wanted to share the interview questions they asked of me and how I answered them. This really is an awesome opportunity and a ground breaking idea to also help break the stigma of those who may or do have a gambling problem know that it’s OK to reach out for help! ~Catherine
INTERVIEW WITH A RECOVERING GAMBLER~ Champion of Awareness
When did you first start gambling? What got you into it?
Answer: I had always enjoyed gambling with my girlfriends as we would go to Reno or the Indian Casino a couple of times a year and never had a problem. It used to be a fun thing to do for an hour or so with friends. Have lunch at the deli and play a little.
I don’t come from a family background or parents who were gamblers. For me, it began around age 30 when I noticed I began gambling a little more than an average person. Now, with 14+years of being bet free and maintaining my recovery, it started after a life event, when my brother-in-law passed away in 1992.
At the same time, I was living in the Oregon, (USA) and they had introduced video poker machines, later in the 2000s they slot style games to the machines. But when my brother-in-law passed away, I began to notice I was gambling more. By 1996, gambling became a problem and I was going more and more often. See, some of the reasons I used gambling was for an escape or trying to cope with the grief.
On top of this, I experienced childhood sexual trauma and abuse. When that pain came back and the grief of loss, I started gambling more. Those roots and underlying issues are why I used gambling to numb out. Sadly, once you lose control over your gambling and get sucked into the “cycle,” you can never gamble normally again. My gambling became a full-blown addiction.
One area stood out to me. Having a lot of access can bring gambling excess. I could walk across the street and gamble, or walk a block or two and gamble. Not only did we have Indian Casinos not too far, but the lottery video machines where in all our restaurants, deli’s, bars, and taverns. Very accessible.
Did you ever gamble online? What kind of sites?
Answer: Believe it or not, at that time, I never gambled online. First, because we did not have internet at that time. Second, I was lover of all the lights, bells, and noises of a casino or playing the lottery sponsored machines. Even today, the online casinos really don’t cross my mind. I will be honest and transparent and share I have been to Casino.org and tried your free play games to see what is new for research for my advocacy work to stay updated on the trends, but I don’t play or buy anything! I don’t even play Facebook games. Even though there are games like trivia or scrabble type games, still, I avoid them.
Which games did you play most?
Answer: When I did play back then be it at a casino or the lottery machines, I mostly played the slots or video poker. I loved slots that had fun bonus rounds like video poker called “Flush Fever” …But most times I’d play slots.
When did you notice it was becoming a problem?What were the signs?
Answer: Again, I have to say it started in 1992, but really ramped up and crossed the line into full-blown gambling addiction around 1998. I had begun gambling more, higher betting, playing more money until I attempted suicide and my first addiction Crisis Center stay an began treatment for addicted gambling in November of 2002.
That is how bad my problem gambling became. It was a slow progressive climb to where I ended up a statistic of 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try suicide. Looking back now, some of the warning signs were gambling for longer periods of time, lie about why I was gone so long. Stop doing things I enjoyed, missing family get togethers, call in sick to work if I was winning, ignored medical or dental appointments, work, began having money problems and arguments over money with my husband, etc.
How did gambling negatively affect you? E.g. financially, in relationships Answer: Some of the above and eventually when you have no money to gamble with? I began selling or pawning things of value, took out credit cards and payday loans my husband had no idea about. Dug us in a huge financial hole and lost my friendships with most of my friends. Would argue with co-workers, lost jobs over my gambling until it became NOT gambling with money any longer, I was gambling with my life and had two failed suicide attempts. Those were just some of the negative impacts I had from my gambling addiction. It was a never ending battle if I won or lost. When you lose control, when you win? You think you will win all the time. When you lose? You go back out and chase the money you lost. It become a sick “cycle” you can’t seem to get out of.
What did you do to overcome your addiction?
Answer: I did ANY and EVERYTHING I could get my hands on to recover!
After my second failed suicide attempt in Jan. 2006, I started gambling treatment, again, and in the Addiction Crisis Center again and I guess you can call it a “do-over”… I finally surrendered to the fact that I can never gamble again like regular people who don’t have a problem. I had lost all control over my gambling to the point that it almost cost me my life. See, it is NOT about the money lost or won, it became life or death for me.
Here I was again, I began in-patient treatment for 30-days and transitioned into out-patient for the next 6-months, attended Gamblers Anonymous for many years as a source of support, treatment therapy, worked with an addiction specialist for a year to help me process and overcome the childhood trauma I endured, learn the process of forgiving and making my amends where needed. And began to slowly work through my financial inventory and slowly paying all my debts. I attend “Celebrate Recovery “virtually.
In 2010 to 2011, I wrote my memoirs to see everything gambling addiction had taken from me and my family and was published in book form in 2013 by “The Kodel Empire Publishing group.” In it I share the Why and How I became a gambling addict. It’s titled “Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Lair and a Cheat” available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online bookstores.
What advice do you have for someone else who may be struggling?
Answer: First, don’t wait to get help or suffer in silence like I did for many years from problem gambling. There is help available in all states in the USA and in many countries around the world. There is no shame in reaching out for confidential help. If you’re not sure where to look for help, I founded and run my website called “Bet Free Recovery Now (Dot Com)” and have a page of resources of places I trust and have advocated alongside the work they do and the treatment services offered to those with a gambling problem or a full-blown gambling addiction.
No matter what type or your preference of gambling problem you may have, be it online gambling, casinos, lottery, bingo etc., there are many options for treatment and help to gain your life back. I need to be real and honest about gambling triggers, cravings, and urges to gamble, they will only subside when you refrain from gambling, and you’ll learn the skills and tools to help you refrain from gambling when you chose to get help.
realistically gambling of all types will never be banned or prohibited, and in some world countries, gambling is still illegal. And in the USA, there are still some states that sports betting online gambling is also illegal. Banning gambling would not be fair to those who can do it with no problems what so ever.
However, the public needs to be aware of the dangers and pitfalls and if or when it becomes a problem within there lives.
He died for our sins so we can have eternal life with Him. Have you accepted His free Gift of salvation? He loves you unconditionally… Have a Blessed Easter!
~Lydia Brady Grimes
I have been sharing and writing for over 14+years as a form of advocacy but also as a healing process to share my past of how far I have come within my recovery journey thus far. And through my redemption of my HP (God), he continues to have me grow and overcome challenges too. It’s a view into a life and journey from a cunning disease and what addicted gambling looks like. There is the GOOD, the BAD, and the very UGLY when deep in our addictions.
Today, I enjoy sharing all theGOOD and within the present, in the moment, and have built a new beautiful life with my amazing husband who, BTW, stuck with me all these years of CHAOS. I think he would agree that the past 14+years have been the best thus far! I have the blessings and honor of helping others, being of recovery service, speaking about the pitfalls of problem gambling, and I am proof recovery works.
I enjoy sharing my experiences, strength, and HOPE to others so they know they are not alone with addicted gambling problems and they can recover. It wasn’t always this way. Even though my past doesn’t define who I am, those years were rough and heart-breaking when I look back to this past addicted woman I was.
Many who have never been touched by any addictions or lived with an addict may not comprehend how much chaos and devastation that goes on with an addict and the people around them become caught in the cross hairs. It’s why we share are stories of addiction and what it takes to recover. It can be tools to help those reaching out for help.
When it comes to my side of the family, I had not hurt anyone when I was gambling addict. I lived in a different state at the time. And we had many beautiful memories of the years when my family came to visit us, we made sure we did lots of fun things and take my parents to many places in Oregon and have experiences they other wise may never had. And healing I have learned that full healing will most likely take a lifetime for me. That is the roots and the issues that sometimes I feel I still have more work to do around the old pain and hurt.
And it is why I hold firm to my faith and belief in GOD.
See, my father recently passed away on Jan. 29th, 2021, of COVID, which was the same day I made 14th-years celebrating my recovery. He lived in Southern California in the home I was raised and where horrible memories of my past childhood still lay. When I first began my recovery journey, I wasn’t ready to dive into my past childhood trauma, abuse, and haunting memories. Most this began and resurfaced when I turned 30, I lost my brother-in-law to cancer. He was the real brother I never had, and I would tell him everything.
After Mike’s passing, it took me a few years to get over his death with a lot of therapy to even begin to process it. Shortly after, is when all the haunting pain and memories flooded back. I had to learn to process them and forgive and lay those haunting memories away. It was some of the roots and underlying issues of how I got sucked into gambling addiction. I was using gambling as a coping skill, an escape, and numbing the pain of my childhood trauma and abuse until I finally could not stuff away any longer.
Then in 2003, my mom passed away. By then, I had about nine months of recovery when I began writing and journaling. The next few years were pretty rough. We seem to think our parents will always be with us. Still, more painful memories, and I was not ready to share that part of my past. Now that my mom and dad have passed on, here I go again; it has again begun to surface slightly. Even when I started to write my book all of 2010 into early 2011 to see all that gambling addiction had taken from me, was when I began a deep dive into all the sexual trauma and abuse I’d endured.
One of the many amazing things about truly working through my childhood was the act of taking every single thought and terrible memory that held me captive; I began to watch Christ redeem them, helping me face them, and feel them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. Finally, today the abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories. That is how God works in your life!
So, now with the passing of my dad, even though we had not spoken in almost 15-years, I was able to still forgive him for it, accept and respect his choice. It still stung, but I have the comfort of knowing God and (my mom) has told him the truth about all that I went through as a little girl, was telling the truth, and that if he knew? I’m pretty sure he would have protected me. He would have understood the WHY I also sought his unconditional love and validation. I have the comfort of knowing he is now with our father above and at peace with my mom.
I will continue to live and build a beautiful and amazing life within my recovery!
The Writer would really appreciate it if you can leave a short review of the book on Amazon.
Is your Anxiety, Depression, Grief etc. ruining your life? Would you like to take back control? Starting today, you can find your strength, your confidence, your peace and contentment. The road to a happier future starts here.
Remember, you’re not alone – millions of people of all ages struggle with stressful issues on their own, without support or guidance – imagine what your life would be like with less stress and more confidence and happiness.
I have spent more than twenty years helping people to work through their anxiety and depression. I’ve decided to share my knowledge and experience with YOU because I KNOW for a fact that you will feel better and stronger when you start to read my book.
Within this work book you will find:
Excessive ANXIETY and WORRY are not normal – don’t accept them. I will show you ways to take control and feel stronger.
PANIC ATTACKS can come at any time, for any reason – learn how to control and diminish them.
Is DEPRESSION controlling your life? Learn which famous people also suffer from DEPRESSION and how they handled it.
If LOW SELF-ESTEEM is an issue for you, I’ll show you how to build your self-confidence.
It’s not only military service people that suffer from POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) – traumatic incidents can happen to any of us – don’t struggle to deal with it on your own.
FINDING HAPPINESS. We all search for happiness in our own way. There are ALWAYS ways to feel happier – let me show you the way.
Irrational fears or PHOBIAS can inhibit our daily activities – use my guidance to free yourself from them.
CONTENTMENT is what we all strive for, but most of us are far from content with our lives. Let me show you the techniques that will help you.
Lack of MOTIVATION can be caused by many things – let me help you find your motivation again and move forward.
GRIEF will affect us all at some time. Comfort and reassurance will help to get you through.
The LOSS OF A RELATIONSHIP can be devastating, and can take months, or years to get over. Let me show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
SEASONALLY AFFECTED DISORDER (SAD) affects many people every year. More is now know about this now-recognized syndrome, an there are many ways to tackle the issue.
CATASTROPHIZING. The tendency to imagine problems are worse than they really are is common, but it can become a bis issue – I’ll show you how to keep it under control.
FLASH CARDS. Reassuring cards that you can print off to carry with you to help you focus on overcoming your problem.
Now is the time. Join the thousands of people who have taken the leap of faith and gone on to lead a happy and contented life.
I set out in simple, but powerful ways, WHY you feel as you do and WHAT you need to, and HOW to conquer your fears and worries. Why wait? Feel better TODAY.
The publisher, Art Crandon is an amazing friend of mine and I always enjoy reading his books and the authors he helps publish their books.
So, when Art says a book is good? I always give them a read. Make sure you stop by Art Crandon’s website as he to is an amazing writer and author of gripping and spine-tingling reads available from his website: https://www.arthurcrandon.com/arthur-crandon-store.html or from Amazon>>>> Click the “BUY NOW” or “ADD TO CART” button to begin your life-changing journey. Launch price is $14.99 – get it before it goes to full price of $19.99 >>>> https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091FX1BQF/
When we begin our recovery journey in early recovery, it can be a challenging time to digest all that we learn to help keep us moving forward. We begin to build our skills and learn the tools that will be there for us to use as try to fight off what seems like never-ending urges, cravings, and triggers. It is always difficult for myself to translate this to those I mentor. I tell them always, “Have a Little Faith in Recovery”…
The only pieces of advice is what my own experiences were when I began early recovery. As it seemed the only thing that really helped diminish the urges and cravings? ABSTINENCE. Once you begin to stay away from a bet and practice abstinence? Those triggers, cravings, and urges WILL start to disappear.
You then rely on the skills and tools you learn from either treatment, therapy, recovery group, gamblers anonymous, or whatever path you have chosen to break free from the “cycle” of addicted gambling. Many who know me well know I never sugar coat recovery or this cunning addiction. I will always share with Real Talk and Real Advice. First, we need to know what Problem Gambling looks like and what to look for if you think your loved one or friend you care about is gambling too much.
Here is where my guests from “Know The Odds.org come in. They share with us what problem gambling is and what to look for.
KnowTheOdds.org seeks to teach as many people as possible about problem gambling. We want people to know it exists and it affects individuals in our own communities, whether we see it happening or not. Our problem gambling resources are provided to help educate you about how addictions to gambling affects people, what support is available and how you can help prevent problem gambling from affecting those around you. https://knowtheodds.org/resources/ Partner with http://www.nyproblemgambling.org/… We hope you learn from our resources, and use them to educate your family members, friends and loved ones.
Recovery is the journey that someone begins when they’ve decided to walk away from an addiction. They start a new path of health and hope with the help of professionals and a supportive community. Recovery is a very exciting time for not only the individual who has made the choice, but also for the loved ones in their community.
What Does Recovery Look Like?
Just as every person is different, and just as every addiction story is different, every recovery journey from problem gambling is also different. There are two things they all have in common. First, is the choice to live a different life. The individual struggling with a gambling addiction needs to make this choice.
A second thing they all have in common is a need for a supportive community. It goes without saying that individuals who come from a history of gambling addiction also bring a history that has hurt the love ones in their community. It is important for this community of love ones to remember that what they’ve hoped for is for this person to get better. They’ve hoped for this individual to have a different way of life.
And they’ve hoped for this individual to rejoin a healthy lifestyle with their community members. That said, it is not always easy to go from an affected loved one to a supportive loved one. Just as it is not easy for an individual to go from a lifestyle of addiction to gambling to a lifestyle free from gambling in recovery. But, the community that the individual in recovery develops and sustains will be the lifeline as they drive their life down this road of change.
Supporting A Loved One
To help support a loved one in recovery, a loved one also needs to be well. There are many resources and treatment providers available to help and support loved ones who have been negatively affected by someone’s gambling. To be a supportive loved one, that loved one also needs to work through their own anger and resentment towards the negative consequences of problem gambling.
To be a supportive loved one in an individual’s recovery community, everyone in the community must be educated. Within an individual’s recovery community, people need to understand what problem gambling is, who is affected by problem gambling and what are the negative effects of problem gambling. This community needs to be aware of the triggers an individual faces every day to avoid problem gambling. These triggers could be money, special events that include gambling activities, or any media or TV that the depicts gambling as exciting and fun.
This recovery community needs to be aware and supportive as the individual in recovery avoids these different triggers. Supporting a person in recovery can also mean a shift in language when talking about the person and their addiction. This reminder that people are more than their disease creates a shift in people’s view of recovery, allowing people in recovery to grow and reduce stigma around getting help for their gambling problem. When we are able to reduce stigma, we create more space for people to build connections, leading to a more fulfilling and lasting recovery.
Hope it such an amazing word. Hope is an infinite feeling that things could be better. Hope is a beacon of light that helps individuals, families and communities walk towards a solution; walk towards awareness and offering support for individuals in recovery from problem gambling. Hope is the driving force that keeps individuals away from acting on thoughts of suicide. Hope is the driving force that keeps loved ones holding on for a better tomorrow.
This feeling of hope should be held on tightly as individuals and loved ones struggle through the journey of recovery. It should be a feeling held tightly knowing that with love, connection and teamwork that recovery from gambling addiction is possible.
Recovery for Professionals
Professionals in the field of recovery are a treasure. They are the anchor for those starting or finding a rough patch in their recovery journey. We applaud their efforts and hope for an increase of recovery communities for those starting their own journey.
I hope this post has helped and I would highly suggest you give “Know The Odds” a visit if you’d like to learn more and they have a wide range of resources to help if you know someone who may have a gambling habit or full blown addiction… RESOURCE PAGE: Problem Gambling Awareness Month webpage for resources.
Hello and Welcome Recovery Warriors, Friends, and All Visitors,
I have another ‘Special Event’ I am sharing with you! I did another podcast as a featured guest with my new friend and sweet girl, Nicole Burris who is the host of Grabbalicious. She shines the light on mental health and other important topics on her show. When she is not podcasting she enjoys trading into the foreign exchange markets and she is a video gamer. She resides in New York.
As she describes her podcast, you can listen to on Anchor.FM, Google Podcast, and on Spotify. So give her website a visit as she shares all the links to where you can listen to her episodes. >>>>>>>Right Here on Milkshake! https://msha.ke/grabbalicious/ #grabbalicious
“Tell the world what you’re made of with Grabbalicious”
“Hi, I’m Grabbalicious, and Nicole Burris… I have a podcast interviewing YouTubers, Podcasters’ and many other interesting people. I chat with them about mental health and the impact it has in daily lives.” “Do you want to be a guest on my podcast?”
Follow and message me on my social media on Twitter @grabbalicious1 or on my Instagram @GrabbaLicious
Courtesy of Nicole Burris ✨✨💄💋🎤🎙🖥💻💖
Now, without further ado, I hope you will enjoy and maybe learn something new about mental health and about recovery from problem gambling. If you know someone you care about has a gambling problem?
Please, re-share this on your blog or website and maybe if they listen to my story, it may give them HOPE that they are not alone, help is available, and they do not have to suffer in silence any longer…
“This is such a great episode with a strong woman and advocate/author Cat Lyon!! She’s such an inspiration to anyone who is going through anything. Follow her on her Twitter @LUV_Recovery and @kitcatlyon and you can find her on my Instagram. Cat is known to never give up on your dreams & Cat, you are a true definition of a survivor! So, continue to shine you’re light on others”…
I want to talk about a bad habit and behavior of self-sabotage. I know the meaning of it very intimately. For those who don’t? Here is what it means. Self-Sabotage: The dictionary definition of sabotage is “an act or process tending to hamper or hurt” or “deliberate subversion.” Mine started way before I became a gambling addict. I also feel it became worse during my addiction like added fuel to fire. In early recovery and through therapy, I was able to look back throughout my life and examine many of my past relationships where I had self-sabotaged them in many ways.
I feel that when we ‘self-sabotage’ things in our lives, it is tied to not having self-esteem or self-worth within ourselves. Like we are not “worthy” of love or people treating us well. It came from being raised with parents who didn’t understand children crave unconditional love and their validation when we do good. And I am NOT blaming my parents that they were this way, no, it may have been how they were raised and raised in way different times than what we live in today.
I would sabotage relationships, many with men, women, co-workers, anyone. I can not count how many times I would be dating a really nice guy, when things started to become serious and he would treat me like a ‘queen,’ I would for some reason feel I wasn’t worthy or special enough so, I would just break up with them, or cause a fight or just ignore them and move on. Where this was coming from at the time I did not know. This became even worse when I was addicted to gambling and finally learning it was part of the “Brains Dopamine Pleasure & Reward System.”
But fast forward in life and I continued this strange self-sabotage behavior. When I became addicted to gambling and in the worst of it, strangely the feelings of what I was doing to myself, my husband, friends, and family felt oddly normal to me. I think it was because I figured, “well, since I feel not worthy of goodness in my life it didn’t matter if I hurt others with my addicted gambling.” That was my sick and the diseased thinking at the time. Sadly, I was getting back at those who had caused me pain or hurt me. I was just hurting myself and everyone around me with both my gambling and self-sabatoge.
I came across a website that had a good explamation and article about this subject that helped me understand more of why I was doing it. SO I want to share it with you. I know I am not the only person who has had this problem and the post explains some of how we can stop self-sabatoge. It helped me and I hope it may help others.
Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you want consciously. Moreover, it is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifests in self-sabotage patterns. It not only prevents you from reaching your goal, but also becomes a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment. In other words, your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best, which is keeping you within your comfort zone.
Self-sabotage tends to linger in our lives because of a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, and self-belief. Likewise, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we are unable to manage our emotions effectively. We tend to react to events, circumstances and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.
Self-sabotage is also used as a method of coping with difficult situations or high expectations of ourselves or others that we unconsciously feel we are not capable of reaching. No matter what our reasons for self-sabotage it is clear that if we don’t do something about it, that we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.
Eliminating Self-Sabotage Process
There is a simple yet very effective process that we can follow to help us eliminate self-sabotage from our lives. The process is composed of four steps that will help you to take conscious control of the behaviors that are currently directing your decisions and actions. Learn to get out of your own way!
1. Identify Self-Sabotage Behavior
First we must identify the behavior that is preventing us from moving forward. To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily decisions and actions and the resulting consequences. Once identified, it’s important to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing this behavior to come through to the surface. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Next, we must ask ourselves whether we can avoid these triggers altogether?
By simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. However, there is yet another factor that we must take into consideration, which is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotage pattern. The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on transforming them into positive empowering beliefs that work for us rather than against us. One of the simplest ways to do this is the question the validity of your belief.
What is it that I believe in this situation?
What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?
How did my belief about this trigger this self-sabotage pattern?
How is this belief ridiculous and impractical?
What would others say about this belief?
What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?
These questions are a good starting point and will get you focused in the right direction.
2. Recreate Self-Sabotage Pattern from Beginning
Having completed step #1, you can now consciously recreate the self-sabotage pattern by outlining all the triggers and the associating behaviors that manifest as a result of these triggers. It’s important that you are clear how this behavior manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.
3. Identify Healthy Replacement Behavior
In order to eliminate an old pattern of behavior we often must replace it with a new pattern of behavior that’s more practical and helpful. This is important because often we simply can’t avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in limiting ways. As such, we must take time to identify a new, different and appropriate way of responding that will help us to achieve our goals and objectives.
How could I respond in a more appropriate and proactive manner that would help me get what I want?
How is this a better way to respond?
What are some reasons for making this change?
What could be the long-term benefits of transforming how I respond in this situation?
What are the key advantages of this new behavior?
4. Practice New Behavior Until Habit is Formed
Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible over the next four weeks until a habit is formed. First begin by running your response to the situation in your imagination, seeing every detail, and feeling the positive energy churning through your body as you overcome this self-sabotage pattern.
Now that your imagination has been primed, you are now ready to put yourself in situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behavior, however this time, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new habit is finally formed. NOW GO READ THE REST OF THIS AMAZING ARTICLE ON… Again, I hope you will go read this full article http://blog.iqmatrix.com/overcome-self-sabotage as it has many tips and advice on taking control over self-sabatoge in your life and in your recovery journey!
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and other sources note the following statistics. 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week. Approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling. That’s around 6 million adults and about a half million teens.
Courtesy of The National Council on Problem Gambling
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and other sources note the following statistics.
• 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week.
• Approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling. That’s around 6 million adults and about a half million teens.
• Youth risk developing a gambling problem at a rate of about two to three times that of adults, and approximately 6 percent of college students in America have a gambling problem.
• About 40 percent of people with a gambling problem started gambling before the age of 17.
• Nevada has the highest prevalence of problem gambling in the country, at about 6.4 percent.
Effects of Problem Gambling
• There are an array of harmful effects arising from problem gambling, including:
• NCPG notes the annual cost associated with gambling (crime, addiction, and bankruptcy) is $17 billion.
• Approximately 76 percent of problem gamblers are likely to have a major depressive disorder, according to the NCPG.
• The NPCG also says children of problem gamblers are at higher risk for a number of behaviors including problem gambling, tobacco use, and drug use.
• Oregon Problem Gambling Resource states that about 10 to 17 percent of children of problem gamblers and about 25 to 50 percent of spouses of problem gamblers have been abused.
• Georgia State University (GSU) estimates that about 50 percent of problem gamblers commit crimes, and about 2/3 of those crimes were directly related to the gambling.
• GSU also notes that 73 percent of people who are incarcerated are identified as problem gamblers.
• An Australian study found that one in five suicidal patients had a gambling problem.
WHAT IS PROBLEM GAMBLING?
Gambling addiction—also known aspathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder—is an impulse-control disorder. If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You’ll gamble whether you’re up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed, and you’ll keep gambling regardless of the consequences—even when you know that the odds are against you or you can’t afford to lose.
Of course, you can also have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life. If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.
A gambling addiction or problem is often associated with other behavior or mood disorders. Many problem gamblers also suffer with substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. To overcome your gambling problems, you’ll also need to address these and any other underlying causes as well. The first step is to separate the myths from the facts and what are the implications?
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following risk factors for developing a gambling problem.
• Behavior or mood disorders
• Age – the problem develops more frequently in young people
• Family influence – whether parents and other close adults were gamblers
• Personality characteristics such as high level of being competitive, or easily bored
Online gambling casinos earned $29.3 billion in 2010, an increase of 12 percent. Morgan-Stanley projects that online gaming in the United States will be worth $9.3 billion by 2020. Currently, some states allow online gaming, including Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
COLLEGE STUDENTS AND ONLINE GAMBLING
The fastest growing segment of the population involved in online gambling are college students. A University of Connecticut study showed:
• 23 percent of college students had gambled online
• 6.3 percent did so weekly
• In the group that gambled frequently online, 61 percent were pathological gamblers.
• In comparison, only 5 percent of non-internet gamblers were considered to have a gambling problem.
Another report on online gambling noted that the easy accessibility and frequency of play of online gambling present a significant risk of problem gambling.
OTHER INTERNET GAMBLING STATISTICS
Other statistics about online problem gambling include:
• A 2013 Australian survey showed 30 percent of online gamblers were at risk of problem gambling. Only 15 percent of offline gamblers risked developing a problem.
• BBC reports a rise in problem gambling in the 18 to 35 year old demographic in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
• Another report links smartphone gaming to an increase in problem gambling.
You can RISE above gambling and other addictions!
Some of the life’s greatest milestones are threatened by problem gambling and other addictive behaviors. Addiction affects not only the addicted person, but the entire family and can cause a tremendous amount of wreckage and problems in all areas of life for everyone in the family.
RISE believes in the power of family recovery, and is passionate about providing help for both the individual and the family members. We aim to provide compassionate quality treatment for you and your loved ones on the journey to recovery and healing. Recovery starts with you. Rise has great resouces too!
Here are just of few of the resources that can STOP GAMBLING Your Life Away!
Every year in March, I share the helpful resources of my #1 resource and organization I support, The National Council on Problem Gambling. They have helped many become “BET-FREE” and begin to help families heal from the devastation of gambling addiction and problems gambling causes. It will be my 8th year doing so on my blog here and I know the resources they provide are there for anyone who has a gambling problem.
This year the spotlight is on “March Madness and the time of year when we see an increase in problem gambling and more demand for the council’s services.” Since the pandemic started, I have also seen “Online Gambling” explode with mandates of mask-wearing and social distancing, with many casinos and gambling venues still closed or limited capacity. The latest stat says online gambling has gone up almost 41% since the Coronavirus hit last year. And, parents, keep in mind this can include your teens and young adults.
One area is sports betting on college basketball games all March long. So I wanted to share some of the National Council’s declarations and permit me each year about their March campaign and how you can get help for a loved one if you think they may have a problem with gambling. Never underestimate this addiction. It requires no substance and it doesn’t discrimanate who it tries to take next. 1 in 5 will try suicide like I did. Parents, when you have “The Talk” with their kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, please include problem gambling. . .
Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
03.01.21 By: JOHN NORTON
Awareness Plus Action Needed as Sports Betting Explodes
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month
Washington, DC – The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) designates March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament that sees over $8 billion wagered on its games, is the backdrop that NCPG and its partners across the country leverage to help raise awareness and create action for those suffering from gambling problems.
With the campaign now in its nineteenth year, contacts to the National Problem Gambling Helpline typically spike during March. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that states could allow sports betting, the proverbial floodgates opened. As we go to press, sports betting is now legal and operational in 20 states plus the District of Columbia, with many more considering it – an unprecedented expansion of gambling in the U.S. Unfortunately, services to mitigate the inevitable increase in harms associated with gambling have not kept pace.
“March Madness is a time of year when we see an increase in gambling and more demand for our services,” said Keith Whyte, Executive Director of NCPG. “Too many people still don’t recognize they are exhibiting signs of this addictive behavior and are unaware of the help that is available to them.”
The PGAM grassroots campaign brings together a wide range of stakeholders, among them public health organizations, advocacy groups including NCPG state affiliates, and even gambling operators. NCPG provides a special web page to give information on local state activities and events – participants may share them via a link on our main webpage: https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/programs/pgam/
Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) is designed to achieve two goals:
To increase public awareness of problem gambling; and
To encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for gambling problems.
On NCPG’s PGAM webpage visitors are provided with materials and special graphics in the PGAM Toolkit, which can be used without charge by any organization that wants to hold advocacy and awareness activities this March. Each year, hundreds of organizations do. The social media hashtags for this initiative are #AwarenessPlusAction and #PGAM2021.
NCPG also collaborates with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) on Gambling Disorder Screening Day, which occurs on March 9, 2021. CHA, a nonprofit health organization headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosts the international event that has been held annually on the second Tuesday in March since 2014. It is designed to encourage health care providers to screen for gambling problems in the same way they do for alcohol and drug use disorder or domestic abuse, and to provide the tools to recognize gambling disorder for both the public and health care providers. All too often, this disorder leads to financial, emotional, social, occupational and physical harms, yet many cases go undetected due to the limited availability of accessible assessments to identify this problem. The Screening Day addresses the issue and provides tools to identify gambling-related problems as early as possible.
Whyte said, “Problem gambling is certainly not confined to sports betting. We want anyone who may have a problem with any form of gambling to know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.” NCPG’s National Helpline, which is the only helpline for gambling that works in all 50 states, is tollfree, confidential, available 24/7, and offers translation services in 178 languages. It receives no federal funding and is supported only by NCPG’s members and donors.
About the National Council on Problem Gambling
Based in Washington DC, the National Council on Problem Gambling is the only national nonprofit organization that seeks to minimize the economic and social costs associated with gambling addiction. If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without stigma or shame. Call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat. Help is available 24/7 – it is free and confidential.
You will never convince me that recovery is not possible for anyone nor that recovery doesn’t work. You will never convince me that woman can’t be a Recovery Warrior either. Because that is who my mentor and dear friend Marilyn Davis is to many who have reached out for help from addictions. She has always been there when I needed sound recovery advice or to pick up the phone and call her to say hello; either way, I can never thank her enough for that.
Marilyn has released a new book titled Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, available on Amazon online. She shares self-help from drug addiction through her memoirs. As her book description says, “New in recovery, a chance encounter with Gray Hawk, a 74-year old Native American, showed her that healing would include looking within, taking Steps, and creating a house of healing for other women.
Today, Marilyn is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, recently celebrating thirty-two years of abstinence-based recovery. From 1990-2011, she opened and managed North House, an award-winning residential facility for women. Before reaching this milestone, she was a desperate woman on drugs, managing rock bands at night, pretending to be okay, but ultimately giving up on herself, losing her husband, children, family, and friends due to her addiction.
Her new book is that journey.
~ Courtesy of Beth Burgess
After celebrating 32 years of 12-step abstinence-based recovery, Marilyn Davis, Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist and author, shares 32 lessons that helped her heal, change, and grow.
When I got out of treatment on November 8, 1988, I wondered if I could make it in recovery. I’d been a desperate woman on drugs for a long time. My addiction was so chaotic, I ended up losing my husband and children.
Although I’d been cooperative in my six weeks of treatment, now I’d be out of a secure, locked environment. Could I resist calling my dealer? Could I muster the courage to walk into a 12-Step meeting where I didn’t know anyone? How was I going to adjust to living with my parents again? After all, I was forty years old, and they gave me a curfew!
All of those questions made me apprehensive and anxious, but I resolved to go to a meeting, get some phone numbers, and find a home group.
Learning Recovery Lessons
Through 12-step meetings, I met a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk, who had 34 years of recovery when I met him. He showed me that healing from addiction would include meetings, taking Steps, and creating a house of healing for other women.
Every year, I try to focus on my Lesson of the Year, something my mentor suggested. Each of these lessons has come from working the Steps, as well as asking for, and following through, with the suggestions.
Unfortunately, I had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way – by not listening to old-timers, believing I was different, or just being stubborn. But I sincerely hope you can avoid that by reading the lessons I learned.
My Top 32 Recovery Lessons
I’m choosing to say no to drugs and alcohol.
I can do this with help.
These people know what they’re talking about when they offer their experience, strength, and hope.
Not everyone is open to amends, but I need to clean up my side of the street.
I would choose to throw everything I’ve worked for if I pick up again.
Pain can motivate me or take me back out. I’ll choose motivation.
I demonstrate strength when I show my vulnerability.
Working towards a goal with incremental sub-goals means I can feel a sense of accomplishment.
I can do this.
My feelings were numb for many years and won’t come back appropriately to the situation sometimes. That’s okay.
Not everyone will be supportive – that’s on them if I’m doing what I need to do.
I will work towards emotional, physical, and mental balance.
I’ll use the 17 Spiritual Principles and get better outcomes.
My actions defined me in my use and my recovery.
At some point, picking back up is a choice.
I have a choice today in how I process my feelings.
Do I rise and shine, or do I rise and whine?
Being uncomfortable is not going to kill me.
The Steps were written in a specific order; take them as they’re written.
Sponsoring someone is a gift.
Life has meaning and purpose; now that I’m clean, I can pursue both.
I can not buy self-esteem, but recovery restores mine.
I can have fun with other recovering people – we can all laugh at the bowling shoes.
I can repair the damage to relationships that my addiction caused.
I am now resilient in my recovery, not helpless as I was in my addiction.
When I share what’s worked for me with a newcomer, it reinforces that choice and gives them hope.
In all things, I must practice honesty.
I can never know what someone is experiencing, and if they appear grumpy, angry, withdrawn, or not friendly, it probably has nothing to do with me.
I will start and end my day with prayer.
Be present in this moment; it’s all you’ve got.
No one can read my mind; I must either ask for what I need or explain myself.
I can’t change anyone but myself.
What Recovery Is
Recovery from addiction is much more than mere abstinence from a substance or a behavior.
While abstinence is a fundamental component of my recovery, I think the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration definition fits my belief. “Recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”
These lessons are all things that helped me to not only stay clean and sober, but reach my full potential as a person in recovery.
My father recently passed away of COVID. He lived in Southern California with my older sister in the home, where horrible memories of my past childhood still lay. When I first began my recovery journey, I wasn’t ready to dive into my past childhood trauma and haunting memories.
It took me a few years and a lot of therapy to even begin to process this and forgive and lay those haunting memories away. It was some of the roots and underlying issues of how I got sucked into my gambling addiction. I was using gambling as a coping skill and an escape from the pain of my childhood trauma until I finally could not stuff away any longer.
Even when I began writing and journaling for my book over a year to see what gambling addiction had taken from me, I was just not ready to share that part of my past. Now that my mom and dad have passed on, it has again begun to surface slightly.
One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them, facing them, and feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. Finally, today the abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have because I have many happy childhood memories despite what happened to me.
But with my dad’s passing, it seemed they were front and center. I was begging them to be defeated. Way back then, every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, battles are fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory. That being said, today, I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won’t mean much to you, but to me, it is a significant victory.
The significance of this? As a little girl, we would go on weekends to see my aunt Anna and uncle Frank who lived in Palm Springs, CA., and my uncle Frank would always prepare a special dinner to eat for our visits which included terrific desserts. I loved my aunt Anna as she bought and gave me my very first Bible.
And I would love to hear my uncle Frank talk and share about all the famous people who came into his restaurant and who he cooked for, like Bob Hope, former President Ford, famous golfers, and many others. I loved going swimming too, as they had a fantastic pool in the backyard.
My uncle would always make one of my favorites, Italian wedding cookies. However, I didn’t get to eat them until my parents brought them home because my oldest brother would talk me into staying home; he’d beg and entice me with all kinds of lies.
And that is when the trauma would occur. It was only then, after being a good girl, until our parents got home late that evening, I would have access to my favorite cookies. It didn’t take long before those cookies became like poison. For the mere smell of almond or amaretto to make me physically ill.
After hiding the sordid details of my childhood back then, I believe the Holy Spirit, moving, convinced me it was time to process and bury my demons and began for me around age 30. But now it is time to rebury more old demons, and the only way I could do that was to reclaim the territory my enemy had taken so many years ago—Italian wedding cookies. As I paused before taking a bite, I reminded myself of where I was today within my recovery journey, and I took a bite. It was wonderful. Not only did it taste good, but I felt strong.
As if I was declaring to my abuser, “No! You may not have these cookies! (Yes, my brother had apologized, I forgave him, we have made amends as he shared with me & my husband that had been molested by our uncle Joe when we lived in NJ.)
You defiled my innocence, not knowing his was to. Still, you may not steal my ability to enjoy a cookie!” My life is full of moments like that. Every day there is a battle fought and sometimes won. They often go unnoticed by the people closest to me. However, they are mighty victories. There are often things we carry from our childhood that restrain our ability to enjoy simple things.
Abuse and trauma can destroy our ability to accept and receive the good things God intended for us to have. Love and intimacy are some of those things. Just as the smell of a particular type of cookie triggered a reaction of fear and shame, the idea of love can seem meant for destruction. Therefore, the very idea that God “loves” us terrifies us.
Love to an abuse survivor often means manipulation and pain. So it took me a while to grasp the concept of God’s unconditional love. Why? My parents did not understand it, so I was not raised with it. Of course, not blaming my parents at all. They may not have been taught knowing what unconditional love was either.
It took me years to begin to understand that Christ chose me; He loves me not because He needs me for anything. He did not send His son to die for me in an attempt to guilt me into trusting Him or doing things for Him. He chose me and loved me because He is God. He is all-sufficient.
I may not be able to reclaim my childhood. I still battle with depression, flashbacks, and agoraphobia. However, I chose the love of Christ to reclaim how I react to things. I can select feeling pleasure over feeling fear, and I can choose love over hate. I can pick these things because Christ has given me the power and ability, just as my recovery is a part of the freedom found in Christ.
He has given me the ability to and the freedom from addiction and bondage of addicted gambling!
He gave me the freedomto love, freedom to forgive, freedom to rejoice, And the freedom to enjoy a cookie!
It is not every day you are invited and featured in a national and international womens magazine, this is what happened to me recently. I am not only honored but humbled to share my story and voice to other women around the world who just might be suffering in silence from addicted gambling like I was 14-years ago and had no clue how to STOP… The rest of that story I am about to share, the same article that is currently being read now in ADIVA Magazine –issue #3 for our Fall/Winter 2020.
You may check it out and learn all about on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/StellaDamasusOfficial/videos/adiva-magazine/385566179159699/ I want to thank Stella Damasus for the invite and I have received amazing feedback and some emails too! When we share HOPE and our experiences with others? THAT is what helps me going forward in my recovery. I may never know who it may impact or “touch” but even if it is only one person? It worth IT!
My name is Catherine Townsend-Lyon, and I’m a recovering gambling addict…
My addiction didn’t require any substances—no pill, needles, liquids, or smoke Yet, every one in five gambling addicts will try suicide from it as I had tried, twice. I will celebrate my 13th-year, maintaining recovery come Jan. 2020. When most people talk about addiction, they often focus on substance abuse. In truth, there are people addicted to behaviors and habits that can cause just as much damage to their lives as drugs or alcohol.
“Catherine Townsend-Lyon understands this all too well. For years, she was addicted to gambling and what she calls “a silent addiction.”
ADIVA Magazine Feature
Catherine shares her story of how she freed herself from this crippling addiction and how she uses this experience to help others get on the path to recovery, even when all hope seems lost. From an addiction that is now the #1 addiction taking lives by suicide…
My disease is called addicted gambling, a silent addiction.
“How did a good girl go bad? By crossing a fine line from a “once in a while gambler to a full-blown addicted one.” Well, I began gambling with money. In the end, I was gambling with my life.
This addiction is progressive in nature, so I began pawning or selling valuables. Finally, I ended up committing a crime because the money ran out. Toward the end and before treatment, I began to abuse alcohol as just gambling alone wasn’t “doing it for me,” as I was stuck in a cunning sick cycle. I was sick, broke, broken, spiritually lost. Then, hopelessness and darkness took over.
As statistics now show, more then 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers, and one in every five addicted gambler’s attempting suicide as I did, twice, these numbers will continue to rise as the expansion of for-profit gambling options, including online legalized online internet gambling like sports betting in many states, just as state lotteries are expanding. It seems gambling is just about everywhere from my experiences.
So, it is no wonder I became addicted to it. I became one of the 1 in 5 who tried suicide while still residing in Southern Oregon for over 26+years and where my gambling addiction journey began. I, too, had two failed suicide attempts before I knew there was help available.
I was gambling two to four times a day playing the Oregon lottery video poker/slot machines introduced in the early 90s. By 1998, the Oregon Lottery had licensed more than 9,000 video gambling machines in some 1,800 outlets, and I got hooked! Gambling on slot and poker machines has now become the second-biggest revenue raiser for the Oregon government, behind income taxes.
My recovery journey started in 2002 after my first suicide attempt. But again, in April 2006, I woke up in a hospital for a second time due to another failed suicide attempt and again admitted into an addiction and mental health crisis center for another 30-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; it was due to not taking my psych medications for my mental health. I thought I didn’t need nor want to take them any longer and thinking I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well.
Hell, being normal is a bit overrated (Lol).
No excuses as we faced a few severe financial crises simultaneously as I stopped taking my medications for my mental health. My husband and I had worked through all of our savings; I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! They pressed charges, I was arrested, went through the court process, and was sentenced to many community service hours, two years of probation, and paid restitution that I am still paying on today. If I don’t? I will most likely die a felon.
My Point and Wisdom From an Older Diva
You have to do all the recovery work in all areas that include your finances (financial inventory). I had not done the work in this area and necessary for a steady recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work and maybe with a gambling addiction specialist. After my problems occurred, I did choose to work with a specialist for over a year while I went through the legal mess I created.
Why am I sharing?
Our recovery stories and experiences are powerful tools to help others and to give them hope! Even after my second suicide attempt and crisis center stay from the hospital, I learned I did not have a well-rounded recovery plan and had a lot more work to do. I also knew that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of addicted compulsive gambling.
After I was released from the crisis center in 2006, I began working with a gambling addiction specialist and got my mental health under control; I began to see the enormous stigma around those who maintain recovery and those who may have a mental illness. And since I am a dual-diagnosed person, this can make obtaining recovery a bit more work, as I discovered. The habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking we use within our addiction needed more correcting.
Working with the specialist was eye-opening. He made me revisit and helped me break down ‘the cycle’ of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while maintaining recovery. I found a relapse prevention workbook that helped and was a game-changer for me. Although I never did relapse into gambling, this workbook had helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event crisis that may arise during my recovery journey.
Another tool was journaling each day. I’ve enjoyed writing at a young age and kept a journal, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. I later used my writings to write my book, a memoir titled ‘Addicted To Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.’ It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many fine book stores and online. It is written in memoir form and is not how to recover, but the Why and the roots to how I became addicted to this cunning addiction… https://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A/
I didn’t start writing and journaling for a book; that was all God’s intervention and came later on. Writing down my story and experiences in notebooks for a year toward the end of 2010 was a very healing process for me. I shared in the book my gambling addiction, my past childhood abuse, and sexual trauma, and what it is like living with mental illness.
“I needed to see on paper and in between the lines what gambling addiction had taken from me”…
Today I never dreamed I would be a published author and recovery advocate. That began my recovery advocacy of writing for many publications like formerly InRecovery magazine, now a columnist for “Keys To Recovery” newspaper, recovery blogging, many radio shows, podcasts, and speaking. These are only a few of my recovery blessings I have received within my path thus far. By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter the stigma around gambling addiction, those maintaining recovery, and those with mental and emotional health challenges.
I have also, recently began to share my voice and story as one who also suffered childhood sexual abuse and trauma with others as well. Why? Because I learned these are the underlying issues and roots that had me turn to addiction came from that pain from my to overcome it and not use gambling to escape, cope, or hide from all those haunting memories.
Through my book, I have chosen not to be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real silent disease and illness that requires no substances, is just as destructive as any other addiction, and still #1 in claiming lives by suicide than any other addiction. Through my advocacy work, I help others be informed and educated as I raise awareness and prove the impacts problem gambling has on your communities’ as it shatters families. The expansion of casinos, state lottery, and online gambling contributes to more accessibility as it now is touching our youth.
I’m often asked what I do to keep my long-term recovery. Work a steady recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit, finances, and personal inventory. There are many ways and choices to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12-Step meetings, addiction specialists, and more. Anything and everything you can find? Just do it. Only one option may not be enough to reach success in long-term recovery.
Today it is my recovery duty to share hope to those reaching out to recover and need support. I continue my advocacy work as an article writer and columnist for ‘Keys To Recovery newspaper’ out of Southern California. I run and write a blog called https://BetFreeRecoveryNow.wordpress.com and share my experiences and recovery throughout media and social media. Have done so on in many publications, podcasts, radio shows, and in a global ADIVA Mag.
My husband Tom and I just celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary as we live outside Phoenix, Arizona. We live a quiet life with our three kitty fur babies. Soon, I will celebrate my 14th year maintaining recovery on Jan. 29th, 2021… It has been a long road to get to where I am today. The rest our/my amazing life has been GOD GIVEN and I am blessed and humbled with a life that has been beyond a one I could have ever hoped for in so many ways.
I have gained wisdom, have learned life lessons, and the best part? I get to help others who may still be suffering in silence like I had for many year’s from gambling and into recovery. Everyone deserves a second chance as I did when God showed my my real true purpose in life.
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence”… ~Robert Louis Stevenson
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” … ~Maya Angelou
When I first entered treatment and began my journey to healing? The first few things I learned right away? We never give up, never give in, and yes, I had many struggles staying on my path of recovery with a few slips here and there. I do know how difficult it can be beginning early recovery.
We are expected to change, be open to change, and begin the hard work of reclaiming our lives back from a cunning and insidious addiction. That requires much work to be done. See, next month I will be maintaining recovery for 14-years, and I can tell you two things…
It won’t always be hard, and your life will become not just better, it will become AMAZING! It will become a blessing, fulfilled, happy, and peaceful, much better than you could imagine or dream of. That, I can promise you.
This is why I got permission to share many other stories and real struggles and the determination many have who made it within recovery, and some who are figuring it out. See, we always need to know where we came from, never become complacent.
It is why I make many visits to gambling addiction websites and read what people share and hope to give constructive advice that will hopefully help those who search for that successful place within recovery. There several sites that offer Chat rooms and Posting Wall to interact and engage like minded folks recovering from gambling addiction. One is called Safe Harbor http://www.sfcghub.com/cgsf1.html and they offer meetings, chat, and much more. Also, GamTalk https://www.gamtalk.org/groups/community/ who offers an active forum, chats, and a community posting wall too.
Both offer exceptional Recovery Resources and can be found on each front page of their websites. And you can do so on both being anonymous. Here are some anonymous voices of those recovering or beginning the journey. Yes, we are “works in progress”… ~Catherine Lyon, Advocate
* * * * * * *
GAMBLERS VOICES RECOVERING:
Gambler: “I am understanding alot and feeling some hope by reading these posts… I am a gambler… I must stop… I want to stop…
But then I decide to continue…Why, why asked myself! Why do you do this?? Why do you sink yourself hopelessly into this addiction”…
Someone Replied: “We have all had false starts so do not lose heart, like a smoker it is rare to stop smoking at the first attempt but the important thing is to keep the goal of stopping in mind. Do not be too hard on yourself for lapsing, just say to yourself, ok next time I will succeed. For me it took time and education (and Gamcare Counselling), the more I learned about the gambling industry the more it’s appeal diminished.”
Once something loses it’s appeal the easier it is to let go of it. I don’t like words like ‘addiction’ and ‘illness’ as I think this encourages ‘victim’ mode. We are not victims we have choices but we need to retrain our brains so that we can change the choices that we make. For me learning about the gambling industry online did a few things, it occupied my time instead of gambling, it opened my eyes to what a well constructed industry it is with one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY, it changed my perception of what gambling actually had to offer.
A good example is smokers, why is it that some stop with relative ease whilst others will have withdrawal symptoms for years (and more likely start again). It is all to do with our approach and perception, if we anticipate difficulties we will have difficulties, if we can re-educate our brains to really accept the damage we are doing then smoking becomes something that no longer appeals and is no longer desired. For me the approach with gambling was the same as the smoker, make your new hobby educating yourself as to the construction of an industry that has one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY.
I actually found it all quite interesting, quite an education and the more I learned the more pointless gambling became. For me there was no epithany moment, no praying to a god or a higher power hoping for that lightbulb moment when my life would change it was a methodical deconstruction through gaining knowledge. I do recommend counselling with Gamcare, they will not judge you but they do help you find your own answers within yourself. I can only speak for myself but I am not unique and if this method helped me then it might help you. I hope it does.”
A GAMBLER: “Gamcare (https://www.gamcare.org.uk/ counselling helped me to take responsibility and own my habit without being judgemental. I am a very logical person in every aspect of my life, with the exception of gambling. I soon realised that when I gambled (online slots, one in particular) that winning was not actually the goal, playing was the goal. If I won it merely served as more playing time.
This made me realise that gambling was a way to lose myself for a few hours, ignore the responsibilty of being an adult. There were times when I would win early on and it was futile to stay on so I would stop, I would then feel agitated and unfulfilled. I read somewhere that the first time you have a decent win that the adrenalin rush to the brain is so great that the brain puts up a barrier to protect itself, same as a fuse works in a plug. Once that barrier goes up the intensity of the win is never equalled again, yet still we try to acheive it.
It’s the same reason that an adrenalin junkie increases the danger of their extreme sport pursuits. I think that the slots are very much geared around transporting us to our childhood with their cartoon characters, bright colours and music, back to a time of being carefree and irresponsible. The more logic I can apply to what I do the less appealing gambling is. Are brains are capable of many things and continues to learn througout our lives, it is our job to grasp that opportunity to learn how to control our illogical urges. I removed guilt and shame from my agenda and decided to own my problem instead of seeing myself as a victim with an ‘illness’.
I can only speak for myself and from my own experiences and my logic may not apply to all but so long as you are dealing with your problem then you are on the right track, I just hope that my logic strikes a chord with some of you and helps you as it has helped me. There is no wrong way to stop but if we share our experiences then maybe we can all help each other”… They also have resouces and blog: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/ “
A GAMBLER: “Here’s to a new day, making a decision to turn my will over to my higher power. Doing my best to stay connected to Him. Hoping to turn this ship around. Great advice everyone, especially on researching the cunningness of the Casino.
They know what they are doing. They make millions and billions doing it. Let’s stop giving them our money! They are rigged and we won’t catch our losses. Time to bury that chapter!”
A GAMBLER: “I told my husband about my addiction and now he hates me and says he doubts everything about our relationship!!”
SOME REPLIES: “Normal reaction. Hurt people hurt people.”
“I can relate CJ. It is going to take time for me to get my husband to trust me again. I have lied to him so many times. I am very manipulative. I don’t like the person I am right now. I definitely want to change. I also want to be able to tell the truth again, nothing but the truth.”
“He doesn’t hate you, he’s shocked and hopefully when he has had time to process the information he will be supportive. I find gambling the most misunderstood of addictions, it seems to carry the most blame because non addicts associate gambling as playing or having fun. I found counselling with Gamcare very helpful. They do not judge you but help you to understand yourself.”
A GAMBLER: “I feel so ashamed and feel like I have let my family down. I am just disgusted with myself. I have wasted so much money that could have been put towards something other then wasting it”…
SOME REPLIES: “Hi did you read my post?” — “No, I am new here.”
“I feel as you do but if we are just posting and reading everyones sorrows, how is this going to help us? Are we to do self-interflection and draw for the post that we are not alone? What about the next urge to gamble? I need something more tangible, more intervention with human conversation”…
“D” I understand the need for a plan. I find myself being scared and sometimes encourages me by reading but you’re right, we need more of an action plan.”
MY REPLYWAS: “I was given an awesome Relapse Prevention Guide years ago when I began my recovery path and I have it listed on my gambling recovery blog for anyone who needs it. You can copy and paste where ever you need. It truly helped me make and KEEP a relapse plan and did help me get out of the loop of relapses. Especially helps during the holiday season when we may have more stress or life events.
Reading and learning from others experiences can be tools to know we are not alone, we all have similar struggles from this cunning addiction, and you have the action and choices that can also be your solution… Like we learn, “keep doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result”? Never happens with this disease.”
A GAMBLER: “Today I made a payment plan. This feels like a good step as I work at being steady and not rushing through.. Slow progress is still progress. Better than continuing to dig a bigger financial hole. Today has been a good gamble free day!”
REPLY: “Well done! Recovery is about progress not perfection. Keep it up ODAAT (One Day At A Time)…
LASTLY, A GAMBLER: “Good morning! I am looking forward to talking with you as I work the twelve steps and start the recovery process. I recently admitted I am powerless over gambling and my life has become unmanageable. I don’t like the feeling of being hyjacked when it comes to gambling but that will always be the case. I want to abstain. I do believe my only hope lies with surrendering to my higher power. I will seek my higher power today.”
REPLIES: WELL DONE! The first 3 Steps of the Gamblers Anonymous Program 1) We admitted we were powerless over gambling – that our lives had become unmanageable. 2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living. 3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding. “K”
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A Recovering Gamblers Poem of Hope
Fellow gambler, take my hand; I’m your friend, I understand. I’ve known your guilt, your shame, remorse; I’ve borne the burden of your cross. I found a friend who offered ease; He suffered, too, with this disease. Although he had no magic cure, He showed how we could endure. We walked together side by side; We spoke of things we had to hide. We told of sleepless nights and debts, Of broken homes and lies and threats. And so my weary gambler friend, Please take this hand that I extend. Take one more chance on something new, Another gambler helping you.
It dosen’t matter the preference or choice of staying in action with gambling like slots, poker, lotto or scratch tickets …It is about learning to interrupt “The Cycle” and use the tools and skills we learn in our choice and path to recover from gambling addiction.
Advocate, Catherine Lyon
I’m Bernie and I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler. My Last bet was November 21, 2007.
I grew up on a farm not too far from what is now known as Soaring Eagle Casino. I was not attracted to casinos because to me they were represented by a pole barn. The reason I say that, is because growing up that is what Soaring Eagle was. It wasn’t until much later that it became the place it is now. I found myself being a bit of a loner when I was really young but that only goes to the way I felt.
It wasn’t until High School in the fall of 1979 that I was introduced to what would become my chosen form of gambling (scratch-off tickets). Back then, it was just one now and then with friends from school. I went to a Christian High school a half hour away from where I lived, so the first 2 years I lived with a family in another town during the week. But most of this has little to do with the active part of my addiction.
I was however exposed to functional alcoholism during this time. When I started driving I started smoking and on occasion buying scratch-offs. The smoking became a problem when I was diagnosed with clergies and lost interest due to how it was affecting my breathing, but the gambling was still just a ‘once in a while’ activity.
While in college I met and married my first wife. It was at this time that I saw my first look at what a compulsive gambler looked like. My mother-in-law had a room filled with losing tickets of every sort and was always getting them. I swore at that moment that I would never be like that. She was a nice person most of the time, but the things I saw with her gambling was not very pleasant. Over the years, I would begin to gravitate toward doing exactly what I said I would never do.
My marriage became a stress point for me. We had two sons and I was still getting my degree several years into the marriage. We argued more and more as I went from low paying job to low paying job. By the time 2000 rolled around, I had had a good job with the state, but it was not enough because we were both driving insane distances for work. I left there due to failing a training process, to try and get closer to home and returned to lower paying jobs. I tried to start a business or two and failed to ‘make enough’. This led me to wanting to stay away from home more.
With me working at convenience store and as a direct care worker, I was able to do that but needed to ‘kill time’ to avoid her (my wife). My addiction became worse and gave me a way to stay away during times we were both awake and home more. I’d get home after she had gone to sleep and she would be off to work by the time I woke up. Gambling had become an escape from the problem.
In 2007, my world began to come apart! My mom died and later I would almost lose my job as a result of someone stealing from my till. That resulted in a big argument and fighting to get my job back. Then would come my suicidal feelings (they had always been under the surface but this brought them out in spades). I ended up spending time in an adult psychiatric hospital for 10 days which gave my then wife time to discover just how bad my gambling had become.
This led to more fights and after several years of arguing came the separation. Then came divorce and the realization that all these years I had actually had Asthma and Sleep Apnea. Ultimately the divorce made recovery better for me and in 2013 I remarried a wonderful woman who has been my rock.
Back to 2007, November 21, 2007 to be exact. I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting that night and after it I bought what would be my last scratch-off ticket. That action sent me into tears as I realized I had a problem. It was $1 but it was after hearing stories of people who went to prison and experienced losing everything. How could I buy a ticket after that?
Since that time, I have focused on using my background to help others who are in recovery. It took some time to get my feet under me and deal with my addiction, but once that began I was writing and even speaking about the addiction. That is how I got to where I am today and doing what I do today.
My background is as a Bachelors Level Social Worker with the following added pieces: I started out studying to be a Lutheran Minister, focused on knowing my faith. I studied informally, as well as formally, many world religions. I studied to be a teacher for a short time. I studied Psychology (which became my minor). As I started recovery, I studied everything I could to understand addiction and combined what I learned with every experience and educational aspect of my life.
That said, I am disabled because of health issues today, but I still push forward with writing and creating materials. My first 3 years of recovery were my hardest as I continued to sell my addiction to others while figuring out how to stay clean in this environment.
Today, I am living proof that we can stop our addicted gambling and be successful maintaining long-term recovery and why I continue to SHARE HOPE, so others with a problem will reach out for help like I did. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a recovering compulsive gambler.
A little bit about my background. My mother passed away when I was 8 years old. It turned my whole world upside down in an instant. I was separated from my family and was sent to live with my father whom I did not know, down in Georgia. I went to live at a children’s home when I was 11.
Looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Went through routine teenager stuff for the most part. Met my now ex-husband and we were married for 26 years. I have twin boys who will soon be 30 and a beautiful granddaughter. I should mention here that my ex was in the military, we moved around a lot and I raised our boys mostly on my own. I have always relied on myself to handle things, not always the best decision. I never learned to ask for help or truly trust anyone.
When my ex got ready for retirement we finally moved back home to Washington, who says you can never go home again? It was a very difficult transition. Funny when I think of it now, how when I lived here before, I had the most traumatic experience of my life when my mom died, now back home I had to deal with the second most traumatic experience, my kids going through some very trying stuff (law breaking/possible prison) and a divorce that was a long time coming.
I couldn’t deal with it at all and I went off the deep end and down the dark rabbit hole which is known to a lot of us as the casino. My kids were off on their own, my ex was living the high life, I had disposable income and low self-esteem and nowhere to go, no place safe, no way to stop all the screaming, crying voices in my head. I had been to the casino socially and it was no big deal, had dinner, would play $20 and I could call it good. At least for a while.
My gambling career lasted for about 6 years. I knew things where changing about half way in and couldn’t stop myself. It was a place to go any time of day or night, didn’t matter what I looked like, I could smoke all I wanted and no one to bother me. It was my safe place, what a joke that turned out to be. Then I turned the corner and lied to my son, of course by then I was lying to everyone about where I was and what I was doing and no one ever understood why I never had any money. I was a closet gambler, no one knew.
I finally started writing bad checks and covered my last one with my son’s money by telling him I needed it to cover one from the grocery store and I was getting paid the next day. He loaned me the money and I did pay it back the next day but that was it for me, I couldn’t do this to my child, for me, I had crossed some line. Of course, there is more to my story, but to go forward …
I finally broke down and went to a local GA group in town. Whew, what a monumental life changing experience. I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, began to work the steps and eventually I found peace. I could look myself in the eye, I had goals. I had money again and was eventually able to buy my first home all by myself. I stayed bet free for 3-years until about a month ago. That is what has prompted me to share my story, my relapse. Working Step 4 all over again. I would never recommend a relapse but for me, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. During my 3-years bet free, I always had this “what if” thing hanging over my head. Asking myself, what would it be like, could I gamble socially, am I really and truly a compulsive gambler…
I think subconsciously I planned it all along and now that it is over and done with I am good. All questions answered. YES, I am a compulsive gambler without a doubt. I started right where I left off. So how did I get to that point and what did I do about it. Well first off, I had quit going to my GA meetings. For several reasons, the group is small and became toxic, it became harder and harder to put principals before personalities. It was no longer a safe place for me to go.
So, I resigned my chairing and treasury positions and quit. Are there other meetings yes, but I was burned out. Now to back up a bit, I live in my little house which I absolutely love. Nothing special, but it’s all mine and I now share it with 2 of my younger brothers whom I have gotten reunited with over the years after having moved back home. For the most part it is working out wonderfully, but mind you I did not grow up with siblings. I did not grow up learning the art of conflict or arguing. I avoid confrontation on all fronts. Be invisible, keep your head down and keep going, I should note here that I have changed that way of thinking in a big way thanks to what I have learned in GA.
So long story short, had a huge argument with my brother that lasted for weeks, my home was no longer my emotionally safe place. I avoided it as much as I could. I knew I was about to go off the edge. I had many options, I could have called someone, could have looked for this website (GamTalk), could have gone to one of the other meetings, I knew exactly what I was doing and did it anyway. I wanted to, I am a risk taker, I wanted the questions answered, truth is, I already knew the answer.
So off to the casino I went. I purposefully went out of town so as to hopefully not be seen by anyone I knew. Sneaky behavior…I lied about where I was…old habits coming back never skipping a beat. So off I went ready and excited… I won, left with money and all the way home I kept telling myself it can’t end this way, so I went back the next day fully intent on losing it all. I did and then some, per usually gamblers behavior.
I did enough damage to hurt but not wipe me out. It’s a control thing and I fully recognize how I had subconsciously planned for this. What surprised me the most is how I have handled the relapse. First thing I did was to beat myself up on the long drive home, but I got home early and it was still day light, normally after a loss I would crawl in bed for days, even miss work.
Instead I put in my earphones started listening to gamblers stories and went for a 2 hour walk. I spent the next two days outside, hiking and driving through some of our beautiful state parks, totally outside the box of a normal day in my life. I wrote in my journal. I wrote my gratitude list, I prayed, I chatted a bit on this site. I feel relieved. I feel peace. I am renewed and ready to continue my recovery. I know that in GA I have to start over but I am not letting 9 hours of my relapse time to wipe out over a 1000 days of recovery. At least that is where my mind is at and I have had the best weeks in my life since.
I had to cleared the air with my brother and my home is my safe place again and I will never give that up again. I believe and completely trust my higher power. The nagging questions in the back of my mind are answered and put to rest. I have bounced back financially. I have left out a lot of details, but the bulk of it is now written, step 4, part of it anyway, sharing with you is step 5 for me. Thank you for being here, I intend to continue here as part of my ongoing recovery. This is just one more chapter in the book of my life, it had its twists and turns, but it’s not the end by far… Bless you!
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This story is courtesy of a great place to be for those trying to stay in or maintain recovery from problem or addicted gambling. A resource called GAMTALK and free to JOIN: https://www.gamtalk.org/join/ They have several resources and you can chat with like minded people in the Chat Forum or The Community Wall and is run by the Founder, Dr. Richard Wood and they support all things GA. (Gamblers Anonymous) and more.
Please, stop by there GAMTALK’s website and see for yourself how helpful it is or if you know anyone with a gambling problem. They are sponsored by many who care about those who may become addicted to gambling… ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon
Dr. Wood has published numerous gambling related articles, presented his findings at conferences and seminars around the world, and undertaken many responsible gaming consultations for both the gaming industry and regulatory sectors. His research focuses on both the individual causes of problem gambling, as well as the structural characteristics of games that can influence the gambling behaviour of vulnerable players.
Specialties: Designing effective responsible gambling strategies. Examining the structural and situational characteristics of game design and gaming environments to minimise any negative consequences for ‘vulnerable’ players.
Understanding the psychology of gaming in order to promote healthy gaming attitudes and behaviours, investigating problem gambling and evaluating treatment and intervention programs.
He provides online support for people with gambling issues on GAMTALK. He resides in Ontario, Canada
What a whirlwind of a recovery year we all have had, RIGHT?
As a person maintaining recovery and an advocate, it has been an a wild and bumpy ride to say least. I many people looking recovery resources and mentoring than ever before while this pandemic continues to rage and continue to spread like wild fire.
I don’t know about you, but many things have occurred in my recovery journey this year that I couldn’t catch my breath. With Thanksgiving come and gone, the Christmas season is upon us, an odd year for sure; I am sure ready for a New Year! How do you live your recovery lifestyle amidst all the crazy going on since early 2020? I thought I’d share some of mine and make a point that no matter what life may throw at us?
We just never give up our recovery.
Has it been a challenging year since COVID turned our recovery path upside down? Well, yes. But I, for one, kept my long-term recovery path through it all. How do you ask? It wasn’t easy! It started with some personal and business pitfalls around the end of March. My literary marketing business took a hit as one by one, I lost all my author clients as they got furloughed from their jobs. It wasn’t about the little extra income I made. It was thinking, now, what will I do with all my time?
With authors having no money to market and promote their books. Nothing was selling as people focused on where the rent money, bill money or new jobs would come from, and just as recovery and everything else began to shift to online only. Then? It was an election year on top of that! And if you are a person who is on social media like I have to be when my business was running, it got really politically ugly and I had never seen America become so divided.
So, with the pandemic still spreading and medical experts telling us to STAY HOME, I actually had time to make Thanksgiving dinner with a nice turkey meal even though it was my birthday on Thanksgiving day. And as GOD is always taking care of us, I was blessed with gifts and even had a birthday cake my husband had special ordered for me.
Again, recovery has been rough since we can’t do meetings or groups in person. And tougher for me as a recovery advocate unable to speak, raise awareness and NO recovery awareness live in-person events. So, here are some things I have been doing to keep my recovery path moving forward, keeping it intact, and continue to share my voice and help others know that Recovery is Possible.
Read – Journal – Watch – Listen!
Since having more time, I have been writing and journaling like never before. It includes my recovery writing like for my column in “Keys to Recovery” newspaper and I was invited to write an article for a global magazine called ADIVA Magazine for their column “Her Story” for the Fall/Winter issue. Very exciting! I was honored to be part of the ADIVA Family.
Here are some things you can do at home through the holiday season to enhance your recovery.
Journaling is an amazing tool for processing “old pain” and healing. Another area is reworking your 12-Steps. Did you know when you continue to work your steps? You can go back to them at an earlier time and see what areas you need more growth, but you can see how far you have come. This helps to build your self-esteem and self-worth needed to move forward, maintaining your recovery.
Reading is a tool we can use to stay educated and learn by reading many addiction and recovery books. Audiobooks and e-books have become most popular since the pandemic. You can listen to a great book while doing work or cleaning at the same time. I have also been watching and listening to lots of podcasts and radio shows. I’ve even been a guest on several this year as an advocate. Visit my Book Suggested reads while you are here or visit this Amazon link and see all the amazing books on addiction/recovery to read! https://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Health-Mind-Body-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=4716
All of these activities can enhance our recovery during the holiday season.
Listening & Watching: Since most of as us have already shifted to online everything for recovery, like GA, AA, NA meetings, recovery groups, FB Live Celebrate Recovery, worship, and more. It is also important to continue being supported within your recovery by friends and family.
There are many free apps and platforms we can use to do so. Skype, What’s App, FB Messenger, Zoom, and watch FB Live events & visit recovery groups and many more. But never discount the good ole PHONE. Check-in with friends, your sponsor, and let them know how your doing. Watching and doing Podcasts shows is agreat way to share your voice and story of recovery! I have been a guest on several this year.
Last? Dive into the Christmas season by making your living space in your home Merry and Christmasey with decorations, lights, and maybe a little tree. Even though we can’t be all together this Christmas, you can still enjoy the season within your own home. Put on a mask and walk the neighborhood to see all the festive light displays or even drive to them in your car. It will also help the winter or seasonal blues and be healthy for our mental and emostional well-being.
So, yes, we still find ourselves with this pandemic during our recovery holiday season, and again, spreading. Listening to health professionals and those experts in your state or country you live in and to stay healthy and safe is part of our life, our recovery journey, and while keeping our recovery intact.
You Got This!
It’s called having life-balance! Besides, the good news is the vaccines are coming, and so is a “Fresh Happy New Year for a “Do-Over!” I know 2021 is going to bring us all life and recovery renewal, peace, and serenity. Next year, we will have so much to celebrate and have gratitude for knowing we all made it through.
Those of us maintaining recovery know we never give up!
Welcome recovery friends and visitors. Today I am sharing an informative guest post by a dear friend and recovery mentor of mine. Meet Marilyn Davis. She has maintained long-term recovery and has helped many in every conceivable way with addictions. She has worked in addiction and treatment and has helped her now grown children beat addiction.
I will share more about all she does to help others have hope from addiction, but here is her post about what she’s been doing to keep her recovery intact during this continuing COVID CRISIS…
My Home-bound Recovery During COVID-19: Purging and Using Podcasts.
COVID-19 Unites Us, Too
“Boomer or millennial, we’re all covidians now.”― Bill Doman
Whether you’re home because of COVID-19, work restrictions, furloughs, school closings, or layoffs, don’t let your recovery suffer. Here are few ways to help ensure you don’t relapse, and a few ways to use that time at home while the world is temporarily closed.
Recovery Just Got Harder
Recovery is hard; it’s learning a new way of life, coping, repairing fractured relationships, and depending on others to show us how to do all of those.
These factors are more challenging as we try to maintain our recovery with the uncertainty and isolation imposed on us by COVID-19. Without the social support, structure, and accountability that in-person meetings provide, many people are struggling more with the stay-at-home-social-distance-wear-a-mask safety measures imposed on us for our protection.
“Use Your Time Wisely” My Mother Said
I’ve been home-bound since March 13th or 250 days now. That’s a very long time to go without an in-person meeting. But I dug in, took the time to do some serious ōsōji, the annual cleaning of one’s home in Japan. Of course, I took it to an entirely new level – purged 30 years’ worth of antique linens.
When that didn’t get rid of enough stuff, I opted for the Swedish döstädning. “Dö” means “death,” and “städning” means “cleaning.”
All those antiques, Nickie-nacks, as my daughter referred to them when she was five – she’s now in her 50’s, papers with scribbled ideas, feelings, or thoughts that seem disjointed, chaotic, or so outdated as to be completely useless, and looked at each tube, container, pan of make-up to check the expiration date. All donated, recycled, or sent to the dumb.
Still no let up on COVID19.
So I sold my townhouse, purged more, had the living estate sale, and waited for relief and an in-person meeting.
I finished my memoir – it’s ready for publication when my computer guru comes next week.
Then I moved...
“This too shall pass” isn’t Working
When we first experienced the sudden loss of in-person meetings, it wasn’t a big deal for some of us. Sure, we missed the fellowship, laughter, or helping someone. But we were sure it would pass. How often did we say, “This too shall pass,” or “Just don’t use today – tomorrow will be different.”
But it seems as if the anticipated tomorrow isn’t happening anytime soon.
Many old-timers, like myself, aren’t attending in-person meetings.
It’s not that you can’t get and remain in recovery without our input. Still, besides our ‘sage advice,’ we serve as a reminder that recovery is possible when you have a room full of people with double-digit recovery. When we’re not comfortable participating in these meetings, encouragement is missing from many places, which is sad for newcomers.
And I miss seeing families reunited, people changing, and the warmth and support of the fellowship.
Are You Still Home-bound?
It’s still a scary time for some of us.
Do we go out?
How do we socially distance if we go to a meeting?
Do people wear masks?
Are they restricting the number of people who can attend?
How do I handle old friends wanting to hug?
Can listening to a podcast help me?
By the time I’ve obsessed on those questions, my heart rate is up, I’ve wasted 30 minutes thinking and getting no answers, and even if I chose to go to the meeting, I’d be late. Sound familiar?
While You’re Home-bound
Seek out an online meeting.
Connect with recovery-oriented people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media. We all have our favorites and two of mine are RecoveryRocks and Recovery By Stepping Up, both on FB.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief of From Addict 2 Advocate. In 1990, she opened North House, an award-winning women’s residential recovery home. In 2008, Brenau University, Georgia, created the Marilyn L. Davis Community Service-Learning Award. This is a yearly award given to advocates in mental health, wellness, and recovery. In 2010, she received the Liberty Bell Award for her work within the criminal justice system.
Before closing the house in 2011, she authored and developed Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery Systems (TIERS). When North House closed, friends and colleagues encouraged her to write online to reach a larger audience. Finding outlets online, she shared her 29 years in abstinence-based recovery.
She also realized that how she said something might not connect with all readers. This is one of the reasons that she has made an effort to collaborate with new and seasoned recovery writers when she started From Addict 2 Advocate.
As a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, she conducts groups for men’s and women’s residential programs, as well as facilitating a recovery group for HIV positive people.
As the Assistant Editor at Two Drops of Ink, The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing, she understands that writing is a process and most writers want information on how to improve. However, writing about writing can get tedious, so she often combines writing advice using stories and examples from her work with addicts and alcoholics. Improving writing is a process, like recovery.
Using recovery examples in her writing advice means that her readers learn the ways in which people change, improve their lives, and this creates another outlet for her to advocate for recovery while writing about writing.
Her two daughters are in recovery as well, with 21 and 15 years. She is working on her memoir: Finding North: A Woman’s Journey from Addict 2 Advocate.
With the holiday season fast approaching and still living in uncertain times, it is more vital now then ever to have a Relapse Prevention plan ready. This is why I am very honored to have a Special Recovery Guestand dear friend of mine who has also been my close friend for several years and we have been through “thick and thin” together. He has become like a brother I never had.
He is not only a talented in-depth addiction and recovery writer, fellow author, and loud advocate, but he has been a mentor and one of my #1 supporters of my recovery from addicted gambling.
Yes, I am talking about Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D…
I invited him as my special guest to help us with Gambling Awareness and some Expert Advice for this unusual holiday season. He has done so and all about Relapse Prevention!
Now, Kevin is in the process of revamping his website! I will invite you all to NOT hesitate by visiting his Amazon Author Bio Page and grab many of his best-selling award-winning books! Kevin has helped many from addiction and stopped the suffering for addicts and helped many families heal together. There are many to choose from when it is time to gain life and no longer a path of darkness.
All of Kevin’s books can assist and will enhance to uplift you in your recovery journey, help parents help an addict, and gives the skills and tools within each book that work. So I present this helpful and educational article that Kevin was kind enough to write and share with us today. I am sure it will give hope to those who may feel there is no HOPE… Recovery is always possible!
~Catherine Lyon, Author, and Advocate.
Relapse Prevention is Key to Long-Term Recovery from Gambling (Ludomania)
Problem gambling, or ludomania, is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria.
Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs. “Pathological gambling” is the most severe form of problem gambling and has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disease since 1980. Gaming or gambling is supposed to be for fun, for entertainment.
Teenagers are 3 to 4 times more likely to become problem gamblers than adults. 90% of High School students have gambled at least once in the last year. In the USA ages 14-21, 2.1% struggle with Problem Gambling, another 6.5% are at risk. Every year, 2% -3%, 2M U.S. adults are estimated to meet the criteria for disordered gambling and another 4-6M individual are problem gamblers at risk for serious addiction consequences. Men make up 2/3 majority of Problem Gamblers.
Relapse ‘s definition, to fall or slip back into a former state or practice. Relapse certainly can happen to those who are in recovery from substance abuse and (Problem Gambling) process addictions; however, it should not be expected, only a possibility. Many individuals recover without ever knowing the first physical relapse in their entire lifetime of sobriety. Most have emotional and mental relapses at certain times, and some do have physical relapses as well.
There are three different types of relapse: Emotional Relapse Mental Relapse Physical Relapse
Remember that relapse is a process, Behavior Changes: Hanging around slippery people, places, and things. Arguing and acting out. No serenity, not demonstrating spirituality. Attitude Changes: Different priorities, meetings, and recovery not as important as they were. Changes in Feelings or Moods: Resentments, anger, boredom, not satisfied with anything, not grateful. Changes in Thoughts: Thinking that you may be able to use safely now. Not living a life of balance and not taking care of self can all lead to relapse.
“Don’t stay too long in the shame-filled grounds of relapse. Fertile soil awaits your return and your recovering.” – Holli Kenley
Major changes in the structure of life, such as divorce, losing a job, moving, having a child, death, a serious injury, a relationship change, things that are a major structural change or life events can lead to relapse.
When faced with tough times five tips that can help anyone avoid relapse are as follows:
1. Continue to work your program of recovery. The vehicle that promotes change. Draw close to whatever program or modality that got you sober in the first place. Call other sober friends in your support network and be honest about what is going on in your life. Don’t be afraid to pick up the 500lb. phone!
2. Utilize anger management skills. Dealing with problems right when they arise. Resentments are the number one offender; we can’t afford them. Don’t let the sun go down on a problem. Use anger management and problem-solving skills to work things out without letting emotions get the best of you. You don’t always have to be right, don’t always have to be in control, and don’t have to be perfect.
3. Beware of self-centeredness. Work on your spirituality. Don’t be selfish! Those who fail to grow spiritually will relapse. The one thing that we must do is maintain our spiritual conditions; that means we must continue to grow spiritually; we must go where we are spiritually fed.
4. Stay in the day and don’t project! ‘One day at a time is great wisdom’! All we should worry about is today, tomorrow will take care of itself, so don’t worry. There is a God, and you’re not it!
5. Stay grateful! We must maintain an attitude of gratitude, if we forget all of the gifts that we have been freely given in recovery, then we are headed for trouble! If we forget the bottom or event or circumstance that led us into a life of sobriety then we are also in trouble, we must as they say, “Keep it green!” I have never seen a grateful person relapse!
These Tips Will Help Anyone Who Walks in the Sunlight of the Spirit Stay There...
If you walk in the shadows and dark places, then surely that’s where your heart will end up. The only way to have real long-term, lasting, quality sobriety is to continue to grow in recovery, and that means maintaining our spirituality on a daily basis, continuing to be spiritually fed daily growing in experience and wisdom and helping others. You can’t live on yesterday’s manna!
Stress and anxiety have always been triggers for substance abusers and regular people to learn hope to cope with on a daily basis. Drugs and alcohol had been “the solution” for them in the past; now they must disengage from such behaviors and find genuine coping mechanisms that last. Gambling abusers also need to be offered alternative ways to find a solution through a twelve-step approach, non-twelve-step approach, harm reduction, medication management, holistic programs, faith-based programs, and other approaches. Individuals must learn healthy ways to cope with stress without the use of drugs or alcohol, utilizing these new-found tools as a solution to stress will lead to lasting sobriety. Those who don’t suffer from substance abuse will also need coping skills for life on their own terms being BET FREE.
Stress Coping Skills Key to Lasting Recovery Developing strong stress and anxiety management skills and techniques are paramount to long-term sobriety, a balanced and healthy life. These skills can help those in recovery to avoid relapse and sustain lasting recovery. Research utilizing lab animals has shown that stress can precipitate relapses with addiction to certain chemicals.
PTSD & Chronic Stress Chronic drug usage may alter brain pathways affecting the user’s response to stress; this can make them more susceptible to relapse. Those who suffer from PTSD and individuals who have been exposed to chronic stress may be more likely to relapse; this makes stress management skills all the more important.
Stress Leading to Relapse! Significant changes in jobs, relationships, moving, finances, health, and other structural changes that those in recovery are likely to deal with cause stress and anxiety. This is a normal part of life for everyone. For the substance abuser, it’s okay to try to escape from the pressure. They must be careful not to transfer addictions from drugs to gambling, sex, or some other addiction. Medical specialists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse believe that the leading reason for relapse back into substance abuse is stress.
Some Individuals Need Mental Health Help Healthy lifestyle changes are the best way to manage stress; some individuals will need to seek out help from mental health professionals as part of those changes. The Mental Health Professional will work with the Professional Coach to help the client reach their goals and solutions.
Some changes that people have found helpful:
Deep Breathing Meditation and Yoga Prayer Proper Diet Balance and Boundaries Time management Taking care of Yourself Better Identifying Stressors Talking Things Out Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Exercise Low-Stress Activities
Positive People are the Winners! In recovery and in life it is essential to connect with the right people, “stick with the winners” as they say. Those in early recovery need to be around individuals and groups that they can learn solutions from, recovery role models so to speak.
It’s also important for those in early recovery to find an attitude of gratitude; it’s easy to become angry and negative from the very beginning. Gratitude raises balance, awareness, and the spirit in a way that the person will begin to see things about life in a new way, like seeing life with a new pair of glasses!
Talking with Others Learning to tell on yourself in early recovery is one of the hardest but most beneficial skills. Talk things out with other sober people, give them a piece of your burden and suddenly your burden becomes light. Running, walking, lifting weights, writing poetry, journaling, drawing, being creative, move a muscle change and thought is a great way to get out of your head when stressed. My journal below can help!
Avoid Relapse by Journaling to Coping with Stress All people need to learn to cope with stress in recovery; it’s essential to avoid relapse and maintain sanity and balance. Utilizing just a few of the tools and techniques can work for anyone if they want them to work. Sometimes just a deep breath works!
Professional Coaches Have the Goods! Professional coaches have skill sets, tools, and core competencies that they utilize to help their clients change their lives for the better. They utilize specific action planning, powerful questioning, active listening, and many other skills and techniques to get the results needed to move forward toward the solution needed to achieve the client’s goals. Stress and anxiety aren’t good for anyone no matter their walk-in life.
Triggers that Can Jeopardize Your Sobriety When most people hear the word trigger, they think of the noun or the trigger of a gun; the verb trigger means to cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist. People who suffer from substance abuse and process addictions usually have triggers in their lives that are unique to their circumstances, past traumas, events, memories, losses, shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, etc.
A recovering person’s triggers are set in motion through one or more of the five senses: smell, sound, touch, sight, and taste. Make no mistake about it; although we are talking about the verb, triggers can be as dangerous as the trigger on a gun!
Triggers of the Emotional Variety Triggers can jeopardize your sobriety if they are not recognized and dealt with in early recovery. What triggers a relapse? Certainly, the reasons for relapse can be different for individuals; however, there are some commonalities such as fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. There are several other emotions that can also lead to relapse.
Triggers from People, Places, and Things Certain people, places, and things can trigger a relapse if they remind the person of their addiction. In some cases, all three of these may have to be removed from the individual’s life if they expose the person to a significant risk of relapse.
An example of a place, an alcoholic would not want to go to dinner in a bar that they drank at every day, where their old drinking buddies would be, and their favorite chair. In that case, all three areas of triggers would be involved.
Relapse is an Opportunity Not an Expectation There are triggers that can jeopardize your sobriety; however, with a little instruction, the whole situation can be turned into a positive. In early recovery, the person should be made aware of what triggers are and have help to identify their patterns of addiction and relapse…
Relapse is an opportunity to learn what a person’s triggers are so that they can be identified by the substance abuser and prevent the next relapse. Some say that relapse is an expected part of recovery, that’s a mistake! Relapse is always a possibility in recovery; however, it shouldn’t be expected, when we teach people that, we set them up to fail.
Balance is Key Balance is a key part of the recovery process, learning what we can do and cannot do and live in sobriety. Education, awareness, and prevention will assist the newcomers in recovery to understand the process of what genuine recovery means, avoiding all of the pitfalls that triggers may lead to on a daily basis by recognizing them and not allowing them to have power in your life of recovery.
Yes, triggers can jeopardize your sobriety, the good news is through education and awareness, you can prevent triggers from ever having power in your life. By taking the time to identify triggers and understand them, you can avoid situations that may have led you to relapse because of triggers in the past. You have empowered yourself and taken the power away from the triggers, great job!
Recovery is a lifelong process. We all make mistakes along the way, that’s alright, as long as we learn from them.
Pathological Gambling is a terrible disease that is becoming more and more of a problem in the United States. More teens are gambling than ever before in our history, more older Americans are becoming problem gamblers as well.
Don’t gamble your life away, bet on you, your family, and God!
Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Provincial Superintendent, Ph.D., DCC, DDVA, DLC, DD, NCIP, NCAMP, IMAC, International- Best-Selling Author and Award-Winning Poet has dedicated his life to helping others. Through Education, Awareness, and Prevention Rev. Coughlin has helped thousands of individuals who were afflicted with the disease of addiction, their families, and loved ones.
He has trained hundreds of professionals in the addiction recovery industry and in the professional coaching arena. He has decades of life experience, education, work-related experience; however, perhaps the most valuable information that Rev. Dr. Coughlin possesses that sits atop of his incredible resume is wisdom.
Reverend Dr. Coughlin is the Founder of The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online and Phase Two Christian Coaching, LLC. He was a Founder and Board Member of New Beginning Ministry, Inc., a non-profit, twelve-step residential addiction recovery program for adults, he served for two decades. Rev. Coughlin has helped thousands of individuals and their families to change their lives over the past twenty-plus years.
He is an Addiction Expert, Award-Winning Poet, an International-Best-Selling author, his books, journals, and manuals are used in the United States and other Countries by professionals, individuals, and facilities. With over 44+ published works, the author resides in PA.
One thing I will be doing this holiday season is to ENJOY THEM for the first time in a long while. I share this because for 7-years I have been doing a holiday blogging watch and running my former book marketing online business. Thanks to this pandemic, I won’t be doing either this year.
I just wound down my book promoting bussiness due to the pandemic climate and readers are not doing their usual reading and not while all the chaos is happening with our general elections that have felt like it has been going on for a lifetime!
They are more focused on what will happen after the elections. So much talk about civil unrest, if Trump loses, will he leave the White House and so on and all right before we enter into the Holiday Season!
This one will be the most unprecedented unusual times and holiday season ever. SO, how can we learn to stay calm, be present, and really enjoy the holidays with so much NOISE? And keep our recovery intact?
If you are like me, too much of this noise has me anxious. Here are some things we can do to get ready for the holidays, be more at peace and happy. Even though we can get blindsided with distractions. Start by using these skills to help stay focused and enjoy the SEASON. 🎍🎄🎄🎁
Maintaining Recovery And Enjoy During the Holidays...
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control showed that many suicides by addicts over the holiday season resulted from a relapse. Over 32 percent of addicts who committed suicide had excessive amounts of alcohol while over 8 percent had a positive test for cocaine.
The holiday season is also a time when friends and relatives must work together to help a loved one battle any addiction. Many recovering addicts become depressed because they aren’t financially able to purchase gifts for other people. This is especially true with recovering gamblers.
Friends and family can step in and help by reassuring the addict they understand the situation. Let them know that them just being there for the holiday is enough and to enjoy them! Just be present. When a family helps an addict to successfully navigate the holidays, the recovery process will be easier and more successful.
1.) No matter what challenges you face today, just remember: you’re maintaining recovery and that means you’re one of the winners. Getting high was a job and it required everything you had. But today you are free and have the opportunity to make good choices and enjoy yourself! You no longer have to make excuses or disappear because you decided to go on a bender, one more time. Today, you are able to live with love, compassion, and understanding.
2.) You now have freedom from your past as we would use drugs, drink, or gamble to “Escape or Cope” from our past. Maybe you were abused as a child or suffered other traumas like I did. Perhaps you did things you swore you’d never do or tell anybody. Remember all the people you hurt? Once you commit to recovery, the horrors of the past lose their grip. And they don’t have to be the things that determine who you are now.
3.) Doing the your recovery work means you now know yourself because when we partake in addiction there’s really not much time to discover who you really are. The person that you thought you were is also probably far from the truth. The recovery process lets you shed those false personas, allowing you to become who and what you are meant to be. By being clean and sober, you become open to your greatest truth and have the honor of being your best self—one-day-at-a-time.
4.) It’s Ok to “NO” you don’t have to “people please” anymore. In sobriety you learn to use the word “no” and it will become your best friend. You don’t have to act because you feel pressured, anxious, or nervous. Instead, you can pause when you’re unsure, ask for guidance if you need to, and be able to say “NO” without any guilt. We know recovery boundaries are keys to our insanity too…Lol.
5.)Always Stay Connected to your Higher Power as our recovery process is a part of a spiritual journey. It’s about developing a relationship with a higher power or a God of your own understanding. Even atheists have found ways to embrace this idea. Today, you get to be a seeker in your own spiritual unfoldment. You learn how to align your will with your higher power. And most importantly, you discover the power of faith through surrender.
6.) Being Present Takes practice and patience during the holiday season. Gambling, drinking or drugging was once translated to a life of personal lawlessness, not to mention the mountain of consequences that followed. Begin to dig deep into your inner-self with self-love and care during this journey as it makes you humble, more grateful and opens you to all things, including a perfect holiday season with family. Again, this takes practice.
7.) During the holiday season, use sometime to Give Back to Those in Need or struggling… Doing service work takes your mind off of yourself and your problems. It can be any type of volunteer work– Just helping others at holiday is soothing to the soul.
The 12th step is a statement of gratitude for your life and a call to help others. The trials you’ve gone through have put you in a position to be an inspiration to someone else. Now, when you feel troubled or baffled by life, you can make a commitment at a meeting, speak on an H&I panel (hospitals and institutions), or volunteer in your neighborhood.
These are the gifts of recovery that heal and set you free.
Make sure you stop by my Recovery Resources page and my Relapes Prevention workbook page to help you set a Recovery Holiday Plan now before the season begins!
As much of a challenge as the holidays can be for a recovering addicts, they can also be fun. With the right attitude, addicts can find ways to enjoy themselves.
YOU can refuse to worry about financial problems and focus more on enjoying YOUR time with family and friends. A holiday season experienced with sobriety may offer many positive experiences. I wish you much joy and be present to love the holidays in an entirely new way.
I have been honored to be a contributing writer and columnist for an amazing recovery newspaper called “Keys to Recovery” founded by Marcus and Jeannie Marshall and Beth Dewey out of Southern California for little over 2-yrs. Jeannie and Marcus, these two beautiful people are giving and caring recovery friends of mine and put so much love and hard work into each issue they print for there monthly publication.
They have the audacitiy to give out FREE! It is free to read online, download, or have copies mailed to support those who maintain recovery from all kinds of addictions, including mine which was addiction to gambling.
My column is called QUIT To WIN and I write and share my experiences, stregnth, and HOPE from addicted gambling and share to others so they know there is HOPE and they don’t have to be NOT ALONE to recover from this cunning disease. Here is a little about “KEYS” and who they serve…
KEYS TO RECOVERYBACKSTORY:
Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is printed and distributed in California and 30 additional states. Having a current print run of 20,000 newspapers and a readership exceeding 90,000 per month, we are already a solid and formidable presence. Although we have digital access to our publication, our primary focus is distributing hard copies.
Our newspaper targets readers who are seeking recovery from all types of addictions, disorders and the loved ones who are affected, as well as anyone wanting to know more about addiction and recovery. Here are some of the types of facilities we are distributing our recovery newspaper to:
• 12 Step Alano Clubs• 12 Step Meeting Halls• Bail Bonds Offices• Churches• Clinical Professionals• Coffee Shops• Correctional Facilities• Counseling Office & Services• Department of Health• DUI Classes• Drug & Alcohol Councils
• Employee Assistance Programs• Homeless Shelters• Judges• Law Offices• Medical Centers – Hospitals• Outpatient Treatment Centers• Police Departments• Probation Departments• Public Libraries
• Recovery Stores• Rehabilitation – Treatment Centers• Rescue Missions• Veterans Administration Hospitals• Sober Livingʼs• Transitional Housing• Related Conventions• Networking Eventsand many more locations.
“We work carefully to develop a monthly publication addressing vital issues concerning all types of addictions and disorders, and everything related to the recovery from them.“
Spreading the Message of Hope and Recovery
Our purpose and our mission, is to give hope that recovery is possible. Incorporated in the state of California Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity. Our main objective is to carry the message of Hope and Recovery from all types of addictions and disorders to as many people as possible, and to offer resources that may provide treatment and support. We do that by printing (yes, printing) a traditional type newspaper, as well as having an online presence. Our newspaper is filled with columns from today’s top experts in the recovery field.
Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is educating our communities about alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, gambling addiction, homelessness, domestic violence and so much more. We also print, at no charge, a 2-‐page resource guide listing free services and vital help offered within the communities.
Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is making a strong effort to reach the many individuals currently in jails or other types of institutions, and offer them information that will assist in their future recovery. For every paid subscription we will be able to send a free subscription to someone in an institution. We are NOT affiliated with AA, NA, Al-‐anon or any other 12-‐step program. We do, however, believe in the power of the 12-‐steps and the principles behind them.
We operate Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. using these principles as a guideline -‐ Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Brotherly Love, Justice, Perseverance, Spirituality and Service. THE PEOPLE BEHIND – KEYS TO RECOVERY NEWSPAPER, INC.
Jeannie Marshall – Co-Founder & President: Having 35 years of marketing, advertising, and PR experience – ten of those years working on a recovery newspaper – I feel uniquely qualified to lead and support our team to achieve our purpose and our mission. Many of you will remember me from the Steps for Recovery newspaper, where I worked until 2008 with my business partner and good friend Jason Levin, who passed away.
Unable to continue working on the newspaper without him, I choose to go back to corporate America. After 5 years of healing I felt ready, willing and able to go back to my one true passion – carrying the message of hope and recovery… through Keys to Recovery Newspaper Inc. A bit more about me: I restarted my sobriety in 1986; I love the 12-steps and living in a world where I have a purpose. I have a passion to help the helpless. My favorite principle is Service.
Marcus Marshall – Co-founder & Vice President: I started working at age 13 in the field of service at Sylmar Children’s Spastic Foundation as a patient care technician. At age 18 I worked as a Counselor in Psychiatrics at Chatsworth Health and Rehab Center. I also worked in sales and marketing gathering about 25 years experience in that field as well. I was derailed by my addiction and for about ten years I was going in and out of jails and prisons, which makes me uniquely qualified to understanding the difficulties of transitioning back into society.
I started my recovery in early 2012 and found myself wanting to go back to my preferred profession – Patient Care. I worked at Cri-Help as a lead support technician, while attending the Addiction Studies Program at Pierce College, which helped prepare me for this vocation.
Publishing Keys to Recovery Newspaper Inc. is giving me the opportunity to use all my life experiences to help others. A bit more about me: I have a passion for God and helping others find their way to him. I love helping the homeless. My favorite principle is Faith.
Beth Stern – Co-founder: In 1993 I was mandated by the courts to attend a 12-step program, during this process I was introduced to the program of recovery – which made me a firm believer in “bring the body and the mind will follow.” Being a co-founder of Keys to Recovery Newspaper Inc. I feel that this is a great platform for carrying the message of recovery. I love being of service in all areas of my life. I have a passion of giving hope to the hopeless. My favorite principle is Perseverance.
NOW, Keys To Recovery Is Helping Our Vets AND Wounded WarriorsHere is HOW
HERE IS HOW IT WORKS
The Wounded Warrior Project: Each month Keys to Recovery is featuring a new Back Cover ad for different causes that are close to our heart.
For the October 2020 issue – we are running a full-page Back Cover ad for. The Wounded Warrior Project.
Not only does The Wounded Warrior Project, get great exposure in the recovery community, but you or your facility will also be seen as well as supporting a great cause.
If you or anyone you know wants to support The Wounded Warrior Project WITH THIS AD, we will be running a notice under the ad: _____________________________________________ Sponsored in part by: Marcus & Jeannie Marshall; (then we will list the names of the individuals or the companies of those who helped pay for the advertisement, or some may want to donate anonymously). _____________________________________________
Whatever you want to put towards the $1,500 will be accepted as a donation : ) you can pay through our Pay-Pal BUTTON on our website, or Zelle through the bank using: 818-312-4233 phone number, or Venmo using: Donna Jean Rabb, or you can always send in a check just let us know its coming. Once we get the donation we will contact you and see how or if you want to be listed as supporting the ad, personally or listing your facility.
We need to KNOW ASAP to get you listed on the October back cover.
Anything over the cost of the ad ($1,500) will be donated to The Wounded Warrior Project. Thank you for your support! — Jeannie Rabb-Marshall President & Co-Founder of Keys to Recovery Newspaper