Thoughts From A Recovering Gambling Addict For The Coming New Year and The After Holiday Season Ending. . .
WHAT WILL YOUR RECOVERY BOOK and PAGES SHARE? Some of My Thoughts for The Next Weeks Into The New Year…
The Holidays and The Incoming New Year
Sometimes, the holidays are filled with the joy we associate with that time of year. The season flows. Magic is in the air.
Sometimes, the holidays can be difficult and lonely.
Here are some ideas I’ve learned through personal experience, and practice, to help us get through difficult holidays:
Deal with feelings, but try not to dwell unduly on them. Put the holidays in perspective: A holiday is one day out of 365. We can get through any 24-hour period.
Get through the day, but be aware that there may be a post-holiday backlash. Sometimes, if we use our survival behaviors to get through the day, the feelings will catch up to us the next day. Deal with them too.
Get back on track as quickly as possible.
Find and cherish the available love, even if it’s not exactly what we want. Is there someone we can give love to and receive love from? Recovering friends? Is there a family who would enjoy sharing their holiday with us? Don’t be a martyr – go. There may be those who would appreciate our offer to share our day with them.
We are not in the minority if we find ourselves experiencing a less-than-perfect holiday. How easy but untrue to tell ourselves the rest of the world is experiencing the best holiday, and we’re alone in conflict.
The beauty of Recovery is we can and get to choose to create our own holiday agenda. Buy yourself a present. Find someone to whom you can give. Unleash your loving, nurturing self and give in to the holiday spirit.
Maybe past holidays haven’t been terrific. Perhaps this year wasn’t perfect. Perhaps this next new year can be better, and the next one even a little better. Work toward a better life – one that meets your needs. Before long, you’ll have it.
“God, help me enjoy and cherish these holidays and the coming new year. If my situation is less than ideal, help me take what’s good and let go of the rest.”
One of these vital programs is our National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, the only nationwide safety net for problem gambling and in some places the only access to gambling help of any kind.
The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network has already received over 219,000 contacts this year and is on track to have the highest number of calls since 2015. Similar to 9-1-1, callers are connected to a network of call centers operated by NCPG state affiliates and other partners, with translation services available.
Calls go up during the holidays as people experience additional stress. No gift is too small – your tax-deductible donation makes a big difference to support NCPG and the Helpline Network – help answer the call!
Our goal this holiday season is $5,000 to cover the costs of our Helpline Network services through the end of Christmas weekend. NCPG’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board members have generously pledged half of this amount as a Matching Challenge – they will match your donation 1:1 so your money goes twice as far!
Please make your generous gift today to support NCPG and help the 12,275 people who will call our Helpline between now and December 26.
I’m not sure how this season feels for you, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are two holiday sore spots for me. There’s so much emphasis on family and connection, and everything is supposed to be all warm and fuzzy. My family has never been close-knit, except for my mother and me. I’m single, and I don’t have any children. I’m also a Midwest native who lives in Los Angeles. Yet, when it comes to this time of year, I still find myself full of expectations.
My first Thanksgiving in recovery was difficult because I didn’t have any relatives to spend the day with like so many of my other friends. Sure, I got invites, but it’s just not the same when it’s someone else’s family dinner. Not having a husband or family to call my own, I just found myself missing my mother.
Due to my lack of familial ties, I made it a point to stay especially close to Alcoholics Anonymous. I had a close group of friends who were also newly sober, and we planned to stay connected during the Thanksgiving holiday. We conveniently also found two nearby main meeting halls that were having marathon meetings over the course of several days.
Consequently, Thanksgiving Day began with me and my cohorts visiting AA meeting halls in Altadena and Hawthorne. To my surprise, every group we visited was packed. People were coming in from all over, which was both exciting and inspirational to see.
When we returned to our home group, people were out back playing some board games. A gentleman named Craig, who has since passed to the big meeting in the sky, was in a corner barbequing. It definitely wasn’t your typical meeting atmosphere—there was a social aspect to it all that reminded me almost of a family reunion.
Boogie on Down
On Saturday night, there was even a dance known as the “crème de la crème.” The hall was transformed into a club with a DJ booth, dark lights, and a dance floor. Getting ready for it was as much fun as attending. I must have danced all night, which was weird in a sense. Rarely had I gone dancing—or did anything fun for that matter—that didn’t involve drinking, sprinkled in with some drugs here and there, or any gambling.
I won’t lie; I was shy at first. But once the first guy asked me to dance, all inhibition went out the window. Who knew I could have so much fun without alcohol or drugs? There was beautiful energy over the entire room as people danced, laughed, and let loose. All while being clean and sober.
The last day of the marathon ended with what’s called “the old-timer’s slot,” where people with at least 20 years of sobriety took turns sharing their recovery stories. The oldest person there had 50 years of sobriety under his belt. The stories made me cry, laugh and rejoice. It brought me back to a time when I used to be at home listening to my mom, aunts and uncles reminisce.
Once the old-timer slot ended, it was time for the countdown. The person with the most years of sobriety was asked to stand, and everyone clapped and cheered for them. And so, the countdown began. Then, every time a group stood up for the following year, there was a round of applause. The procession continued like falling dominoes.
Though I had a while to wait, I was so proud when my turn finally came around, and I got to stand up for five months. The excitement of the moment only made me look forward to the following year when I would get to stand again. By the time we got to the sober person for only a few hours, the room had exploded. It was awesome.
At the very end of the day, while sitting down to eat my meal at the potluck, a crucial fact occurred to me that I was missing all week long—I was finally home, and these people were the family I was looking for all along and never thought I’d find.
It has been quite some time since my last honest personal share about my recovery journey. It has been too long since sharing my thoughts, feelings, and what has been lying in my heart. What I mean is some real random recovery ramblings of living life while maintaining my recovery.
Maybe it is because the holiday season and a new year are approaching, and looking back over this last year, not realizing what and how much I dealt with some life events that I felt I handled ok, but there always seems to be some lingering feelings left. Thoughts constantly swirl in my mind and tug on my heart. Just when I think I have processed them and tried to move forward, here they come.
See, I lost my father on Jan. 29th, 2021, as COVID took his life, and many who know me or my story had a very up-and-down relationship. He had not spoken to me in almost 15 1/2-years. My nephew informed me of his passing and told me that he died alone at the hospital in Southern Calif., where he had been amitted. Kaiser Hospital would not let anyone go in his room to be with him due to COVID rules, nor they didn’t bother to tell me until five weeks after his passing.
Then more drama over who was getting what that I didn’t care about any of that. I wasn’t going to get stuck in all the drama, especially since I had not talked to any of my family for years. I knew this day would come soon. Was this cruel or Karma that my father ended up passing away all alone? Just because he chose not to speak to me or have a relationship with one of his daughters? I hope not. Family, we don’t get to choose them. And my siblings?
Well, that’s my siblings for you. Need I say more?
My feelings were/are that they were the ones missing out. All the years I and my husband had lived in Oregon and through the years’ most of the family would come to visit, spend time with us, we’d have so much fun. Even after my mom passed in 2003, my dad came the following summer and we had a blast! We would also take my dad and nephews rafting, many 4th of July’s and Labor days, trips to the coast, Jetboat dinner rides on the Rogue River, and again many fantastic rafting trips. So many good memories.
And for all of it to end up like this? It still breaks my heart today… I choose to remember ALL the good memories!
Also, after my mom passed in 2003, we all could have stayed together and in each other’s lives. That didn’t last very long. There are four of us—my only older brother, my older sister, then me, and then my younger sister. So when we laid my mom to eternal rest, that was the last time all four of us siblings had been together. I have often said we don’t get to pick or choose the family we are born into; however, we can choose to have healthy boundaries and have done so when I began my recovery journey.
So those are some of the points I wanted to share. Recovery makes that possible. It gives us the freedom to start making better choices in our lives. I will add in their defense, when I was young, I became very hyper-sensitive to teasing and ridicule, but they had no clue what I had been through from the sexual trauma until I finally disclosed it to my parents at age 32. Then, the teasing got worse in adulthood when they learned I had been diagnosed with PTSD and a few other mental health disorders.
When we get to a point where we try to make amends with those, we may have hurt while being sick and deep within addiction; not everyone may be willing to accept it or willing to forgive. They might even take it, forgive you, but still not want a relationship. And that is truly their choice. We, then, need to accept that choice, as I had to take and honor my father’s choice some 15-years ago. So yes, it stung, but I moved on from it.
There are times when we need to look back to connect what was to see how far we have grown within our recovery. For example, when I spent a year or so writing and journaling in early recovery, that was what ended up as a book—my memoirs of what gambling had taken from me. My fault for becoming an addict? YES, but more critical is the WHY and HOW I became addicted. (Available on Amazon Kindle)
by Catherine Townsend-Lyon “A heart-wrenching read that ends with a great light of hope. Read “Addicted to Dimes” now.”
That is some of what those memoirs are and what my book truly is. It is not how to recover. That is what I’m working on now. The writing was healing for me, but it also helped me start to connect different events, the childhood trauma and abuse that happened as a little girl, and how it affected me going into adulthood. So I began to question my worth, my self-sabotage as if I wasn’t worth being loved, others being kind or treated well by others, including men.
Today I chose life. I live each day to the best of my abilities. I use self-care and self-love. I continue to mentor others who reach out needing support, help, and some hope from this insidious addiction. It is my passion and honor to do so. I’ll close by saying to those who never give gambling a thought, but those who have a problem with it will understand this. Gambling is all about Risk and Chance. And those who gamble a lot as I did or become addicted and gamble all the time will know what I mean. So the more you bet, the higher your odds are of losing.
So, where do you think the catchphrase came from of “The House Always Wins?”
And is why gambling addiction is so devastating…
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Writers Note –This year, I have signed up with ‘The National Council on Problem Gambling’ for the new ‘Gift Responsible’ Lottery Campaign as a social media assistant and blogger for the council through the holiday season and share Awareness of Not Gifting Lottery Products to Children and Minors. I hope you will join me by using this image on all your social media platforms in support!
“I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.” – Emma Thompson
I’m old enough to remember when books, either from a library or book store, and where how we escaped, found comfort, got an education, or discovered ways to improve our lives. Books bring the world to us.
Today, that world is smaller with online booksellers, reviewers, and sites dedicated to types of books. One of these is Shepherd.com. I enjoyed writing reviews on five books about addiction and recovery. Each of those books helped me see that addiction has common themes. Yet, each of the authors admitted their addictions and found recovery in different ways.
Easy Access to Information
It may just be me, but the first time I read Alcoholics Anonymous, or as we call it, The Big Book, I cried. There were so many passages that I could relate to in that first reading. I felt that the writers in 1939 were doing a “Letter to your future self – me.”
When we find a book that resonates with us, we cherish it. The second, third, fourth, and fifth times I read the book while in treatment, I was shocked at how much I’d missed in a previous reading. I got out my trusty highlighter and started marking practically every page. I realized that meant that eventually, I would highlight every passage, so I stopped that practice. That was 33 years ago.
I still have my original Big Book, tattered and worn with margin notes, highlighted passages, and phone numbers from people in treatment. It needs rebinding, but I’d lose those notes and numbers, and I don’t want to do that, so it stays together in its case when I’m not reading it.
I still read it; antiquated and stilted language doesn’t matter. That’s why there’s another book, a dictionary for the seldom-used words. These 100 men and women who wrote The Big Book were the founders and pioneers who admitted their problems and gave us solutions. We can’t ask for more than that in any book.
When we read a book and see ourselves on the pages, we pay attention. Sure, the names, places, ages, or genders might differ, but it’s us. How does an author do that – by relating feelings and thoughts, which transcend ages, genders, races, and places.
I’ve gotten emails and messages from men who’ve read my book, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, who’ve asked if we’re twins. Or the email from a twenty-year-old who could relate. Believe me, those are the best validation an author can get. To know that you’ve written an inclusive book.
Books Help Us Understand Ourselves
When I first got into recovery, I went weekly to the Unity Bookstore in Gainesville, GA. They had the largest selection on recovery, codependency, spirituality, and Native American beliefs. I’d “sacrifice” a steak to get a new book.
No, I’m not their spokesperson, nor do I get a commission for anything I’ve listed or from Thriftbooks; it’s about following through on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s second bit of advice, “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
Any of these will help you in your recovery and perhaps lessen your suffering. Plus buying a used book makes economic sense.
Today’s books differ only slightly from my original listing. Today, we’ve got more people writing about addiction and recovery who don’t necessarily work in the field. Some are famous, and coming out and stating that they are addicts and alcoholics is commendable.
Here’s a list of three I’ve read because I was a concert promotor and managed bands and maybe understand some of the temptations and availability of drugs backstage.
Marilyn Davis is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist who opened and operated an award-winning residential facility between 1990 and 2011, called North House. She also facilitated men’s, women’s, and HIV-positive groups.
She recently celebrated 32+ years of abstinence-based recovery.
Davis is the author of “Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System.” In 2008, Brenau University created the Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award. This ongoing award honors individuals working in recovery and mental health. In 2010, Marilyn received the Liberty Bell award. This award is given to non-judges and attorneys for contributions to the criminal justice system and communities.
Before the Blogs and Book
Before finding recovery in 1988, Davis was a desperate woman on drugs, managing bands at night, giving up her children, having her house foreclosed, and running to Georgia. After an intervention by Brenau University, she attended two 12-Step meetings a day. A chance encounter with a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk showed her that healing would include meetings and Steps. He had searched for her and wanted her to open a house of healing for other women. This encounter with Gray Hawk helped her realize that opening North House was her purpose.
Davis is also Editor-in-Chief at twodropsofink.com, a literary blog, where she continues to encourage collaborative writing.
The site’s writers are poets, problem-solvers for writers, and bloggers. Prose and essays educate, entertain, and enchant readers with the written word. The writers represent different countries, viewpoints, and opinions from around the world.
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: email@example.com
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
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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