With March being National Problem Gambling AwarenessMonth, I try to have a few special events to share on my blog, like the one I’m about to share. I happened to be on my recovery Twitter @LUV_Recovery when I saw my Tweet Pal, former WWE Kurt Angle’s podcast episode clip by KDD Media. I had no clue who KDD was but wanted to support them and Kurt with some retweets.
I hope you will listen to my story to have hope that we do recover and encourage you to visit KDD as the guest list and stories are real, raw, and powerful. The real stars are Jason and Mikey! These two guys are a hoot and make everyone feel right at home, including me. On a serious note, this podcast is where listeners can hear stories of overcoming adversity while they too share hope!
“We can help individuals on their walk of recovery, addiction, or overcoming a personal situation.”
I thank Jason, Mikey, and Carlos for letting me share my story. ~Catherine
Catherine Lyon | From A Suicidal Criminal Gambling Addict That Nearly Lost Everything to A Successful Author & Advocate for Gambling Addiction.
Catherine Townsend-Lyon started casually gambling, playing her local lottery. She describes how easy it was to gamble, and the predatory gambling practices in her community. She starting her addiction at video poker terminals in bars and restaurants in the early ’90s, playing bingo at church, and buying lottery tickets at the grocery store. This started out harmless enough but eventually led to suicide attempts and financial ruin.
Wanting to escape reality was her main reason for gambling, but eventually, she started lying to support her addiction. She describes how you can’t really tell a gambling addict from other types of addicts, because the signs aren’t as obvious. But she does give some insight on how to tell if someone in your family is experiencing these issues. Eventually, the money will run out, and you start gambling with your own life.
She describes “The Cycle” of gambling addiction, which eventually got out of control & ruined her life. In 2002, after losing everything, she attempted to take her own life. She opened fraudulent accounts in her husband’s name to support her habit. She was nearly divorced, lost her life savings, and felt like her life was at an end. Her husband was the driving force in keeping everything together and helped Catherine get the help she needed.
Eventually, she found her way out of the darkness of gambling addiction. In 2006, she started recovery after multiple failed attempts and was finally successful. After completing community service & court time. She wrote a book “Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of A Liar & A Cheat)” where she describes her childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and the beginnings of her gambling addiction, in hopes that it would help other people struggling with the same issues & shatter the stigma of gambling addiction.
This is Catherine Townsend-Lyon’s story in her own words on Knockin’ Doorz Down.
This episode is brought to you by PodGo. PODGO is the easiest way for you to monetize your podcast. Providing podcasters with a flat rate for ad space so you always know how much you get when you include an ad from PODGO. Apply today to become a member and immediately be connected with advertisers that fit your audience. And be sure to add Knockin’ Doorz Down in the “How did you hear about PODGO?” section of the application!
Knockin’ Doorz Down is about those who have turned their greatest adversities into their greatest advantages and passions. Featuring celebrities and people from all walks of life who have experienced challenging times in their lives and how they were able to break through and live a purposeful life with passion, and inspiring others to be their best selves. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, mental health, or other areas of trauma, you’re not alone.
Hear how those that have been there, broken through and started Knockin’ Doorz Down. Hosted by Jason LaChance with a background of family addiction, alcoholism, family trauma, divorce, financial struggles, and depression. Co-host Mikey Nawrocki had struggled with substance abuse issues, along with anxiety, depression, and financial struggles.
Every year in March, I share the helpful resources of my #1 resource and organization I support, The National Council on Problem Gambling. They have helped many become “BET-FREE” and begin to help families heal from the devastation of gambling addiction and problems gambling causes. It will be my 8th year doing so on my blog here and I know the resources they provide are there for anyone who has a gambling problem.
This year the spotlight is on “March Madness and the time of year when we see an increase in problem gambling and more demand for the council’s services.” Since the pandemic started, I have also seen “Online Gambling” explode with mandates of mask-wearing and social distancing, with many casinos and gambling venues still closed or limited capacity. The latest stat says online gambling has gone up almost 41% since the Coronavirus hit last year. And, parents, keep in mind this can include your teens and young adults.
One area is sports betting on college basketball games all March long. So I wanted to share some of the National Council’s declarations and permit me each year about their March campaign and how you can get help for a loved one if you think they may have a problem with gambling. Never underestimate this addiction. It requires no substance and it doesn’t discrimanate who it tries to take next. 1 in 5 will try suicide like I did. Parents, when you have “The Talk” with their kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, please include problem gambling. . .
Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
03.01.21 By: JOHN NORTON
Awareness Plus Action Needed as Sports Betting Explodes
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month
Washington, DC – The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) designates March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament that sees over $8 billion wagered on its games, is the backdrop that NCPG and its partners across the country leverage to help raise awareness and create action for those suffering from gambling problems.
With the campaign now in its nineteenth year, contacts to the National Problem Gambling Helpline typically spike during March. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that states could allow sports betting, the proverbial floodgates opened. As we go to press, sports betting is now legal and operational in 20 states plus the District of Columbia, with many more considering it – an unprecedented expansion of gambling in the U.S. Unfortunately, services to mitigate the inevitable increase in harms associated with gambling have not kept pace.
“March Madness is a time of year when we see an increase in gambling and more demand for our services,” said Keith Whyte, Executive Director of NCPG. “Too many people still don’t recognize they are exhibiting signs of this addictive behavior and are unaware of the help that is available to them.”
The PGAM grassroots campaign brings together a wide range of stakeholders, among them public health organizations, advocacy groups including NCPG state affiliates, and even gambling operators. NCPG provides a special web page to give information on local state activities and events – participants may share them via a link on our main webpage: https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/programs/pgam/
Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) is designed to achieve two goals:
To increase public awareness of problem gambling; and
To encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for gambling problems.
On NCPG’s PGAM webpage visitors are provided with materials and special graphics in the PGAM Toolkit, which can be used without charge by any organization that wants to hold advocacy and awareness activities this March. Each year, hundreds of organizations do. The social media hashtags for this initiative are #AwarenessPlusAction and #PGAM2021.
NCPG also collaborates with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) on Gambling Disorder Screening Day, which occurs on March 9, 2021. CHA, a nonprofit health organization headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosts the international event that has been held annually on the second Tuesday in March since 2014. It is designed to encourage health care providers to screen for gambling problems in the same way they do for alcohol and drug use disorder or domestic abuse, and to provide the tools to recognize gambling disorder for both the public and health care providers. All too often, this disorder leads to financial, emotional, social, occupational and physical harms, yet many cases go undetected due to the limited availability of accessible assessments to identify this problem. The Screening Day addresses the issue and provides tools to identify gambling-related problems as early as possible.
Whyte said, “Problem gambling is certainly not confined to sports betting. We want anyone who may have a problem with any form of gambling to know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.” NCPG’s National Helpline, which is the only helpline for gambling that works in all 50 states, is tollfree, confidential, available 24/7, and offers translation services in 178 languages. It receives no federal funding and is supported only by NCPG’s members and donors.
About the National Council on Problem Gambling
Based in Washington DC, the National Council on Problem Gambling is the only national nonprofit organization that seeks to minimize the economic and social costs associated with gambling addiction. If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without stigma or shame. Call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat. Help is available 24/7 – it is free and confidential.
You will never convince me that recovery is not possible for anyone nor that recovery doesn’t work. You will never convince me that woman can’t be a Recovery Warrior either. Because that is who my mentor and dear friend Marilyn Davis is to many who have reached out for help from addictions. She has always been there when I needed sound recovery advice or to pick up the phone and call her to say hello; either way, I can never thank her enough for that.
Marilyn has released a new book titled Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, available on Amazon online. She shares self-help from drug addiction through her memoirs. As her book description says, “New in recovery, a chance encounter with Gray Hawk, a 74-year old Native American, showed her that healing would include looking within, taking Steps, and creating a house of healing for other women.
Today, Marilyn is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, recently celebrating thirty-two years of abstinence-based recovery. From 1990-2011, she opened and managed North House, an award-winning residential facility for women. Before reaching this milestone, she was a desperate woman on drugs, managing rock bands at night, pretending to be okay, but ultimately giving up on herself, losing her husband, children, family, and friends due to her addiction.
Her new book is that journey.
~ Courtesy of Beth Burgess
After celebrating 32 years of 12-step abstinence-based recovery, Marilyn Davis, Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist and author, shares 32 lessons that helped her heal, change, and grow.
When I got out of treatment on November 8, 1988, I wondered if I could make it in recovery. I’d been a desperate woman on drugs for a long time. My addiction was so chaotic, I ended up losing my husband and children.
Although I’d been cooperative in my six weeks of treatment, now I’d be out of a secure, locked environment. Could I resist calling my dealer? Could I muster the courage to walk into a 12-Step meeting where I didn’t know anyone? How was I going to adjust to living with my parents again? After all, I was forty years old, and they gave me a curfew!
All of those questions made me apprehensive and anxious, but I resolved to go to a meeting, get some phone numbers, and find a home group.
Learning Recovery Lessons
Through 12-step meetings, I met a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk, who had 34 years of recovery when I met him. He showed me that healing from addiction would include meetings, taking Steps, and creating a house of healing for other women.
Every year, I try to focus on my Lesson of the Year, something my mentor suggested. Each of these lessons has come from working the Steps, as well as asking for, and following through, with the suggestions.
Unfortunately, I had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way – by not listening to old-timers, believing I was different, or just being stubborn. But I sincerely hope you can avoid that by reading the lessons I learned.
My Top 32 Recovery Lessons
I’m choosing to say no to drugs and alcohol.
I can do this with help.
These people know what they’re talking about when they offer their experience, strength, and hope.
Not everyone is open to amends, but I need to clean up my side of the street.
I would choose to throw everything I’ve worked for if I pick up again.
Pain can motivate me or take me back out. I’ll choose motivation.
I demonstrate strength when I show my vulnerability.
Working towards a goal with incremental sub-goals means I can feel a sense of accomplishment.
I can do this.
My feelings were numb for many years and won’t come back appropriately to the situation sometimes. That’s okay.
Not everyone will be supportive – that’s on them if I’m doing what I need to do.
I will work towards emotional, physical, and mental balance.
I’ll use the 17 Spiritual Principles and get better outcomes.
My actions defined me in my use and my recovery.
At some point, picking back up is a choice.
I have a choice today in how I process my feelings.
Do I rise and shine, or do I rise and whine?
Being uncomfortable is not going to kill me.
The Steps were written in a specific order; take them as they’re written.
Sponsoring someone is a gift.
Life has meaning and purpose; now that I’m clean, I can pursue both.
I can not buy self-esteem, but recovery restores mine.
I can have fun with other recovering people – we can all laugh at the bowling shoes.
I can repair the damage to relationships that my addiction caused.
I am now resilient in my recovery, not helpless as I was in my addiction.
When I share what’s worked for me with a newcomer, it reinforces that choice and gives them hope.
In all things, I must practice honesty.
I can never know what someone is experiencing, and if they appear grumpy, angry, withdrawn, or not friendly, it probably has nothing to do with me.
I will start and end my day with prayer.
Be present in this moment; it’s all you’ve got.
No one can read my mind; I must either ask for what I need or explain myself.
I can’t change anyone but myself.
What Recovery Is
Recovery from addiction is much more than mere abstinence from a substance or a behavior.
While abstinence is a fundamental component of my recovery, I think the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration definition fits my belief. “Recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”
These lessons are all things that helped me to not only stay clean and sober, but reach my full potential as a person in recovery.
My father recently passed away of COVID. He lived in Southern California with my older sister in the home, where horrible memories of my past childhood still lay. When I first began my recovery journey, I wasn’t ready to dive into my past childhood trauma and haunting memories.
It took me a few years and a lot of therapy to even begin to process this and forgive and lay those haunting memories away. It was some of the roots and underlying issues of how I got sucked into my gambling addiction. I was using gambling as a coping skill and an escape from the pain of my childhood trauma until I finally could not stuff away any longer.
Even when I began writing and journaling for my book over a year to see what gambling addiction had taken from me, I was just not ready to share that part of my past. Now that my mom and dad have passed on, it has again begun to surface slightly.
One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them, facing them, and feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. Finally, today the abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have because I have many happy childhood memories despite what happened to me.
But with my dad’s passing, it seemed they were front and center. I was begging them to be defeated. Way back then, every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, battles are fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory. That being said, today, I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won’t mean much to you, but to me, it is a significant victory.
The significance of this? As a little girl, we would go on weekends to see my aunt Anna and uncle Frank who lived in Palm Springs, CA., and my uncle Frank would always prepare a special dinner to eat for our visits which included terrific desserts. I loved my aunt Anna as she bought and gave me my very first Bible.
And I would love to hear my uncle Frank talk and share about all the famous people who came into his restaurant and who he cooked for, like Bob Hope, former President Ford, famous golfers, and many others. I loved going swimming too, as they had a fantastic pool in the backyard.
My uncle would always make one of my favorites, Italian wedding cookies. However, I didn’t get to eat them until my parents brought them home because my oldest brother would talk me into staying home; he’d beg and entice me with all kinds of lies.
And that is when the trauma would occur. It was only then, after being a good girl, until our parents got home late that evening, I would have access to my favorite cookies. It didn’t take long before those cookies became like poison. For the mere smell of almond or amaretto to make me physically ill.
After hiding the sordid details of my childhood back then, I believe the Holy Spirit, moving, convinced me it was time to process and bury my demons and began for me around age 30. But now it is time to rebury more old demons, and the only way I could do that was to reclaim the territory my enemy had taken so many years ago—Italian wedding cookies. As I paused before taking a bite, I reminded myself of where I was today within my recovery journey, and I took a bite. It was wonderful. Not only did it taste good, but I felt strong.
As if I was declaring to my abuser, “No! You may not have these cookies! (Yes, my brother had apologized, I forgave him, we have made amends as he shared with me & my husband that had been molested by our uncle Joe when we lived in NJ.)
You defiled my innocence, not knowing his was to. Still, you may not steal my ability to enjoy a cookie!” My life is full of moments like that. Every day there is a battle fought and sometimes won. They often go unnoticed by the people closest to me. However, they are mighty victories. There are often things we carry from our childhood that restrain our ability to enjoy simple things.
Abuse and trauma can destroy our ability to accept and receive the good things God intended for us to have. Love and intimacy are some of those things. Just as the smell of a particular type of cookie triggered a reaction of fear and shame, the idea of love can seem meant for destruction. Therefore, the very idea that God “loves” us terrifies us.
Love to an abuse survivor often means manipulation and pain. So it took me a while to grasp the concept of God’s unconditional love. Why? My parents did not understand it, so I was not raised with it. Of course, not blaming my parents at all. They may not have been taught knowing what unconditional love was either.
It took me years to begin to understand that Christ chose me; He loves me not because He needs me for anything. He did not send His son to die for me in an attempt to guilt me into trusting Him or doing things for Him. He chose me and loved me because He is God. He is all-sufficient.
I may not be able to reclaim my childhood. I still battle with depression, flashbacks, and agoraphobia. However, I chose the love of Christ to reclaim how I react to things. I can select feeling pleasure over feeling fear, and I can choose love over hate. I can pick these things because Christ has given me the power and ability, just as my recovery is a part of the freedom found in Christ.
He has given me the ability to and the freedom from addiction and bondage of addicted gambling!
He gave me the freedomto love, freedom to forgive, freedom to rejoice, And the freedom to enjoy a cookie!
I wanted to share this post of Joe Jr., and I can really relate to this post because I have just lost my own father about a week or so ago now due to COVID and wishing I could talk to Papa Joe…
My father lived in Southern California, and we are in Arizona. My nephew called to let me know as I have been estranged from both my sisters for 15+years and, sadly, my father as well. Papa Joe and I would talk about this often, and he always gave me sound advice as my emotions and depression has been all over the place.
We don’t get to pick or choose our family. So, the sadness and the pain, I shall lay it at the feet of my Lord and finally close this chapter to let it lay in peace with my father … Catherine
A few days ago, I shared my morning thoughts about life’s challenges. It said: “Life will never be easy. It will always be hard. But, we can choose our hard. Pick wisely.” I used that morning thought to reflect a little on life and some of the choices I’ve made. I reflected on my hard days and the easy ones and it made me think about how many times I have started over.
I know there are probably others out there that can relate to starting over…hard choices…tough consequences…and the day to day challenges that make life what it is. I figured this week I’d reflect a little with everyone on starting over and the hardness of life and the choices we make.
I can remember graduating high school…looking at the world with a can-do attitude, invincible and ready to make my mark. I remember the change in my routine…
Super Bowl media attention is everywhere. You can hear about it on the news, on sports stations, in the newspapers and in every office we work in. Many offices have square charts in the back room where employees can participate in gambling on who they believe would win or the points or on how long the national anthem will last or anything else. Some people literally gamble on every aspect of the event.
If an individual, or groups of individuals, are so focused on gambling on every part of the Super Bowl event, are they really enjoying the game or are they hunting for a “high?” And if they’re only hunting for the high, what about their careers? What about loved ones (family children, etc.)? If the individual is so hyper focused on gambling rather than enjoying the game, it seems that this becomes the focus and takes away from the social aspects of enjoying a sporting event with loved ones.
The Effects of Problem Gambling
For people struggling with problem gambling, this might be their story. There are many people across New York State who experience a slew of problems associated with their gambling behavior. Some of these problems can be damaged relationships with a spouse and/or children, conflicts at work, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Gambling may have even turned into an addiction (i.e., gambling disorder).
For people in recovery, the Super Bowl may be a huge trigger to start gambling again. It may be difficult to avoid talking about the Super Bowl, hearing people talk about betting on the Super Bowl, and feeling the urge to resort to old habits and place a bet of some type on this event. The Super Bowl may trigger a relapse.
Families Can Take Action
Families and loved ones of someone struggling with a gambling problem, or of someone in recovery from problem gambling may face similar obstacles to support their loved one who is struggling with problem gambling. Similarly, they can be helpful and supportive during this time of year.
Have a conversation
Having a conversation is important for everyone. Whether it’s to let someone know that you believe their gambling is causing problems, or to connect with someone in recovery and find out how they’re feeling. A conversation is a really easy way to get a finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the individual. It’s also a good way to gauge how the family can plan for the upcoming event.
A conversation could be as simple as asking questions like:
How are you feeling lately?
Are you feeling any pressure at work or from friends to gamble?
Are you planning on watching the Super Bowl or would you like us to plan something else as a family?
Some simple questions can get some simple answers. They could also be a springboard to a deeper conversation about the negative effects sports gambling has had. It can also be a great way to identify triggers and other activity ideas to avoid gambling on the Super Bowl.
Triggers are anything that causes an individual to feel the urge to gamble. A trigger could be a commercial about the Super Bowl, it could be hearing the excitement of colleagues talking about their squares, or a trigger could be just knowing the time of year and remembering the feeling, the high, of gambling on the Super Bowl in previous years. Whatever the triggers may be, it’s important for family and love ones to know what they are so they can help avoid them in conversation, and help prepare the person, struggling to avoid gambling, to know their triggers and come up with alternative activities.
Alternative activities can be different ways to enjoy the Super Bowl. These ways include:
Watching it with different people who aren’t gambling,
Keeping phones with gambling contacts and apps away,
Asking a spouse to keep a close watch on extra money,
Avoiding media and social media,
Spending time with different people than those who are gambling, and
Planning activities that have nothing to do with the Super Bowl.
For people who want to avoid the Super Bowl, so they don’t find themselves in additional problems related to gambling, there are many other things to do during that time. Ideas to spend time with love ones can include:
Legos with children,
Renovating a room in your home, or
Anything else that takes time, energy and focus.
Being that many of us are alone, especially with social distancing, choosing activities to do by yourself is also important. Some activities to do on your own can include (similar to above):
Re-organizing part of your home,
Video chatting with love ones,
Planning a movie or night of binge watching your favorite TV show,
Any type of art or craft.
Really, the options are limitless. And if you’re unsure what to do, reach out to a loved one and find out the best way to fill that time. Making sure there’s a plan to help keep loved ones safe is the best preventative care to help them avoid further problems associated with gambling.
If you need additional support, or your loved one who struggles with gambling problems has decided to look for help, please reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center at NYProblemGamblingHELP.org. There you can connect with a dedicated professional eager to help you identify local resources and get connected to local support as desired.
There is no pressure with that call; only care and concern. Your local Problem Gambling Resource Center is HERE TO HELP. You can may also call The National Council On Problem Gambling and operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700). The network is a single national access point to local resources for those seeking help for a gambling problem. You may also visit their website here https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)
From Stone Cold Hearts to Hope Bearing Feathers
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.
— Emily Dickinson 1830-1886
This post is about the Presidential Inauguration. I had not planned on writing about it. I didn’t even watch it. But something/Someone compelled me to listen to the program podcast then move to my desk where I finished composing this at the stroke of midnight, January— my psychoimposed deadline for Facebook posts.
You might wonder what a blog about faith and mental illness has to do with politics. politics. Hope, for one.
The sign above Dante’s Inferno read, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” Those who lose hope can forfeit their will to live. And one of the essential roles of public servants is to engender hope into the people such that we can become better angels rather than floundering flummoxes.
For the past four years and more there has been much hateful speech coming out of our nation’s capitol. I say more because Donald Trump did not invent vitriolic political rhetoric. For the most part, history is selectively kind to those who have served in public office. It is in the now that the fisticuffs have come off and hard blows are landing that does harm not just to our nation, but to our world. The patterns of the present that lead us to project a dystopian future that fuels fear gleaned for personal gain.
What hope do we have? Yesterday afternoon, I did not watch the Inauguration pageantry because I am at heart a skeptic and patriotism in its current form does not move me. So I took a nap. Sure, I felt a tinge of guilt particularly when I passed through Susan’s study and caught part of the Benediction where Rev. Silvester Beaman spoke of slaves building the White House on land indigenous Americans once inhabited and now people from generational European families to those just making vows would be one nation. I was touched, but not moved to take much interest or shed any tears.
I went about my day as usual. Writing. Reading. Eating. The usual. It was only as I was browsing for a podcast that I found the full inauguration address recorded.
I could listen to it before midnight and join my faithful compatriots who who have liveD and died for their nation, who care what happens not just in Washington, D.C., but in Wilmington, Delaware, Atlanta, Georgia, and yes, even Columbus, Indiana. My frozen heart of disinterest was not thawed by the pomp and circumstance but by the glimmer of hope in mind’s eye of those gathered, above the faces masked to protect from this invasive virus. This was no ordinary political event, it was a matter of life and death.
This hour was amazing, but let’s keep things in perspective. The challenge ahead is daunting. Over 400,000 people have died in the United States due to the Coronavirus. My own mother is one. More jobs have been lost since the Great Depression. We are destroying our planet at such a rapid rate our own children may not be able to inhabit it through their lifetimes.
But, there is hope. There was hope yesterday; there is hope today; and there will be hope tomorrow.
Our nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman lays out this vision of hope, one we can carry for generations to come…
“The Hill We Climb”
“When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman 1998 – _____
Yes, Amanda, there is hope for those of use brave enough to crawl through the dark ditches of despair towards the light of faith… ~Tony Roberts
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Stories to Cultivate Hope for Those Battling Mental Illness
This book by Tony Roberts is about mental health ministry. It’s not a “how-to” book. I can not tell you what will work in your ministry setting. Instead of answering the question, “How do we do mental health ministry?” I want to challenge you, “What difference can we make for those impacted by mental illness?”
To do this, I will tell stories of my own life and ministry. Statistics are essential, but unless they are enfleshed with stories, they won’t lead to change. ORDER NOW
(Make sure you give Tony’s website and blog a visit!) Delightfully yours, Tony & Cat delightindisorder.org
Three card poker, slot machine games, roulette, blackjack, sports betting, bingo… there are so many games available for persons to participate in, not just for entertainment but many are also involved in gambling. These games can be accessed not only at casinos but also online. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and the sad reality […]
“This post took my breath away and is packed with exceptional advice! Yes, teens, young college adults, and young people need to know the dangers of gambling TOO MUCH. Especially with this pandemic still raging, the internet gambling options have skyrocketed! Please, know that GOD can Heal & Restore Our Sanity from this cunning addiction!”
“I Am Honoring a man who was “King” as he preached Truth, Civil Rights, Equality, and Social Justice for all of Humanity. Within his words is where we can still find HOPE for all of America. Dr. King’s words, then, are just as important and needed in our generation today.”
Phil and I have been friends for some time and met orginally on Twitter as his handle is @philmcquire75 …
I have been a huge fan and follower of his first blog of recovery from gambling, but we had lost touch for a while. We have gotten reacquainted and I just had to SPOTLIGHT Phil here as I love what he has been sharing on his current blog. He lives in the United Kingdom and we are very much the same with our advocacy. It is to share HOPE, our experiences, and NEVER “Sugar Coat” this addiction or its recovery from it.
His Twitter Profile Reads: “Recovering Gambling Addict. Last bet 01/08/2018. Gambling is NOT a game. Please take a moment to read my Gambling Addiction Diary to understand, you cannot win.”
Phil is and has been an amazing recovery advocate who continues to be open, honest, and transparent of his maintaining recovery from this cunning disease. Here is a little more of who Phil is in his own written words and a sampling of his DIARY from his blog…
I would encourage all to visit his blog as he has many resouces there that can help those who may be suffering in silence from an incidious addiction as gambling can be for many. It is why Phil and I continue to educate the public, raise awareness about the devastation gambling causes and consequence of ADDICTION.”
Be sure to follow me on twitter. I tweet on #addiction, #mentalhealth, and #recovery.
I started gambling in my late twenties. I have wasted a decade of my life gambling.
It all started with poker. When that pursuit was not enough to feed my addiction, I engaged with other table games. Later, I would bet on anything. Even sports, which I can’t stand.
My recovery started on 1st August 2018. I define my recovery as a process of change. Conscious about my abstinence, I am driven to succeed.
With my new freedom, I work on my self-awareness. I would like to become an addiction counsellor and someday, write a book.
Gambling has had a profound impact on my mental health. My suicidal ideation is my one constant. It is with a heavy heart that I feel my aspirations are destined for another life.
During my gambling journey and short recovery, I have learned many things. Allow me to share two truths that you might relate to. Within each truth is an entire book.
Gambling — I will never, ever win. Ever.
Recovery — Is one of the most difficult things I have had to do.
Two years in to my gambling, I started writing. My addiction was at its infancy, yet I was acutely aware. I wanted to write to help SHAPE myself and others that are suffering.
Over time, my blog has become a platform to: SHAPE
Serve as a reminder of my journey.
Hold me accountable for my actions.
Act as a reflection on my behaviour.
Provide a reference to help others understand the dangers of an addiction.
Express myself to become more self-aware
My addiction had reached a point where it became self-flagellation. I learned as much as I needed, and enough was enough. I now focus my energy on becoming the best version of myself. This will allow me to heal. Only then can I be of notable service to others.
Today, my gift to you is to sign post you to recovery, so you start your own journey. Engage with the links in the recovery section to get the help you and your family deserve!
Many people are going through an addiction recovery process. People raise awareness by writing an online diary or publishing videos to communicate their gambling addiction experiences and recovery.
Please contact me if you would like to share your content with our community.
Jimmy | United Kingdom Inside the mind of a recovering gambling addict
Jamie| United States For years, I tried to quit gambling on my own. I could quit for short stretches — even made it nine months at one point! Yet, I would relapse, and end up in a worse condition than before. I haven’t gambled since July 15th of 2010. Here’s my story.
Only Phil | United Kingdom I’m Alex. During my twenties I suffered from a crippling gambling addiction. It led to a myriad of problems. Financial debt, relationship breakups and terrible mental health. For over 10 years, I lied to my friends and family, hiding my addiction in plain sight.
Andy Margett | United Kingdom My name is Andy and I’m a gambling addict last bet 14/04/07. I am live every Sunday at 8pm UK time. There is help and hope, let no one tell you different.
The Invisible Addiction | United Kingdom I’m Alex. During my twenties I suffered from a crippling gambling addiction. It led to a myriad of problems; financial debt, relationship breakups and terrible mental health. For over 10 years I constantly lied to my friends and family, hiding my addiction in plain sight.
It is heartbreaking to watch an addict dance with their insidious disease. They think they are the world’s best dancer, when in reality …
In the early stages of my addiction, every thought was about gambling. As a gambler, I was a conniving, selfish person. Driven to meet my own needs and a constant desire for instant gratification. I was everything I did not want to be, but had become.
The greatest loves of my life became a distant memory. Gambling became the prevailing force in my reality. Give me an ultimatum, and gambling would win every time. Ironic given I always lost when I gambled.
The truth is, I never wanted to stop gambling. Dancing hand in hand with my illusory passion was my raison d’être. Gambling was all that mattered.
Gambling clouded my life in a dense mist. The addiction shrouded all the aspects that made me vulnerable, yet compassionate loving and human.
“What have I become? My sweetest friend. Everyone I know goes away,in the end” — Trent Reznor, NIN, Hurt
The addiction set me up to tear me down. I became my distorted reality. Yet, this mismatch between the goal and perceived idealisation could not last. I created my reality based on lies, manipulation, and incongruent values.
Addiction became a part of me, but it was not me. Even my truth, “I never wanted to stop gambling” was a lie. For years, I knew addiction had me constricted. The coil of self-inflicted imprisonment became tighter.
What was once a passion had become a sine qua non. Loved ones, friends and family worried, because they cared. Only love could set me free. The greatest love of all was within my heart. Addiction suppressed my love. Replaced and reinforced with negative and difficult emotions, like anxiety, guilt and anger. These emotions stifled my essence.
It was easier for me to just dance than admit my dancing was egregious. If I believed the lie I told myself, I would carry this dance to my grave. Love starts with courage. Getting to know myself and having deep interpersonal awareness.
As a recovering gambling addict, every moment represents courage healing and love. Despite my pain, and suffering, I take solace knowing I have experienced trauma that adds vividness to my psyche.
An experience which, “Grants me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
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I hope you have enjoyed learning more about my dear friend and recovery advocate Phil McQuire and I strongly urge you to give a visit to his blog and make sure you connect with Phil and ME on Twitter!
We can and do RECOVER from Addicted Gambling! ~ Advocate, Catherine Lyon
It is not every day you are invited and featured in a national and international womens magazine, this is what happened to me recently. I am not only honored but humbled to share my story and voice to other women around the world who just might be suffering in silence from addicted gambling like I was 14-years ago and had no clue how to STOP… The rest of that story I am about to share, the same article that is currently being read now in ADIVA Magazine –issue #3 for our Fall/Winter 2020.
You may check it out and learn all about on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/StellaDamasusOfficial/videos/adiva-magazine/385566179159699/ I want to thank Stella Damasus for the invite and I have received amazing feedback and some emails too! When we share HOPE and our experiences with others? THAT is what helps me going forward in my recovery. I may never know who it may impact or “touch” but even if it is only one person? It worth IT!
My name is Catherine Townsend-Lyon, and I’m a recovering gambling addict…
My addiction didn’t require any substances—no pill, needles, liquids, or smoke Yet, every one in five gambling addicts will try suicide from it as I had tried, twice. I will celebrate my 13th-year, maintaining recovery come Jan. 2020. When most people talk about addiction, they often focus on substance abuse. In truth, there are people addicted to behaviors and habits that can cause just as much damage to their lives as drugs or alcohol.
“Catherine Townsend-Lyon understands this all too well. For years, she was addicted to gambling and what she calls “a silent addiction.”
ADIVA Magazine Feature
Catherine shares her story of how she freed herself from this crippling addiction and how she uses this experience to help others get on the path to recovery, even when all hope seems lost. From an addiction that is now the #1 addiction taking lives by suicide…
My disease is called addicted gambling, a silent addiction.
“How did a good girl go bad? By crossing a fine line from a “once in a while gambler to a full-blown addicted one.” Well, I began gambling with money. In the end, I was gambling with my life.
This addiction is progressive in nature, so I began pawning or selling valuables. Finally, I ended up committing a crime because the money ran out. Toward the end and before treatment, I began to abuse alcohol as just gambling alone wasn’t “doing it for me,” as I was stuck in a cunning sick cycle. I was sick, broke, broken, spiritually lost. Then, hopelessness and darkness took over.
As statistics now show, more then 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers, and one in every five addicted gambler’s attempting suicide as I did, twice, these numbers will continue to rise as the expansion of for-profit gambling options, including online legalized online internet gambling like sports betting in many states, just as state lotteries are expanding. It seems gambling is just about everywhere from my experiences.
So, it is no wonder I became addicted to it. I became one of the 1 in 5 who tried suicide while still residing in Southern Oregon for over 26+years and where my gambling addiction journey began. I, too, had two failed suicide attempts before I knew there was help available.
I was gambling two to four times a day playing the Oregon lottery video poker/slot machines introduced in the early 90s. By 1998, the Oregon Lottery had licensed more than 9,000 video gambling machines in some 1,800 outlets, and I got hooked! Gambling on slot and poker machines has now become the second-biggest revenue raiser for the Oregon government, behind income taxes.
My recovery journey started in 2002 after my first suicide attempt. But again, in April 2006, I woke up in a hospital for a second time due to another failed suicide attempt and again admitted into an addiction and mental health crisis center for another 30-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; it was due to not taking my psych medications for my mental health. I thought I didn’t need nor want to take them any longer and thinking I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well.
Hell, being normal is a bit overrated (Lol).
No excuses as we faced a few severe financial crises simultaneously as I stopped taking my medications for my mental health. My husband and I had worked through all of our savings; I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! They pressed charges, I was arrested, went through the court process, and was sentenced to many community service hours, two years of probation, and paid restitution that I am still paying on today. If I don’t? I will most likely die a felon.
My Point and Wisdom From an Older Diva
You have to do all the recovery work in all areas that include your finances (financial inventory). I had not done the work in this area and necessary for a steady recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work and maybe with a gambling addiction specialist. After my problems occurred, I did choose to work with a specialist for over a year while I went through the legal mess I created.
Why am I sharing?
Our recovery stories and experiences are powerful tools to help others and to give them hope! Even after my second suicide attempt and crisis center stay from the hospital, I learned I did not have a well-rounded recovery plan and had a lot more work to do. I also knew that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of addicted compulsive gambling.
After I was released from the crisis center in 2006, I began working with a gambling addiction specialist and got my mental health under control; I began to see the enormous stigma around those who maintain recovery and those who may have a mental illness. And since I am a dual-diagnosed person, this can make obtaining recovery a bit more work, as I discovered. The habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking we use within our addiction needed more correcting.
Working with the specialist was eye-opening. He made me revisit and helped me break down ‘the cycle’ of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while maintaining recovery. I found a relapse prevention workbook that helped and was a game-changer for me. Although I never did relapse into gambling, this workbook had helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event crisis that may arise during my recovery journey.
Another tool was journaling each day. I’ve enjoyed writing at a young age and kept a journal, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. I later used my writings to write my book, a memoir titled ‘Addicted To Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.’ It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many fine book stores and online. It is written in memoir form and is not how to recover, but the Why and the roots to how I became addicted to this cunning addiction… https://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A/
I didn’t start writing and journaling for a book; that was all God’s intervention and came later on. Writing down my story and experiences in notebooks for a year toward the end of 2010 was a very healing process for me. I shared in the book my gambling addiction, my past childhood abuse, and sexual trauma, and what it is like living with mental illness.
“I needed to see on paper and in between the lines what gambling addiction had taken from me”…
Today I never dreamed I would be a published author and recovery advocate. That began my recovery advocacy of writing for many publications like formerly InRecovery magazine, now a columnist for “Keys To Recovery” newspaper, recovery blogging, many radio shows, podcasts, and speaking. These are only a few of my recovery blessings I have received within my path thus far. By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter the stigma around gambling addiction, those maintaining recovery, and those with mental and emotional health challenges.
I have also, recently began to share my voice and story as one who also suffered childhood sexual abuse and trauma with others as well. Why? Because I learned these are the underlying issues and roots that had me turn to addiction came from that pain from my to overcome it and not use gambling to escape, cope, or hide from all those haunting memories.
Through my book, I have chosen not to be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real silent disease and illness that requires no substances, is just as destructive as any other addiction, and still #1 in claiming lives by suicide than any other addiction. Through my advocacy work, I help others be informed and educated as I raise awareness and prove the impacts problem gambling has on your communities’ as it shatters families. The expansion of casinos, state lottery, and online gambling contributes to more accessibility as it now is touching our youth.
I’m often asked what I do to keep my long-term recovery. Work a steady recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit, finances, and personal inventory. There are many ways and choices to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12-Step meetings, addiction specialists, and more. Anything and everything you can find? Just do it. Only one option may not be enough to reach success in long-term recovery.
Today it is my recovery duty to share hope to those reaching out to recover and need support. I continue my advocacy work as an article writer and columnist for ‘Keys To Recovery newspaper’ out of Southern California. I run and write a blog called https://BetFreeRecoveryNow.wordpress.com and share my experiences and recovery throughout media and social media. Have done so on in many publications, podcasts, radio shows, and in a global ADIVA Mag.
My husband Tom and I just celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary as we live outside Phoenix, Arizona. We live a quiet life with our three kitty fur babies. Soon, I will celebrate my 14th year maintaining recovery on Jan. 29th, 2021… It has been a long road to get to where I am today. The rest our/my amazing life has been GOD GIVEN and I am blessed and humbled with a life that has been beyond a one I could have ever hoped for in so many ways.
I have gained wisdom, have learned life lessons, and the best part? I get to help others who may still be suffering in silence like I had for many year’s from gambling and into recovery. Everyone deserves a second chance as I did when God showed my my real true purpose in life.
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence”… ~Robert Louis Stevenson
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” … ~Maya Angelou
When I first entered treatment and began my journey to healing? The first few things I learned right away? We never give up, never give in, and yes, I had many struggles staying on my path of recovery with a few slips here and there. I do know how difficult it can be beginning early recovery.
We are expected to change, be open to change, and begin the hard work of reclaiming our lives back from a cunning and insidious addiction. That requires much work to be done. See, next month I will be maintaining recovery for 14-years, and I can tell you two things…
It won’t always be hard, and your life will become not just better, it will become AMAZING! It will become a blessing, fulfilled, happy, and peaceful, much better than you could imagine or dream of. That, I can promise you.
This is why I got permission to share many other stories and real struggles and the determination many have who made it within recovery, and some who are figuring it out. See, we always need to know where we came from, never become complacent.
It is why I make many visits to gambling addiction websites and read what people share and hope to give constructive advice that will hopefully help those who search for that successful place within recovery. There several sites that offer Chat rooms and Posting Wall to interact and engage like minded folks recovering from gambling addiction. One is called Safe Harbor http://www.sfcghub.com/cgsf1.html and they offer meetings, chat, and much more. Also, GamTalk https://www.gamtalk.org/groups/community/ who offers an active forum, chats, and a community posting wall too.
Both offer exceptional Recovery Resources and can be found on each front page of their websites. And you can do so on both being anonymous. Here are some anonymous voices of those recovering or beginning the journey. Yes, we are “works in progress”… ~Catherine Lyon, Advocate
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GAMBLERS VOICES RECOVERING:
Gambler: “I am understanding alot and feeling some hope by reading these posts… I am a gambler… I must stop… I want to stop…
But then I decide to continue…Why, why asked myself! Why do you do this?? Why do you sink yourself hopelessly into this addiction”…
Someone Replied: “We have all had false starts so do not lose heart, like a smoker it is rare to stop smoking at the first attempt but the important thing is to keep the goal of stopping in mind. Do not be too hard on yourself for lapsing, just say to yourself, ok next time I will succeed. For me it took time and education (and Gamcare Counselling), the more I learned about the gambling industry the more it’s appeal diminished.”
Once something loses it’s appeal the easier it is to let go of it. I don’t like words like ‘addiction’ and ‘illness’ as I think this encourages ‘victim’ mode. We are not victims we have choices but we need to retrain our brains so that we can change the choices that we make. For me learning about the gambling industry online did a few things, it occupied my time instead of gambling, it opened my eyes to what a well constructed industry it is with one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY, it changed my perception of what gambling actually had to offer.
A good example is smokers, why is it that some stop with relative ease whilst others will have withdrawal symptoms for years (and more likely start again). It is all to do with our approach and perception, if we anticipate difficulties we will have difficulties, if we can re-educate our brains to really accept the damage we are doing then smoking becomes something that no longer appeals and is no longer desired. For me the approach with gambling was the same as the smoker, make your new hobby educating yourself as to the construction of an industry that has one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY.
I actually found it all quite interesting, quite an education and the more I learned the more pointless gambling became. For me there was no epithany moment, no praying to a god or a higher power hoping for that lightbulb moment when my life would change it was a methodical deconstruction through gaining knowledge. I do recommend counselling with Gamcare, they will not judge you but they do help you find your own answers within yourself. I can only speak for myself but I am not unique and if this method helped me then it might help you. I hope it does.”
A GAMBLER: “Gamcare (https://www.gamcare.org.uk/ counselling helped me to take responsibility and own my habit without being judgemental. I am a very logical person in every aspect of my life, with the exception of gambling. I soon realised that when I gambled (online slots, one in particular) that winning was not actually the goal, playing was the goal. If I won it merely served as more playing time.
This made me realise that gambling was a way to lose myself for a few hours, ignore the responsibilty of being an adult. There were times when I would win early on and it was futile to stay on so I would stop, I would then feel agitated and unfulfilled. I read somewhere that the first time you have a decent win that the adrenalin rush to the brain is so great that the brain puts up a barrier to protect itself, same as a fuse works in a plug. Once that barrier goes up the intensity of the win is never equalled again, yet still we try to acheive it.
It’s the same reason that an adrenalin junkie increases the danger of their extreme sport pursuits. I think that the slots are very much geared around transporting us to our childhood with their cartoon characters, bright colours and music, back to a time of being carefree and irresponsible. The more logic I can apply to what I do the less appealing gambling is. Are brains are capable of many things and continues to learn througout our lives, it is our job to grasp that opportunity to learn how to control our illogical urges. I removed guilt and shame from my agenda and decided to own my problem instead of seeing myself as a victim with an ‘illness’.
I can only speak for myself and from my own experiences and my logic may not apply to all but so long as you are dealing with your problem then you are on the right track, I just hope that my logic strikes a chord with some of you and helps you as it has helped me. There is no wrong way to stop but if we share our experiences then maybe we can all help each other”… They also have resouces and blog: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/ “
A GAMBLER: “Here’s to a new day, making a decision to turn my will over to my higher power. Doing my best to stay connected to Him. Hoping to turn this ship around. Great advice everyone, especially on researching the cunningness of the Casino.
They know what they are doing. They make millions and billions doing it. Let’s stop giving them our money! They are rigged and we won’t catch our losses. Time to bury that chapter!”
A GAMBLER: “I told my husband about my addiction and now he hates me and says he doubts everything about our relationship!!”
SOME REPLIES: “Normal reaction. Hurt people hurt people.”
“I can relate CJ. It is going to take time for me to get my husband to trust me again. I have lied to him so many times. I am very manipulative. I don’t like the person I am right now. I definitely want to change. I also want to be able to tell the truth again, nothing but the truth.”
“He doesn’t hate you, he’s shocked and hopefully when he has had time to process the information he will be supportive. I find gambling the most misunderstood of addictions, it seems to carry the most blame because non addicts associate gambling as playing or having fun. I found counselling with Gamcare very helpful. They do not judge you but help you to understand yourself.”
A GAMBLER: “I feel so ashamed and feel like I have let my family down. I am just disgusted with myself. I have wasted so much money that could have been put towards something other then wasting it”…
SOME REPLIES: “Hi did you read my post?” — “No, I am new here.”
“I feel as you do but if we are just posting and reading everyones sorrows, how is this going to help us? Are we to do self-interflection and draw for the post that we are not alone? What about the next urge to gamble? I need something more tangible, more intervention with human conversation”…
“D” I understand the need for a plan. I find myself being scared and sometimes encourages me by reading but you’re right, we need more of an action plan.”
MY REPLYWAS: “I was given an awesome Relapse Prevention Guide years ago when I began my recovery path and I have it listed on my gambling recovery blog for anyone who needs it. You can copy and paste where ever you need. It truly helped me make and KEEP a relapse plan and did help me get out of the loop of relapses. Especially helps during the holiday season when we may have more stress or life events.
Reading and learning from others experiences can be tools to know we are not alone, we all have similar struggles from this cunning addiction, and you have the action and choices that can also be your solution… Like we learn, “keep doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result”? Never happens with this disease.”
A GAMBLER: “Today I made a payment plan. This feels like a good step as I work at being steady and not rushing through.. Slow progress is still progress. Better than continuing to dig a bigger financial hole. Today has been a good gamble free day!”
REPLY: “Well done! Recovery is about progress not perfection. Keep it up ODAAT (One Day At A Time)…
LASTLY, A GAMBLER: “Good morning! I am looking forward to talking with you as I work the twelve steps and start the recovery process. I recently admitted I am powerless over gambling and my life has become unmanageable. I don’t like the feeling of being hyjacked when it comes to gambling but that will always be the case. I want to abstain. I do believe my only hope lies with surrendering to my higher power. I will seek my higher power today.”
REPLIES: WELL DONE! The first 3 Steps of the Gamblers Anonymous Program 1) We admitted we were powerless over gambling – that our lives had become unmanageable. 2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living. 3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding. “K”
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A Recovering Gamblers Poem of Hope
Fellow gambler, take my hand; I’m your friend, I understand. I’ve known your guilt, your shame, remorse; I’ve borne the burden of your cross. I found a friend who offered ease; He suffered, too, with this disease. Although he had no magic cure, He showed how we could endure. We walked together side by side; We spoke of things we had to hide. We told of sleepless nights and debts, Of broken homes and lies and threats. And so my weary gambler friend, Please take this hand that I extend. Take one more chance on something new, Another gambler helping you.
It dosen’t matter the preference or choice of staying in action with gambling like slots, poker, lotto or scratch tickets …It is about learning to interrupt “The Cycle” and use the tools and skills we learn in our choice and path to recover from gambling addiction.
Advocate, Catherine Lyon
I’m Bernie and I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler. My Last bet was November 21, 2007.
I grew up on a farm not too far from what is now known as Soaring Eagle Casino. I was not attracted to casinos because to me they were represented by a pole barn. The reason I say that, is because growing up that is what Soaring Eagle was. It wasn’t until much later that it became the place it is now. I found myself being a bit of a loner when I was really young but that only goes to the way I felt.
It wasn’t until High School in the fall of 1979 that I was introduced to what would become my chosen form of gambling (scratch-off tickets). Back then, it was just one now and then with friends from school. I went to a Christian High school a half hour away from where I lived, so the first 2 years I lived with a family in another town during the week. But most of this has little to do with the active part of my addiction.
I was however exposed to functional alcoholism during this time. When I started driving I started smoking and on occasion buying scratch-offs. The smoking became a problem when I was diagnosed with clergies and lost interest due to how it was affecting my breathing, but the gambling was still just a ‘once in a while’ activity.
While in college I met and married my first wife. It was at this time that I saw my first look at what a compulsive gambler looked like. My mother-in-law had a room filled with losing tickets of every sort and was always getting them. I swore at that moment that I would never be like that. She was a nice person most of the time, but the things I saw with her gambling was not very pleasant. Over the years, I would begin to gravitate toward doing exactly what I said I would never do.
My marriage became a stress point for me. We had two sons and I was still getting my degree several years into the marriage. We argued more and more as I went from low paying job to low paying job. By the time 2000 rolled around, I had had a good job with the state, but it was not enough because we were both driving insane distances for work. I left there due to failing a training process, to try and get closer to home and returned to lower paying jobs. I tried to start a business or two and failed to ‘make enough’. This led me to wanting to stay away from home more.
With me working at convenience store and as a direct care worker, I was able to do that but needed to ‘kill time’ to avoid her (my wife). My addiction became worse and gave me a way to stay away during times we were both awake and home more. I’d get home after she had gone to sleep and she would be off to work by the time I woke up. Gambling had become an escape from the problem.
In 2007, my world began to come apart! My mom died and later I would almost lose my job as a result of someone stealing from my till. That resulted in a big argument and fighting to get my job back. Then would come my suicidal feelings (they had always been under the surface but this brought them out in spades). I ended up spending time in an adult psychiatric hospital for 10 days which gave my then wife time to discover just how bad my gambling had become.
This led to more fights and after several years of arguing came the separation. Then came divorce and the realization that all these years I had actually had Asthma and Sleep Apnea. Ultimately the divorce made recovery better for me and in 2013 I remarried a wonderful woman who has been my rock.
Back to 2007, November 21, 2007 to be exact. I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting that night and after it I bought what would be my last scratch-off ticket. That action sent me into tears as I realized I had a problem. It was $1 but it was after hearing stories of people who went to prison and experienced losing everything. How could I buy a ticket after that?
Since that time, I have focused on using my background to help others who are in recovery. It took some time to get my feet under me and deal with my addiction, but once that began I was writing and even speaking about the addiction. That is how I got to where I am today and doing what I do today.
My background is as a Bachelors Level Social Worker with the following added pieces: I started out studying to be a Lutheran Minister, focused on knowing my faith. I studied informally, as well as formally, many world religions. I studied to be a teacher for a short time. I studied Psychology (which became my minor). As I started recovery, I studied everything I could to understand addiction and combined what I learned with every experience and educational aspect of my life.
That said, I am disabled because of health issues today, but I still push forward with writing and creating materials. My first 3 years of recovery were my hardest as I continued to sell my addiction to others while figuring out how to stay clean in this environment.
Today, I am living proof that we can stop our addicted gambling and be successful maintaining long-term recovery and why I continue to SHARE HOPE, so others with a problem will reach out for help like I did. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
Multiple factors can influence a person to develop a gambling addiction. It is essential to know that most individuals who struggle with this addiction by no means planned to let their gambling spiral out of control. To help individuals who battle with problem gambling, we must understand the difficulties they face. Problem gambling results in far-reaching challenges beyond the financial hardships that can affect nearly every area of one’s life.
There are many ways that gambling addiction can also bring turmoil to the individuals that surround the gambler. For every case of problem gambling, 8-10 other people are also affected. Conversations about gambling addiction may be a difficult task when it comes to speaking to loved ones. However, contacts to the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine demonstrate how much pressure gambling addiction puts on relationships.
Looking at HelpLine data from the past year, it is evident that issues such as family conflict, family neglect, and domestic violence are serious and significant impacts resulting from gambling addiction. Seventy-six percent of callers reported family conflict, and 52% indicated family neglect as a result of gambling addiction.
By listening to the stories of the brave people who have shared their stories, we can see that these impacts are much more than a statistic. When Betty White’s husband developed a gambling addiction, which is also known as the hidden addiction due to the lack of physical signs, he continually lied to her to keep his gambling a secret…
The situation escalated to the point where Betty almost lost her life due to her husband, Terry’s desperation from where gambling had taken him…
Please Watch This Video.
“Surviving Compulsive Gambling: The Betty White Story“ BY Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling
In the final stages of a gambling disorder, when gamblers have exhausted all finances, credit, and bailout options, some turn to crime as a means of taking one more risk to reconcile their desperate situations. In relationships, domestic abuse can also arise as a result of problem gambling.
While it may feel as though there is no way out with gambling addiction, there are resources available for every situation, and treatment is possible.
Many loved ones and people experiencing gambling addiction have sought help and found hope by reaching our 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling Helpline. Loved ones such as Betty have found support and hope just by picking up the phone.
If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction, know that the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine is entirely confidential and is available 24/7, and also offers multilingual support. Help and hope are just a call or click away…
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If you live in Florida? There is help and HOPE because the fine folks and my friends of The Florida on Complusive Gambling CARE. Do not hesitate to visit them here https://gamblinghelp.org/ or CALL THEM even if you are a spouse of the gambler, they will find the help you need to be safe and get help for the addicted gambler.
FCCG History & Mission
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling is a membership based non-profit educational and advocacy organization under contract with Florida state government.
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc. (FCCG) was established in 1988 as a gaming neutral 501(c)(3) educational and advocacy corporation that serves as the designated authority under state contract on gambling addiction. Its primary mission is to:
Increase public awareness regarding the risks and consequences associated with gambling
Provide assistance to problem gamblers, their families, and others adversely impacted
Advocate for programs, services, funding, and other supports to address population-specific needs
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) is committed to increasing public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling. The FCCG provides referral services and support to residents in need of assistance with a gambling addiction, as well as to professionals and others servicing this population.
” The FCCG’s primary mission is to increase public awareness about gambling addiction and to furnish support to persons in need of assistance.”
Under contract with State government, the FCCG:
Operates the State’s confidential 24-hour multilingual HelpLine (888-ADMIT-IT)
Develops and conducts prevention, education, and outreach programs
Designs and presents professional training opportunities
Trains medical and other health care practitioners to assess and treat
Offers resource development services
Sponsors and conducts research
Represents the public before government and other policymaking authorities
Works with legal authorities and law enforcement on gambling-related cases
Oversees a Speakers Bureau and a Peer Connect program
Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a recovering compulsive gambler.
A little bit about my background. My mother passed away when I was 8 years old. It turned my whole world upside down in an instant. I was separated from my family and was sent to live with my father whom I did not know, down in Georgia. I went to live at a children’s home when I was 11.
Looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Went through routine teenager stuff for the most part. Met my now ex-husband and we were married for 26 years. I have twin boys who will soon be 30 and a beautiful granddaughter. I should mention here that my ex was in the military, we moved around a lot and I raised our boys mostly on my own. I have always relied on myself to handle things, not always the best decision. I never learned to ask for help or truly trust anyone.
When my ex got ready for retirement we finally moved back home to Washington, who says you can never go home again? It was a very difficult transition. Funny when I think of it now, how when I lived here before, I had the most traumatic experience of my life when my mom died, now back home I had to deal with the second most traumatic experience, my kids going through some very trying stuff (law breaking/possible prison) and a divorce that was a long time coming.
I couldn’t deal with it at all and I went off the deep end and down the dark rabbit hole which is known to a lot of us as the casino. My kids were off on their own, my ex was living the high life, I had disposable income and low self-esteem and nowhere to go, no place safe, no way to stop all the screaming, crying voices in my head. I had been to the casino socially and it was no big deal, had dinner, would play $20 and I could call it good. At least for a while.
My gambling career lasted for about 6 years. I knew things where changing about half way in and couldn’t stop myself. It was a place to go any time of day or night, didn’t matter what I looked like, I could smoke all I wanted and no one to bother me. It was my safe place, what a joke that turned out to be. Then I turned the corner and lied to my son, of course by then I was lying to everyone about where I was and what I was doing and no one ever understood why I never had any money. I was a closet gambler, no one knew.
I finally started writing bad checks and covered my last one with my son’s money by telling him I needed it to cover one from the grocery store and I was getting paid the next day. He loaned me the money and I did pay it back the next day but that was it for me, I couldn’t do this to my child, for me, I had crossed some line. Of course, there is more to my story, but to go forward …
I finally broke down and went to a local GA group in town. Whew, what a monumental life changing experience. I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, began to work the steps and eventually I found peace. I could look myself in the eye, I had goals. I had money again and was eventually able to buy my first home all by myself. I stayed bet free for 3-years until about a month ago. That is what has prompted me to share my story, my relapse. Working Step 4 all over again. I would never recommend a relapse but for me, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. During my 3-years bet free, I always had this “what if” thing hanging over my head. Asking myself, what would it be like, could I gamble socially, am I really and truly a compulsive gambler…
I think subconsciously I planned it all along and now that it is over and done with I am good. All questions answered. YES, I am a compulsive gambler without a doubt. I started right where I left off. So how did I get to that point and what did I do about it. Well first off, I had quit going to my GA meetings. For several reasons, the group is small and became toxic, it became harder and harder to put principals before personalities. It was no longer a safe place for me to go.
So, I resigned my chairing and treasury positions and quit. Are there other meetings yes, but I was burned out. Now to back up a bit, I live in my little house which I absolutely love. Nothing special, but it’s all mine and I now share it with 2 of my younger brothers whom I have gotten reunited with over the years after having moved back home. For the most part it is working out wonderfully, but mind you I did not grow up with siblings. I did not grow up learning the art of conflict or arguing. I avoid confrontation on all fronts. Be invisible, keep your head down and keep going, I should note here that I have changed that way of thinking in a big way thanks to what I have learned in GA.
So long story short, had a huge argument with my brother that lasted for weeks, my home was no longer my emotionally safe place. I avoided it as much as I could. I knew I was about to go off the edge. I had many options, I could have called someone, could have looked for this website (GamTalk), could have gone to one of the other meetings, I knew exactly what I was doing and did it anyway. I wanted to, I am a risk taker, I wanted the questions answered, truth is, I already knew the answer.
So off to the casino I went. I purposefully went out of town so as to hopefully not be seen by anyone I knew. Sneaky behavior…I lied about where I was…old habits coming back never skipping a beat. So off I went ready and excited… I won, left with money and all the way home I kept telling myself it can’t end this way, so I went back the next day fully intent on losing it all. I did and then some, per usually gamblers behavior.
I did enough damage to hurt but not wipe me out. It’s a control thing and I fully recognize how I had subconsciously planned for this. What surprised me the most is how I have handled the relapse. First thing I did was to beat myself up on the long drive home, but I got home early and it was still day light, normally after a loss I would crawl in bed for days, even miss work.
Instead I put in my earphones started listening to gamblers stories and went for a 2 hour walk. I spent the next two days outside, hiking and driving through some of our beautiful state parks, totally outside the box of a normal day in my life. I wrote in my journal. I wrote my gratitude list, I prayed, I chatted a bit on this site. I feel relieved. I feel peace. I am renewed and ready to continue my recovery. I know that in GA I have to start over but I am not letting 9 hours of my relapse time to wipe out over a 1000 days of recovery. At least that is where my mind is at and I have had the best weeks in my life since.
I had to cleared the air with my brother and my home is my safe place again and I will never give that up again. I believe and completely trust my higher power. The nagging questions in the back of my mind are answered and put to rest. I have bounced back financially. I have left out a lot of details, but the bulk of it is now written, step 4, part of it anyway, sharing with you is step 5 for me. Thank you for being here, I intend to continue here as part of my ongoing recovery. This is just one more chapter in the book of my life, it had its twists and turns, but it’s not the end by far… Bless you!
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This story is courtesy of a great place to be for those trying to stay in or maintain recovery from problem or addicted gambling. A resource called GAMTALK and free to JOIN: https://www.gamtalk.org/join/ They have several resources and you can chat with like minded people in the Chat Forum or The Community Wall and is run by the Founder, Dr. Richard Wood and they support all things GA. (Gamblers Anonymous) and more.
Please, stop by there GAMTALK’s website and see for yourself how helpful it is or if you know anyone with a gambling problem. They are sponsored by many who care about those who may become addicted to gambling… ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon
Dr. Wood has published numerous gambling related articles, presented his findings at conferences and seminars around the world, and undertaken many responsible gaming consultations for both the gaming industry and regulatory sectors. His research focuses on both the individual causes of problem gambling, as well as the structural characteristics of games that can influence the gambling behaviour of vulnerable players.
Specialties: Designing effective responsible gambling strategies. Examining the structural and situational characteristics of game design and gaming environments to minimise any negative consequences for ‘vulnerable’ players.
Understanding the psychology of gaming in order to promote healthy gaming attitudes and behaviours, investigating problem gambling and evaluating treatment and intervention programs.
He provides online support for people with gambling issues on GAMTALK. He resides in Ontario, Canada
What a whirlwind of a recovery year we all have had, RIGHT?
As a person maintaining recovery and an advocate, it has been an a wild and bumpy ride to say least. I many people looking recovery resources and mentoring than ever before while this pandemic continues to rage and continue to spread like wild fire.
I don’t know about you, but many things have occurred in my recovery journey this year that I couldn’t catch my breath. With Thanksgiving come and gone, the Christmas season is upon us, an odd year for sure; I am sure ready for a New Year! How do you live your recovery lifestyle amidst all the crazy going on since early 2020? I thought I’d share some of mine and make a point that no matter what life may throw at us?
We just never give up our recovery.
Has it been a challenging year since COVID turned our recovery path upside down? Well, yes. But I, for one, kept my long-term recovery path through it all. How do you ask? It wasn’t easy! It started with some personal and business pitfalls around the end of March. My literary marketing business took a hit as one by one, I lost all my author clients as they got furloughed from their jobs. It wasn’t about the little extra income I made. It was thinking, now, what will I do with all my time?
With authors having no money to market and promote their books. Nothing was selling as people focused on where the rent money, bill money or new jobs would come from, and just as recovery and everything else began to shift to online only. Then? It was an election year on top of that! And if you are a person who is on social media like I have to be when my business was running, it got really politically ugly and I had never seen America become so divided.
So, with the pandemic still spreading and medical experts telling us to STAY HOME, I actually had time to make Thanksgiving dinner with a nice turkey meal even though it was my birthday on Thanksgiving day. And as GOD is always taking care of us, I was blessed with gifts and even had a birthday cake my husband had special ordered for me.
Again, recovery has been rough since we can’t do meetings or groups in person. And tougher for me as a recovery advocate unable to speak, raise awareness and NO recovery awareness live in-person events. So, here are some things I have been doing to keep my recovery path moving forward, keeping it intact, and continue to share my voice and help others know that Recovery is Possible.
Read – Journal – Watch – Listen!
Since having more time, I have been writing and journaling like never before. It includes my recovery writing like for my column in “Keys to Recovery” newspaper and I was invited to write an article for a global magazine called ADIVA Magazine for their column “Her Story” for the Fall/Winter issue. Very exciting! I was honored to be part of the ADIVA Family.
Here are some things you can do at home through the holiday season to enhance your recovery.
Journaling is an amazing tool for processing “old pain” and healing. Another area is reworking your 12-Steps. Did you know when you continue to work your steps? You can go back to them at an earlier time and see what areas you need more growth, but you can see how far you have come. This helps to build your self-esteem and self-worth needed to move forward, maintaining your recovery.
Reading is a tool we can use to stay educated and learn by reading many addiction and recovery books. Audiobooks and e-books have become most popular since the pandemic. You can listen to a great book while doing work or cleaning at the same time. I have also been watching and listening to lots of podcasts and radio shows. I’ve even been a guest on several this year as an advocate. Visit my Book Suggested reads while you are here or visit this Amazon link and see all the amazing books on addiction/recovery to read! https://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Health-Mind-Body-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=4716
All of these activities can enhance our recovery during the holiday season.
Listening & Watching: Since most of as us have already shifted to online everything for recovery, like GA, AA, NA meetings, recovery groups, FB Live Celebrate Recovery, worship, and more. It is also important to continue being supported within your recovery by friends and family.
There are many free apps and platforms we can use to do so. Skype, What’s App, FB Messenger, Zoom, and watch FB Live events & visit recovery groups and many more. But never discount the good ole PHONE. Check-in with friends, your sponsor, and let them know how your doing. Watching and doing Podcasts shows is agreat way to share your voice and story of recovery! I have been a guest on several this year.
Last? Dive into the Christmas season by making your living space in your home Merry and Christmasey with decorations, lights, and maybe a little tree. Even though we can’t be all together this Christmas, you can still enjoy the season within your own home. Put on a mask and walk the neighborhood to see all the festive light displays or even drive to them in your car. It will also help the winter or seasonal blues and be healthy for our mental and emostional well-being.
So, yes, we still find ourselves with this pandemic during our recovery holiday season, and again, spreading. Listening to health professionals and those experts in your state or country you live in and to stay healthy and safe is part of our life, our recovery journey, and while keeping our recovery intact.
You Got This!
It’s called having life-balance! Besides, the good news is the vaccines are coming, and so is a “Fresh Happy New Year for a “Do-Over!” I know 2021 is going to bring us all life and recovery renewal, peace, and serenity. Next year, we will have so much to celebrate and have gratitude for knowing we all made it through.
Those of us maintaining recovery know we never give up!
When I was asked to share my story, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s so important for people to see that everyday, regular people can have a gambling addiction.And by telling my story I hope I can help others and reduce the shame of compulsive gambling.
Looking back on it, I guess it’s not surprising that I developed a gambling problem. I had a risk-taking personality and was exposed to various forms of gambling as early as age 9. My father was a bookie and sold football tickets. I’d spend my allowance and purchase tickets from him.
I became insanely addicted to gambling in my early twenties. I was working at a charity bingo hall when the casinos opened in the ’80s, and a lot of us would go to the casinos after work.
For many years, Black Jack was my game of choice. Then one night in the mid ’90s, I had a dream that I put $20 in a slot machine and won a huge jackpot. Shortly after that dream, I went to the casino, put $20 in the slot machine and won $15,000. Not to long after, I crossed the line into addicted gambling thinking I would win bog each time I went!
From that point on, I switched almost exclusively to slot machines. It was a bigger, faster win, and I liked that I could isolate myself more. With cards, I had to communicate with others. I liked the solitutde of being alone and not have to be social with others when playing my slots.
Within six months after the big win, I realized I bit off more than I could chew. I had given back all the money, and more. I kept chasing that feeling of the huge win. See, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, the disease keeps you gambling until every penny is gone.
I soon became secretive about my gambling. I lied about losing and I lied about playing. I gambled any chance I could. I was feverishly stuck within the “cycle” of this disease of addiction.
In 2004, I started a business that quickly had financial success. I had so much money that I thought I’d never run out. But eventually I couldn’t even come up with postage to ship a package. I started selling stolen goods to cover my losses and eventually ended up in prison on a mail fraud charge.
After prison, I was released to a halfway house, where I stayed for six weeks before I had to move out. I had nothing but a car. I’d lost a beautiful home, a great marriage, and had never previously wanted for anything. But I was angry, and the first thing I did was drive straight to Mystic Lake Casino.
Less than nine months later, I was back in prison for violating probation by gambling at casinos. I was sentenced to 15 months in a higher security prison. But this time it was different.
Something clicked the day I was shackled off to jail and I had a spiritual shift. I decided that I would never gamble again, no matter what. I evaluated the choices I made and why I did what I did. Once I was released, I took responsibility for my own actions and worked hard to get back on my feet. I took a job at a restaurant and am now the manager.
My life is so much better and calmer now. I meditate every morning and am very involved in GA meetings. I listen to others and share my story whenever I can. I receive so much respect from other people and have enormous respect for others. I am very available to my family and my friends, some of whom have gone through recovery with me.
It means a lot to me to be very honest about this disease and what it’s done to me. A lot of things about gambling made me feel like the scum of the earth. It was much worse than anything I felt as an alcohol and drug addict.
I focus on my recovery at every opportunity. I hope to make a difference to others who similarly never expected they would go through the horrible things we do as gambling addicts. I urge and advocate to others now. Don’t let addicted gambling steal your life... ~Christine
The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA), the Minnesota affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling, is a non-profit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. NPGA is a coalition of individuals and organizations sharing the belief that problem gambling is a serious public health problem that is both treatable and preventable.
We work to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the stigma that’s often associated with it. We advocate for funding for treatment programs and provide professional training for those who work with problem gamblers. The collective impact of our efforts help individuals, their families and their communities deal with the devastating effects of problem gambling.
As a private 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, NPGA is funded by membership fees, financial and in-kind donations, and state and private grants. A considerable portion of our funding comes from the state of Minnesota and from major corporate sponsorships from the Minnesota Lottery, Canterbury Park, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by problem gambling through advocacy, education, training and research.
We achieve this by:
Bringing together those with a professional or personal interest in problem gambling.
Providing complete, accurate and unbiased information.
Advocating for public policies that assist problem gamblers and their families.
Raising public awareness of problem gambling.
Identifying those whose professions might bring them in contact with problem gamblers and their families, and educating those professionals on appropriate interventions.
Advocating for, conducting, and disseminating research that furthers our understanding of problem gambling.
Developing, delivering and supporting programs to prevent problem gambling.
We work toward our vision by upholding these core values:
Neutrality – As an affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling, we are neither for nor against legalized gambling.
Accuracy – We strive to ensure that all information we provide is accurate and complete.
Compassion – We recognize that problem gambling does not result from moral failings and that those with a gambling problem are not inherently bad people.
Inclusion – We believe that the interests of those affected by problem gambling are best served by inclusion of a wide range of interests. These interests include,but are not limited to, those in recovery, family members, treatment professionals, the gambling industry, those having professional contacts with problem gamblers, and those in other helping professions.
As most people were literally left to their own devices during COVID-19 related lockdowns, many began engaging with technology in different new ways. Recent reports show that online gambling services have exploded in popularity, which could lead to a subsequent increase in gambling addiction.
The implementation of COVID-19 related lockdowns worldwide corresponded with a dramatic increase in many people’s screen time. While swiping the long hours away can help alleviate some of the restlessness and anxiety that comes from being stuck at home, it also increases exposure to heavily marketed goods and services, including online gambling.
Some countries have noted that bookmakers increased advertising on websites and social media to lure in potential customers, which can be problematic for those struggling with a gambling addiction, or those simply suffering from boredom and looking for a way to kill time.
Approximately 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem. The most recent research estimates that 6 to 9 percent of young people and young adults experience problems related to gambling — a higher rate than among adults.
Though a few countries such as Belgium, Spain and Latvia have imposed some restrictions on online gambling in order to try and curb addiction during the lockdowns, the majority of these services remain easily accessible and highly tempting. This poses a serious risk for an uptick in gambling addictions during the pandemic.
How the Pandemic Has Fueled Online Gambling
In a few short months, our daily lives and regular habits have changed dramatically. Both the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak have contributed to an increased use of online gambling services.
These impacts include:
Boredom, Depression and Anxiety
Few of us are used to spending so many hours, day after day, in our own homes. Cut off from our regular outdoor activities, classes, and even workspaces, many people began feeling bored, anxious, and even depressed.
The pandemic itself lent to stress not only about our health, but also about our work and relationships. These feelings, plus the shift of most interactions to an online forum, created a perfect storm for susceptibility to clicking onto an online gambling site.
Ban on Live Sports, Closure of Casinos
The crowds found in casinos and sports arenas around the world were quickly recognised as hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus, and were shuttered in many countries. For the first time, major sports seasons and events, including the upcoming Olympics, have been suspended, leaving avid sports fans and casual gamblers at a loss. Dramatic increases in visitors to online gambling sites suggest that people are filling the gap through online gambling.
Is Online Gambling More Addictive?
A recent study by the UK’s Gambling Commission found that 1.2% of all people who gamble have developed an addiction, but this figure increases to 2.5% when only online sports betting is considered, and a staggering 9.2% when the focus shifts to online gaming like casino games and roulette.
Part of this is due to the speed of online gambling – gamblers don’t have to wait for specific matches or tournaments, but can place bets in quick succession, chasing wins (or losses) one after the other. Because it is possible to gamble using credit cards instead of cash in hand, debts can be run up extremely quickly before people even really wrap their heads around how much is at stake. The fact that this type of gambling is available 24/7 via a simple click on our phones or computers, also factors into the heightened addiction rates.
Additionally, online gambling is more easily hidden. It’s far more obvious if you are spending hours at the casino or at a racetrack than if you are simply sitting in the corner scrolling and clicking. This lack of visibility can mean that others may not see you need help until the problem has become very serious.
Do You Have a Gambling Addiction?
There are many people who do enjoy casual or occasional gambling that does not result in any negative consequences to financial or mental health. These are gamblers who can accept a loss and walk away from a further bet.
However, if you are noticing that you’re clicking into sites more often, and placing larger and larger bets, you may be developing a dependency. Gambling addiction impacts both men and women, and can have serious effects.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Constantly thinking about or reliving gambling-related experiences
Increasing amounts of time during the day spent gambling
Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop gambling
Using gambling as a “go-to” activity to relax or feel better
Having to make increasingly larger or riskier bets to feel satisfied or excited
Trying to win back money lost through gambling by engaging in further gambling
Attempting to downplay or cover up gambling habits
Experiencing financial strain as a result of gambling
Impacts of a Gambling Addiction
When people think of gambling addiction, it is immediately assumed that most of the impacts are financial. While those who struggle with gambling do face financial difficulties as a result of their dependency, the impacts of gambling go far beyond bank accounts, and often have serious negative effects on relationships, work and even legal issues.
Gambling has been proven to impact mental health, and has been linked to conditions like depression, and anxiety disorders. People struggling with gambling addiction are at greater risk for suicide – one study found that gamblers are six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempts. The stress of living with a gambling disorder often manifests in physical ailments as well, such as digestive issues and migraines.
If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, seeking professional help from an addiction specialist is a necessity. Speaking with someone who understands the science of addiction and can help address and treat the root causes of dependency will lead to the best possible outcomes for recovery. . .
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand offers residential treatment that specialises in behavioural addictions such as gambling. With a maximum intake of 25 clients at a time, our highly experienced professional team offers personalised attention and customised treatment plans for each and every client.
The fundamental objective of our programme is for clients to achieve and maintain long-term recovery by equipping each individual with a personalised set of coping tools to use when dealing with stress and triggers. The Dawn utilises a unique “Twin Pillars” approach for treatment, seamlessly blending Western psychotherapeutic techniques with proven Eastern wellness practices to holistically address the addiction, and allow the development of a full, healthy lifestyle.
Gambling Addiction Treatment On-site or Online with The Dawn
We understand that current COVID-19 related travel restrictions may make it difficult for you to access the benefits of a residential treatment programme at this time. At The Dawn, our therapists have years of experience providing online therapy to our clients post treatment in online aftercare groups as well as individual counselling.
To support individuals in need of help but unable to travel, we have been offering a special Virtual Treatment Programme with the option of transitioning to in-person residential treatment when clients are ready.
To best accommodate our clients, we structure our fees so that whatever you have already paid towards your online therapy goes towards your overall residential treatment fee. This allows you to continue your care with a trusted therapist in an environment totally removed from the triggers and stress of everyday life, and to focus completely on your recovery.
Welcome recovery friends and visitors. Today I am sharing an informative guest post by a dear friend and recovery mentor of mine. Meet Marilyn Davis. She has maintained long-term recovery and has helped many in every conceivable way with addictions. She has worked in addiction and treatment and has helped her now grown children beat addiction.
I will share more about all she does to help others have hope from addiction, but here is her post about what she’s been doing to keep her recovery intact during this continuing COVID CRISIS…
My Home-bound Recovery During COVID-19: Purging and Using Podcasts.
COVID-19 Unites Us, Too
“Boomer or millennial, we’re all covidians now.”― Bill Doman
Whether you’re home because of COVID-19, work restrictions, furloughs, school closings, or layoffs, don’t let your recovery suffer. Here are few ways to help ensure you don’t relapse, and a few ways to use that time at home while the world is temporarily closed.
Recovery Just Got Harder
Recovery is hard; it’s learning a new way of life, coping, repairing fractured relationships, and depending on others to show us how to do all of those.
These factors are more challenging as we try to maintain our recovery with the uncertainty and isolation imposed on us by COVID-19. Without the social support, structure, and accountability that in-person meetings provide, many people are struggling more with the stay-at-home-social-distance-wear-a-mask safety measures imposed on us for our protection.
“Use Your Time Wisely” My Mother Said
I’ve been home-bound since March 13th or 250 days now. That’s a very long time to go without an in-person meeting. But I dug in, took the time to do some serious ōsōji, the annual cleaning of one’s home in Japan. Of course, I took it to an entirely new level – purged 30 years’ worth of antique linens.
When that didn’t get rid of enough stuff, I opted for the Swedish döstädning. “Dö” means “death,” and “städning” means “cleaning.”
All those antiques, Nickie-nacks, as my daughter referred to them when she was five – she’s now in her 50’s, papers with scribbled ideas, feelings, or thoughts that seem disjointed, chaotic, or so outdated as to be completely useless, and looked at each tube, container, pan of make-up to check the expiration date. All donated, recycled, or sent to the dumb.
Still no let up on COVID19.
So I sold my townhouse, purged more, had the living estate sale, and waited for relief and an in-person meeting.
I finished my memoir – it’s ready for publication when my computer guru comes next week.
Then I moved...
“This too shall pass” isn’t Working
When we first experienced the sudden loss of in-person meetings, it wasn’t a big deal for some of us. Sure, we missed the fellowship, laughter, or helping someone. But we were sure it would pass. How often did we say, “This too shall pass,” or “Just don’t use today – tomorrow will be different.”
But it seems as if the anticipated tomorrow isn’t happening anytime soon.
Many old-timers, like myself, aren’t attending in-person meetings.
It’s not that you can’t get and remain in recovery without our input. Still, besides our ‘sage advice,’ we serve as a reminder that recovery is possible when you have a room full of people with double-digit recovery. When we’re not comfortable participating in these meetings, encouragement is missing from many places, which is sad for newcomers.
And I miss seeing families reunited, people changing, and the warmth and support of the fellowship.
Are You Still Home-bound?
It’s still a scary time for some of us.
Do we go out?
How do we socially distance if we go to a meeting?
Do people wear masks?
Are they restricting the number of people who can attend?
How do I handle old friends wanting to hug?
Can listening to a podcast help me?
By the time I’ve obsessed on those questions, my heart rate is up, I’ve wasted 30 minutes thinking and getting no answers, and even if I chose to go to the meeting, I’d be late. Sound familiar?
While You’re Home-bound
Seek out an online meeting.
Connect with recovery-oriented people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media. We all have our favorites and two of mine are RecoveryRocks and Recovery By Stepping Up, both on FB.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief of From Addict 2 Advocate. In 1990, she opened North House, an award-winning women’s residential recovery home. In 2008, Brenau University, Georgia, created the Marilyn L. Davis Community Service-Learning Award. This is a yearly award given to advocates in mental health, wellness, and recovery. In 2010, she received the Liberty Bell Award for her work within the criminal justice system.
Before closing the house in 2011, she authored and developed Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery Systems (TIERS). When North House closed, friends and colleagues encouraged her to write online to reach a larger audience. Finding outlets online, she shared her 29 years in abstinence-based recovery.
She also realized that how she said something might not connect with all readers. This is one of the reasons that she has made an effort to collaborate with new and seasoned recovery writers when she started From Addict 2 Advocate.
As a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, she conducts groups for men’s and women’s residential programs, as well as facilitating a recovery group for HIV positive people.
As the Assistant Editor at Two Drops of Ink, The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing, she understands that writing is a process and most writers want information on how to improve. However, writing about writing can get tedious, so she often combines writing advice using stories and examples from her work with addicts and alcoholics. Improving writing is a process, like recovery.
Using recovery examples in her writing advice means that her readers learn the ways in which people change, improve their lives, and this creates another outlet for her to advocate for recovery while writing about writing.
Her two daughters are in recovery as well, with 21 and 15 years. She is working on her memoir: Finding North: A Woman’s Journey from Addict 2 Advocate.
Some time ago my dad had his 8th vascular surgery in 6 years. I wrote this in my journal that day…
The surgeon said it went as well as could be expected. Dad is now awake and responsive. There is a palpable sense of peace permeating the air in this expansive waiting area. I’m here with other close family members,. We are sitting in solitary solidarity. All is well.
All was not well two months prior the last time dad had surgery. We were shoehorned into a cubbyhole with what seemed like hoards of masses of thousands of other families. and clans and troops. Fox News was blaring over the airways. One man in camo jacket, tube socks and scuffed penny loafers did the commentary:
On International Affairs: “Who cares if he has personal relations with the Russians? I say keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
On Health Care: “They say health coverage is a right. Show me in the Constitution where it says everybody is entitled to free medical treatment. It ain’t there.”
On Domestic Relations: “Those damn Mexicans bring drugs in, steal our jobs, and rape our women. Hell yes, build a wall! Electrify the damn thing.”
This last volley was too much for me. I had not slept well for a week. My grandma was dying. My dad was in surgery. My step-mom was home recovering from surgery. My son was scheduled for surgery. Life, death, dying, healing, suffering swirled around me like a kaleidoscope of jumbled nerves. My teeth gnashed. My head pounded.
I grabbed my journal, thrust my pen in my pocket, fitted my iPod with earbuds into place and started to pace. Back and forth. Forth and back. Eyes boreing holes into walls. Room spinning. Bright white. Antiseptic. Rubbed raw.
My sister touched my arm gently and guided me to the cafeteria where I swayed smoothly to melodies soothing the seething in my system. I document the experience in my journal:
I’m having a manic episode waiting for Dad to get out of surgery. I am afraid of losing control. I’m sitting with April and Amber [my neice], hoping their presence will calm me down… I got very little sleep last night… I’m afraid of losing control of something. Deep breath in. Slow breath out. Sip of lavender tea.
I’m exhausted, but there is no way to rest. My mind races. I am agitated. I want to pace. Jump out of my skin. Explode.
Amber and April are discussing what to do with me. I told them to decide for me. Tell me what to do. Benedryl, perhaps. Yes. Amber went to get some. Amber tells me to keep channeling into my notebook. April escorts me to the chapel where I can pray and read Scripture and write. Listen to music.
Tightness in chest. Deep breath in. Slow release. Sip tea.
Dad made it through his procedure just fine. I found a measure of relief. Enough to sleep that night. Travel home in stages. Concentrate on my journey. Road weary. But I made it, too.
So what did I “take away” from this experience? How can I avoid such episodes in the future?
The answer is: I can’t. Life happens. I have bipolar disorder. Life + Bipolar = Mania + Depression.
Some say that persons with serious mental illnesses like me are out of touch with reality. I say we are more intensely in tune with what is real. Good becomes great. Bad becomes intolerable.
He is the author of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission and is the founder and Chief Shepherd of Delight in Disorder Ministries. These ministries include A Way With Words publishing, Revealing Voices podcast, and Faithful Friends mental health support group.
Tony is available to virtually consult ministry leaders on issues of faith and mental illness. You may reach out to him on the contact page or by email:email@example.com
With the holiday season fast approaching and still living in uncertain times, it is more vital now then ever to have a Relapse Prevention plan ready. This is why I am very honored to have a Special Recovery Guestand dear friend of mine who has also been my close friend for several years and we have been through “thick and thin” together. He has become like a brother I never had.
He is not only a talented in-depth addiction and recovery writer, fellow author, and loud advocate, but he has been a mentor and one of my #1 supporters of my recovery from addicted gambling.
Yes, I am talking about Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D…
I invited him as my special guest to help us with Gambling Awareness and some Expert Advice for this unusual holiday season. He has done so and all about Relapse Prevention!
Now, Kevin is in the process of revamping his website! I will invite you all to NOT hesitate by visiting his Amazon Author Bio Page and grab many of his best-selling award-winning books! Kevin has helped many from addiction and stopped the suffering for addicts and helped many families heal together. There are many to choose from when it is time to gain life and no longer a path of darkness.
All of Kevin’s books can assist and will enhance to uplift you in your recovery journey, help parents help an addict, and gives the skills and tools within each book that work. So I present this helpful and educational article that Kevin was kind enough to write and share with us today. I am sure it will give hope to those who may feel there is no HOPE… Recovery is always possible!
~Catherine Lyon, Author, and Advocate.
Relapse Prevention is Key to Long-Term Recovery from Gambling (Ludomania)
Problem gambling, or ludomania, is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria.
Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs. “Pathological gambling” is the most severe form of problem gambling and has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disease since 1980. Gaming or gambling is supposed to be for fun, for entertainment.
Teenagers are 3 to 4 times more likely to become problem gamblers than adults. 90% of High School students have gambled at least once in the last year. In the USA ages 14-21, 2.1% struggle with Problem Gambling, another 6.5% are at risk. Every year, 2% -3%, 2M U.S. adults are estimated to meet the criteria for disordered gambling and another 4-6M individual are problem gamblers at risk for serious addiction consequences. Men make up 2/3 majority of Problem Gamblers.
Relapse ‘s definition, to fall or slip back into a former state or practice. Relapse certainly can happen to those who are in recovery from substance abuse and (Problem Gambling) process addictions; however, it should not be expected, only a possibility. Many individuals recover without ever knowing the first physical relapse in their entire lifetime of sobriety. Most have emotional and mental relapses at certain times, and some do have physical relapses as well.
There are three different types of relapse: Emotional Relapse Mental Relapse Physical Relapse
Remember that relapse is a process, Behavior Changes: Hanging around slippery people, places, and things. Arguing and acting out. No serenity, not demonstrating spirituality. Attitude Changes: Different priorities, meetings, and recovery not as important as they were. Changes in Feelings or Moods: Resentments, anger, boredom, not satisfied with anything, not grateful. Changes in Thoughts: Thinking that you may be able to use safely now. Not living a life of balance and not taking care of self can all lead to relapse.
“Don’t stay too long in the shame-filled grounds of relapse. Fertile soil awaits your return and your recovering.” – Holli Kenley
Major changes in the structure of life, such as divorce, losing a job, moving, having a child, death, a serious injury, a relationship change, things that are a major structural change or life events can lead to relapse.
When faced with tough times five tips that can help anyone avoid relapse are as follows:
1. Continue to work your program of recovery. The vehicle that promotes change. Draw close to whatever program or modality that got you sober in the first place. Call other sober friends in your support network and be honest about what is going on in your life. Don’t be afraid to pick up the 500lb. phone!
2. Utilize anger management skills. Dealing with problems right when they arise. Resentments are the number one offender; we can’t afford them. Don’t let the sun go down on a problem. Use anger management and problem-solving skills to work things out without letting emotions get the best of you. You don’t always have to be right, don’t always have to be in control, and don’t have to be perfect.
3. Beware of self-centeredness. Work on your spirituality. Don’t be selfish! Those who fail to grow spiritually will relapse. The one thing that we must do is maintain our spiritual conditions; that means we must continue to grow spiritually; we must go where we are spiritually fed.
4. Stay in the day and don’t project! ‘One day at a time is great wisdom’! All we should worry about is today, tomorrow will take care of itself, so don’t worry. There is a God, and you’re not it!
5. Stay grateful! We must maintain an attitude of gratitude, if we forget all of the gifts that we have been freely given in recovery, then we are headed for trouble! If we forget the bottom or event or circumstance that led us into a life of sobriety then we are also in trouble, we must as they say, “Keep it green!” I have never seen a grateful person relapse!
These Tips Will Help Anyone Who Walks in the Sunlight of the Spirit Stay There...
If you walk in the shadows and dark places, then surely that’s where your heart will end up. The only way to have real long-term, lasting, quality sobriety is to continue to grow in recovery, and that means maintaining our spirituality on a daily basis, continuing to be spiritually fed daily growing in experience and wisdom and helping others. You can’t live on yesterday’s manna!
Stress and anxiety have always been triggers for substance abusers and regular people to learn hope to cope with on a daily basis. Drugs and alcohol had been “the solution” for them in the past; now they must disengage from such behaviors and find genuine coping mechanisms that last. Gambling abusers also need to be offered alternative ways to find a solution through a twelve-step approach, non-twelve-step approach, harm reduction, medication management, holistic programs, faith-based programs, and other approaches. Individuals must learn healthy ways to cope with stress without the use of drugs or alcohol, utilizing these new-found tools as a solution to stress will lead to lasting sobriety. Those who don’t suffer from substance abuse will also need coping skills for life on their own terms being BET FREE.
Stress Coping Skills Key to Lasting Recovery Developing strong stress and anxiety management skills and techniques are paramount to long-term sobriety, a balanced and healthy life. These skills can help those in recovery to avoid relapse and sustain lasting recovery. Research utilizing lab animals has shown that stress can precipitate relapses with addiction to certain chemicals.
PTSD & Chronic Stress Chronic drug usage may alter brain pathways affecting the user’s response to stress; this can make them more susceptible to relapse. Those who suffer from PTSD and individuals who have been exposed to chronic stress may be more likely to relapse; this makes stress management skills all the more important.
Stress Leading to Relapse! Significant changes in jobs, relationships, moving, finances, health, and other structural changes that those in recovery are likely to deal with cause stress and anxiety. This is a normal part of life for everyone. For the substance abuser, it’s okay to try to escape from the pressure. They must be careful not to transfer addictions from drugs to gambling, sex, or some other addiction. Medical specialists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse believe that the leading reason for relapse back into substance abuse is stress.
Some Individuals Need Mental Health Help Healthy lifestyle changes are the best way to manage stress; some individuals will need to seek out help from mental health professionals as part of those changes. The Mental Health Professional will work with the Professional Coach to help the client reach their goals and solutions.
Some changes that people have found helpful:
Deep Breathing Meditation and Yoga Prayer Proper Diet Balance and Boundaries Time management Taking care of Yourself Better Identifying Stressors Talking Things Out Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Exercise Low-Stress Activities
Positive People are the Winners! In recovery and in life it is essential to connect with the right people, “stick with the winners” as they say. Those in early recovery need to be around individuals and groups that they can learn solutions from, recovery role models so to speak.
It’s also important for those in early recovery to find an attitude of gratitude; it’s easy to become angry and negative from the very beginning. Gratitude raises balance, awareness, and the spirit in a way that the person will begin to see things about life in a new way, like seeing life with a new pair of glasses!
Talking with Others Learning to tell on yourself in early recovery is one of the hardest but most beneficial skills. Talk things out with other sober people, give them a piece of your burden and suddenly your burden becomes light. Running, walking, lifting weights, writing poetry, journaling, drawing, being creative, move a muscle change and thought is a great way to get out of your head when stressed. My journal below can help!
Avoid Relapse by Journaling to Coping with Stress All people need to learn to cope with stress in recovery; it’s essential to avoid relapse and maintain sanity and balance. Utilizing just a few of the tools and techniques can work for anyone if they want them to work. Sometimes just a deep breath works!
Professional Coaches Have the Goods! Professional coaches have skill sets, tools, and core competencies that they utilize to help their clients change their lives for the better. They utilize specific action planning, powerful questioning, active listening, and many other skills and techniques to get the results needed to move forward toward the solution needed to achieve the client’s goals. Stress and anxiety aren’t good for anyone no matter their walk-in life.
Triggers that Can Jeopardize Your Sobriety When most people hear the word trigger, they think of the noun or the trigger of a gun; the verb trigger means to cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist. People who suffer from substance abuse and process addictions usually have triggers in their lives that are unique to their circumstances, past traumas, events, memories, losses, shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, etc.
A recovering person’s triggers are set in motion through one or more of the five senses: smell, sound, touch, sight, and taste. Make no mistake about it; although we are talking about the verb, triggers can be as dangerous as the trigger on a gun!
Triggers of the Emotional Variety Triggers can jeopardize your sobriety if they are not recognized and dealt with in early recovery. What triggers a relapse? Certainly, the reasons for relapse can be different for individuals; however, there are some commonalities such as fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. There are several other emotions that can also lead to relapse.
Triggers from People, Places, and Things Certain people, places, and things can trigger a relapse if they remind the person of their addiction. In some cases, all three of these may have to be removed from the individual’s life if they expose the person to a significant risk of relapse.
An example of a place, an alcoholic would not want to go to dinner in a bar that they drank at every day, where their old drinking buddies would be, and their favorite chair. In that case, all three areas of triggers would be involved.
Relapse is an Opportunity Not an Expectation There are triggers that can jeopardize your sobriety; however, with a little instruction, the whole situation can be turned into a positive. In early recovery, the person should be made aware of what triggers are and have help to identify their patterns of addiction and relapse…
Relapse is an opportunity to learn what a person’s triggers are so that they can be identified by the substance abuser and prevent the next relapse. Some say that relapse is an expected part of recovery, that’s a mistake! Relapse is always a possibility in recovery; however, it shouldn’t be expected, when we teach people that, we set them up to fail.
Balance is Key Balance is a key part of the recovery process, learning what we can do and cannot do and live in sobriety. Education, awareness, and prevention will assist the newcomers in recovery to understand the process of what genuine recovery means, avoiding all of the pitfalls that triggers may lead to on a daily basis by recognizing them and not allowing them to have power in your life of recovery.
Yes, triggers can jeopardize your sobriety, the good news is through education and awareness, you can prevent triggers from ever having power in your life. By taking the time to identify triggers and understand them, you can avoid situations that may have led you to relapse because of triggers in the past. You have empowered yourself and taken the power away from the triggers, great job!
Recovery is a lifelong process. We all make mistakes along the way, that’s alright, as long as we learn from them.
Pathological Gambling is a terrible disease that is becoming more and more of a problem in the United States. More teens are gambling than ever before in our history, more older Americans are becoming problem gamblers as well.
Don’t gamble your life away, bet on you, your family, and God!
Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Provincial Superintendent, Ph.D., DCC, DDVA, DLC, DD, NCIP, NCAMP, IMAC, International- Best-Selling Author and Award-Winning Poet has dedicated his life to helping others. Through Education, Awareness, and Prevention Rev. Coughlin has helped thousands of individuals who were afflicted with the disease of addiction, their families, and loved ones.
He has trained hundreds of professionals in the addiction recovery industry and in the professional coaching arena. He has decades of life experience, education, work-related experience; however, perhaps the most valuable information that Rev. Dr. Coughlin possesses that sits atop of his incredible resume is wisdom.
Reverend Dr. Coughlin is the Founder of The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online and Phase Two Christian Coaching, LLC. He was a Founder and Board Member of New Beginning Ministry, Inc., a non-profit, twelve-step residential addiction recovery program for adults, he served for two decades. Rev. Coughlin has helped thousands of individuals and their families to change their lives over the past twenty-plus years.
He is an Addiction Expert, Award-Winning Poet, an International-Best-Selling author, his books, journals, and manuals are used in the United States and other Countries by professionals, individuals, and facilities. With over 44+ published works, the author resides in PA.
Fall is now in the air and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Sadly, it seems will be having a most unusual Holiday Season being in the middle of a pandemic still as it hangs around. We will also be spending more time indoors as colder weather will be approaching too, and since we already have learned how isolation can affect everyone, especially those of us who maintain recovery from addictions.
I thought I could share some of the new things I have learned from some of my recovery coach and other life and wellness coaches I know and have been incorperating them in my recovery lifestyle. Being willing to have an open mind and embrace something can sure have a positive impact and can also help relieve seasonal stress and anxiety.
I’d love for you to share some of the healthy things you may do as we enter into the fall season. We may just be able to help others together through this season as I look forward to any and all comments from my friends. Having gratitude for even the little things we do each day can a big impact in our lives …
1. Have Gratitude & Appreciation Each Day
Learn to journal and begin and end your day with appreciation. Write down at the end of the day how you felt all day.
First, try waking up in the morning with an open mind to new impressions and opportunities. Like, before we dive into our phone, looking through texts, or on the internet, and social media, or even before watching the news, allow yourself to experience the peace of waking up in your bed and thinking about a few things you are truly grateful for.
Feel the well-being and goodness that comes from appreciation, and then notice how your day unfolds when you have infused love into your mornings. End your day with gratitude. As you lay down to go to sleep, think back over things you are grateful for that day and other things you are thankful for in life.
You will carry those positive thoughts and feelings into your sleep, where your subconscious will continue to experience the positive frequency of those thoughts throughout the night. It’s not uncommon to wake up the next morning feeling even better than usual and even more refreshed.
2. Find Your Peace and Freedom
A friend taught me about freedom cards. You can create a freedom card for “Peace.” Write peace on one side of the card with a mantra you create that brings you a peaceful feeling. On the other side of the card, draw an eye, ear, nose, mouth, hand, and then next to each, describe what peace looks like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like.
Then pick a song that brings you a feeling of peace, then memorize the card so that every time you hear that song, it anchors you to the feeling of peace. Let the peace fill your body; you can access this feeling whenever you want.
3. Cooking Is Fun
Learn and ask for thanks for your meals and be present with the experience and fun of cooking and eating. As you feel gratitude for your food and fill your diet with healthy and high vibrational foods, you will find it brings more energy and vitality and uplifts your mood.
4. Stay Social While Helping & Connecting With Others
Reach out to friends and loved ones, especially anyone that raises your frequency. Everyone has an aura or vibe they give off, and while we aren’t always a hundred percent consistent with the energy we are giving out based on our emotional state, we can be aware of how we feel in the presence of others. When you feel amazing around them? Make more time for them! Those are who will keep you inspired and uplifted!
Be a person who helps others soar and give out the energy you want to receive. If you want love, give love. If you want encouragement, be encouraging. If you want to laugh, tell a joke or talk about funny things that have happened. Even if you’re terrible at telling stories or jokes, you might be so bad at it that it’s actually funny.
5. Adjusting Your Goals
This may be a good time to reset or adjust your life and career goals to continue to move forward in both and instead of focusing on what you can’t do or what you can’t control. Ask, what can I do? How can I show up for others? How can I expand my business? What is the best thing for me to do right now? It’s the beauty of having life goals to set and reset at anytime!
6 Rest, Relax, Refresh
Naps can be an incredible way to refresh your mind and restore your peace. A great way to take a nap is with a short sleep guided meditation that really puts your mind at ease.
7. Clear The Mind
Meditation was the most obvious tool to put on this list, so I put it here at number seven to keep your attention and not lose people reading this article! Meditation elicits an often strong impulse in people; they seem to love it or have every excuse not to do it. There is still some stigma and misconceptions when it comes to meditation, but you don’t have to do yogi on a mountain top to find the benefits of meditation. I suggest you keep it simple and have fun discovering meditation.
You can even start with a five minute guided meditation and build your practice from there. This is about you, it’s about how you feel, and there is a type of meditation for just about everyone. One of my favorites techniques is Walking Mediation. Walking meditation can be light a nice smelling candle and focus on the flickering flame, listen to a river or rain, do transcendental meditation, movement meditation, and heck, you can even listen to Matthew McConaughey guide you through one on the Calm apps.
8. The Outdoors Brings Energy
Getting out in nature is so healing to our energy. Even in a pandemic, you can wear a mask and go for a walk. Breathe in the fresh air or notice sunrise if you are an early riser, or notice the trees, birds, flowers, streams, squirrels, and beautiful sunsets …There is well-being all around us. Being out in it and feeling it, we become one with it.
9. Being Within Our Innerselves Can Bring Healing
While spending more time with ourselves, we experience our true essence. Yet, while diving deep within, we may uncover that we are holding onto a grievance. Maybe someone who wronged you or your holding resentments or anger is hard to release. Spend time with these feelings and understand that forgiveness frees you from your pain and gives you back your inner power. If it holds you in bondage? It continues to steal your power.
The same goes for when we are upset with ourselves for past decisions and choices. As we feel the hurt and choose to see the other person through a lens of love, knowing they must have been hurting by hurting you, we can ease the pain and allow the healing to come in. Love is the force that heals.
10. Ask and Communicate What You Need
Within these uncertain times, we find ourselves closeness with family members, romantically involved people, or roommates near can bring discord or disagreements. Learn to communicate what you need; do the same for the other person. Remember, when a conflict arises, notice your breathing, maintain a calm state, and seek to understand where the other person is coming from. Learn to agree to disagree with others as life is too short for conflict with those you live close to.
11. Yes, Even Bathing Soothes Our Mood
I find that taking a shower or a soaking bath can be a very soothing practice. I encourage my clients to imagine not only cleansing their bodies but their energy as well. Buy and use natural soaps to calm you and wash away any negativity or fear that has accumulated …
let it all wash out and down the drain. After you are done with your bath, dry off and use a lotion and imagine rubbing love all over you. Feel the self-love sinking in until you are completely refreshed and feeling good—follow-up by wearing clothing that feels soft and nice against your skin.
Now let’s review. Notice how you are feeling through the day by checking in with yourself, and if at any moment you need some time for yourself, take a break. Your peace is important, and how you feel should become a priority.
You deserve to have someone looking out for you, be that person for yourself. Self-love has to come from within YOU first, just as self-care is vital to have peace and serenity.
One thing I will be doing this holiday season is to ENJOY THEM for the first time in a long while. I share this because for 7-years I have been doing a holiday blogging watch and running my former book marketing online business. Thanks to this pandemic, I won’t be doing either this year.
I just wound down my book promoting bussiness due to the pandemic climate and readers are not doing their usual reading and not while all the chaos is happening with our general elections that have felt like it has been going on for a lifetime!
They are more focused on what will happen after the elections. So much talk about civil unrest, if Trump loses, will he leave the White House and so on and all right before we enter into the Holiday Season!
This one will be the most unprecedented unusual times and holiday season ever. SO, how can we learn to stay calm, be present, and really enjoy the holidays with so much NOISE? And keep our recovery intact?
If you are like me, too much of this noise has me anxious. Here are some things we can do to get ready for the holidays, be more at peace and happy. Even though we can get blindsided with distractions. Start by using these skills to help stay focused and enjoy the SEASON. 🎍🎄🎄🎁
Maintaining Recovery And Enjoy During the Holidays...
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control showed that many suicides by addicts over the holiday season resulted from a relapse. Over 32 percent of addicts who committed suicide had excessive amounts of alcohol while over 8 percent had a positive test for cocaine.
The holiday season is also a time when friends and relatives must work together to help a loved one battle any addiction. Many recovering addicts become depressed because they aren’t financially able to purchase gifts for other people. This is especially true with recovering gamblers.
Friends and family can step in and help by reassuring the addict they understand the situation. Let them know that them just being there for the holiday is enough and to enjoy them! Just be present. When a family helps an addict to successfully navigate the holidays, the recovery process will be easier and more successful.
1.) No matter what challenges you face today, just remember: you’re maintaining recovery and that means you’re one of the winners. Getting high was a job and it required everything you had. But today you are free and have the opportunity to make good choices and enjoy yourself! You no longer have to make excuses or disappear because you decided to go on a bender, one more time. Today, you are able to live with love, compassion, and understanding.
2.) You now have freedom from your past as we would use drugs, drink, or gamble to “Escape or Cope” from our past. Maybe you were abused as a child or suffered other traumas like I did. Perhaps you did things you swore you’d never do or tell anybody. Remember all the people you hurt? Once you commit to recovery, the horrors of the past lose their grip. And they don’t have to be the things that determine who you are now.
3.) Doing the your recovery work means you now know yourself because when we partake in addiction there’s really not much time to discover who you really are. The person that you thought you were is also probably far from the truth. The recovery process lets you shed those false personas, allowing you to become who and what you are meant to be. By being clean and sober, you become open to your greatest truth and have the honor of being your best self—one-day-at-a-time.
4.) It’s Ok to “NO” you don’t have to “people please” anymore. In sobriety you learn to use the word “no” and it will become your best friend. You don’t have to act because you feel pressured, anxious, or nervous. Instead, you can pause when you’re unsure, ask for guidance if you need to, and be able to say “NO” without any guilt. We know recovery boundaries are keys to our insanity too…Lol.
5.)Always Stay Connected to your Higher Power as our recovery process is a part of a spiritual journey. It’s about developing a relationship with a higher power or a God of your own understanding. Even atheists have found ways to embrace this idea. Today, you get to be a seeker in your own spiritual unfoldment. You learn how to align your will with your higher power. And most importantly, you discover the power of faith through surrender.
6.) Being Present Takes practice and patience during the holiday season. Gambling, drinking or drugging was once translated to a life of personal lawlessness, not to mention the mountain of consequences that followed. Begin to dig deep into your inner-self with self-love and care during this journey as it makes you humble, more grateful and opens you to all things, including a perfect holiday season with family. Again, this takes practice.
7.) During the holiday season, use sometime to Give Back to Those in Need or struggling… Doing service work takes your mind off of yourself and your problems. It can be any type of volunteer work– Just helping others at holiday is soothing to the soul.
The 12th step is a statement of gratitude for your life and a call to help others. The trials you’ve gone through have put you in a position to be an inspiration to someone else. Now, when you feel troubled or baffled by life, you can make a commitment at a meeting, speak on an H&I panel (hospitals and institutions), or volunteer in your neighborhood.
These are the gifts of recovery that heal and set you free.
Make sure you stop by my Recovery Resources page and my Relapes Prevention workbook page to help you set a Recovery Holiday Plan now before the season begins!
As much of a challenge as the holidays can be for a recovering addicts, they can also be fun. With the right attitude, addicts can find ways to enjoy themselves.
YOU can refuse to worry about financial problems and focus more on enjoying YOUR time with family and friends. A holiday season experienced with sobriety may offer many positive experiences. I wish you much joy and be present to love the holidays in an entirely new way.
I have been honored to be a contributing writer and columnist for an amazing recovery newspaper called “Keys to Recovery” founded by Marcus and Jeannie Marshall and Beth Dewey out of Southern California for little over 2-yrs. Jeannie and Marcus, these two beautiful people are giving and caring recovery friends of mine and put so much love and hard work into each issue they print for there monthly publication.
They have the audacitiy to give out FREE! It is free to read online, download, or have copies mailed to support those who maintain recovery from all kinds of addictions, including mine which was addiction to gambling.
My column is called QUIT To WIN and I write and share my experiences, stregnth, and HOPE from addicted gambling and share to others so they know there is HOPE and they don’t have to be NOT ALONE to recover from this cunning disease. Here is a little about “KEYS” and who they serve…
KEYS TO RECOVERYBACKSTORY:
Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is printed and distributed in California and 30 additional states. Having a current print run of 20,000 newspapers and a readership exceeding 90,000 per month, we are already a solid and formidable presence. Although we have digital access to our publication, our primary focus is distributing hard copies.
Our newspaper targets readers who are seeking recovery from all types of addictions, disorders and the loved ones who are affected, as well as anyone wanting to know more about addiction and recovery. Here are some of the types of facilities we are distributing our recovery newspaper to:
• 12 Step Alano Clubs• 12 Step Meeting Halls• Bail Bonds Offices• Churches• Clinical Professionals• Coffee Shops• Correctional Facilities• Counseling Office & Services• Department of Health• DUI Classes• Drug & Alcohol Councils
• Employee Assistance Programs• Homeless Shelters• Judges• Law Offices• Medical Centers – Hospitals• Outpatient Treatment Centers• Police Departments• Probation Departments• Public Libraries
• Recovery Stores• Rehabilitation – Treatment Centers• Rescue Missions• Veterans Administration Hospitals• Sober Livingʼs• Transitional Housing• Related Conventions• Networking Eventsand many more locations.
“We work carefully to develop a monthly publication addressing vital issues concerning all types of addictions and disorders, and everything related to the recovery from them.“
Spreading the Message of Hope and Recovery
Our purpose and our mission, is to give hope that recovery is possible. Incorporated in the state of California Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity. Our main objective is to carry the message of Hope and Recovery from all types of addictions and disorders to as many people as possible, and to offer resources that may provide treatment and support. We do that by printing (yes, printing) a traditional type newspaper, as well as having an online presence. Our newspaper is filled with columns from today’s top experts in the recovery field.
Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is educating our communities about alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, gambling addiction, homelessness, domestic violence and so much more. We also print, at no charge, a 2-‐page resource guide listing free services and vital help offered within the communities.
Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is making a strong effort to reach the many individuals currently in jails or other types of institutions, and offer them information that will assist in their future recovery. For every paid subscription we will be able to send a free subscription to someone in an institution. We are NOT affiliated with AA, NA, Al-‐anon or any other 12-‐step program. We do, however, believe in the power of the 12-‐steps and the principles behind them.
We operate Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. using these principles as a guideline -‐ Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Brotherly Love, Justice, Perseverance, Spirituality and Service. THE PEOPLE BEHIND – KEYS TO RECOVERY NEWSPAPER, INC.
Jeannie Marshall – Co-Founder & President: Having 35 years of marketing, advertising, and PR experience – ten of those years working on a recovery newspaper – I feel uniquely qualified to lead and support our team to achieve our purpose and our mission. Many of you will remember me from the Steps for Recovery newspaper, where I worked until 2008 with my business partner and good friend Jason Levin, who passed away.
Unable to continue working on the newspaper without him, I choose to go back to corporate America. After 5 years of healing I felt ready, willing and able to go back to my one true passion – carrying the message of hope and recovery… through Keys to Recovery Newspaper Inc. A bit more about me: I restarted my sobriety in 1986; I love the 12-steps and living in a world where I have a purpose. I have a passion to help the helpless. My favorite principle is Service.
Marcus Marshall – Co-founder & Vice President: I started working at age 13 in the field of service at Sylmar Children’s Spastic Foundation as a patient care technician. At age 18 I worked as a Counselor in Psychiatrics at Chatsworth Health and Rehab Center. I also worked in sales and marketing gathering about 25 years experience in that field as well. I was derailed by my addiction and for about ten years I was going in and out of jails and prisons, which makes me uniquely qualified to understanding the difficulties of transitioning back into society.
I started my recovery in early 2012 and found myself wanting to go back to my preferred profession – Patient Care. I worked at Cri-Help as a lead support technician, while attending the Addiction Studies Program at Pierce College, which helped prepare me for this vocation.
Publishing Keys to Recovery Newspaper Inc. is giving me the opportunity to use all my life experiences to help others. A bit more about me: I have a passion for God and helping others find their way to him. I love helping the homeless. My favorite principle is Faith.
Beth Stern – Co-founder: In 1993 I was mandated by the courts to attend a 12-step program, during this process I was introduced to the program of recovery – which made me a firm believer in “bring the body and the mind will follow.” Being a co-founder of Keys to Recovery Newspaper Inc. I feel that this is a great platform for carrying the message of recovery. I love being of service in all areas of my life. I have a passion of giving hope to the hopeless. My favorite principle is Perseverance.
NOW, Keys To Recovery Is Helping Our Vets AND Wounded WarriorsHere is HOW
HERE IS HOW IT WORKS
The Wounded Warrior Project: Each month Keys to Recovery is featuring a new Back Cover ad for different causes that are close to our heart.
For the October 2020 issue – we are running a full-page Back Cover ad for. The Wounded Warrior Project.
Not only does The Wounded Warrior Project, get great exposure in the recovery community, but you or your facility will also be seen as well as supporting a great cause.
If you or anyone you know wants to support The Wounded Warrior Project WITH THIS AD, we will be running a notice under the ad: _____________________________________________ Sponsored in part by: Marcus & Jeannie Marshall; (then we will list the names of the individuals or the companies of those who helped pay for the advertisement, or some may want to donate anonymously). _____________________________________________
Whatever you want to put towards the $1,500 will be accepted as a donation : ) you can pay through our Pay-Pal BUTTON on our website, or Zelle through the bank using: 818-312-4233 phone number, or Venmo using: Donna Jean Rabb, or you can always send in a check just let us know its coming. Once we get the donation we will contact you and see how or if you want to be listed as supporting the ad, personally or listing your facility.
We need to KNOW ASAP to get you listed on the October back cover.
Anything over the cost of the ad ($1,500) will be donated to The Wounded Warrior Project. Thank you for your support! — Jeannie Rabb-Marshall President & Co-Founder of Keys to Recovery Newspaper