Some Recovery & Mental Health Humor to Lighten Up Your Day. And Some News Around The Recovery Community. . .


Welcome Recovery Posse and Warriors,

WHO SAYS We Can’t Have Some Humor While Maintaining Recovery Being Dually Diagnosed?

Well, I have a share from my buddy and dear friend Tony Roberts! I had visited his website and just had to laugh a little when I seen him share this on his website of “Delight in Disorder”>>>> https://delightindisorder.org/ . . .




Health Doctor Medical - Free image on Pixabay



10 Reasons to Leave Your Psychiatrist

It’s time to leave your psychiatrist when s/he says…

     1)   Enough about your mother, let’s talk about mine.

     2)   Sure, the blue meds are working, but the pink pills are so much cuter.

     3)    In my professional opinion, you’re crazier than a loon.

     4)     Suicide, smooicide.

     5)     If you want a taste of E.C.T.  just stick your tongue to this car battery here.

     6)     What was that you said?  I was too busy picturing you in the nude.

     7)     Before we treat your O.C.D. I’d like you to clean out my garage.

     8)     You think you’ve got problems!  My Porsche has a flat tire.

     9)     I can see now why your wife wants to leave you.

     10)   You think, you’re fat because you are fat.

Shared By Pastor and Advocate Tony Roberts




Now Some Gambling Recovery News, Announcements, and Events Coming Soon.

September Web Letter 2021
News From FCCG


Please Visit Them At>>> https://gamblinghelp.org/about/history

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NCPG Announces Dates for 2022 National Conference

09.15.21JOHN NORTON

Dual Model Maximizes Options for Attendees

Washington, DC – The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) today announced dates and format for the 2022 National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling. It will utilize a dual format, with an online Digital Symposium June 8-9 and in-person sessions July 20-23, 2022, at the Westin Seaport in downtown Boston, MA. The conference will be hosted by the Massachusetts Council on Gaming & Health (MACGH), NCPG’s local state affiliate chapter.

“We know well from experience that virtual training makes it easy for people across the country to attend,” said NCPG Board President Maureen Greeley. “We also clearly understand that the value of coming together in-person has not been lost—it is still a hallmark of our National Conference. Coming together offers another level of engagement, connection, and positive energy. NCPG’s 2022 national conference offers the best of both worlds. We look forward to seeing you — virtually and in person in Boston next year.”

MACGH returns as conference host after the highly successful event in Boston.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome our friends and colleagues back to Boston for the first in-person conference in two years,” said Marlene Warner, Executive Director, MACGH.  “Massachusetts boasts some of the best and most innovative approaches to safer gaming and player health programs in the world.  Since we last hosted ten years ago, a new gaming industry has emerged, as well as evidence-based and award-winning approaches to research, community outreach, self-exclusion, technological interventions, and recovery support. We invite everyone to join us in one of America’s most beautiful and historical cities, perfect for a family vacation before or after the conference.  We look forward to sharing how the field of responsible gambling and problem gambling has grown and evolved.”

The event is the oldest and largest annual conference on gambling addiction and responsible gambling in the world. Now in its 36th year, the event brings together individuals and organizations working on prevention, education, treatment, responsible gambling, regulation, research, and recovery. With nationally and internationally known speakers, hundreds of diverse attendees will take part in a wide-ranging blend of sessions and topics that are unique to NCPG’s ‘special blend’ of curated content for this conference. More details about the program will be added as it becomes available to the conference web page at www.ncpgambling.org/conference. Sponsorship and registration information will be forthcoming later in the fall, as will the call for presentations.

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 by working with all stakeholders. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling. If gambling becomes a problem, NCPG urges people who gamble, as well as their loved ones, to contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without judgment or shame. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat. Help is available 24/7 – it is free, anonymous and confidential.

About MAGCH: The Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health (MACGH) is a statewide non-profit agency that promotes public health by mitigating the negative personal and community impacts of gambling and gaming. They accomplish their mission through training and education, federal and state advocacy, research and gaming play information, and prevention and recovery programs. They serve individuals who game and gamble and their loved ones. Since its inception in 1983, the MACGH has taken a neutral stance on legal gambling and gaming. MACGH works with key stakeholders such as gaming operators, vendors, regulators, clinicians, people in recovery, and other community-based agencies to help protect individuals from the potential public health impacts of gaming.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2021

CONTACT:
John Norton
johnn@ncpgambling.org
202-360-4560





Nothing Is Wrong With You If a 12-Step Program Does Not Work For You. It’s Why We Have “Choices Of What Works For Us”… Power To Choose

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“Those of us recovering know there is nothing wrong with you if for some reason a 12-Step program or meetings that are not enough to help you recover from any ADDICTION from Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, any addictions.”

And there has been a lot of “Debate” about this for a long time by many groups and die-hard 12-steppers in my 12-years of maintaining recovery and I been to many AA and GA, Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

 

Especially when I had a negative experience a few times in a GA meeting where a few long-timers got in an actual “Shouting Match” in front of attendees, as some just happen to be newcomers! Very wrong to DO and THAT was not following the by-laws of how a 12-step meeting should be … So when I came across this new article in one of my favorite Recovery Magazines called The Fix and this  article about “There is nothing wrong with YOU if AA, and I’ll include NA and GA, 12-step program doesn’t WORK for you.”

Look, it’s OK to choose the recovery path YOU WANT and WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. And even though I had a BAD experience with my Gamblers Anonymous meeting? I still went back and used it as a form of SUPPORT and to be like-minded recovering gamblers, BUT? Knew it wasn’t going to BE the only help and treatment option I needed for my addictions to gambling and alcohol abuse. Here is what The Fix Article says about a 12-step program and if it works or not works for you …  ~Catherine Lyon

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There is hope

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There’s Nothing Wrong With You If AA Doesn’t Work

By Olivia Pennelle 

“It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone.”

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I spoke to a friend, Damien, last week. He was devastated at losing someone close to him to an alcohol disorder. What is particularly harrowing about this person’s passing is that it might have been prevented. Damien’s friend was repeatedly pushed toward Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), even though it clearly wasn’t the right fit for him. Just like many others, instead of being supported by peers and professionals and given alternative options, this friend was left feeling that the problem was him.

“It’s really frustrating to see friends die because the default treatment option doesn’t work for them,” Damien says. “We are losing far too many people with substance use disorder who find 12-step incompatible with their life experiences and belief systems.”

He goes on to say, “It’s not because they aren’t willing. It’s not because they can’t ‘get it.’ It’s because, for many people, treating addiction requires more than hope, spirituality, and fellowship. And yet, the only option most are presented with is founded on those three pillars. If the recommended treatment for bacterial infections had the same success rate as the 12 steps, then antibiotics would not be our go-to treatment plan for staph infections.”

My overarching message is: There is nothing wrong with you if AA doesn’t work. It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone. You simply haven’t found the right pathway for you.

These kinds of beliefs stem from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which states: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” [emphasis added]

During my five years of attending countless AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, I have heard many members criticize those who come in and out of the rooms but return to using in between, categorizing them as unwilling, or incapable of being honest.“They just need to surrender to the program and work it like their life depends on it,” was the kind of statement I heard over and over again.

I threw myself into the program because there were no other options for me in the northwest of England. I was so desperate to find something that would help me that I believed anything members said, even if there was no evidence to back it up.

I did a fair amount of perpetuating these myths too. I was instructed to ignore my instincts and critical mind (because that was my “disease talking”), and do what I was told. Giving away my free will to a person in the sky or a church basement seemed weird, but I went with it for several years. After all, it had worked for many other members.

With a period of sobriety under my belt, I couldn’t ignore my inner doubts any longer. They became louder. It was as though, even after years in recovery, I suddenly woke up. And I started to slowly unpack all the myths I’d been told.

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REVIVE DETOX  – Shares: 

“I think you’ll agree with us when we say:

Times have changed and not all addiction cases should be treated the same way.

Traditional 12 Step Programs are based on a relationship with a higher power, an external higher power.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Medications should be combined with behavioral counseling for a “whole patient” approach, known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).” and is an effective treatment for addiction.

Personality, personal values, history, underlying conditions, and other factors dictate what type of recovery program works best for an individual.

We empower clients to invest in their own recovery which aids each individual in taking responsibility for their behaviors and breeds self-reliance.”

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In particular, I tried to unpack “it works if you work it.” There is substantial evidence that shows there’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to recovery. If this program were suitable for everyone with substance use disorders, its success rate would be much higher. The fact is that success rates of 12-step programs vary wildly, from as low as 5 to 8 percent, with dropout rates from 69 to 86 percent … to as high as 42 percent after four years.

I should point out that these dropout rates are a reflection of the attrition rates of addiction treatment generally. This underscores the point that the way we treat addiction isn’t appropriate for everyone and we need to get better at personalizing care based on individual circumstances.

When I moved to the U.S., it was like my world opened up. I saw that despite what I’d been told in AA — that it was the only method for successful recovery — there was actually an open landscape of diverse recovery pathways.

A leading study shows that tens of millions of Americans have successfully resolved an alcohol or drug problem through a variety of traditional and nontraditional methods. That means:

  • 9 percent recovered with “assisted pathway use” that consisted of mutual-aid groups (45.1 percent), treatment (27.6 percent), and emerging recovery support services (21.8 percent). 95.8 percent of those who used mutual-aid groups attended 12-step mutual aid meetings.
  • Just under half of those who did not report using an assisted pathway recovered without the use of formal treatment and recovery supports.
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I’m aware that an ideal model of treatment, individualized based on the person’s particular medical and psychological needs, is not always available to most people. Not all of us have the luxury of therapeutic treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is another reason mutual-aid groups are the most accessible form of recovery pathway — they’re free!

We’re fortunate in the U.S. to have plenty of other support groups that are not all based on religion, and some have a solid evidence-based program.

They include Refuge RecoveryLifeRing Secular RecoverySMART RecoveryModeration ManagementWellbriety — among many others listed here — and they have been shown to be equally as successful as 12-step groups.

study comparing 12-step groups to alternative mutual aid groups found that LifeRing, SMART, and Women for Sobriety were just as effective as 12-step groups. Study author Dr. Sarah Zemore and her team reported that “findings for high levels of participation, satisfaction, and cohesion among members of the mutual help alternatives suggest promise for these groups in addressing addiction problems.”

Despite my reporting about AA’s success rate and some of the myths perpetuated by the fellowship, I’m not here to bash AA. I’m here to shine a light on the false statement that it is the only successful way. There are many others.

For those AA does work for, I respect your path. We just need to have a clearer picture of what recovery looks like so when someone is suffering, instead of saying they are the problem, we can be better informed to direct them to what may be a more suitable pathway.

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After all, we all have the same goal: Recovery! ~Cat Lyon, Advocate

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Just My Gambling Recovery Ramblings About “Life Happens Unexpected.” So, Be Ready For It …

Just My Gambling Recovery Ramblings About “Life Happens Unexpected.” So, Be Ready For It …

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I have always been a believer that ‘God’ brings people and interactions with others in our lives at certain times on our journey called life while maintaining recovery from gambling addiction. It might be for a season or a lifetime. Either way, it happens for a reason.

Let me explain.

In 2013 we had to move from Southern Oregon to Arizona for my husband job and was offered a new supervisory position, but it was here in Arizona! See, we were struggling financially in Oregon as he was not getting 40 hours per workweek. He does now in Arizona. And believe or not, as an author I am still a penniless writer! LOL and by no means a rich recovering addict too! We got here and moved into the cheapest complex at the time and what we could afford.

We have been living in only in a 525 square foot apartment and have for the past six years. Now, the complex is getting ready to go under full reconstruction and chosen not to renew ANY current tenants leases as ours ends October 31st, 2019. We finally got our notice letting us know.

So now, ready or not, “NOT!,” we have to move by Nov. 1st, 2019 and are not in a full position financially to move! So far (and big thank you to my “Keys Family” and my friends Randy Grimes, and Kelly who owns ‘The Atlanta Water Gardens’ and my Best Friend Author, Kim Carter have all chipped in to help my hubby Tom and me with some financial gifts and support to help out. As it sure is expensive to come up with first and last months rent and rental fees and deposits …

So we are touring a few new places but need to raise $900 more for “Move-In – Pet Rent and Deposits “…


Many of you know my backstory of being a woman maintaining recovery and dually-diagnosed with mental health challenges, this could become a deeply stressful event for me, a possible source of “Relapse” mode.  Thankfully I have learned and gained experiences and so I have a solid “Relapse Prevention Plan” in place for life events such as this.  I have also learned through hard all my recovery work that a ‘Relapse’ would only make our situation worse!

Now since I am dually-diagnosed while maintaining my recovery,  I battle mental and emotional challenges with depression, mood disorder and the worst comes mostly from my agoraphobia disorder which makes it even tougher to be diligent and NOT complacent while in recovery.

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So, relapse is just not an option for me. Not to say I have not had any stress and fear over having to move. Well, I have.  Like fear of the UNKNOWN or will it be a safe environment for me.  But, again, RELAPSE is not an option as I know how quickly I would spiral and be right back where I was almost thirteen years ago, on the edge of a third suicide attempt.

Yes, I am being real and raw about where I have been in the thick of my gambling. I CHOOSE to not let the fear, stress, and trauma of having to move, the financial stressors, and the “unknown” get the best of me.

But back to my first point of “God Brings Others to Us”?

We looked at a beautiful complex and toured the townhome and complex. The girl who is helping us, Brenda, she told me she needs to buy my book for her mother. She proceeded to tell me her mom has lost everything due to her gambling problem. Now I cannot tell you all how many times I have had people tell me this. Many who find me from reading my column in “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” and then email me or reach out on my recovery blog and tell me. So and so has a bad gambling problem.

Of course, I told this wonderful girl that her mom is not alone and I can help give you some resources and?  She let me mail her mom my BOOK “Addicted To Dimes” right from Amazon to her mom’s address! I told her it may make her see she is not alone and many can get addicted or have a problem with gambling.

I also gave this amazing girl the numbers and website addresses to “The Arizona Office of Problem Gambling” and ‘The National Council on Problem Gambling’ Hotlines and a list of Gamblers Anonymous meeting places here in our area of Phoenix, AZ.  Again, I hope in sending my book to her mother, her mom can learn that she isn’t the “only one” who has or had a gambling problem and all that I went through will hopefully give her mom a nudge to get some help.

Know what continues to perplex me about this disease?  Why isn’t anyone talking openly about it? Why is it still such a taboo addiction?
It is why I advocate and share my experiences like here in “Keys” and in a variety ways to begin “the conversation” and bring gambling addiction, an addiction that requires no substances but as dangerous as all other addictions.

It is why one in five problem gamblers WILL attempt suicide as you dig yourself into such a “Hopeless and Financially” draining state that you can’t see any way out.  I still remember those days of my deep addiction and all the feelings of fear, shame, guilt, and feeling all alone and suffering in silence. No one needs to suffer from this addiction. And suicide is never the answer.  SUICIDE is only a permanent solution to a temporary problem from this addiction and cunning disease. And just like any other disease, it can be treated. We can learn how to live life in freedom from gambling addiction as I and many have.

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So back to having to my Life Event of having to move unexpectedly. Again, my recovery friends have been helping us reach our move-in goal to help raise the deposits and pet deposits to move. If you would like to help? Visit my dear friend Kim Herron’s, FB Fundraiser for us called Cat and Tom Lyon’s 911 Moving Fundraiser  … I and my husband Tom will appreciate any and all #donations and Blessings friends. We have found a new Townhome and Were Approved this past Friday …

I also hope anyone who has a problem with Gambling and READS this post will know that you are NOT ALONE and Recovery is possible. I and my blog here is to SUPPORT and HELP you recover! Reach out and EMAIL Cat anytime … lyonmedia@aol.com 💕🙌✨🐱‍ AND WE ARE GRATEFUL & Thankful Friends.
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Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.

It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of  “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
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You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews.  I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.

Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.

And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.

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And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”

And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”

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Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.

Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.

Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)

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“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Christopher Kennedy and his cousin John F Kennedy Jr, in Hyannisport MA

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“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.

With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.

In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”

Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.

“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.

Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.  “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.

His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
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“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”

After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”

He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.

He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.

“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”

He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.

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In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia: 

In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. FoundationSpecial Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.

Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.

The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.

~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~

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September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

As we celebrate National Recovery Month another year, not much has seemed to change regarding addiction. The opioid epidemic and alcoholism rates are still rising, just as more expansion has been rising with more gambling options being legalized like the one for legal online sports betting now in several states.

So how does recovery fit into this as we are losing more and more lives to all addictions every day? Why are we celebrating when it seems all addictions are getting out of control instead of better? I feel our Government needs to step up and take some part of the ownership and accountability of this problem as they don’t seem to be doing enough and just side kicking it to all the individual states in the US to handle it “on there own.”

“This to me and to many in the addiction and recovery arena and to me is just unacceptable” …

My good friend Ryan Hampton from ‘United to Face Addiction’ and ‘The Voices Project’ has worked tirelessly, including on Capitol Hill to get laws changed and put new laws and legislation on the books regarding opioid epidemic and treatment, rehabs, and sober living facilities. To force higher standards that will actually help those looking to recover. We need more longer-term after-care for those who reach out for recovery. Not just paid for and only a 28-day treatment stay. This DOES include gambling addiction and treatment where Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling lays out in this article …

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Is it wrong for the addiction/recovery community, parents, advocates, feel that our Government could be doing more? Is it not right for me if I was still an addict to ask for a longer treatment stay for free and not be in bondage of the Insurance Companies on how I chose to be free from any addiction? We all know most cannot afford addiction treatment is we have NO INSURANCE right? Even the cost alone if YOU HAVE INSURANCE is way too much for what we receive and WHY treatment is cut off by about the 28th to 30 days benchmark.

So how do we change this arena? Many advocates and those who work out in the field know this is an area in desperate need of changing. Lord knows I don’t have the answers but I will continue to advocate loudly for these and many more changes. I tip my hat off to those like Ryan, Les, and even my co-writing partner Vance who travel all over the US, even to our White House to advocate loudly for change.

Change in how addicts get treatment paid for or if they have no insurance, and to shatter Stigma around those who do because STIGMA can prevent addicts to reach out and get help. It’s why I advocate and share a wealth of HOPE … I will close with this FB Post by Vance Johnson who is a recovering addict, former NFL Pro, and what he had to say that hit home for me. I am so blessed to be writing his memoir with me and to have him as a dear friend.  ~Catherine Lyon

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Whatever you misdiagnose, whether illness, relationships, even politics, you miss treating.  This post is deep so stick with me.

Recently I’ve run into a ton backlash and opposition with my 4.5 years being clean.

From family to friends and in between, some are convinced that I’m not clean for the right reasons. Start with Religion… Some think this new walk that I walk in Christ delivering me from the bondage of addiction is “Fake News” and only a reason for my new supposed found fame. I was addicted to fame, and fame made me drink and use drugs.

When I lost that fame and status as a pro-NFL player and after walking away from the game, I drank and drugged myself into a coma. Let’s move to Politics.

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I grew up around democrats, became independent, and decided at one point that only Republicans are true believers in God. I’m not dogging politics, it’s needed…. but what you misdiagnose you miss treating! Whether politics or religion, most of it can be agenda driven and being agenda driven can make you interpret circumstances incorrectly.

In relationships, you may have got information about your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, even your children that sheds a light on them that moves you directly into judgment. All because of your misdiagnoses and believing lies shaped in truth, that’s actually formed by an agenda.

Years of doubt, demonic interpretation has damaged your relationship. Although you see them never walk away from his or her commitment to love you, take care of your children and has never strayed.

Their devotion and walk in Christ echo their lifestyle. Don’t let religious or political prophecy become deluded or distorted by people saying they know what God is thinking.

In the Bible, Paul said lustfully pursue the gifts of the Spirit, especially that you may prophesy. I travel all over the country and share my testimony to thousands. I run into people all over, and the Spirit of God has led me to speak into people’s lives, and pray over them. I share the good news about what Christ has done for me in this new walk. I’ve seen miracles and lives touched while standing boldly redeemed and in conviction to Share Hope.

Thanks for letting go deep here, just wanted to share personal thoughts in this new transparent life I lead, to show myself approved in God’s eye, not man’s eyes… I encourage all of you to recognize what may be the spirit of deception.


You can think it’s a righteous stand while being “fed a lie.” No matter where the lie comes from.


Own your Faith, Own Your Sobriety.  ~Vance Johnson 


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What to Expect from Your First Few Days of Rehab by Alek Sabin. My Weekend Recovery Guest.

What to Expect from Your First Few Days of Rehab by Alek Sabin. My Weekend Recovery Guest.

Fighting against addiction is not an easy process, as it is a behavioral disease that can take over every aspect of your life and actions. However, every recovery begins with a simple step: getting help. For many addicts, this means going to inpatient rehab.

If you’ve never been to an inpatient rehab facility, then one can seem very intimidating. The images in your mind may flip between something resembling a prison or a judgement panel of doom doctors. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To help one get comfortable with the idea of inpatient rehab, here’s an honest take on what to expect from your first few days of inpatient rehab…

Intake process

First of all, every patient goes through an intake process, where there is a full examination of the addict that includes a comprehensive medical exam, as well as an interview about their personal history and past of substance abuse.

Before this happens, you’ll have already packed everything that you’ll need for rehab, and are ready to spend anywhere from 30 to 90 days in this new home. These examinations will determine if you need to go through a detox process, which is absolutely necessary for people who have developed a dependency to alcohol, heroin, or other extremely addictive substances.

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Detoxification

If you’re in inpatient rehab, then you likely will need to undergo the detoxification process, where harmful drugs are eased out of your system in a safe medical environment. This may include treatment with naloxone or other types of medically administered drugs that gradually wean the body off of a substance.

Trying to quit cold turkey on a drug like heroin can be incredibly dangerous, as vital organs may need it to keep going, and the mind is unable to produce certain chemicals on its own. This process typically lasts 2-3 days under constant medical supervision.

First group meetings are always awkward

After your body is clean of a certain substance, next comes the healing of the mind, which is a significantly more complicated process that takes time and effort. One of the scariest aspects of this new experience is the first group meeting that you go to. Even though other participants in the group will be used to each other, you will pretty much feel terribly awkward, and that’s a guarantee.

Sharing deep emotional feelings that are difficult to bring up with total strangers isn’t something that you can just do on your first go, but it’s something that you’ll get used to and come to love and appreciate, as it is necessary to create a lasting recovery. Make sure that you look for a good peer to get help and advice from, during this time.

Get ready to be searched

When you first come to a treatment facility, you probably aren’t that removed from the last time you used an illicit substance (or you wouldn’t be there in the first place). For this reason, the facility you are at will need to routinely search you and your belongings to make sure that there are no harmful substances in their place of recovery. This is in the interest of the addict, as well as everyone in the facility, who is there to avoid temptation and make personal progress.

Time away from loved ones is rough

Eventually, your friends and family will be able to come and visit you during the treatment process, but the first few days you will probably be on your own. This is to help an addict transition into the inpatient rehab lifestyle, and allowing friends and family to visit too early can make it difficult for a person to dedicate themselves completely to their treatment. Your loved ones will understand this, as they want to support you and your recovery.

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The rewards are great

If these events and steps seem awkward and scary, it’s because they are, at least at first. However, the honest truth is that inpatient rehab presents the best possible environment to reclaim control of your life and make a lasting recovery. When leaving, make sure you have aftercare and support waiting upon your leaving so you have the best chance at making your recovery journey an open door to Living a Balanced Happy Life You are Worthy Of!   ~Alek Sabin

Sharing Other Recovery Blogs Sharing Voices of Gambling Recovery. Meet Arnie Wexler, A 50 Year Veteran of Recovery From Gambling Addiction.

As National Problem Gambling Awareness Month comes to a close, I want those who may know someone or have a family member touched by or may have a problem or have become addicted to gambling here Arnie Wexler …

He knows what it takes to recover from the #1 addiction claiming lives by Suicide today. There is Help and Hope for this cunning disease. Arnie has just celebrated 50 years maintaining his recovery from it and SO CAN YOU. SO, please take a listen to his Guest Interview by Nicola of “I Love Recovery Cafe”

Nicola talks to Arnie Wexler about Compulsive Gambling (Podcast)

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Arnie Wexler is a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor (CCGC), and was the Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey for eight years.

Arnie is one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in this country and has been involved in helping compulsive gamblers for over 30 years. He has appeared on many of America’s top television shows, including Oprah, NightLine, and 48 Hours and 60 Minutes.  He has been quoted and profiled in hundreds of magazines and newspapers.

Contact Arnie at his Website here

 

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Courtesy and Presented by “Gambling Recovery Can Start Here!” Advocate/Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

September 2017 Is National Recovery Month…New Article In “Keys To Recovery To Celebrate It!”

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I AM CELEBRATING NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH TO RAISE AWARENESS, EDUCATE, AND INFORM THE PUBLIC ~ GAMBLING ADDICTION IS A REAL ADDICTION…Sharing my newest article in “Keys To Recovery Newspaper!”

I happen to be reading an article the other day, in my AARP magazine, I receive each quarter. Now I know you are thinking? “What does Gambling have to do with AARP right?”

Well, there was a fantastic article, which called slot machines, “The New Electronic Crack.” It got me thinking about my old days, within my gambling addiction. What was the draw to slot machines for me? Was it all the lights, bells, and whistles? Or was it the disease itself with the constant racing thoughts, and triggers and urges abound? Do casinos really pump in oxygen to keep players alert?

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Well, I’m not sure, but anyone can become a gambling addict. Through my 10 and half years in recovery, I have advocated, written blogs and talked loudly about this illness. I remember when I first started communicating about gambling addictions, I actually had people leave comments on “How Stupid” it was for a person to become addicted to slot machines, and not horses, cards, or sports betting. Now, in their favor, back in the day, the most common gambling problems talked about, were sports and horse betting. Sometimes you’d hear talk about “rolling bones,” which is dice games. I took offense to some of the comments as it proved to me that first, how ignorant people can be when they are misinformed or have no education about this addiction. And second, that the STIGMA around gambling addiction was wide spread within the publics view.

Since moving to Arizona from South Oregon a few years ago, I was shocked to see how many Indian Casinos are all over Arizona. Now I know Oregon and California have casinos everywhere as well, but here, IT IS LIKE a Drug Addiction, and the Casinos are selling “Electronic Crack.” I feel it is time for this “drug” widespread as it is, and the dark side of this addiction needs to be exposed. It is time for the conversation, and awareness of the personal and financial hardship this addiction causes. Not only is it attacking our seniors, but it also has reached our kids. There are currently 17+million problem gamblers in the U.S. alone, HALF of who are high school and college kids, and now is another addiction parents have to talk to their children about, along with drugs and alcohol.

TIME TO WAKE UP, PEOPLE! Gambling addiction is the #1 addiction killing people by suicide. True! That is over drug and alcohol deaths.

Anyone can become addicted to gambling. When a person walks into a casino, they got YOU. It’s why there are no windows or clocks around inside. Ever notice that? And they offer you free drinks, and some are free alcohol. They send you coupons for free play, and discount hotel rooms and meals to keep you there longer. Marketing for casinos is a ploy to get you there and keep your money. Slot machines have the highest odds to the house as well. Which means, you rarely win. And now seniors are taking the hit. As the gambling industry booms, aggressive marketing tactics are targeting older patrons. Now, to be fair, not everyone is a problem gambler or becomes addicted. And No, I don’t feel it needs to be banned, ( not that it would ever happen!)  But the expansion and more access can make staying in recovery for many much harder.

In some of the past research I have done, when writing a post for another publication, I learned how seniors are becoming the target of predatory casino tactics. I read recently in AARP, of the 101 million visitors to America’s casinos in 2014 (the last year for which information was available), nearly half were age 55 or older, according to data from the gambling industry. In 2014, American casinos reported over $66 billion in gambling revenue, and much of that profit came from these older gamblers. Also shared in my AARP article I read, that a study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, revealed that many older adults viewed the casino as a place where they can socialize and escape from loneliness or grief. When we retire, we seem to have more time on our hands. Long gone are the days that you had to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to gamble.

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Showgirls at the Welcome Sign – 1968

 

Thanks to the boom of the Indian Gambling offerings as of 1988, when the ‘Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’ legalized casino development on Indian lands. That sparked a loosening of state prohibitions on gambling and a nationwide casino building boom. Today, over 1,400 casinos are open across 40 states so far. In those states, casinos were very attractive to seniors who prefer to drive themselves. States with bigger populations of adults over 55, includes Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and where I lived, in the state of Oregon previously. All of these states now have expanded Indian Casino gambling in recent years, and now, State Lottery offerings on top of all of the casino expansion!

For myself, I know what I felt when I would first walk into a casino seeing the lights flashing, the noise, music and people laughing and looking like they are having a fabulous time as I got so excited that I was going to win, let alone what my brain chemicals were doing as I got so euphoric as if I did pop a pill, or stuck a needle in my arm. NOPE. IT WAS ALL my brain and body chemicals doing an inside “happy dance” of excitement! So, anyone can become addicted to gambling and for many different reasons.

“Not All Addictions Are Substance Use Anymore.”

So if you think you or someone you love or care for might have a problem, I would recommend visiting my friends at “The National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous” for support and resources for a good start and direction. Today, it seems our government and states have decided to begin turning toward “Gaming” as a way to make a profit for their mistakes of not shortfall budgeting or not being fiscally responsible, so they are pushing on us, the “Good Ole Tax Payer.” now that IS predatory tactics.

BUT? That is a topic for another day and future post!

 


Author/Writer/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

September is also National Suicide Prevention Month…

September is also National Suicide Prevention Month…

IT IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE & CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY! So Let’s Have The Conversation…

BUT PLEASE:

“Don’t refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful,” or a “failed attempt.” Use “died by suicide,” “completed suicide,” or “killed him/herself.”

“Most people who die by suicide exhibit warning signs. Refrain from describing a suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning.”

“Don’t quote the suicide note or describe the method used and Report on suicide as a public health issue, not a crime.”

“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255) connects the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.

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Especially Our Vets! They Need Us Now More Than Ever!  https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/BeThere.aspx

Veteran Crisis Line & Military Crisis Line logo

Dial 1-800-273-8255, press 1        Text to 838255

You are not alone.  Help is available.

If you are a Veteran in crisis or know one who is, call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to confidentially speak with a trained, caring VA responder and get connected to services that can make a difference. Chat online or text with a VA responder to receive anonymous support now. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals using TTY can call 1-800-799-4889.

Why I am I Sharing This? I am a Suicide Survivor and Someone Was There For Me. I am Here For You!

#BeThe1To

#BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month and beyond, which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. The Lifeline network and its partners are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope… I AM!

Author. Catherine Townsend-Lyon

I Am Supporting Many Including SAMHSA As September 2017 Is “National Recovery Month” and I am Dually Diagnosed…

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National Recovery Month ~ Raise The Awareness!

Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. 

National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.

Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.

Now in its 27th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective preventiontreatment, and recovery services for those in need.

The Recovery Month theme is carefully developed each year to invite individuals in recovery and their support systems to spread the message and share the successes of recovery. Learn more about this year’s theme.

Materials produced for the Recovery Month observance include print, Web, television, radio, and social media tools. These resources help local communities reach out and encourage individuals in need of services, and their friends and families, to seek treatment and recovery services and information. Materials provide multiple resources including SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662 HELP (4357) for information and treatment referral as well as other SAMHSA resources for locating services.

LET’S RAISE AWARENESS TOGETHER AND STOP THE STIGMA!

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    My Voice My Legacy ~ By Author/Advocate
on Sale
All September 2017
Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

 

“We The People Declare A State of Emergency ~ Today Is Overdose Awareness Day!”

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“WE THE PEOPLE ARE FED UP WITH WASHINGTON, D.C. ~ TODAY IS ‘International Overdose Awareness Day!”

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Facing Addiction

Dear Author & Recovery Advocate, Catherine Lyon,

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. We all know someone, who has suffered the ultimate loss. Our family, our friends, our neighbors, our children. Nobody is immune from the addiction crisis. Today is a day to remember, reflect, and speak out. Overdoses are preventable. We must do more.
This is a national emergency. Several weeks ago, President Trump stated his intention to declare a national emergency around the opioid epidemic. Since his statement – NO NATIONAL EMERGENCY HAS BEEN DECLARED.

Words are one thing, taking action is another. Action is what we need. Please, take a moment today and sign our letter to President Trump urging him to turn his words into action and officially declare a national emergency.

White House
What would a national emergency mean?

It could open up various new funding streams from the federal government. It could mean increased access to medically assisted treatment. And it could loosen restrictions on using Medicaid dollars to gain access to treatment.

Show the President you are willing to do more than talk – show him and his administration you are willing to act. Please, take a moment today to sign our letter urging President Trump to turn his words into action and officially declare this national emergency here: sign our letter to President Trump!!

Thank you for all you do.
 

With warm regards,
 

Michael King,
Director of Outreach & Engagement


It Happens Today Recovery Friends! So Please Tune Into ~Facing Addiction in America. . .

Gambling Addiction & Alcohol = FEAR “Kick Fear Out of Your Recovery. Especially If You Are “Dual Diagnosed.”

Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends!

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The Truth About Lottery Video Poker Machines. Guest Article. “Man Vs Machine”- National Week of Action From Predatory Gambling.

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome All Visitors,

As this is “National Addiction and Recovery Month and National Week of Action Against Predatory Gambling” I want to share a Guest Article I read a while back that sheds light on a guy who caught “The Oregon Video Poker” machines trying to make players lose instead of winning a hand of poker from an electronic game. It also sheds light on just how BAD the “odds” are of a player winning. So this man took on the video poker machines! (Article Courtesy of  Willamette Week News Website .

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“MAN Vs. MACHINE – A video poker machine dealt Justin Curzi a strange hand. Now he’s calling the Oregon Lottery’s bluff.” 

Updated March 4, 2015
Published March 4, 2015

Curzi, 35, had moved to Oregon in 2012 from San Francisco after selling a software company he’d helped found a decade earlier. He was fascinated with the games—the ubiquitous, flashing terminals found in bars, delis, and even pancake houses—and he played occasionally when out drinking with friends.

On this day—Jan. 10, 2014, a Friday—Curzi paused playing video poker while a pal went to get a beer. He used the break to study his hand—a 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of different suits. He was close to getting a straight, which would pay $5 on a $1 bet.

The game Curzi was playing, draw poker, allowed him to discard cards and get new ones from the dealer. He knew his best chance was to discard the 2 and hope the machine dealt him a 3 or an 8 to complete a straight.

But the machine suggested he do something Curzi thought strange: It recommended he discard the 7. He would get his straight only if he drew a 3. That would cut Curzi’s chances of winning by half—and he thought it was terrible advice.

“Hey, is this right?” Curzi asked his friend when he returned.

Curzi took out his iPhone and snapped photos of the screen and the machine’s serial number.

It was the first step to uncovering what he says is a $134 million scam by the Oregon Lottery.

 

Bad Advice

“Here’s how the video poker hand Justin Curzi got on Jan. 10, 2014, led him to investigate the Oregon Lottery machines.”

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Oregon voters approved the state lottery in 1984, and today state-run gambling contributes about $550 million a year to Oregon’s budget, behind only personal income taxes.

The lottery encourages dreams of riches. But the games are engineered to take your money. “Everyone should understand that the odds in all our games favor the lottery,” says Jack Roberts, Oregon Lottery director. That’s why news reports two months ago that a Portland man was suing the lottery to recoup video poker players’ losses struck some as ludicrous.

Who would sue over losing money while gambling?

But it’s not so simple. Curzi—who friends say is intelligent, analytical and obsessively curious—launched a personal investigation of Oregon video poker machines that led him to conclude the machines were cheating players out of millions of dollars every month. That’s why he filed a class-action lawsuit against the Oregon Lottery in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging fraud. Lottery officials deny Curzi’s allegations.

“Good for him,” says Les Bernal, national director of the advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling, based in Washington, D.C. “What the Oregon Lottery does with these games is create the illusion that you have some control, where in reality you actually have far less.”

Curzi is aware some people might assume he’s suing to make money. He insists he’s not. “The real reason I’m doing this,” he says, “is because it’s outright wrong.”

“Justin is not afraid to jump at things, he’s not afraid to question things,” says Rob Steele, a friend of Curzi’s dating back to high school in New Jersey. “That is just catnip for Justin.”

Six days after his curious experience with the Jacks or Better game at Quimby’s, Curzi sent a polite and inquisitive email to the Oregon Lottery.

“Hello, my name is Justin,” he wrote on Jan. 16, 2014. “I’ve attached a photo of a hand that was given to me in one of your Oregon Lottery machines.” Curzi explained how he believed the video poker machine should have given him the best advice. “This does not seem to be the case,” he wrote.

Draw poker is a game of luck, strategy and second chances. The dealer gives players five cards. Players then get a chance to discard cards in the hopes of being dealt better ones.

When you’re playing poker around a table in real life, you’re betting against other players in hopes of having the best hand.

But in video poker, you’re not betting against anyone. Each hand costs you 25 cents (or more, if you increase your wager), and you win money based on a scale of how strong your hand is. A pair of jacks might win you your 25 cents back. A royal flush—the highest and rarest combination—would win you up to $600.

Unlike slot machines, video poker gives the player a sense that strategy matters. In reality, if you play long enough, the machines are geared to eventually take your money, no matter how many wins you record. Still, the sense that a player can outsmart the game is part of its allure.

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What caught Curzi’s attention was a feature on the draw poker games called “auto-hold.” The feature puts the word “hold” over cards it suggests players should keep. Players can reject the suggestions at any time.

But auto-hold has a second, less obvious function. It allows players to play faster because they don’t have to stop to think about what cards to hold before hitting the button to draw again. That’s important because faster play translates to more money for the Oregon Lottery.

Before he got a response from the lottery, Curzi returned to Quimby’s, wondering whether the game’s bad advice had only been a fluke. He shoved a $20 bill into a machine to play the same Jacks or Better game. Within 10 minutes, the game was again advising him to hold cards that cut his chances of winning in half. Curzi says he just wanted a simple explanation. “I certainly didn’t think,” he says, “I would discover what I know now.”

Who Plays Oregon Lottery Games?

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Curzi grew up as a sports-focused kid in small-town New Jersey, the son of a prominent lawyer and a stay-at-home mom. Curzi—who played football despite his small size—also wrestled, played baseball and graduated near the top of his high-school class. He played wide receiver at Amherst College, where he majored in economics and history. That led him to New York City after graduation.

“I thought the only two jobs on earth were investment banking and consulting,” he says now.

He landed his first job selling investments. Working on commission, he’d target an office building, climb to the top floor, then work his way down, knocking on doors. “I was 21, looking like I was 16, asking people to give me their money,” Curzi says. He soon climbed the monthly leader board. His boss told him he was one of the youngest salespeople to reach the top.

He wasn’t destined for a traditional job. A sticker on Curzi’s apartment door showed a group of people heading one direction, and one person walking the other way. “Routine,” it read. “The enemy!”

In 2003, he moved to Brazil and quickly immersed himself in the culture, teaching himself Portuguese within months. “You feel like the guy has been there two or three years,” says Ken Barrington, a college friend who visited him.

In Brazil, Curzi met an American computer programmer working on a way to help accountants share QuickBook files. The two teamed up and sold the program, cold-calling potential clients from Rio de Janeiro on an Internet phone line. “We must have sounded like we were speaking through tin cans,” Curzi says.

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They called the business Emocgila—mochila means “backpack” in Spanish and Portuguese—and it blossomed to 30 employees. In 2011, Curzi and his partner sold the company to Thomson Reuters in a private deal; Curzi declines to say for how much. But friends describe him as wealthy. “I’m not Elon Musk,” Curzi says of the co-founder of Tesla and PayPal.

Curzi moved to Portland in 2012 with his then-girlfriend (and now wife), who grew up in Tigard, and now lives in a $565,000 Victorian in Northwest Portland. He consults for private clients, provides microloans to entrepreneurs through the website Kiva and drives a 1996 Isuzu Rodeo “whose crowning feature is where a dog chewed the back seats.”

Friends say they are not surprised Curzi—who’s just as likely to want to discuss North Dakota’s fracking economy as the business model for Purringtons Cat Lounge—zeroed in on something as small and seemingly innocuous as a quirk in a video poker game.

“So many times in life, people just overlook the obvious,” Barrington says. “Justin has a knack for pointing those things out.”

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Marlene Meissner, a spokeswoman for the lottery, drafted a response. Auto-hold, she wrote, “is based on optimizing the player’s opportunity to win the best (highest prize) rather than simply increasing the odds of winning any prize.”

But, as Curzi later discovered, lottery officials guided Meissner to a different answer, so she revised her email before sending it. “In your case, the terminal did advise a strategy — granted not the only strategy — for you to have an opportunity to win with the cards you were dealt,” she said in her email to Curzi on Feb. 3.

In other words, the lottery was backing away from telling Curzi auto-hold offered the best option.

Curzi wasn’t satisfied. “I know your interpretation of the law is that you only have to suggest ‘a’ winning combination, but why not the best one?” he wrote in an email the next day.

The lottery’s response? “Crickets,” Curzi says.

Curzi turned to Jay Zollinger, a lawyer who had helped negotiate the sale of Curzi’s business. Zollinger suggested a public records request might turn up some answers.

On Feb. 20, 2014, Curzi and Zollinger formally asked the lottery for documents concerning the Jacks or Better game Curzi played at Quimby’s, plus any correspondence, studies and reports about auto-hold. The lottery responded on April 8, saying it would take 30 hours of staff time just to review the records Curzi requested. The lottery wanted a $2,350 deposit to cover its costs.

That fee would have stopped most people. But Curzi’s lawyer paid it. The total bill for records eventually came to $3,581.49.  Six months after his request, in August 2014, Curzi received the first of five batches of records.

By September, Curzi had hundreds of pages of emails, memos, and spreadsheets. He made a copy of the originals, arranging one set chronologically and the second by topic. He took notes on his laptop in a file that grew to 4,800 words.

Curzi came across a Feb. 2, 2009, email with a spreadsheet attached—”Video Lottery Game Payout Percentage Report.” The document had come from Gaming Laboratories International, an independent auditor based in New Jersey that works with many state lotteries to test machines.

The spreadsheet listed all the types of Oregon video poker machines by the manufacturer, the millions of games played in one-quarter of 2008 and how much money players spent.

In one column, the document showed what various video poker machines, based on calculations of probabilities, were expected to pay out to players over time.

In another column, the document showed what the machines were actually paying out. Curzi thought the payouts should have been very close to what the game’s programmers predicted.

Some weren’t. Curzi discovered the game he had been playing at Quimby’s, the Jacks or Better “Bluebird” terminal produced by WMS Gaming, was off by quite a bit.

The spreadsheet showed Jacks or Better on average should be paying out 90 cents for every $1 players put into the machine. It actually paid out about 87 cents.

That 3-cent difference may seem small, but when multiplied by the huge numbers of video poker games played, it translated to about $1.3 million per year that Jacks or Better wasn’t returning to players.

“This,” Curzi recalls thinking to himself, “is totally corrupt.”

He kept digging and made a second big discovery: Lottery officials knew about the discrepancy, and the auto-hold function on some machines was to blame.

“Due to the vendors’ auto-hold strategies, a few other poker games have actual payout percentages that are below theoretical,” Carole Hardy, the lottery’s then-assistant director for marketing, wrote on April 1, 2009. Curzi discovered a survey of video poker players the lottery commissioned from Mosak, a marketing research firm.

“Across all player types, the overwhelming majority of players said they prefer the auto-hold feature in video poker games as it makes it more convenient and easier to play,” a 2010 Mosak report said. “Players said this feature allows them to hold the correct cards, thus increasing their chances of winning.”

Curzi had only hoped to understand how auto-hold worked. He had instead discovered the lottery knew auto-hold sucked millions away from players—and players actually thought auto-hold helped them.

The lottery’s rules require “a close approximation of the odds of winning some prize for each game” and say those odds “must be displayed on a Video Lottery game terminal screen.”  Documents Curzi received show lottery officials debated whether or not they should tell players the actual odds if they relied on auto-hold.

In a memo labeled “confidential” and dated Sept. 15, 2009, lottery officials reported they had been studying their system to find video poker games that might be making payouts that were too high. Instead, they found machines whose payouts were too low.

“This triggered additional investigation regarding the integrity of the games,” the memo said. “Further, there was a question whether additional information should be provided to players to ensure they have accurate information regarding how video lottery games pay.”

The Sept. 15 memo also contained this nugget about WMS Gaming, maker of the game Curzi played at Quimby’s: “WMS has confirmed that the auto-hold strategy for all WMS poker games is set to pay out lower than the other products as a result of the auto-hold strategies WMS has implemented.”

Lottery officials, according to a separate 2009 memo, decided to put accurate auto-hold payouts on the Web. But Curzi went looking online, even using the Internet Archive search engine, to see if the lottery had ever made public the lower odds. He found no evidence it had. Over the next month, Curzi built a spreadsheet to estimate how much money the video poker machines, based on the odds, should have paid out, compared to what they actually did.

What he found startled him. Payouts to video lottery players were as much as 5 percent lower when they used auto-hold than when they didn’t. That translated to $134 million.

To Curzi, it was an outrageous discrepancy—especially given that players believed auto-hold helped them, and the lottery knew otherwise. Buried on the lottery’s website is one disclaimer: “Auto-hold strategies vary by game, based on the particular features of a game and do not necessarily result in theoretical payouts.”

Curzi says that’s not enough. The lottery is supposed to be based on chance. “You can’t manipulate the game,” he says.

In October 2014, he sent the Oregon Lottery a letter detailing his findings and notifying officials he intended to sue unless the lottery reimbursed players within 30 days. On Dec. 4, a claims management consultant in the state’s Department of Administrative Services wrote back to say the lottery was still investigating Curzi’s claims.

On Dec. 31, Curzi took the Oregon Lottery to court.

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Jack Roberts, the lottery director, took over the agency in December 2013, following years of controversy and accusations the agency wasn’t doing enough to address problem gambling. He had earlier served as state labor commissioner and ran in the Republican primary for governor in 2002.

Roberts says the lottery is fairly representing players’ chances. “Clearly the odds favor us,” he says. “That’s what gambling establishments are about, but we believe we’ve been honest in representing what they are.”

Roberts wasn’t around when the lottery introduced video poker and the auto-hold feature in 1992. “Our assumption has always been that on balance people who play auto-hold do better than people who don’t,” he says. “We don’t tell people that.”

He rejects Curzi’s allegation the lottery is intentionally misleading players. “I don’t think we’ve ever represented that the auto-hold gives you the optimal result,” he says. “The idea was that it gives you a good result.”

But records Curzi turned up show the opposite. “The machine recommends the best possible cards to hold in order for the player to win and if the player changes the cards to be held, the possibility of winning will decrease,” the Sept. 15, 2009, memo marked “confidential” reads.

Today, the lottery is in the process of replacing all 12,000 video lottery terminals in the state; it’s a routine technology update. But one consequence of the upgrade is that Oregon is completely phasing out the WMS Gaming “Bluebird” terminal on which Curzi played Jacks or Better. Roberts says Jacks or Better is being phased out because it’s unpopular with players. Roberts says the lottery is interested in finding out if more players are concerned about auto-hold.

“It gets complicated in the middle of litigation,” he says. “Any actions that we take might be interpreted as an admission that we don’t mean to say.”

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Experts on lotteries and the law say Curzi’s odds of winning in court seem low. Rob Carey, an Arizona class-action lawyer, took on several state lotteries over the deceptive practice of selling scratch-off tickets after the top prizes had already been awarded. Carey never succeeded in getting a class established for his lawsuits, but he did win payments for some plaintiffs and forced changes in state lottery practices.

He says Curzi’s case hinges on whether the Oregon Lottery’s public disclosures were adequate. “It really depends on what they’re telling the players,” Carey says.

The lottery could be safe even if the disclosures are vague. “You have to show the intent to defraud,” says I. Nelson Rose, a law professor at Whittier Law School in Southern California. “I don’t think they’ll be able to do that.”

Rose says it’s the machines’ manufacturers that should be worried.  “If the plaintiff were able to prove this was intentional,” he says, “that supplier could end up paying.”

Nevada-based Scientific Games, owner of WMS Gaming, the maker of the Jacks or Better game Curzi played, declined to answer WW‘s questions. “It is company policy not to comment on ongoing litigation,” Scientific Games spokeswoman Mollie Cole said in an email.

Curzi is undaunted. He wants players to recoup their money. He wants the lottery’s auto-hold feature to give good advice, and he wants the agency to give players honest information.

“It goes all the way back to that first photo,” he says of the photo he took of the video poker machine’s bum recommendation at Quimby’s last year. “I look at it and say, ‘That’s not right.”  .   .   .   .   .

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My own thoughts about The Oregon Lottery and the Retail places available everywhere? I had gotten hooked and was just one of several places around my town I gambled at. So when there IS “Excess to Access” you CAN become addicted.” Learn from my dear friend Ronda Hatefi and her brother’s suicide because of his Gambling Addiction & Could Not Stop!   “LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!”

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IF YOU NEED HELP From Gambling? Please Call TODAY .  .  .  .

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In Oregon:  call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (695-4648).
National Hotline:  call  1-800-522-4700 all days and hours for resources and referrals.
National Suicide Hotline: call Call  1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day.
For Family Help:  Gam-Anon: Family and friends of problem gamblers can find resources and a list of meetings at gam-anon.org or 718-352-1671.

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Author & In Recovery Magzine Columnist & Recovering Addicted Gambler 9-years 9months,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon


 

Honesty In Recovery Means Swallowing Your Pride. It’s About Accountability.

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Recovery Tip of The Week!

“When we learn to Swallow our Pride and put Ego Aside? It makes room in our Recovery, to be HONEST, BE RESPONSIBLE, and BECOME ACCOUNTABLE.”

It Just Might Help Make Your Recovery Journey Much Smoother and a Successful One!

ODAAT Recovery Friends!

Author & Recovery Columnist,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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Honored To Share This New Guest Article I Am a Part of To Help Others From Gambling Addiction.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

 Some months back I had the honor and pleasure to be interviewed and talked in length with MAIA SZALAVITZ, a New York Times Best Selling Author of her book;  Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction.

She is also an award-winning author and journalist who covers addiction and neuroscience. And currently a bi-weekly column for VICE on drugs and addiction. From 2010 to 2013, she wrote daily for TIME.com and she continues to freelance there and for other publications including the New York Times, Scientific American Mind, Nature, New York Magazine online, Pacific Standard, Matter, Nautilus, and The Verge.

She came across my recovery blog and found my phone number from my book promotions website. She called to tell me she was doing an in-depth article for the distinguished publication “The Nautilus” and “Time.com” about the neuroscience behind gambling addiction,e to be interviewed for the piece. I said sure, and I had spent an hour or so talking with Maia about my addiction to gambling. Here is the result from our talks and correspondence. I can not tell you again how honored and humbled that she shared some of my story and experiences so others can have more answers as to how this disease progress’s and how our brains can become manipulated by many factors of this addiction as a whole.

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‘Addicted to Anticipation ~ What goes wrong in the brain chemistry of a gambling addict.’

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, 53, started gambling excessively when she was 30. As a result, her 40th birthday wasn’t much of a celebration: She was hospitalized, shortly after a suicide attempt. She’d tried to slit her wrists the day she’d missed her best friend’s funeral, after stealing money from her job at a credit service to play the slot machines.

That was just one part of how bad it had gotten. She would arrive at casinos at 7 a.m. and wear bladder control underpants. She didn’t want to have to get up—even for a quick bathroom break—if she was on a winning streak. At one point she hoped to win back enough money to stave off foreclosure on her home.

“It’s where I could find stress relief,” she says of her gambling, which she detailed in a book titled “Addicted to Dimes.” “I didn’t have to worry about anything—whether it was my past, whether it was the money I’d spent. You don’t think about any of it. It’s like you just go there and you’re escaping into a whole different world,” she says

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Szalavitz_BR_LyonTILL DEATH DO THEY PART: “When we got married, he took his vows seriously. I mean, I put this man through everything,” says Catherine Townsend-Lyon (right), of her husband Thomas (left), who supported her throughout her gambling addiction and recovery.
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Gambling Addiction stands out for its destructive power and pull. With substance problems, people can blame the chemical activity of drugs and argue that addiction occurs when repeated exposure physically alters the brain. But gambling causes life catastrophes that are at least as extreme—sometimes more—without any kind of foreign psychoactive chemical getting under the skin, indeed, without any apparent “substance” at all.

“First you get that euphoric feeling, that rush and excitement,” Townsend-Lyon says, “Once you become addicted, then you get to the point where you don’t care about anything. You’re in a zone and you don’t realize what’s going on around you.”

“The high is in expecting an outcome, desiring it, imagining it, not in its fulfillment.”

Problem gambling is addiction stripped to its core—compulsive behavior that persists no matter what the negative consequences. Compulsive gamblers risk their homes, their cars, their children’s college funds, their jobs, even their lives in what looks to everyone around them like completely willful, selfish, and utterly destructive behavior.

Understanding why and how gambling can become compulsive is to recognize that all forms of addiction are a form of aberrant learning. But addiction doesn’t primarily affect the kind of learning we associate with school, or with studying for tests and trying to memorize theorems.

Instead, it involves changes in deep emotional learning, the sort of learning that makes first love far more memorable than algebra or verb tenses. From a neuroscientific perspective, learning is a brain change that associates experiences with each other and affects behavior. A critical part of emotional learning is changes in brain circuitry that respond to reward and punishment and link them with actions and the environment.

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The best way to see addiction may be as a learning disorder—one that occurs when punishment or other negative consequences no longer deter the addictive activity. As Yale researcher Jane Taylor and her colleagues explain in a review paper focused on substance addictions, these conditions “enhance positive learning and memory about the drug while inhibiting learning about the negative consequences.”1 Brain scans of compulsive gamblers suggest that the same processes are at work.2

In Townsend-Lyon’s case, her gambling persisted despite terrible financial losses, despite losing all her friends and becoming depressed enough to attempt suicide more than once. She describes losing jobs because her gambling began cutting into her workday. “When it was the worst part of my addiction, I was going before work, I was going at lunchtime, I was going after work. It was outrageous. I was just so out of control.”

While much time has been spent debating whether addiction is a disease or just a bad choice, recognizing how learning goes awry is the best way to improve treatment, prevention, and policy.

B.F. Skinner, who laid out the fundamental principles of learning through reward and punishment in the mid 20th century, recognized their relevance to gambling right from the start, says Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas and associate professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University.

Skinner told people that slot machines were basically human versions of the famous “Skinner boxes” he made for rats and pigeons. “People often think it’s a heavy-handed metaphor to call a slot machine a Skinner box, but in fact, he was calling Skinner boxes slot machines way back,” Schull says. Like the animals in their cages, slots players would pull a lever and wait to either receive a reward or not.

Early in his research, Skinner accidentally discovered an important factor that makes gambling addictive. One day, while working in the lab, he began to run out of rat treats. Since the treats were time-consuming to make and he had to do it himself, he didn’t want to stop the experiment. So instead of rewarding the rats every time they pushed the lever, he did it only once a minute. To his surprise, the intermittent reward made them push more, not less.

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CASINO CONDITIONING: B.F. Skinner, seen here in 1948, said slot machines were basically human versions of the “Skinner boxes” he made for rats and pigeons. Slot machine players, like animals in the boxes, pull a lever and wait to either receive a reward or not.  (Apic/Getty Images)
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In his behavioral experiments across species, Skinner found that the pattern of reward that created the most robust response—and the most stubbornly persistent learning—was not providing treats every time an animal pressed the lever. It was rewarding them at random: exactly like a slot machine.3Like human gamblers, pigeons began to do peculiar repetitive behaviors at the lever. It was as though they were superstitiously repeating a behavior that they associated with past “luck.”

But why would animals, including us, be more responsive to what Skinner called “intermittent reinforcement” than to getting rewarded every time you do the right thing? This is the paradox of the learning that is at the heart of addiction—whether to gambling, cocaine, shopping, or heroin—and it offers clues about what’s going wrong in the brain.

Over the course of evolution, many situations have required animals to persist despite negative outcomes; for mammals and particularly humans, finding and keeping a mate and rearing needy and demanding offspring are among the biggest such challenges. If we didn’t have a mechanism that pushed us to persevere in these pursuits, our species never would have survived. “The brain’s reward systems evolved to motivate us organisms to do things that we should do,” says Larry Young, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University who studies social bonding.

Addiction is involved the sort of learning that makes first love far more memorable than algebra.

When working properly, our basic motivational systems drive us to seek partners, despite rejection, fights, fears, and other challenges. They set our priorities, pulling or pushing us toward what their calculus determines is most likely to allow us to survive and reproduce. Our emotions, in fact, are fundamentally algorithms for rapid decision-making, which may have been shaped by the history of what actions best-promoted survival and reproduction.

The same system also makes babies seem unbearably cute, motivating parents to tolerate their noise and their constant, relentless demands—and even enjoy doing so. (Puppies and kittens often hitch a ride on this attachment system, making us want to care for them, too.)

“There’s a lot of shared neurochemistry between love and bonding and attachment and addiction,” says Young. “Basically, it uses the same neurochemistry. But love is an association in the brain that this particular individual is associated with that reward.”

In addition, the paraphernalia, the slot machine or crack pipe, becomes the focus, rather than a person. And when intense drive and a feeling of biological urgency get directed toward a drug or activity like gambling, serious problems can occur. It’s hard to make choices when the machinery that guides choice is itself misdirected.

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Young’s research on monogamous and non-monogamous voles, which are a type of field mice, shows how neurons form new connections when bonding with a mate. In monogamous voles, the release of hormones like oxytocin links the reward regions and the reduction of stress with the presence of their mate. These chemicals help the brain associate the release of natural heroin-like neurotransmitters—endogenous opioids—that enhance the bond with a specific partner. But this connection isn’t made in promiscuous voles, for whom many partners are attractive and whose reward regions don’t get rewired to form pair bonds during mating.4

The hormonal bonding process—whether with a baby or a partner—is a type of learning, one that ultimately makes our stress systems responsive to our most significant others. It lowers blood pressure and creates calm when we’re together and safe, but raises alarms when there is distance or a perceived threat of harm to the person or the relationship.

Similarly, if your brain “decides” that a drug or activity is somehow essential to your emotional survival, it begins skewing your choices and changing your priorities to put this behavior first—in the same way that people in love obsess about their partners, make time together the center of their lives and often ignore other friends or work that used to be their focus. In fact, oxytocin has been shown to reduce symptoms of heroin and alcohol withdrawal and is being studied for a potential role in addiction treatment, in part as a result of these parallels.

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Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that signals exhilaration, is critically involved in love, sex, and all addictions that have been studied. “Dopamine is the chemical that seals the deal when something special happens,” says Young. Research by Young and his colleagues shows that dopamine levels rise in monogamous voles during sex—and this type of dopamine peak is also seen when people with gambling addiction are about to bet and people with cocaine addiction anticipate snorting the sparkly white powder.5

Dopamine is also involved in the prediction of reward. While initially it rises just as a reward is received, once associations that predict the reward have been learned, the biggest rise comes not when the dice are rolled or the coke is snorted, but when the person walks into the casino or first sees the packet that contains the cocaine.6

However, if the predicted positive outcome does not occur, dopamine levels in certain brain areas drop—not just to normal, but below baseline. This punishes the bad prediction and ordinarily it makes people change their predictions and their behavior. We call the experience disappointment. But in addiction the relevant update to the prediction is not made. And so the behavior continues.

The fact that dopamine systems seek to predict outcomes also makes the patterning of addictive experience crucial to how addictive a drug, person, or experience will be. Gambling addiction rests on intermittent reinforcement alone—the experience of risk, the fact that there will be either loss or gain, creates excitement and the more unpredictable the outcome, the more compelling it becomes. With drugs, the pattern of use also matters. he more varied and irregular the dosing, the more addictive a drug will be.

Indeed, this is another reason why compulsive gamblers continue whether they win or lose—the high is in expecting an outcome, desiring that outcome, imagining it, not in its fulfillment. No win can ever be big enough to meet these outsized expectations, no loss harsh enough to dash the desire. Because dopamine calculates expectations, only a better-than-expected result can satisfy. But results seldom get better in the real world.

Brains are, in essence, prediction machines, which is why no one likes uncertainty and why solving mysteries provides such a sense of satisfaction. We seek patterns and connections, even in randomness, especially in randomness. That makes unpredictable patterns of reward—like playing the slots—into compelling puzzles that can draw us in, even if we know rationally that the odds are against us. This patterning can fool the brain into prioritizing an addiction. Townsend-Lyon’s husband Thomas used to tell her, “You love the machines more than you love me.”

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Like most addictions, Townsend-Lyon’s gambling problem “didn’t come out of nowhere.” Similar to most women with addiction, she’d had a traumatic childhood—including emotional and physical abuse and ongoing sexual abuse by a close family member and another perpetrator. Also, like most women with addiction, she had pre-existing psychiatric problems; in her case, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Studies of addicts show that trauma and certain genetic vulnerabilities—especially the two in combination—increase risk for a wide range of mental illnesses and a bewildering spectrum of addictions that include gambling, sex, alcohol, and opioids. The availability of escapist drugs and activities help determine what form the problem takes. But gambling and drugs themselves don’t cause addiction, a myth that often interferes with getting to the personal root of the problem.

“Everybody wants to think the object is the cause of addiction,” says Howard Shaffer, director of the division on addiction at the Cambridge Health Alliance, and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “So dice causes gambling addictions. Roulette wheels cause gambling addiction. Heroin causes opioid addiction. The problem is that in every instance vastly more people use the object than become addicted.” Indeed, over 95 percent of gamblers and 80 to 90 percent of people who use addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine do not develop addiction problems.7

Problem gambling is addiction stripped to its core—compulsive behavior no matter the negative consequences.

Addiction is often learned when someone with an emotional or psychological problem discovers that a particular addictive behavior helps ease it—at least at first. “I’m a childhood sex abuse survivor, and what I was doing was using [gambling] to escape, to numb out,” Townsend-Lyon says.

Townsend-Lyon had little interest in alcohol or other drugs. Gambling seemed like a relatively harmless pastime, and she was excited by the possibility of what winning might mean. But the more she played, the less important winning and losing became. Instead, Townsend-Lyon played to reach “the zone”—a place where time, space, and self melt away and the cares of the real world vanish. When they’re in this realm, some gamblers find winning big to be annoying because the bright lights and bells and other jarring signals that announce it can bring them back down to earth.

The craving and the experience of losing control are identical. Townsend-Lyon and other problem gamblers describe being deeply aware of the fact that their behavior is irrational and harmful—and yet finding themselves doing it anyway. The same is true with cocaine, heroin, and alcohol addictions.

This disconnection between desire and pleasure—between what researchers call “wanting” and “liking” is reflected in how addiction leads learning astray in the brain. When drugs are taken irregularly and in varied dosing—which is what tends to happen during addiction because supplies and money to pay for them are rarely constant—drug desire escalates, while the pleasure associated with using declines.

The random nature of intermittent reinforcement produces a similar effect in gambling. The dopamine-driven desire system needs less and less of a cue to create intense craving—but the systems that are involved in the actual enjoyment of the experience become tolerant and more is needed to experience a high or just to feel normal. This contrast leaves addicted people desperately pursuing an experience that they don’t even like much once they get it.

Recovery from gambling addiction is difficult. For one thing, there’s the sheer amount of debts gamblers accrue. For another, there’s no material substance to blame for “changing the brain” or causing a “disease.” The pattern and experience of gambling come together to make the brain vulnerable to getting stuck in a compulsive loop. If it is hard to get people to see addiction to drugs as a medical problem, the lack of a chemical to blame makes gambling addiction even more suspect in the public eye.

There’s a paradox at the heart of the way American society tries to treat addiction. We think that if people like Townsend-Lyon simply lose enough or hurt enough or get punished enough, they’ll “hit bottom” and stop. But since addiction is defined as compulsive behavior that continues in the face of punishment, punishment is clearly not the best way to deal with it. Dozens of studies show that shame, confrontation, and humiliation are ineffective and can backfire when used in addiction treatment.8

Because most people with addictions are using their behavior as a way to cope with distress, figuring out the source of that distress and alleviating it in a more healthy way is the key to both prevention and treatment. In Townsend-Lyon’s case, she needed specialist mental health care to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from the abuse she suffered, as well as specific help for her bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Finally, because addiction is misguided love, compassion, empathy, and social support are critical to recovery. Townsend-Lyon found help in a support group and through therapy, along with medication for her other diagnoses. Her husband also helped. “I was very blessed in my choice of husbands,” she says, describing how he stuck with her throughout her addiction and recovery. She adds, “When we got married he took his vows seriously. I mean, I put this man through everything. Today my life is better than before I became an addict.”

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About “The Nautilus Journal” publication:

Welcome to Nautilus. We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture, and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected. Nautilus is published through:

The MIT Press is a university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Founded: 1932

My Recovery Guest: Self-Help Author, Marilyn Fowler: What Is Your Recovery and Life Telling You? And Do You Like What You’re Creating?

You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”  ~David Nicholls

Recently I had a birthday, and that’s always a time for a one year check up to look at where I’ve been, where I am now, where I want to go, and if I stayed on track with last years directions. But that procedure is not enough to look closely at a life and how it’s being lived. Life is a daily experience and needs daily attention to be the life you want it to be. You wouldn’t drive your car on a journey without checking a map now and then to avoid getting lost and having to find your way back to the highway. So when was the last time you took a close look at your life?

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” ~Bob Marley

Nobody’s life is sunshine all the time. We don’t expect that. We all have challenges, painful experiences, times when we want to run away for a while. But the overall quality of life can and should be generally happy and peaceful. Are you satisfied with your life? Could it be better? Think about it. Do you ever wake up in the morning dreading another day, wanting to get off the road for a while and find a peaceful rest stop along your journey? Are there times when all you see are clouds?

Today I was driving with dark ominous clouds overhead, and I hoped I’d reach my destination before the downpour. Then I noticed a break in the clouds with a beautiful clear blue sky where sunshine sparkled. How could both exist at the same time? But they did, and I got a message about life. Pay attention, and you see the whole picture. Would you like more sunshine in your future? You really can create it. And one of your best tools for growth is understanding your past.

“The best thing is looking back and realizing how good life is. If you don’t take the time to think about it and analyze it, you’ll never realize all the dots that are connected.”    ~Beyonce Knowles

The Past: All of your experiences in the past are connected to the rest of your life, for the past has been your teacher. Look back and remember good times and bad. Remember specific events and people, times you wish you could do over. Remember your feelings, your disappointments and happy surprises. Admit your weaknesses,and praise your strengths. Who were you back then? And how did all of that bring you to where you are now?

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Remember the moments of the past. Look forward to the promise of the future. But most of all, celebrate the present, for it is precious.”  ~Unknown

Present: The present is where you live your life…where decisions you make decide your past and your future, and where you can create miracles. So look closely at where you are now. What would you like to change, or keep, or expand upon, or create brand new? If you can’t change a situation, you can work on your response to it. Examinewhat you’ve learned from your past and how you can use it today. Look within and find that eternal, special essence that is you, and know you have all you need within to move forward.

“It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell.” ~Walt Disney

Future: And what kind of story will you be telling in the future? According to Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” And that’s all we can do, thebest we can at any given time. We check the past, live in today, and try to create a future we want. And as time passes, if we stay aware and vigilant, our tomorrows can bebetter than our todays.

So don’t wait for your birthday. Use time every day to monitor your progress, and make necessary changes as you go. You really are a miracle, capable of creating miracles. Make your journey whatever you want it to be. And be happy.

I wish you a miraculous journey!

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

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About The Author:

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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 in-patient 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 a wee few years ago, and I’m now working on “Me and Granmama in the Hill Country” in southern dialect with a video on now on Youtube: http://youtu.be/R4EGPkKtRBk  …

My stories have appeared in several magazines and a book entitled “When God Spoke To Me.” I’m active in my church, I enjoy blogging, and I believe that a sense of humor is a blessing to be used often. Life should be…..


Please Visit: Marilyn on her Amazon Author Page for all her Book!

 

My Story In Heroes In Recovery Being ‘Dual Diagnosed’ Come Share Your Story Too!

“We Are Heroes In Recovery!”

 

YOU SHARE.  WE SHARE.

In honor of National Recovery Month,Heroes in Recovery is running a September storytelling campaign to help break the stigma of seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues. When you share your story, we’ll post it to our social media channels as soon as the story appears on our site. All of our stories deserve to reach as many people as possible. When you share, we share!

 

Now that it is ‘National Addiction and Recovery Month, I thought I would share a little place I love and have shared my Story of “Dual Diagnosis.”  Meaning I live life in recovery with mental health challenges. Sitting in the rooms of AA and GA I am hearing more people in recovery are also dual diagnosed. Is this becoming a new trend with addiction?

Well, I think so as I was also invited by Patricia Rosen of  ” The Sober World Magazine ” to write an article for her about this very topic for her November issue. Of, course I said YES!
But I thought I would share my own Article and Story the kind folks at Heroes In Recovery had asked me done last year. Hope you enjoy reading mine. Then go share your story with them. Our experiences, strength, and HOPE does inspire and help others!!

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.CatherineL

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My recovery journey started in 2006. I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt and then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that 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.

I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the courts and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I’m still paying today.

My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. I chose to not do all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work with a gambling addiction specialist. After my troubles occurred, I worked with a specialist for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)

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After this second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a well-balanced recovery and had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, has bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with a gambling specialist and got my mental health under control, I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live in recovery. Those of us who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

I am a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The nasty habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking needed more correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye opening. He helped me break down the cycle of the addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t relapse into gambling, this workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.

Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. Those journals were used for help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me. I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery and mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen to not 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 disease and illness. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives.

The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 1% of our population are problem gamblers. Through my own recovery and by writing my book, I have learned a lot. The best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it. Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. I learned this the hard way.

Now that I have reached nine and a half years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we can weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I share as much as I can with others. I do this in many ways. My second book is almost finished, and I hope to release it early 2017. It will be more of “how-to” for reaching that elusive first year of recovery. And through my Recovery Blog below:

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With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted, and my readers asked me, to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share my recovery journal in blog form. All I can urge others to do is never give up. You are worth a better life in recovery. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover. Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen to and learn from. My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent in your recovery journey   . . . .

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author

My New Guest Article In ‘Keys To Recovery’ Newspaper! Celebrating National Addiction Recovery Month.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

 

In honor of celebrating this month, another new article was published this month in a new publication I was invited to write for called, Keys To Recovery Newspaper!

My first article in last month’s issue was a hit with many visits, so they asked me for another for this month. The publication is free and they are out of Southern California. They are one of the biggest distributors of addiction recovery news sent out to conferences, training seminars, and mailed to many 12 step groups nationwide. I was very honored to be asked to submit articles for their new column, “Quit To WIN!” about gambling addiction and recovery. 

Here is my September article I wrote to share more of my addiction and recovery in celebration of this special MONTH!

I hope it helps others have HOPE from the cunning disease called; “Gambling Addiction” A Real Addiction, A Real Disease!

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‘Quit To Win’

“CONSEQUENCES, ACCOUNTABILITY & FREEDOM”

 

“I will never forget the day I was sitting in jail, on a cold piece of concrete bench feeling sick to my stomach. I was waiting to be booked and fingerprinted by our local police. I could not believe I was here. I could not believe my addicted thinking and poor choice got me here. The shame and embarrassment I will never forget.”

That was me back in Sept 2006. I wanted to share a little about the damages and consequences many of us face when we were deep within our addictions, or like me, just have more recovery work to do. One of those can be losing your freedom due to jail, criminal records or doing jail or prison time. I had visited a friend’s blog this morning, and he had just been released from prison five days ago. I have followed some of his journey on his recovery blog while he was there. And I can tell you; there is nothing worse than having your freedoms of life taken away from you.

See I know this first hand as I had this happen myself, just no prison time. In 2006 I made the poor choice to steal from someone due to financial problems of my own. This person filed charges, by which she had every right to do. I was arrested at my home, taken to jail, booked, and then released due to never having a criminal record. Talk about shame and embarrassment. It was the lowest point in my life besides my two failed suicide attempts. I was living in Oregon at the time, in a small community, so everyone, of course, read about it in our local newspaper.

I had spent over 20 years in the banking field, so I knew many people and business people in my town. So it was again pretty embarrassing to know they all may have read about my downfall, and seen my name in our local newspaper.

FREEDOM, ARE  YOU HEARING ME? GET YOUR FREEDOM BACK!

Now my friend who just got out of prison was talking about how he was becoming addicted to his tech stuff. His cell phone, the internet and social media, and how much had changed just in the seven years that he was away in prison. I SO understood what my friend, fresh out of prison was feel- ing and going through. I’m addicted to the same, but I have chosen to be addicted to social media and the internet for two excellent reasons, and these reasons are blessings of my hard work in recovery and given from my higher power.
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I use them for my recovery to help others and share hope in recovery, inform and educate others about gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, and more, as I blog my recovery journey. I also use it for my home business as a book promoter.

I chose to steal from someone while I cleaned her home. It is all in my book. I was arrested, charged, given two-years probation and loads of community service. I’m still paying my fees and the little balance left of my restitution today. So with having a criminal record, no one would hire me. So I had to think outside the box and figure a way to make money from home. I also suffer from severe depression and agoraphobia, so I don’t work outside my home anymore.  BAM! Book Promoting and authoring more recovery books came to me! Lol. Now I am not rich, but I have made enough to pay our rent some months, and that not only feels good/ but are blessings in recovery. It also raises your self-worth, your confidence and gives you freedom from addiction.

We need to learn while working our recovery to take ownership and accountability of the choices we had made. No matter how long it takes to work through them? It can be done; you will never feel that full sense of freedom from your past if you don’t. And boy did I have a lot to process and overcome of my past starting as a hurt, traumatized little girl. That holds true for the other obstacles that come from just life trials and storms besides turning to addiction.

So back to my friend, I told him to change his priority of why he is using them. I use them to help others in recovery, go to online recovery meetings, and that is what helps me stay in recovery. Shar- ing my story, sharing my hope to others so they too can help others. Same with my book promotions. I enjoy helping other authors promote their books. And I work just as hard for them as I do when I help others in  recovery.

I never dreamed how my life could take a decisive turn from the ugly damage and devastation of gambling addiction I battled. Never dreamed I’d be a published   author in my lifetime, nor have freedom again. But when we are in addiction, we just  don’t see anything but the addiction. What a life legacy I get to leave behind for others who come to recovery after I’m gone. Awesome! Just don’t give up on those dreams!

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I have been unbelievably blessed since that day sitting in jail. Yes, my choice’s back then came with heavy consequences, but in Recovery we can surely turn that around and have a “positive impact” in the world and with others who still suffer the “cycle” of any addiction. I know this as I have been sharing HOPE & HELP to as many as I can for the last 8 years. So please, if you or someone you care about has a gambling problem? Reach out and get help today and “reclaim your life back!”

Start Here: The National Council on Problem Gambling operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700).

Look for a GA Meeting – Gamblers Anonymous in your area here:  

U.S. Meetings | Gamblers Anonymous

For Family:

Gambling Addiction – gam-anon.org‎

God Bless All!  Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author