Don’t Relapse Now During This Pandemic and Unrest Happening Around Us. Recovery Guest Featured Article…

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I had just received my digital magazine from one of the most informative recovery reads I enjoy and learn so much from called The Fix. When I saw this headline, I said to myself this one needs to be shared out. So, here I am sharing it with all of my recovery posses.

I am sharing it since we seem to be in this pandemic of COVID-19 and I feel, for a long while and we who maintain recovery from any addiction besides gambling don’t “DO” isolation very well. We need to have human contact and be with others. We crave that comradery with other like-minded folks who are also maintaining recovery so we know we are not alone and feel supported. So let’s read what The Fix says about NOT Relapsing Now.  ~Catherine Lyon, Advocate

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Don’t Relapse Now

By John Teufel 05/27/20

Time has stopped, life has paused, why can’t sobriety pause too?

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Make Your Own DIY Crochet Mask Covers | 8News

 

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Reader, I will make a deal with you. I will talk to you like an adult and say some uncomfortable things. I won’t be your sponsor and I won’t throw the Big Book at your face. But in exchange, you need to promise me you’ll read this to the end. No skips, no tag outs, no skimmy skims. Okay? Okay, great.

I understand the urge to relapse right now.
I’m feeling it too.

A lot of us have severely diminished responsibilities – my work has nearly dried up. I hate the Zoom meetings, which feel like impersonal shadow plays where I have to stare at my new fat face. All our other distractions that can’t be done from the couch have been canceled.

My normie friends are mixing up quarantinis before the 5 o’clock news starts. Most importantly, we are all being treated to a daily blast of death, inequity, and press conferences where a poorly tanned moron tells us to shoot up with bleach. It is so much. It is a daily mental weight that is difficult to bear even on the best days.

“If you are saying to yourself, maybe I can’t hold out on this, maybe I am going to break, that is a sane response. It is, in some ways, a rational response. Time has stopped, life has paused, why can’t sobriety pause too? If you are saying to yourself, maybe I can’t hold out on this, maybe I am going to break, that is a sane response.

It is, in some ways, a rational response. Time has paused, life has paused, why can’t sobriety pause too? The other day I found myself telling a friend that I won’t be jobless, locked down, without the beach (my favorite distraction), and sober. In full Scarlett O’Hara mode, I declared, “Sorry, but I won’t do it!” It felt good to say, the way forbidden things sometimes do. Total, unapologetic narcissism has its pleasures.”

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How to stay safe if going to park or beach during Covid-19 pandemic

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I could probably get away with it, too. I could probably go on a few-days bender and maybe my boyfriend would figure it out (he is sharp but that is the diseased thinking!),  and no one else would. I could even keep my day count! Why not?!? This is the sort of self-dealing I’ve been doing. I am so good at it. I am the Clarence Darrow of fucking my own shit up.

But it is wrong. I know it’s wrong. If you are having similar thoughts, you probably know they are wrong too. Even now, with life halted and pain and injustice ascendant, there are reasons both practical and metaphysical that it is crucial for you and me to keep our sober time. Even if every word we ever heard at an AA meeting was false, even if the Big Book itself is a decades-long scam to sell us on religion.

Practically, you are going to regret it. You know you are! Sorry, but you do. You are going to be annoyed, at the very least, that you need to restart your day count, which yes, you eventually will be forced to do because you won’t be able to lie to your support network for that long. Whatever bender you have in mind is going to come to an end, in what will feel like the blink of an eye, and all you’ll have left is regret and likely, a terrible headache or worse. You also, of course, might take it too far and die.

If things get really bad, as they very well may, people are going to know what you did and that is going to suck for you. Your family and friends are already extremely stressed out right now (just like you!) – the last thing they need is to hear that you relapsed, in your tiny apartment in some faraway city, and no one can travel to you to make sure you get it together. Your mom is going to cry.

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For COVID-19 Patients, Breathing Easier Could Be as Simple as ...

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On that note, if you need hospital care because you overdose or can’t stop, great, you are taxing an already overtaxed healthcare system and exposing yourself to COVID-19 at the same time. From a million different standpoints, any decision to relapse right now is selfish, even if it feels like the only person being punished is you.

Okay, who cares, right? I hear that. When I was first trying to get sober and in a relapse cycle, other people’s problems were some theoretical concern that was a not-close second to my immediate ego gratification. I did not give a shit, and honestly, I didn’t care much if I died, either. What worked for me, though, was spite – not giving my enemies the pleasure of seeing me fall.

Spite could be helpful right now.

Picture Donald Trump, in all his 300 pounds of dense mass, standing over you as you take that first drink. “I was always right,” he says without laughing, as he never laughs, “You’re weak. Libs like you, weak, lazy.” Do you want Donald Trump to think he’s better than you? He doesn’t care! He even doesn’t wear a mask!

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Trump hits out at China and Democrats at latest rally | Financial ...

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Students Trump Arizona rally Phoenix Stock Photos (Exclusive ...

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Trump Border Visit, Phoenix Rally | Arizona Daily Independent(MASKS??? ZERO In Arizona)

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How about the maskless crowds at his rallies who are just begging states to let them kill themselves, and each other? Should these yahoos and sociopaths be allowed to feel morally superior to you? Or picture a little closer to home. Do you want your douchebag ex to hear that you fucked up again? No, you do not.

The time we’ve all spent cooped up indoors losing our gourds has been an achievement that can be measured in days and lives saved. We’ve been doing this for well over thirty days now. In New York and elsewhere, we’ve flattened the curve but not in many other states like Arizona.  Your sobriety is the same.

It’s not some fungible commodity that can be lent out and borrowed back at will – it has a character in itself composed in part of a temporal element. Your sobriety after you relapse is not the same as your sobriety before. When you give it up, you give up the effort, sacrifice, things you can never get back. That might not feel important now, but it will feel devastating later.

Look, I am not Mr. Lockdown. I eat loaves of bread as a snack. I stay up most nights until 5 AM and I sleep till 11. I bleached my hair. I play Nintendo Switch and try to get one or two productive hours into a day. My sheets smell like farts. All of this is fine! You do what it takes to make it to the next day. The people doing pilates every morning, learning a second language, making OnlyFans, whatever – they are fine, too.

And it’s even fine to hate them!

“One day at a time” is a relentless cliché in sobriety circles. But right now, it feels appropriate, as all of the stupid sayings eventually do. The world is a miserable place, maybe always, definitely right now. Don’t add to the misery by giving in to the demons you fought so hard to keep at bay.

Be strong, stay home, save lives, stay sober. Good luck.

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Alcohol addiction: “I walked out of rehab and into a pandemic” - Vox

Dual Addiction Happens. When Gambling Wasn’t Working Anymore, I began To Abuse Alcohol & Right Be For My Suicide Attempt …And Why I Share It.

Dual Addiction Happens. When Gambling Wasn’t Working Anymore, I began To Abuse Alcohol & Right Be For My Suicide Attempt …And Why I Share It.

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If you go to meetings for support and an option of maintaining your recovery, “sitting in the rooms” you begin to realize many will turn to other forms of addictions from their main or real addiction due to our REAL problem is just not cutting it for us any longer. I did while deep into my gambling addiction as I was spiraling deeper and deeper into a dark hole, I began to abuse alcohol toward the last several months before my first and thankfully a failed suicide attempt.

Not trying to shock or scare anyone, I’m just keeping it real and to share that dual or cross addictions do and can happen. Sadly we may get to a point where our real addiction problems will stop working …And why I do share about alcohol abuse and addiction. Since we have read many times in mainstream media about several high profile people who had relapsed after long-term sobriety and just could not cope with the fact that it happened.

Even having depression and drinking can be a deadly combination that may NOT end well. Most of my recovery friends who visit here know I feel strongly and have shared many times the 12-step program model is not the only option for those to maintain and reach long-term recovery. No, I am not downplaying the importance of the 12-steps, what I am urging is that you find all and anything to help you gain a long-term rest of your life path from addiction.

And as usual, I came across an article that leans toward my experiences with my alcohol use and overall recovery path. As we always say; “work your treatment choices and recovery path in what works for you and take what you need and leave the rest”…

I hope you may do that with this Guest Article Share From “The Fix Mag” written by, Jowita Bydlowska …  ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate/Author

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Happy Destiny or a Life Sentence: Thoughts on Leaving AA …


“If you do decide to leave, there are many alternatives to AA, places where you can meet likeminded people, share your experience, and make social connections just as in 12-step meetings.”

I don’t know if I’ve left Alcoholics Anonymous for good, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to a meeting. In the past, I’ve left for long periods of time and then come back. I’d come back because I missed the people, yet the “simple” program confused me more and more. Still, I loved making connections. Even though I’m not a group-type of person, it was obvious to me that the “magic” of the whole thing was being able to relate to people with a similar problem and helping one another. 

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I’ve had slips while very much in as well as while out of the program. I’ve slipped after months of not going to meetings, but I’ve also taken a drink right after an AA retreat. There were years where I did the steps and stayed sober and years when I didn’t do the steps and stayed sober. For those reasons, I might not be the best judge of the effectiveness or the harm of AA. I know of many people who stayed in and flourished, many who stayed and relapsed and came back, and many who have left and are still sober despite keeping their distance.
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AA has always been controversial. It keeps even the most hopeless drunks abstinent, but it’s known for its dogma and ritualistic—some say cult-like—practices. It has saved many people (although there are no reliable statistics) from death from substance use disorder, and it’s helped to mend many families and relationships. Attending AA is also frequently court-mandated for those charged with Driving Under the Influence and other alcohol-related convictions, including domestic violence. For many years AA seemed to be the only effective solution for those who wanted to keep abstinent from alcohol or other drugs. 
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But I’ve noticed a shift, and it’s been happening for a while. As new programs and methods of getting clean and sober pop up on the horizon, some AA members choose to leave despite the ominous farewells of members who believe that leaving AA always equals a relapse. It’s no accident that one of AA’s most popular slogans is “Keep Coming Back!” The way I used to interpret it was that the AA’s door was always open but later, as I became a little disillusioned, it read as if I was doomed to rely solely on AA as a place to recover. I was terrified to leave. Often it felt as if I was nailed to those plastic chairs by fear. 

“So I stayed. It started to feel like a life sentence.”

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Ego Deflation

David D. Bohl, addictions specialist and author of the acclaimed memoir Parallel Universes, left AA recently. He says, “I went to a hospital to check in because they told me I was going to have seizures if I didn’t. I had medically monitored and supervised detox. That was the beginning of my stabilization. And then they sent me to an inpatient or a residential treatment facility that included 12-step facilitation. So I stabilized in treatment and through the 12 steps.” Bohl got sober in AA but it took a long time before he was able to address other issues, such as his trauma due to adoption. 

Today, Bohl believes he would have healed faster if he’d had more access to other resources—such as ongoing therapy—on top of having to go to meetings. For him, the side effect of being in AA was “ego deflation.” 

“No one gave me informed consent that if you don’t have ego strength, this could destroy you. You come to AA and don’t know where to go from there. No one explained that to me. So, had I known that there were (other resources) out there and offer other forms of support, knowing that I had no ego strength, I would’ve gone another route. I would have opted for something else, no doubt about it. The message that I was hearing–whether it’s an AA message or not–is that because of my lack of ego strength, AA was the only safe place for me. And my experience was: ‘if you fail at this, David, you failed at everything. Even not just sobriety. You failed at connecting with people. You failed at life.’

Alternatives to AA

If you do decide to leave, there are many alternatives to AA, places where you can meet likeminded people, share your experience, and make social connections just as in 12-step meetings. Currently, I’m attending a group that applies Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and offers trauma therapy among its methods. The members are free to respectfully comment on each other’s shares (this is discouraged in AA).

In SMART Recovery, which is commonly suggested as an alternative to AA, there is sharing and a sense of community, but there is an official facilitator and you graduate when you’ve completed the program. There is also Refuge Recovery, which uses some Buddhist teachings and meditation, as well as sharing. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a network of groups devoted to sobriety and abstinence.

And there are brand-new programs like She Recovers (founded in 2017) that just deal with recovery in general, be it from trauma, an eating disorder, or addiction. Google “leaving AA” and you’ll get hundreds of happily-ever-after accounts, as well as resources devoted to helping you find an alternative method of obtaining and sustaining recovery and making connections with other sober people.

I haven’t closed the door on the 12-step program yet. I will still go to meetings and I will keep the friendships I’ve made. But I’m also surrounding myself with other programs, groups, and methods because I need some extra mental-health padding to feel fully realized and like I can rejoin the world, sober.

I’ve realized that Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only road to recovery.


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Jowita Bydlowska is a copywriter and author living in Toronto. She is the author of Drunk Mom: A Memoir. You can find her on Linkedin.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Own your Faith, Own Your Sobriety.  ~Vance Johnson 


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Addiction and Recovery News and Reads Around The Web…

Hello, Recovery Friends and Welcome New Friends!


This past week I have had some interesting email newsletters from some of my favorite recovery websites and magazines. Now I am a big FAN of helping others who write informative and interesting articles about many issues of addiction, mental health and more. And I happen to read two articles I feel need to be shared here on my blog as they are very important issues. The first hit me because one of the underlying issues of WHY I had turned to gambling was to “cope and escape” from my hurtful pain and my past childhood trauma. As we learn to do the “inner work” of our recovery, many us find many issues and roots to our addictions.

The second article is about an actor I enjoyed watching the TV Series; “True Blood” and is a warning to those recovering from alcoholism that if you have other health problems, you need to work with your doctor and be honest with them of all that is going with you or you CAN have complications. That is what happened to 39-year-old, Actor, Nelsan Ellis as you will read. We need to learn to take care of our health as we most likely neglected it for a long period of time within our addiction. It is always sad to lose someone so young and vibrant. I hope you enjoy reading these and learn a little something from them…
( Articles Courtesy of “The Fix Mag” and website: SoberRecovery” )
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By Victoria Kim 07/11/17

The beloved actor’s family issued a statement about his battle with addiction as “a cautionary tale” to help others.

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Nelsan Ellis
Actor Nelsan Ellis died of heart failure over the weekend after attempting to quit alcohol on his own and heart failure complications.

Rather than shy away from the impact that years of substance use had on the actor, instead his family shared the details surrounding his death…

“Nelsan has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse for years,” the actor’s manager said on behalf of the family.

“After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.

On the morning of Saturday, July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul…Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

The 39-year-old hailed from Illinois and was a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School. He was known for playing the lovable Lafayette Reynolds on True Blood and Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get on Up, as well as his roles in The SoloistThe Help, and The Butler.

The symptoms/severity of alcohol withdrawal varies by person but can be fatal for some. Symptoms can range from mild insomnia to delirium tremens (DTs) and even death.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include elevated blood pressure, excessive sweating and shaking, irritability, anxiety, agitation, seizures, and hallucinations.

In severe cases, individuals may experience delirium tremens (DTs), characterized by disorientation, severe agitation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and fever. DTs may last up to 3 or 4 days, according to Dr. Richard Saitz in “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” a paper published on the website of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

According to Saitz, “about 5% of patients who experience DTs die from metabolic or cardiovascular complications, trauma or infections.”

One should never detox from alcohol alone. A person going through withdrawal should be monitored by a medical professional.

– The Fix

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THREE STEPS to HEAL FROM Emotional Abuse
By Dominica Applegate Jul 11, 2017 – Sober Recovery

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Emotional abuse is a tragic occurrence that can turn even the happiest person into a sad and hopeless shadow. Sadly, it happens more often than we think. It can be anything from psychological abuse, which can cause anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, to physical abuse, which can be experienced anytime during childhood or adulthood. After going through any traumatic event, it can be very difficult to cope with the unresolved wounds alone. Some people turn to drinking and drugging for temporary relief from the painful feelings, but that simply masks a much larger problem that needs to be contended with.

To help you start the process of healing, here are 3 pivotal steps you’ll have to take in order to properly deal with emotional distress.

1. Recognize the Root Issues

When you’re dealing with emotions that include depression, intense anger, high anxiety and extreme fear, it is important to get to the root issue of the matter and take steps to address it. Many times, those who’ve experienced abuse in their childhood have difficulty associating their current pain and substance abuse with old childhood wounds. Thus, it may benefit them to reach out for help via counseling12-Step groups or a rehab facility, which can help them recognize, process and put these deep rooted issues to rest.

2. Take Responsibility

Many of us have gone through something traumatic in life, and the negative emotions that come along with these experiences are understandable. However, there needs to be a point in time for the person going through these hard feelings to start taking responsibility for their own healing. The process of mending themselves from the inside begins when one makes the conscious decision that they are done being locked in their own prison cell of negative emotions.

3. Facilitate Emotional Healing

There are various therapy treatments for emotional abuse. If you’re dealing with emotional and substance abuse issues, you’ll have to tackle your addiction first. Being under the influence will just make it harder to heal old wounds.

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Once addiction recovery measures are in place, you can then look into some of the most popular modes of therapy that may help in your recovery:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy is known for its cognitive aspects of dealing with trauma as it targets your thoughts and feelings about past experiences. Its goal is to eliminate the negative emotions you have and replace them with a positive mindset.
  • Somatic Therapy: For a more holistic approach, it may be important to undergo therapy that contends with the physiological effects of trauma. Somatic therapy works by helping your body recognize and release the pent-up energy that has accumulated since the trauma occurred. Unlike CBT, it’s not so much about one’s cognitive responses but instead, how the body (the nervous system, in particular) dealt with the trauma. This type of therapy allows the body to heal itself by facilitating a physiological release of blocked energy so you can feel physically freed.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): This is a psychological acupressure technique recognized to help trauma survivors disassociate from old wounds so they can heal. Also known as “Tapping,” EFT involves literally tapping on certain locations in the body while repeating a positive affirmation out loud. It is currently used by many therapists in the world and is continually gaining more popularity.

Sometimes, trauma can take a real hit on your emotional well-being and affect your entire life, leaving some of us in the depths of addiction in search for a temporary relief. The therapy options mentioned above are just a few of the many avenues you can explore in order to heal from emotional abuse. Although it’s easier said than done, the one true way out of the situation and into emotional freedom comes with the decision to ask for help—and there are plenty of professionals available to walk you through it.

– Sober Recovery

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“Shared and Presented By Recovery Starts Here!”  ~  Author, Catherine Lyon

 

Recovery Guest Author, Christine H. Is Here With A New Special Article…

Recovery Guest Author, Christine H. Is Here With A New Special Article…

The Line Between Use and Abuse

 

Once upon a time, the term “addiction” was reserved for dependence on mind-altering chemicals. However, now a dependence on anything from video games to shopping is termed “addiction.” It can be a confusing world when something that’s usually a healthy coping behavior (like going to the gym) can turn into a mental disorder.

Everyone needs an outlet. Somewhere to channel the stresses of life when they just get to be too much. And everyone needs a diversion. However, how do you determine where exactly your habit turns into an addiction? Where is the line between use and abuse?

Here are 5 questions that can help you get a better perspective on whether or not your coping mechanism has turned into something that can be harmful instead of helpful for your life.

 

Have you tried to stop numerous times and failed?

 

This is one of the most notable characteristics of addiction, but it can also be the most commonly misunderstood. Individuals are often dismayed when they find that even though they had resolved to change their behavior, they fail. However, this in and of itself isn’t a marker of addiction. After all, how many people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions? How many people start a diet that only lasts a few days? That doesn’t that they’re addicted to spending money or not working out or sneaking junk food. It might mean that they were ineffective in goal setting, or that they’re not sufficiently motivated to change behavior.

The big difference is when you resolve to change behavior because you ARE properly motivated. If you notice that your behavior is costing you too much, and still can’t seem to stop, you might be working with addiction rather than a bad habit. The next couple questions can help you clarify.

 

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Is it hurting your health?

Often, people first start to consider addiction a problem because of a talk with a physician. When a certain behavior is hurting your body, it’s a cause for concern. Occasional use of something doesn’t have the same effects on your body as habitual use, one of the common stages of addiction. A doctor won’t refer you to an addiction professional for just a few drinks… unless you have liver disease and you still won’t stop drinking.

Usually, this measure only comes into play for addictions that have a direct effect on your physical health. This includes food disorders, adrenaline-seeking behavior, and exercise addiction. Often, we don’t see the signs that a doctor will. However, if you’re getting concerned about some of your own behaviors, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it, being completely upfront about what you’re doing so that they can determine whether it’s threatening your health.

Is it threatening your relationships?


There are some addictions that will never have a toll on our physical health, but they have a huge impact on our relationships. These additions might include pornography or gambling or online gaming. These types of addictions also don’t seem to have an “outer” looking appearance to a person like a drug addict or alcoholic. And the afflicted person has no idea how the addiction is damaging their health on the inside. Many have hypertension or high blood pressure, heart disease, or even becoming a diabetic without knowing.

Often, this is a tricky situation to sort out. You might feel like there’s nothing unusual or harmful about your behavior, but someone you love is concerned and wants you to change. It’s possible that sometimes your loved one is overreacting. But it’s also true that relationships require investment from both parties. If you’re unable to change your behavior in order to nurture those relationships that are most important to you, it might be a problem. Relationships and families depend on healthy boundaries that are made with love and followed with consideration.

Do you need more and more for the desired effect?


One of the first signs of any addiction
is that you need to escalate your usage in order to get the same desired effect. This is because your body is becoming slowly inured to the effects. So in order to experience the same hit of dopamine in the brain, you need to have more and more of the substance (or behavior.) This happens most notably with alcohol. Once the body is used to operating as normal with alcohol in the system, you need more and more in order to get drunk.

However, it can be the same with other substances or behaviors. If you find that you need more and more, that’s when things start to get dangerous, whether you’re shopping or adrenaline-seeking. This effect drives us to do things that we know could be harmful and cross boundaries we know we shouldn’t.

 

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Do you feel ashamed after using?

This might be the most telling sign of an addiction. If you’re ashamed after a certain behavior, it’s a sign that you know that you need to change… and yet you’re not. Shame can be subtle, and hard to recognize in many of us. Shame might manifest itself as:

  • Anger
  • Despair
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Perfectionism in other aspects of your life
  • Numbing your feelings (often by indulging more often in the thing that makes you feel ashamed)

 

If you or a loved one are exhibiting these signs of addiction, reach out for help. Get help early before you become so thoroughly entrenched that it costs you valuable things in your life.


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Use links below to save image.

About The Author:

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

 

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction?

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction?

Addiction is one of the most prominent healthcare problems of our time. Since 1999, the rise in substance abuse in the United States and around the entire world has proven difficult to combat. Despite the awareness that we have of addiction, nowadays, there is still nothing that can prepare you for the shock of finding that someone whom you love is currently addicted to an illicit substance.

 

Supporting an addict is no easy task, and it is something that not everyone has the endurance to go through. Not only does addiction have a profound effect on addicts, but it can drain the life out of the people around them. Regardless, most people want to do what they can to help their loved ones conquer addiction and live a fulfilling life. To help in that endeavor, here are some tips on what to do when a loved one suffers from addiction…

 

Get them help

 

Addiction isn’t something that you can talk away. A single conversation isn’t going to rid it from your loved one or your lives. Addiction is a deeply rooted psychological problem and a behavioral disease. As such, it is something that necessitates professional help.

Addiction treatment centers are full of people who have devoted their lives to helping addicts get on the path towards recovery, and are trained in techniques that help empower addicts to gain control in their lives. First and foremost, getting your loved one into treatment should always be a primary goal. For more information about how to do that, check out this informative article here.

 

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Educate yourself on addiction

 

In the famous book Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the eponymous Chinese general states that you need to know your enemy, inside and out. As such, in order to best help your loved one combat addiction, you need to know what you are both facing, when it comes to addiction. One reason that addiction education is so important is the misconception that addiction is a personality flaw that someone can merely stop doing. Addiction is a behavioral disease that affects a person on a mental and physical level. Educating yourself on things that can make addiction worse, or lessen its effects, is essential to help your loved one get through this fight.

 

Don’t alienate them

 

If you truly want to help your loved one overcome addiction, then you need to realize that you are both partners in this fight. One common mistake that people make is believing that you can shame an addict into changing their actions, and that this will coerce them into foregoing addiction. However, shame usually has the adverse effect on an addict, and will only serve to alienate them from the very people who want to help them. Typically, when they feel like there is nowhere to go, this is the environment in which addiction thrives. Don’t alienate the people you love with these sorts of tactics.

 

Set limits for yourself

 

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction pic 1

As stated above, you don’t want to alienate a loved one when they are struggling with addiction. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own boundaries and limits that need to be respected. Because addiction is a behavioral disease, there is often an association with other types of behavior, such as lying or stealing. The truth is that nobody can continuously take deceptive behavior without feeling overwhelmed. Be upfront with your loved one about what your limits are, and don’t be afraid to uphold an ultimatum if it is what you need to stay sane, no matter how much it hurts.

 

Interventions may be necessary

 

This may seem like an enormous cliche, but interventions work. At the end of the day, if your loved one continues their addictive behavior without getting help, then it is unlikely that it will ever stop. During times like these, they need something direct to let them know that their behaviors are hurting themselves and the people around them. An intervention is a clear and obvious way for family and friends to be honest and tell everyone how they truly feel. Although interventions can be frightening, and it will almost certainly be awkward, they are necessary to save the lives of the people who we love.

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By Guest-Alek S.

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

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I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

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One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

Showgirls at the Welcome Sign - 8-15-07

Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

Come Meet The Alcohol Expert Author Scott Stevens.

Come Meet The Alcohol Expert Author Scott Stevens.

“Recovery readers, you all are in for a treat today as I am Happy to Welcome Author, Scott Stevens and his addiction and recovery collection of award-winning books about alcoholism, stigma and more. He even is the creator of his own Alcohology App, How Cool Is That?” So let’s learn more about Author, Scott Stevens and his books, which includes a new release. Make sure you go visit the app below!
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Here is his New Book Release!


(Now Available on Amazon & Barnes and Noble)
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So where do I begin? Scott and I had met not long ago. We both are contributing writers for a fantastic Treatment Directory at Addicted Minds  . . . The founder, Matthew Steiner introduced us through LinkedIn, as Scott was interested in help with his book promoting efforts and? BAM!! I work for him now! LOL.

Now seriously, he is a fantastic writer and he shares his knowledge of alcoholism, recovery and message through YouTube as well here: #66 Video On Alcohol & Recovery … So let’s learn more about this “man of mystery” and his newest book release.

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Scott Stevens
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About The Author:

Scott is an author and fantastic freelance writer of many articles about alcoholism with some humor and wit. But he is also a great dad to his kids as well.

Scott, a former mutual fund industry executive, Scott blends wit, journalistic objectivity, blunt personal dialogue and no-nonsense business perspective to his three books he has managed to write within his busy life. His books, 2010’s “What the Early Worm Gets,” 2013’s Indie Book Awards finalist, “Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud” and 2015’s “Adding Fire to the Fuel,” his newest offering. He regularly addresses conferences around the country — including the REEL Recovery Film Festival — on the latest trends in the field of alcohol use disorders.  He is also a 2015 SAMHSA Voice Award nominee.
He also runs:
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Men For Sobriety

Wednesday Evenings, 7:30 P.M. Agape Recovery Center, 201 N. Pine St. Burlington

Learn more in this feature article on Men for Sobriety in The JournalTimes (Racine, Wis.) 5/14/14 . . .

“MFS Doesn’t Dwell On The Past, But On The Present And The Future.”
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Scott is a journalist, posting regularly on health and alcohol issues for online news services and is a founding influencer at the world’s largest medical portal, HealthTap. Many popular alcohologists on air and on bookshelves have stellar credentials, but few have had to eat their own cooking. Stevens blends his stunning personal 86-proof-two-liters-a-day story with thorough research into alcoholism, sobriety, relapse and recovery. But Scott will be the first to tell you that his time with his kids comes first. . . And, if that wasn’t enough?

His life experiences, Scott has met seven Presidents of the United States, flown with the Navy’s Blue Angels, piloted a Los Angeles Class nuclear submarine and driven a NASCAR at 140-mph on a one-mile oval. Wow!

I’m tired already! What a busy life to be of recovery service to others. That is how Scott helps others in recovery and reaching out for understanding about alcoholism. Lastly, Scott the football fan and avid golfer, he holds a Master’s in Public Affairs Journalism from the University of Illinois – Springfield, he lives in the Midwest with his children.

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(Author Scott Stevens & The Kids).
About His New release:

Product Details
(click book to buy & e-book only $2.99!)
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“A not-so-silent thief makes off with $226 billion, every year, robbing the economy, flooding hospitals, clogging courts. And landing million-dollar spots in the year’s biggest televised sports events.“It” is alcohol. Not terrorism. Not obesity. Not cancer or diabetes or Ebola or any other disease. It’s alcohol. We’ll spend more to combat these other scourges that cause less turmoil and financial damage while alcohol rules the roost, the clubhouse, and the corner office.

The third-leading cause of preventable death and illness stays under the radar because of good advertising and bad stigma. Its purveyors are proclaimed as charitable kings. Those who use it and discover alcohol has health and social consequences are labeled as villains, kill-joys, weak, weird, or morally off.

The stigma of alcohol use disorders, treatment, and recovery which keeps the discussion of what alcohol does to you behind the wishful-thinking-driven chatter about what it does for you. The tipping point has passed. The status quo: No longer sustainable or acceptable.

Adding Fire to the Fuel examines:
How families and communities feed public and self-stigma even while the stigma holds them back; How stigma has become a barrier to many who want help; How to hang on to sobriety in a pro-alcohol world; And how PANonymous alcoholics will reduce stigma more than all the protests combined.”
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Now where can you connect with Author, Scott Stevens? Well just about everywhere on social media! That’s where. LOL, and here a just a few places to do just that.

On both his fantastic websites:  The Alcohol Author ~ Scott Stevens
And on BlogSpot Video Series Author, Scott Stevens ~ Health Journalist
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And Connect with Scott at these Fine Social Media sites below. . .

Check out the Trailer for “The A-Files” coming soon!
Project Trailer Scott Stevens

Scott’s video’s each week: Scott’s YouTube Video’s
Add Me To Your Google+ Circle
Follow Me On GoodReads
Connect With Scott on Twitter
All My Books & Amazon Author Page
Go “Like” his Facebook page.
Addicted Minds Writer ~ Alcohol Author

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Product Details
(click book to Amazon)
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About The Book ~ Silver Lining

Nine out of ten people who quit drinking relapse at least once. “Every
Silver Lining Has a Cloud” shows why it’s not just once… without
pithy slogans or trademarked solutions. From the author of “What
the Early Worm Gets,” a startling book defining Alcoholism, here’s a
book explaining how and why relapse happens, how to hold it at bay
and why every American should care. Sobriety is a state of illness and
its symptoms, left untreated, lead directly to lapse. Addressing the
Symptoms of Sobriety is essential.
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Why would any sober Alcoholic return to the misery?
What are the Symptoms of Sobriety and how do Alcoholics and non-Alcoholics guard against them?
What four overlooked stressors trip up recovery?
Can you hit bottom sober?
The narrative dashes along peaks of anger, joy, desperation, relief and
hope interspersed with solid data on the disease and guidance for
avoiding relapse traps.
It’s not enough to just stop drinking. . .

Now that I have shared just about all you need to know about this fantastic writer and author?
Here are a few Amazon Book Reviews of how much readers have enjoyed about Scott’s books.

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Scott Steven’s extremely readable “Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud” is SUCH an important work! Powerful, clearly written, enormously informative, this book taught me not only about the emotional rollercoaster an alcoholic takes, but also about the chemical science of alcoholism, which basically stacks the genetic biochemical deck against him or her.

Scott also goes into Al-Anon, the legal system, and the futility of incarceration programs as well as how dysfunctional families play such a large role in alcoholism. Peppered throughout the book are well-versed truisms and great chapter opening quotes, which I personally thought added an extra punch to it all. And lest you think this book is like so many other self-help books, filled with one unprovable case study after another, here, every eye-opening statement or life example is backed up by worthy sources. A true find for everyone! HIGHLY recommended!

Another Amazon Reader:

“Scott Stevens has again written another very powerful and necessary book. The stigma attached to being an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic is overwhelming and Scott explains and goes far to share what needs to be done to erase that stigma.

Scott’s statistics, research, and facts in Adding Fuel are awesome and very useful … especially for people like me who work with people and families who are dealing with alcoholism. There is no room for blame or shame and certainly no labeling when it comes to people who are in recovery. I have never seen those things work for anyone. Many people do want to get sober or clean but, the fear of being “found out,” keeps them from taking the first step into recovery. I truly wish I could get this book into the hands of every teacher, doctor, rehab in the world. It is an eye-opener and it left me feeling hopeful. Thank you again for writing this Scott.”
Highly Suggest This Book!
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Recovery Guest Author presented by, “Recovery Starts Here” of Author, Catherine Lyon 

My Friend & Fellow Author, Scott Stevens Has Some News & Advice. Well He Is The Alcohol Expert You Know.

My Friend & Fellow Author, Scott Stevens Has Some News & Advice. Well He Is The Alcohol Expert You Know.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

 

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alcohology app 2
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Have you ever wondered what alcohol does to you when it comes to your health?
How about when we see on the news about drinking a glass a wine each day and all the “so-called” health benefits we “supposedly” get from it? Or do you think you consume too much alcohol? How would you really know?

Well, my good friend and fellow Author, Scott Stevens has all the answers to these questions and much more! He has developed an Alcohol App that is free to use, and can help you tell if your drinking in excess.

He has also done research about those “so-called health benefits” we get from consuming alcohol. They are his personal feeling and thoughts of course. But Scott is The Alcohol Expert with three fantastic award-winning books under his belt!

So here are a couple of article shares of Scott’s that he shared recently on his own website here  Scott Stevens ~ Alcohology App & Website and also a new article on the APP over on Addicted Minds & Assoc. Fresh Perspectives Blog where we both are recovery/addiction contributing writers . . .

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FREE ALCOHOLOGY APP  2.0 Released For Those Questioning Alcohol Use.

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Keynote speaker, award-winning author Scott Stevens
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The updated Alcohology app version 2.0 is free and ad-free, effective Jan. 21, 2016. The Android app includes 70 video vignettes supporting the fact that sobriety is a better thing to have than to lack. Alcohology looks at alcohol’s role in health issues from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to cancer to dementia to alcoholism, plus has sobriety-saving hints in its mini-features. The app is geared toward those new to sobriety and those in pre-contemplation: Thinking about the choice not to drink, but need evidence that what causes problems is one.

The app update – available only for Android devices and not designed for Apple IOS at this time – is timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the platform as well as “The Dry January Initiative.” Dry January began in the United Kingdom three years ago, with Alcohology Books author and app creator, Scott Stevens, being among the first to pick up the theme in 2013 in the United States.

Stevens describes the app as serving two roles. “First, for the alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike, it shows what the toxin and known carcinogen does to you. There’s a gulf of misinformation about alcohol’s short- and long-term health consequences.” He describes observational studies as “widely reported wishful thinking discredited by evidence-based science.”

The main goal for the app, in Stevens’ view, is to help those considering abstinence and those in early sobriety. “There is a constellation of motivators that will get a person to seriously consider their drinking choice. The health damage, especially the link to cancer, is one point in that constellation. It’s an eye-opener.”

The app can be found in the GooglePlay store or by typing in the shortened URL http://bit.ly/1K08gtR.

Among the Alcohology app’s vignettes:

Six Sobriety-Saving Tips

Binge Drinking vs. Daily Drinking Hazards

Breaking the Alcohol-Is-Heart-Healthy Myth

Alcohol Recovery Medications and the Quest for the Holy Grail

Four Signs of Alcohol-Related Liver Damage

Three Ways Alcohol Can Trigger Asthma

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Each one to two-minute segment covers one topic culled from evidence-based research. Video files and transcripts, which include citations of the scientific studies used, are found on the parent website, www.alcohologist.com.
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Now here is part 
of his new article about the Health & Studies of alcohol benefits.
Please visit his website link to read the whole fantastic Article  USDA Misguiding Health

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Alcohol writer: USDA “healthy” diet guide to injure Americans for 5 more years

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“Jan. 8, 2016 — 
New governmental dietary guidelines are dangerous to the health of America and contradict common sense and evidence-based research, including research by the very organization that released the five-year recommendation. The 2015-2016 Dietary Guidelines were released jointly by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) Jan. 7.”

BUT… There are no documented health benefits to consuming beverage alcohol. Evidence-based studies provide robust data that conclusively demonstrate alcohol’s undisputed ability to ruin otherwise healthy tissue. It isn’t a health-conscious dietary addition in any amount. The eighth edition of the government’s guidelines state: “If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.” The statement leads to an alcohol appendix, which, “in 300 words doesn’t mention a single health consequence of drinking a toxin.” The appendix: If alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age. For those who choose to drink, moderate alcohol consumption can be incorporated into the calorie limits of most healthy eating patterns.
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The Dietary Guidelines does not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason; however, it does recommend that all foods and beverages consumed be accounted for within healthy eating patterns. Alcohol is not a component of the USDA Food Patterns. Thus, if alcohol is consumed, the calories from alcohol should be accounted for so that the limits on calories for other uses and total calories are not exceeded. For the purposes of evaluating amounts of alcohol that may be consumed, the Dietary Guidelines includes drink-equivalents [table]. One alcoholic drink-equivalent is described as containing 14 g (0.6 fl oz) of pure alcohol.
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The following are reference beverages that are one alcoholic drink-equivalent: 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol). Packaged (e.g., canned beer, bottled wine) and mixed beverages (e.g., margarita, rum and soda, mimosa, sangria) vary in alcohol content. For this reason, it is important to determine how many alcoholic drink-equivalents are in the beverage and limit intake. [Table] lists reference beverages that are one drink-equivalent and provides examples of alcoholic drink-equivalents in other alcoholic beverages.
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First of all, to endorse any amount of alcohol for a person with the disease of alcoholism – which afflicts 21 million Americans – is entirely irresponsible, yet they only caution those who are pregnant. Secondly, the guidelines are said to be “components of a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet to help promote health and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.” Alcohol use – even moderate use – is a risk factor for all five of those chronic diseases. Consider the evidence-based data:

Cancer:
Even moderate alcohol use may substantially increase the risk of dying from cancer, according to a study published in Feb. 2012 in the American Journal of Public Health. Alcohol use accounts for about 3.5 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths annually, according to the study. “Most deaths seemed to occur among people who consumed more than three alcoholic drinks a day, but those who consumed 1.5 beverages daily may account for up to one-third of those deaths,” the researchers concluded.


Obesity:
Alcohol is the first fuel to get burned. Fat burning is postponed for alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike because fat won’t burn when there’s alcohol in the body. Pure alcohol also is calorie dense at seven calories per gram. Only fat is denser at 9 calories per gram. Alcohol’s seven calories lack the micronutrients beneficial for a healthy metabolism, so even if a dieter swaps out food for alcohol, the alcohol calories aren’t useful. In fact, alcohol calories hasten fat storage since they don’t benefit digestion.  Alcohol reduces testosterone. Testosterone is the body’s anabolic hormone that contributes to lean muscle gain. Lower testosterone from alcohol use means less muscle, less muscle means a lower metabolic rate, and the metabolic rate dictates the body’s potential to burn fat.
Again, go take a visit to Scott’s site and read this powerful full article today.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR & ALCOHOL EXPERT:

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Keynote speaker, award-winning author Scott Stevens
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A journalist and mutual fund industry executive, Stevens has spoken at conferences nationwide. His own, candid, 86 proof, two-liter-a-day story is a startling trip close to death that hits close to home. He’s the Guy Next Door, not the common but outdated stereotype of an Alcoholic.


In What the Early Worm Gets Stevens spells out the differences between Alcoholism and alcohol abuse.  He also exposes the ethical considerations of criminal justice and “rehabilitation” programs from a business executive’s experience. The programs taxpayers fund employ a one-size-fits-all view of alcohol issues. Billions are spent on barbarism and coercion instead of common sense, science, and results. He saw it from the “inside” as well as through a journalist’s perspective.


His life accomplishments have been pretty normal peppered with outstanding experiences like meeting seven Presidents of the United States, flying with the Navy’s Blue Angels, piloting a Los Angeles Class nuclear sub and driving a NASCAR over 140 MPH on a one-mile oval.


“Most importantly, my children respect me and like me as well as love me.  Not any of the experiences or things I accomplished in the lifetime before six disastrous weeks prepared me for the few years researching, writing and living What the Early Worm Gets and Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud. The experience I came through might surprise you to find out that the kind of coercion, stigma, and misinformation that might be common in China goes on every day in 21st century America.”


Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
 is a look at alcoholism and recovery and the role of cortisol in relapse.  Stevens uses the term Symptoms of Sobriety to indicate when lapse could be just around the corner and adds in detail about the four stressors almost every Alcoholic experience that can jeopardize sobriety.


Shortly into 2015,  his third book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, was released to critical acclaim.

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Product Details

(click to Amazon and now released)

“What Is It Like Being An Addict”? Some Holiday Recovery Encouragement! . . .

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome New Visitors,

 

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I wanted to start my post by sharing my book of my own story of gambling addiction and alcohol abuse. My current book out, “Addicted To Dime”, (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat),
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A/

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If you know anyone with a gambling problem, or maybe addicted to gambling, and you are not sure how to approach the subject? Then send them my book. They won’t look at gambling the same way after they finish reading my story. I actually had others tell me this in comments, and in all my 5 Star Amazon Reviews that were kindly left by readers. There may only be 13 reviews on Amazon, but they are very powerful and mean much to me!
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So my neighbor Sean, yes, he is the one I have blogged about before. He is a drug addict. He knows I say this in the ‘correct context’ since being a former addict myself, just that mine wasn’t drugs. My drug was addicted compulsive gambling, and abuse of alcohol when I did gamble. So we were talking about the holidays being upon us, and how hard it can be trying to stay in recovery around the holiday time.

Now, I give Sean credit, and it is why I have not just cut him off as a friend, because Like me, I know all he may hear and learn in his continued fight to recover from drug addiction, I know that eventually, like me, it does start sticking and sinking into our heads.
And, . . .one day that big fat light bulb goes off over our heads!! And we say, NOW I GET IT!!
I know that is what happened to me after my 2nd suicide attempt, and working with an addiction specialist. BUT, . . . sadly not before I had committed a crime thanks to all the old behaviors and quick bad choice reactions when Life Difficulties come along.

I learned from that, that I had not finished all my work in taking my financial inventory, nor had I finished the work on all my bad habits I had used, and picked up when I was active in my gambling addiction. So I had more work to do. So when Sean and I were talking about Christmas’s past, when we had no money, no lights, no Christmas tress, no nothing, I told him I couldn’t count how many times I would be in a department store wandering the isles, just wishing I could by everyone gifts for Christmas, but I had gambled all our money, so I couldn’t. I can not tell you how many times I needed things for myself, and would walk up and down the isles just looking, looking at all the things I wish I could buy but couldn’t because I had gambled our money away, . . . again.

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Sean was sharing how much he felt like shit having to go to detox for the week before this past Thanksgiving so he could be clean while visiting his parents in San Diego, CA and not be strung out from drugs.

Then when he got back from San Diego, he bought pain pills and was right back to it!!
THAT is how hard it is to stop being an addict!! Yes, we have to WANT to STOP, but as an addict myself, I do remember those days, months, and years of that BATTLE we have with ourselves, with the constant triggers and urges ALL the damn time. I think those feelings are a little like who and what “The Devil is”. All bad things of this world are and belong to Satan.

The constant battle gets worse once you start your recovery. The first year of recovery, I won’t lie to you all, it’s the hardest thing you will ever do in your lifetime if you’re any type of addict. Those who are know exactly what I’m talking about. The constant racing thoughts, the nagging little person in your head that keeps telling you, “you don’t have a problem, it’s everyone else telling YOU that you do”. Well I’m now smart enough to know, that’s the DISEASE talking. It takes control of our thoughts, which feelings and acts come from.

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We can’t change what we refuse of our addiction to acknowledge . . .

We can not take that FIRST STEP unless we convince our mind, body, spirit, and soul we are truly powerless over our addictions. That they have the control over our life, and it’s useless to keep trying to control the addictions you have. I so remember all the times I sat behind a damn slot or video poker machine, and I just kept stuffing more and more money in them. And even if I won, I would be there even longer until I gambled my last dollar. So it doesn’t matter if you win money or lose it, the addiction is so strong that it takes over. You don’t stand a chance at controlling it. The disease makes you think you can, but it never happens!

I hated myself so much. I had NO idea who I was anymore. I was so disconnected from life, my husband, my friends and family. Even though both sides of our family lived in two different states at the time, I wouldn’t return calls, nothing. My heart and soul was so broken when I finally had to surrender to the fact that gambling addiction and alcohol abuse had me beaten down so bad I was on my knees wanting to die. And that’s why I understand about what my neighbor, what Sean is going through. I’ve been there myself. I don’t want him to ‘Give Up’ before HIS MIRACLE happens like mine did.

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When we learn to finally surrender and choose recovery, choose to have our lives back, then we start the journey of letting go. We can start to see things more clearly. Yes, mine was a very bumpy ride to long-term recovery, with relapses, a couple tries in gambling treatment, counseling & therapy, and many GA meetings, and lots of hard work on all my character defects, and much more.
But, then,  . . . we start to get it go. Learning to be brutally honest with yourself, and having faith in a “Power Greater Than Ourselves” will help you obtain that new miracle of life again.

I can not tell you how GOOD it feels to be free of all that garbage, feeling like a hostage to my former addictions. It truly is like a rebirth! NO, . . it was not easy, but SO worth all the work I did to have my life free of addiction. It’s really true that many blessings come from the many negatives and trials we go through in life. I can not count how many blessings have come to me since my full recovery. We need to look at in a personal light. Look at recovery as “investing in your own life ! in your self”. . .
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And when you do break the chains of addiction, be your true self. You will learn to have an even better life in recovery then when you first became an addict! That’s the beauty of Recovery! Don’t be someone you’re not in recovery. Learn to be a better person then the one before, better than the one YOU became within addiction. It can be done. I know this because not only do I live in recovery almost 8 years, I have to live with mental/emotional disorders from my past addictions. And I am a childhood sex abuse survivor.

So having dual diagnosis and living in recovery can be challenging. Like everyday challenging. But I did it, and DO IT. It’s why I continue to share my recovery journey on a personal level. When My book released, my live really did become an open book. All my flaws, misdeeds, character defects and more where now open for all the world to judge. Yes,  . . . I said judge. WHY?
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We judge because it’s sadly the world & society we live in. We judge because there is STIGMA still in this world around those who seem different. Who may have taken a different path then others.
And that is one of the most positive and powerful things about recovery. We learn not only to heal and love ourselves again, but we also learn to have care, understanding, and more compassion for others. That is another blessing that recovery has taught me. And that compassion is why I help others in or out of recovery.

Compassion, and helping others in recovery, or those who are reaching out for help to recover, being of recovery service to others keeps us in recovery. It’s just that simple!

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I wish all of you in Recovery a Bet Free, Clean and Sober Holiday Season! And yes I do say, “Merry Christmas To All & Happy New Year”!!

Many Blessings,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon XoXo 🙂

 

Media Release of a Major Article by Columbia University & The Dept. of Public Health & Epidemiology…

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends, Seekers, and New Visitors!

 

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#RecoveryMonth #Inspiration

Many of us recovering addicted compulsive gamblers have felt when we were active in our addiction, that we were broken and failed at this thing called life. The paths we had taken with gambling addiction made us feel it was a test. And yes, it did break me and many other addicted gamblers, but I’m no longer broken thanks to having wonderful support by many in my recovery. Support has been an important part of my journey. Two places I have always looked to is ‘The National Council on Problem Gambling’, http://ncpgambling.org  and  ‘The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin’,  http://www.samhsa.gov … Because I have been through one, and still battle daily challenges with the mental side of things.

These two websites have a wealth of information on all types of  addictions and mental health services, they  raise awareness, inform and help educate the public as well as help the afflicted. So I always celebrate
September ~ National Recovery Month, and this year is our 25th Year of Celebrating!

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NRM Logo
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I’m very honored to be a part of National Recovery Month ~ Our 25th Year.  At least almost 8 years worth for my own recovery from addicted compulsive gambling and alcohol abuse.

So in honor of this, I have a special guest blog post for this wonderful occasion! It is an article I’ve been waiting for from a new friend of mine, Elaine Meyer, of  Columbia University, Dept. of Epidemiology. It is a major article on gambling and how it affects our populations and our communities we live in.

Now your most likely wondering what that is? It is the science that studies the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and informs policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.

Elaine and I talked a few months ago about gambling addiction, as she was doing research to write an article about problem gambling, and I have to tell you it truly is one of the best, in-depth, fantastic articles I have read in all my years in recovery. I was surprised to read that she shared information of my personal experiences from gambling addiction in the article we had talked about. I just have to share it with my recovery readers and friends here on my blog. I’d like to thank Elaine Meyer for also sharing my book of my story of what I had been through with gambling addiction. Maybe together we can reach more people who suffer from this cunning addiction, and help save lives.
And again, it really is the best in-depth, well-rounded article I have read. I know all who come visit and read it will agree!
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AUTHOR BIO

Elaine Meyer

Elaine Meyer has worked as a journalist covering education and legal news. She graduated in 2009 with an M.S. from Columbia School of Journalism and is currently the associate director of communications for Columbia’s Department of Epidemiology, where she carries out the department’s mission of translating public health science to the larger public. Follow her @emeyer5.

About The 2×2 Project ~ Health Beyond the Headlines: http://the2x2project.org/gambling-public-health/

The 2×2 project aims to inform the health conversation through timely and effective communication of emerging public health science. Epidemiology, the science of public health, cannot and should not be limited to the scientists and practitioners with access to the scientific literature. Our goal through the2x2project is to engage a broader audience—including thought leaders and policy makers from outside the discipline—to help translate scientific findings into practice.

The2x2project is sponsored by the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Gambling with America’s Health?

The public health costs of legal gambling

By Elaine Meyer

Published September 19, 2014

Publicly, Scott Stevens, a chief operating officer of a company in Steubenville, Ohio, was a well-regarded member of his community. A married father of three, he was active in his local Catholic church, involved with high school sports teams, and helped develop parks in the area. Privately, Stevens was addicted to gambling. First exposed to slot machines at a trade show in Las Vegas in 2007, Stevens became a regular slot player at the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, & Resort, about 30 minutes away in Chester, West Virginia. By 2010, he had embezzled $7 million from his employer to gamble, and when they found out, he lost his job. Stevens continued to gamble secretly for the next 10 months, going to Mountaineer nearly every day, drawing money from his family’s savings, his 401(k), and his children’s college fund.

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On August 13, 2012, that money ran out. In a suicide note to his wife, he wrote: “I know you don’t believe it, but I love you so much. I have hurt you so much. Our family only has a chance if I’m not around to bring us down any further.” That evening, Stevens asked his 13-year-old daughter to bring him his hunting bag from the attic. He drove to a local park he had helped develop and called 9-1-1. When the sheriffs arrived, he shot himself.

“This is one of the biggest public health issues in America today that no one has been paying attention to.”

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“If it can happen to a guy as smart as he was, then it can happen to anybody,” said Indianapolis attorney Terry Noffsinger in a talk last November at Harvard Law School. Noffsinger, with other attorneys, is representing Stevens’ widow Stacy in a lawsuit filed last month against Mountaineer Casino, its parent company MTR Gaming Group, and slot machine maker International Game Technology, alleging they are liable for her husband’s suicide. The suit accuses both the casino and the slot designer of using predatory and deceptive tactics to profit from people with gambling problems, like Scott Stevens.

“Mountaineer Casino knew, or should have known, that the condition of disordered gambling, especially slot machine addiction, is associated with severe adverse health and other consequences for individuals and their families. Not only are gambling addicts like Scott Stevens liable to literally gamble away everything they own and end up in crippling debt, but also to become suicidal at far higher rates than the general population and even the population of persons addicted to substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol,” the suit states.
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Vegas-Style Slot Machines Debut In Florida
Vegas-style slot machines debut November 2006 at Florida’s Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images …
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Although the suit’s success is not assured—the few other cases in this area have not succeeded—it is part of a growing movement of activists, academics, lawyers, and former gambling addicts who are trying to spotlight the health, economic, and social costs of legal gambling. This group believes the gambling industry preys upon vulnerable people, including low-income individuals, youth, and problem gamblers and that gambling availability is linked to larger societal problems like crime and economic inequality.

For its part, the gambling industry points to a record of funding research into gambling addiction and trying to educate the public about problem gambling. They maintain that they offer a fun activity that most people can do without serious consequences. The opening of new gambling venues shows no signs of slowing down, despite the planned closing of four casinos in Atlantic City and financial problems for casinos in other states. Last fall, New Yorker’s approved the building of up to seven casinos. Many other states are in various stages of building casinos. Some in the gambling industry are trying to legalize online gambling, which is currently allowed in only three states, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

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A debate over the social and health costs of legal gambling has largely been sidelined even as availability has expanded dramatically in the last 25 years. This is not because of a lack of merit, say experts and activists, but because of the political power of the gambling industry. They allege that the industry has employed tactics in the same spirit as those of tobacco companies, which for many years misled consumers about the addictive properties of cigarettes and advertised to young people and other vulnerable consumers.

According to Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, a Washington DC-based nonprofit, “This is one of the biggest public health issues in America today that no one has been paying attention to.”

A few experts predict that as stories of gambling addiction become more common, suits like that of Stacy Stevens will increase and could even succeed, as tobacco lawsuits did. “Ultimately gambling will be linked to the increase in social costs, gambling will be linked to the problems it creates, just like smoking was ultimately linked to cancer,” says Dr. Earl Grinols, a professor of economics at Baylor University. “It can take a while.”

Addictive Properties:

In the world of gambling, the most addictive property is electronic video gambling machines, often slots, which bring in 70 to 85 percent of the revenue for casinos. In some states, electronic video terminals are even available in other venues, like restaurants and bars. The machines do not typically have warning labels or cut offs for heavy users. Casinos  aggressively market to frequent patrons, giving them complimentary flights, hotels, and other perks. Meanwhile, the success of state voluntary exclusion programs where problem gamblers sign up to ban themselves from casinos is unclear.

Today’s slots are not the old lever-operated “one-armed bandits” but video game-like terminals that keep users playing by deliberate design, according to Dr. Natasha Dow Schüll, an associate professor in the program of science, technology, and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas. “The particular addictiveness of modern slots has to do with the solitary, continuous, rapid wagering they enable. It is possible to complete a game every three to four seconds, with no delay between one game and the next. Some machine gamblers become so caught up in the rhythm of play that it dampens their awareness of space, time and monetary value,” writes Dr. Schüll in a New York Times commentary.
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“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” recovering gambling addict Kitty Martz told the Oregonian. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

The idea that gambling lends itself to addiction like drugs or alcohol has taken some time to be acknowledged. Until the 2013 publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistics Manual, or DSM-5, problem gambling was classified as an “impulse control disorder” in the same category as pyromania and kleptomania, even though most clinicians who treated problem gamblers recognized it as an addiction, says Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

These gamblers exhibit many of the same problems as other addicts. “Everything you see with substance abuse you can make an analogy to gambling problems,” Dr. Martins says, citing family strife, financial hardship, and struggles with depression or anxiety.

“Give your dreams a chance”

To gamble legally 40 years ago, one had to travel to Nevada, go to a racetrack, or live in one of the handful of states that offered lotteries. In most towns, the closest one came to a betting game was playing charitable Bingo at church. Video slot machines had not yet come to market.

For most Americans today, a casino is just a car ride away. There are about 1,400 of them in 39 states, and 43 states sponsor lotteries with games that are recognizable even to non-gamblers, like Mega Millions, Powerball, Pick 10, and instant scratch off tickets. In advertising to citizens, states use slogans like, “Hey you never know,” “Give your dreams a chance,” and “Believe in something bigger.” Hawaii and Utah are the only states that offer no forms of legal gambling.

“Gambling addiction is often considered a small cost, one brought upon by the individual unwise gambler”.

Casinos represent a substantial part of the nation’s economy and enjoy support from members of both political parties. In 2012, the industry took in $37 billion in gross revenue, employed 332,075 people, paid $13 billion in wages, and contributed $8.6 billion in taxes, according to the American Gaming Association. Many casinos are not just places to play blackjack and slots but to eat or take in live music and comedy acts.


Casinos represent a substantial part of the nation’s economy and enjoy support from members of both political parties. In 2012, the industry took in $37 billion in gross revenue, employed 332,075 people, paid $13 billion in wages, and contributed $8.6 billion in taxes, according to the American Gaming Association. Many casinos are not just places to play blackjack and slots but to eat or take in live music and comedy acts.

In this environment, gambling addiction is often considered a small cost, one brought upon by the individual unwise gambler. “They think that it’s an easy painless way to raise revenue but they don’t see the other side of it,”  says Arnie Wexler. Wexler quit gambling over 45 years ago after a nearly three-decade addiction and has since served as executive director of New Jersey’s Council on Compulsive Gambling. He also runs counseling services for compulsive gamblers with his wife, Sheila.
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Watch a video of Arnie Wexler speaking about burnout of slot machine addicts on "60 Minutes"
“Watch a video of Arnie Wexler speaking about burnout of slot machine addicts on “60 Minutes”
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According to a conservative interpretation of the available research by the National Center for Problem Gambling, 1.1 percent or 3.4 million Americans have a pathological gambling disorder and 2 percent or 6.2 million engage in problem gambling, a less severe form of gambling addiction. (The term problem gambling is often used to refer to both problem and pathological gambling.) Internationally, prevalence is as low as .5 percent of the population in Denmark and the Netherlands and as high as 7.6 percent in Hong Kong, according to a 2012 review for the province of Ontario. Though problem gamblers are a minority of visitors to casinos, their spending accounts for anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of the revenues, according to several studies summed up in a paper by the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on family and social issues.

Betting on Science:

Neuroscientists have found commonalities between the brains of gambling and drug addicted people, like increased impulsivity and lower levels of activity in a region of the brain’s reward system, which leads people to seek bigger and potentially dangerous thrills. But it is not clear from this research when or how someone becomes addicted to gambling.

Compared to other nations, there has been relatively little epidemiologic research on rates of problem gambling in the U.S. The existing studies find that problem gambling increases with proximity to casinos. The federal government’s 1999 National Gambling Impact Study found that areas within 50 miles of a casino had twice as high a rate of problem gambling as those within 250 miles. The presence of a casino within 10 miles of a survey respondent’s home was positively related to problem or pathological gambling, according to a 2004 study by the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

Addictions published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

“If I were the gambling industry, I would want to fund people who had the disease point-of-view…because [they are] putting the source of problem gambling between the ears of the gambler.”

Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“Basically what we’ve learned is that as with many other kinds of environmental exposures, there typically is an increase in the prevalence rate of problem gambling in the wake of major introductions of new forms of gambling, whether it’s lotteries back in the 1980s and 1990s or casinos in the 1990s and 2000s,” says Dr. Rachel Volberg, a research associate professor at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a researcher for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Dr. Volberg has found that rates of problem gambling began increasing during the most rapid expansion of gambling opportunities in North America and in Australia.

Yet she says problem gambling rates seem to level off after a while. A study by the Research Institute on Addictions that has not been published yet found that rates of problem gambling did not continue to rise between 2010-2012 despite greater opportunity to gamble. Principal investigator Dr. John Welte, senior research scientist in psychology at the University of Buffalo, says it is not clear why, but he says it could be a result of the economic crisis.

The National Center for Responsible Gambling, or NCRG, is the charitable arm of the gambling industry’s trade association, called the American Gaming Association. NCRG cites a few studies that it says show problem gambling has not risen since the 1970s. After a casino moves in, problem gambling may become more widespread initially, but after a while, people “adapt”—they become more aware of the risks, seek treatment, or simply lose interest, says Christine Reilly, the senior research director of NCRG. This is called an “adaption effect.”

But prevalence studies do not tell the full story, says Dr. Stephen Q. Shafer, the chairman of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York. “One of the fallacies is that, let’s say you assume that your prevalence statistics are absolutely correct and you show that the prevalence of pathological gambling has not risen. It was, say, five years ago 1.1 percent. Last year it was 1.2 percent. What that forgets is that the prevalence is a pool out of which people move and into which people come, and looking at prevalence compared to time one and time two, you have to account for the people who have recovered, died, moved away.” For instance, a prevalence study conducted in 2008 would have counted Scott Stevens, but one in 2013 would not have.

For this reason, there need to be studies that use more rigorous epidemiologic methods, says Dr. Shafer, who is also a retired clinical professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons and the Mailman School. He has pushed to get New York State to commission such a study, but the state’s health department, the legislature, and the gambling commission have shown no interest.

Individual Disease or Public Health Problem?

Funding for gambling addiction research in the U.S. is about one-twentieth of funding in Australia and Canada, where gambling availability has also risen significantly in the past several decades, according to Dr. Volberg. Within the National Institutes of Health, there is an institute for research on alcohol disorders and an institute for research on drug addiction, but no institute for general addiction. Investigators who study problem gambling typically have to propose to look at it in conjunction with drug or alcohol use in order to win grants.

“Gambling availability has other public health ramifications beyond addiction. It may exacerbate economic inequality, which has a strong relationship to health”.

The NCRG is the only private funder of gambling addiction research in the country. According to Reilly, they fund research by top scientists at universities like Caltech, Duke, and Stanford, which are published in peer-reviewed journals. “We are funding some of the best people in the country, people who will lead us and force the issue at a national level,” says Reilly.

The majority of the NCRG’s funding goes to research based on a “disease model”—which investigates what goes on in the brains of individuals addicted to gambling—rather than the public health model, which looks at how availability affects population rates of problem gambling and potential social costs.

Both the disease model and the public health model “have points of truth, and they’re not mutually exclusive,” says Dr. Welte. But he adds, “If I were the gambling industry, I would want to fund people who had the disease point-of-view…because [they are] putting the source of problem gambling between the ears of the gambler.”

According to Reilly, the disease model is more practical because it can lead to treatments and that it is less prone to the flaws of survey research. “To me it seems kind of silly to spend time and money on an issue that is extremely difficult to research, because you can’t count on people’s memory,” she says.
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Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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But it is not in the gambling industry’s interest to have good research conducted on the social and economic costs of casinos and other forms of gambling, says Dr. Grinols. He points out that the federal government’s 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission recommended a moratorium on further gambling expansion until more research could be done on the economic and social costs and benefits. “No research of the type and focus hoped for by the Commission has been forthcoming since. That’s because the gambling industry has done what it could to question these studies and has not itself funded such studies,” says Dr. Grinols.

“The whole conclusion of the Commission has been ignored and in fact thwarted by the failure of money to be available for good research.” Dr. John Warren Kindt, a business administration professor at University of Illinois whose research looks at the social and economic costs of gambling, calls what NCRG funds “pabulum research designed not to hurt the gambling industry and to misdirect the debate.” In response to such criticisms, Reilly is adamant that the NCRG has a totally independent review board, which she says mimics the structure of the National Institute of Health and does not interfere in the work of its researchers.

As for self-reporting, there are ways to validate responses. Dr. Robert Williams, a professor of addiction counseling at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada, has compared what respondents report they spend on gambling to actual gambling revenue. He says the more reliable studies are those in which the total of the revenue reported by participants is closer to the total revenue made by the gaming industry. Dr. Williams points out that self-reporting may also underrepresented problem gamblers, who would be more likely to have their phone disconnected.

Growing the Economy or Exacerbating Inequality?

Gambling availability has other public health ramifications beyond addiction. It may exacerbate economic inequality, which has a strong relationship to health. It levies regressive taxes which take a larger share of income from lower than from upper income Americans. If taxes on gambling revenues substitute tax increases on income—which are progressive—the tax structure in a state becomes even more regressive. And those who spend money on certain forms of gambling are more likely to be low-income.

There is “a strong positive relationship” between state lottery sales and the poverty rates, according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology by economists at Cornell University that looked at data over 10 years. The most typical lottery player is a black, male, high school dropout making less than $10,000 a year, according to a 1999 report to the National Gambling Impact Study commission. Problem gambling is significantly worse in economically disadvantaged areas according to two studies from 2013, one by Dr. Welte and his colleagues and another by Dr. Martins and her colleagues. And the presence of a casino is associated with rises in bankruptcy filings, according to a 2005 study from Creighton University.
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gambling-lotto-tickets4

While casinos may bring new jobs when they open, most are low-paying service work. The national median wage in the gambling industry is $10.76 per hour. While better than some service jobs, it is less than the $16.87 hourly median wage for all industries, according to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And rather than boosting a local economy, casinos often draw business away from other food and entertainment venues. Many casinos are losing patrons to newer competition in neighboring states, straining state budgets and threatening local economies.

When casinos lose money or fail, the repercussions are significant. Delaware is spending hundreds of millions to keep struggling casinos afloat. In Atlantic City, several casinos plan to close by the end of the month, including the Revel, a two-year-old, $2.4 billion casino, entertainment, and conference center that was supposed to buoy the city’s flagging economy. The closures leave thousands of jobless people in a city that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at over 15 percent as of April 2014, a violent crime rate six times the rest of New Jersey, and 29 percent of its population in poverty—a 7 percent increase since 1974, two years before New Jersey voters legalized gambling

Although these statistics do not prove that the city’s gambling economy caused its problems, they do call into question claims by politicians and developers that casinos are an engine for economic growth. Nevertheless, some New Jersey politicians and business leaders are now talking about opening a new casino—or four—at the Meadowland Sport Complex in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Tribal lands that have casinos have seen improvement in jobs and county-level mortality rates, according to a 2002 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Yet these communities still see more bankruptcy, violent crime, and auto thefts and larceny after a casino opens.

Legal gambling is also linked to social problems like rises in crime and risky behavior in youth. Counties where casinos have opened have seen rises in the number of rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies, and auto thefts, compared with counties without casinos, according to a study by economists Dr. Grinols and Dr. David B. Mustard, which looked at county FBI data from 1977 to 1996.
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Rio Las Vegas
Photo credit: Dennis Redfield
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Because children are now growing up in an environment where gambling is so widely advertised and available, they could be especially vulnerable. Youth are at greater risk for problem gambling than adults, according to a 2007 study from Canada. Two percent or about 750,000 teens ages 14 to 21 described gambling with three or more negative consequences in a national survey by Dr. Welte and colleagues in 2008. Another 11 percent gambled twice or more per week, which is considered frequent. Teen boys who gamble are more likely to become fathers before age 20, especially those who problem gamble, according to a study by Dr. Martins. African-American teens who are problem gamblers are more likely to have sex and get arrested at a younger age than those who don’t gamble. Teens who had depressive symptoms early in adolescence are more likely to have gambling problems later in adolescence, according to another Martins study from 2011.

A Pervasive Gambling Culture

Former U.S. Representative Robert Steele has observed the casino economy at work in southeastern Connecticut, the district he represented from 1970-75, which in the early nineties became home to both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos.

“The casinos created a “pervasive gambling culture.” He adds: “the people in southeastern Connecticut were in no way ready for the casinos.”

“They became almost instant successes and the two biggest casinos in the world,” says Steele, who has written a novel, The Curse, which is inspired by the story of the two casinos and the tribes behind them. With Atlantic City as their only competition in the Northeast United States, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun drew about 60 percent of their customers from out of state and created 20,000 jobs.

But soon came problems no one seems to have anticipated. Drunk driving arrests in nearby Norwich more than doubled, and annual calls to the local police department went up fourfold, according to Steele. There was a sharp spike in the number of people who sought treatment for gambling addiction. The rate of embezzlement increased 400 percent, according to a report from the state. Steele’s own tax collector went to prison in 2001 for embezzling money from the town to gamble.

Much of the promised employment was in low-paying service jobs, sometimes part-time and often filled by non-English speaking workers who came from outside the area. This influx put pressure on local housing and social services. The local school system gained 400 children who collectively spoke 31 different primary languages, requiring them to create an “English for speakers of other languages” program. Teachers observed value changes in their students, says Steele. “[They] say, ‘we try to teach the kids the way to succeed in life is through hard work. Then the casino culture comes in and says, ‘you hit it big, you hit the lottery. You hit the payoff.’”

Today, revenue from Connecticut’s casinos is down 35 percent since its high point of 2007. Ultimately, says Steele, who used to have a property abutting Foxwoods, the casinos created a “pervasive gambling culture.” He adds: “the people in southeastern Connecticut were in no way ready for the casinos.”

“When everybody knows everybody, a good part of the people you know are going to be affected—even if not directly—through broken homes, bankruptcy, the whole gamut,” says Dawley.

Citizen Action:

Unions and community members hold a rally on April 20, 2013, demanding that the planned Caesars in Baltimore's Inner Harbor address economic and environmental concerns of residents. (photo: United Workers)
Unions and community members hold a rally on April 20, 2013, demanding that a planned Caesars Casino in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor address economic and environmental concerns of residents. (photo: United Workers) …

In Massachusetts, citizens are campaigning to repeal a deal that allows for MGM Resorts to build the Lago Resort and Casino in the economically depressed town of Springfield. “We see this as very much a perpetuation of income inequality, and the implications that income inequality has on public health —that people stay in poverty basically, stay under-compensated. It’s the transfer of wealth from people who don’t have money to people who have abundant resources,” says Steven Abdow, a senior staff member of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. “This would be intentionally bring[ing] in a product that destroys lives.”

Abdow is working on a campaign to oppose the building of an $800 million casino by MGM Resorts International. Once viewed as a way to revive the city’s dwindled fortunes, the casino’s fate is now in jeopardy. In June, a judge ruled in favor of ballot measure that would allow the citizens of Massachusetts to repeal a 2011 law that authorized casinos in the state.

Tyre, New York, is a town of less than 1,000 people 270 miles northwest of New York City. The town’s website boasts of a community that “strives to maintain its rural flavor,” welcoming visitors to stop by and visit the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the Erie Canal. Last December, residents learned that a Rochester-based real estate company called Wilmorite was bidding to open a casino on agricultural land, across from an Amish farm.

“I grew up my whole life in this area. A casino certainly is not what you anticipate showing up on your doorstep,” says Jim Dawley, a resident whose property borders the proposed spot.

Dawley and his wife, who own and run a small manufacturing company, and two friends formed an organization called Casino Free Tyre to oppose Wilmorite’s plans. “When everybody knows everybody, a good portion of the people you know are going to be affected—even if not directly—through broken homes, bankruptcy, the whole gamut,” says Dawley.

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Google Earth aerial view of potential Lago Resort and Casino site in Tyre, New York
Google Earth aerial view of potential Lago Resort and Casino site in Tyre, New York
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gambling-tyre-protest2
Protesters opposing the Lago Resort and Casino (Photo: Casino Free Tyre) …
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Over 200 residents have signed a petition against the casino, but members of the town board are supportive of Wilmorite, which is promising multi-million dollar revenues. The Dawleys are not letting up, even though they are new to activism. “This is so far outside of my normal realm, it’s unbelievable. I have a little  Over 200 residents have signed a petition against the casino, but members of the town board are supportive of Wilmorite, which is promising multi-million dollar manufacturing business out in the woods. I’ve been involved in our church and things like that but as far as any political-rooted opposition, this is our first time.”

Following in the Footsteps of Cigarettes?

In the court case over the Massachusetts casino deal, an organization called the Public Health Advocacy Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief that made a public health argument against the gambling industry. “Legalized casino gambling causes devastating effects on the public’s health, including not only the gambler but also their families, neighbors, communities and others with whom they interact,” the brief says. Electronic gambling machines “are designed to addict their customers in a way that is similar to how the tobacco industry formulates its cigarettes to be addictive by manipulating their nicotine levels and other ingredients.”

“Mirroring the tobacco industry’s strategy of creating scientific doubt where none truly exists, the casino industry has co-opted and corrupted scholarship on the effects of gambling through the use of front groups that funnel money to beholden scientists who are able to sanitize its origin,” the brief continues.

“The commercialization of a dangerous product that threatens both individual and public health has been called an ‘industrial epidemic,’” the brief continues, citing a 2007 paper published in the journal Addiction by Drs. René I. Jahiel and Thomas F. Babor. This is an epidemic “driven at least in part by corporations and their allies who promote a product that is also a disease agent.”

The brief argues that the citizens of Massachusetts have an interest in regulating gambling the way they have regulated cigarettes.

Given the power of the gambling industry and the dependence of states on gambling revenues, winning legal damages and regulating availability may presently seem like a pipe dream in the U.S. However, other countries employ harm reduction strategies in casinos to intervene on potential problem gambling, according to a 2011 report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In Holland, computers identify anyone who visits a casino more than 15 times a month as having a gambling problem. In the United Kingdom, casinos have to display the odds of winning on slot machines. And in Australia, there are limits on playing speeds and betting amounts.

The underlying principle behind this is articulated by Dr. Williams: “If provincial governments are going to make gambling available to their citizens, then concerted efforts are needed to prevent problem gambling, to effectively treat gambling addiction, and to minimize the amount of gambling revenue that comes from problem gamblers.”

Little Help Available:

“People with gambling problems tend to elicit little sympathy. They are seen typically as exercising bad judgment when it is known that the “house always wins.” They have often hurt people they are closest to, both financially and emotionally”.
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*Here is my section & Contribution to this Fantastic Article written by, Elaine Meyer*

While casinos may bring new jobs when they open, most are low-paying service work. The national median wage in the gambling industry is $10.76 per hour. While better than some service jobs, it is less than the $16.87 hourly median wage for all industries, according to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And rather than boosting a local economy, casinos often draw business away from other food and entertainment venues. Many casinos are losing patrons to newer competition in neighboring states, straining state budgets and threatening local economies.

When casinos lose money or fail, the repercussions are significant. Delaware is spending hundreds of millions to keep struggling casinos afloat. In Atlantic City, several casinos plan to close by the end of the month, including the Revel, a two-year-old, $2.4 billion casino, entertainment, and conference center that was supposed to buoy the city’s flagging economy. The closures leave thousands of jobless people in a city that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at over 15 percent as of April 2014, a violent crime rate six times the rest of New Jersey, and 29 percent of its population in poverty—a 7 percent increase since 1974, two years before New Jersey voters legalized gambling.
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“You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds”, says Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon”

Former gambling addicts readily admit to their flaws. But, like most people, they typically started gambling because it was available, entertaining, and provided a potential if unlikely monetary reward. However, unlike most people who gamble, they became “hooked.” That’s how Catherine Townsend-Lyon speaks of her gambling addiction. She began playing video lottery terminals at delis and restaurants near her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, sometime after they were introduced in the 1990’s.

She became obsessed with a game called ‘Flush Fever’ and soon began playing before and after work and during her lunch hour. She lied to her husband about her whereabouts and started secretly gambling their mortgage payments. She stole from the collection company she worked for and sometimes wore bladder control underwear so she wouldn’t have to get up to use the restroom while playing. When she lost money, she played to win it back, and when she won, she played to win more. In an extreme moment, she skipped the funeral of a close friend to drive 40 miles to an Indian casino so she could win enough money to prevent her home from being foreclosed. Instead, she lost everything. She drove home in tears and tried to slit her wrists.
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A video lottery machine sponsored by the state of Oregon (photo: Curtis Perry)
So. Oregon State Lottery Video Poker/Slot style machines…
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“It’s like a battle you have with yourself with the triggers and the urges and the obsessiveness. You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds. It’s exhausting. It’s never-ending,” says Townsend-Lyon, who, after seeking treatment several times, has managed to stay away from gambling for the last seven and-a-half years.

Now an Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon says she turned to gambling at a difficult time in her life. With her husband frequently traveling for work, she found herself bored and looking for a way to fill the time. She had undiagnosed bipolar II disorder and had been sexually abused when she was younger but had not been raised to know to seek therapy.

“I wasn’t a drug person or an alcoholic or anything like that, although I did drink more when I gambled. And because I was gambling, that was my coping skill. That’s what I was using to escape it, those feelings. I couldn’t stuff them away anymore. I would just use gambling to escape, not feel, zone out, you know what I mean?” she says.
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Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) 
Addicted to Dimes (Confessions…Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Paperback $9.90 

She published a book last year about her former life, called Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat). What troubles her is how easy it is for people in her position to gamble. She didn’t have to fly to Nevada or even drive to a casino in state. The video poker and slot machines she played, which are sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery, are allowed at bars, restaurants, and delis. It makes it more difficult to even stay in recovery with so much accessibility.

“[I]f these machines weren’t in the bars, delis, and Oregon Lottery retail shops, then I would not be gambling.”

“It’s that simple for me,” says a 33-year-old man quoted in a recent series on the state lottery by the Oregonian. He estimates he has lost $15,000 over 12 years from gambling. “That may sound like an excuse, but ‘out of sight is out of mind”.
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Photo credit: Erik Wilson
In Oregon, video lottery terminals are allowed in bars, restaurants, and other establishments that sell food or drink. (Photo: Erik Wilson) …
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For people who are trying to recover from gambling addiction, it can be difficult to find help. Calls per month to the National Problem Gambling hotline are over two-and-a-half times what they were 14 years ago, from 9,642 in 2000 to 24,475 in 2013, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Yet funding for treatment centers, hotlines, and programs to prevent gambling addiction is minimal, says Dr. Martins. Funding for substance abuse treatment is about 281 times greater at $17 billion than public funding for problem gambling, at $60.6 million, although substance use disorders are only 3.6 times more common than gambling disorders, according to a 2013 survey by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and Problem Gambling Solutions. Just a little over half of the 50 U.S. states have someone whose full-time job is to administer problem gambling services, according to the same survey. By comparison, there are 113 lottery employees in Iowa and approximately 80 in Rhode Island. In several states legislators have cut gambling treatment funding or seen declines as a result of decreases in gambling revenue, which sometimes funds such programs, according to a Wall Street Journal report from 2011.

Gamblers’ Anonymous, a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics’ Anonymous, is the most widely available and used treatment in the U.S. Members admit they are powerless over their gambling addiction and embark on changing their character through group meetings and the support of a “sponsor” or older mentor in the group. Little research exists on the efficacy of Gamblers’ Anonymous. A study from 1988 found that only 7.5 percent of members had abstained after one-year, and nearly a quarter of members did not go to a second meeting. However, those who regularly attend Gamblers’ Anonymous say they benefit significantly.

As with any kind of addiction, there is no pill for treating problem gambling. Medication and therapy may be used with varying success to treat a related psychiatric illness like depression or bipolar disorder. Moreover, a small number of problem gamblers seek treatment.

For these reasons, a public health approach, which would favor limiting the “exposure” of gambling to prevent addiction from occurring in the first place, is compelling. It is the same as the argument to tighten access to prescription opioids in order to prevent people from becoming hooked.

A Disease of Society?

At a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in New York in August, about 65 people, mostly men, are celebrating one member’s five-year anniversary of abstaining from gambling. He gets to choose the topic for the night, and he picks “starting over.” Other members stand up to say that adhering to the Gamblers’ Anonymous program has fundamentally changed them. They have gone from being selfish and unable to make mature decisions to being better spouses, parents, friends, and members of society. They talk about small triumphs, their families, jobs, illness, and making amends with the people they hurt and stole from during their addiction.

“People adapt to their dislocation by finding the best substitutes for a sustaining social and spiritual life that they can, and addiction serves this function all too well.”

“I think it was known to pretty much everyone in this room that I was an asshole. And I think I have become a decent member of society,” says a man in his early 30s who has been abstinent for 10 years.
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Problem drinkers and problem gamblers...
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Another man echoes this sentiment. “I was anything but a good citizen,” he says. He has been abstinent for over 22 years, but like many others in this room, attends meetings on the Gamblers Anonymous principle that former addicts are always in recovery. “It’s not just starting over, we still have to own our past. We have to settle up with people as best we can.” When his mom passed away, he says he was grateful that he could access his emotions—not something he could have done in his gambling days.

“I can say without a doubt, gambling has ruined my life,” says another member. He has gone to Gamblers’ Anonymous for eight years but has had relapses, and it has been 201 days since he last bet. “Abstinence is for real this time.”

Compulsive gambling is often viewed as an addiction to money, but Gamblers’ Anonymous believes it is an emotional rather than financial disease. The addicted person “wants to escape into the dream world of gambling” and “finds he or she is emotionally comfortable only when ‘in action.’” But it doesn’t end up being much comfort, say formerly addicted gamblers who speak of how lonely their life was then.

Dr. Bruce K. Alexander, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, believes the loneliness experienced by those with gambling and other addictions has a strong social dimension. In his book, The Globalization of Addiction: A Study of the Poverty of the Spirit, he says: “A free-market society is magnificently productive, but it subjects people to irresistible pressures towards individualism and competition, tearing rich and poor alike from the close social and spiritual ties that normally constitute human life. People adapt to their dislocation by finding the best substitutes for a sustaining social and spiritual life that they can, and addiction serves this function all too well,” he says.

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A woman plays slots at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A woman plays slots at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images) …
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Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling believes that our nation’s dependence on gambling reveals a deeper civic problem. “What we incentivize as a government shapes the national character,”  he says. “We look at the greatest generation, we encouraged people to buy savings bonds, in the Great Depression. After World War II, we had the highest savings rate in modern American history because the government encouraged Americans to save. Today, half of Americans don’t own any assets.”

Terry Noffsinger, the lawyer for Stacy Stevens, admits that it has not been easy to make the legal public health case against gambling. Neither of the two cases he has represented has won in court, and one even provoked the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to threaten to sanction him for filing a frivolous claim. But he says the tide is turning. He has a conference call with a group of lawyers across the country about once a month to discuss the issue. Last November a group of Harvard Law students published a white paper making the case for legal action “to protect problem gamblers from the predatory behavior of casinos, including legislative reforms, tort litigation, regulations, and public policies.”

A couple of well-known trial attorneys have joined him on the Stevens suit, including Sharon Eubanks, who was lead counsel on the U.S. case that ended in a judgment in 2006 that the nation’s big tobacco companies fraudulently covered up the health risks of smoking and marketed to children. The Stevens case also makes product liability claims that the slot machines from which casinos draw so much revenue are intentionally designed, manufactured, and distributed to hurt people. Such claims have never been tried before.

“This is a blockbuster case. There are other cases that are starting to come out of the woodwork. The courts are ready to look more favorably upon addicted gamblers,” says Dr. Kindt of University of Illinois. Dr. Kindt published several academic articles in the early 2000s outlining the legal justification for mega-lawsuits against the gambling industry, similar to those which states, individuals, and classes of people filed against Big Tobacco.
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Les has been the National Director of the SPG Foundation since it was formed in 2008. During this time, he has spoken and written extensively about how government sponsorship of casinos and lotteries produces unfairness and inequality in America. He has testified before Congress, he has appeared on national television and radio including 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, National Public Radio and The BBC.  He has been interviewed by national newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and The Los Angeles Times. He has also spoken before dozens of business organizations, college audiences and faith groups across the nation. – See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/about-us/staff/#sthash.TprRtNpY.dpuf

– See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/about-us/staff/#sthash.TprRtNpY.dpuf

In his Harvard talk, Noffsinger said he has had 100 or more people call him for help, many suicidal, nearly all of whom he has had to decline to represent. One of the calls came several years ago from a Boeing employee in Seattle who begged him for legal assistance. She had lost all of her money gambling, sold all of her furniture, and was ready to end it all. When Noffsinger told her he couldn’t represent her, she said she had nothing left to live for. Alarmed, he referred her to a lawyer friend in Seattle who found her counseling. About a year ago, she called Noffsinger and thanked him for saving her life.

“Somebody needs to do something…it may not be me.” Noffsinger told the Harvard students. “It’s going to be an uphill battle, but at the top there’s going to be a great big flag to wave.”

Edited by Barbara Aaron and Dana March and written by: EALINE MEYER of Columbia University …
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Elaine Meyer

Breaking today: Columbia School of Public Health publishes major story on impacts of casinos and lotteries, and addicted and problem gambling”
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My Closing Thoughts:

So my hope is all who come by will take the time to read this article. IT IS TIME to do something about the expansion of Casinos and State Lottery. It’s why I advocate for those of us in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling, and abuse of alcohol when gambling. Many of us in recovery are now seeing a high trend of addicted folks coming in the “rooms” of Gamblers Anonymous, and Alcohol Anonymous with dual addictions and dual diagnosis like myself with after effects of some mental & emotional problems from directly from our addictions. Like I told Elaine, “I have no ill will toward those who can gamble normally, I and many others in recovery can not, and the public needs to know we are OUT here.

 

For me, the years of gambling depleted much of my “Pleasure & Reward”, the dopamine made by my brain, so one of my psych meds is just for that disorder. I now also suffer Agoraphobia with panic, and that too is an after effect from my years of addicted gambling. My bipolar with depression I had never been diagnosed until my first suicide attempt as Elaine mentioned in the article, and I’d been suffering most likely from late childhood. But the gambling addiction brought those symptoms to the surface. And again, Elaine’s article was really well rounded, as she looked at many factors and issues around problem & addicted gambling.

Maybe her next future article can be about the medical & mental health affects on our population from problem & addicted gambling disease.

Much Happiness & Blessings All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend ReBlog From My Good Pal Maggie Of Blog “Sober Courage”~Weekends Can Be Tough!

Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, And New Friends,

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I wanted to share an awesome recovery blog post of my good friend Maggie over at http://sobercourage.com/2014/07/11/100-fun-things-to-do/ Courtesy of “Sober Courage”…..

Now I know I could just use the ‘Reblog’ function, but I wanted to copy it and share the whole post here on my blog. WHY?
Well,….she has 100 fun things, but I think she has only made it to 50 Fun Things! So, I thought we could help her out a little by going to her or my comments and ADD more of what you all do for fun on Friday, or the whole weekend to have LIFE BALANCE in recovery!

Because we all know how the weekends can be when you’re in early recovery. We need to learn, or re-visit those past hobbies and fun things we did before addiction came and stole them all away. So here is the recovery Re-blog.  Her we go!
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Happy Sober Friday!

 fun

 

Friday Night Pep-Talk: 100 Fun Things To Do Sober
Posted by Maggie Shores on July 11, 2014

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There is always the worry when quitting drinking, that once you do, your life will become horribly boring! I have to be honest here, and say that in the beginning, life will definitely feel a bit boring. After all, we were used to doing everything while drinking, so it is no coincidence that we tend to associated all the fun activities with drinking too. Then we take away the drinking, and all of a sudden it seems that the fun is all gone too!

But, OK, let’s be honest here again, where those activities actually fun!? Maybe the first few hours, right? But if you drank anything like me, eventually you would find yourself falling down drunk and in a blackout, and have no recollection of any of this great fun the next day. Ugh. I don’t miss those days!

Having fun in sobriety can be a whole new learning process. Like a toddler learning how to walk, being sober means re-learning everything we thought we once knew how to do only while drinking.  So start with a few things and keep trying something every week. The greatest part of this process is that you may find some new things that are actually really fun to do sober! You can start right now!

I am building a list of 100 fun activities that we can do instead of drink, and I am hoping that you all will pitch in with suggestions so we can make it to 100!! So, please leave your fun ideas in the comments section, and I will be updating this list throughout the day!

Lets fill it up!

  1. Start a free blog at WordPress.
  2. Bake cupcakes or a cake, and decorate. There are many ideas at Bake Decorate Celebrate
  3. Visit a museum, or a historical landmark.
  4. Go to a spa and get pampered.
  5. Make a tie dye t-shirt. Check out these ideas here: Spoonful.com
  6. Explore a city or a town close by, if you are on the east coast, Annapolis, MD is awesome!
  7. Find things to donate to Goodwill.
  8. Go to the local hardware store (Home Depot) – I am telling you, it’s an amazing place really!
  9. Make a pop-up greeting card (YouTube).
  10. Read the dictionary – you’d be surprised what great words you can find.
  11. Make Fruit Leather – aka Fruit Roll- up – see this easy recipe at Simply Recipeskevin
  12. Watch an old “feel good” movie. – My favorite: Singles!
  13. Join  Photo a Day Challenge – Check out this prompt for the day at Fat Mum Slim
  14. Rearrange the furniture in your house.
  15. Learn about something at About.com.
  16. Try on ALL the clothes in your closet.
  17. Start a garden – Here is a how to at BHG.
  18. Pamper yourself with a facial.
  19. Redecorate your bedroom.
  20. Go to the zoo, or find a petting zoo.
  21. Check out In The Rooms www.intherooms.com, a great recovery community.
  22. Learn how to make something at wikiHow.
  23. Get lost on Pinterest.
  24. Meditate! There are many ways to do this and you don’t have to be an expert either.
    Check the How to Meditate site.
  25. See a movie at the drive-in! Oh this is definitely on my list to do!
  26. Bring a blanket and lie on the grass at an outdoor concert.
  27. Make homemade ice cream, there are many great recipes at AllRecipes.com.
  28. Take a fitness class, martial arts, rock climbing, yoga. Sometimes first time classes are free or discounted.
  29. You want to chat? Click the Google + button at the bottom, or MagzShores on Twitter,
    or email: sobercourage@gmail.com.
  30. Take an art class at the local community center.
  31. Research your ancestor at Ancestry.com, they have a 14 day free trail.
  32. Create a Photo Book of your greatest memories, or a recent vacation. See Shutterfly
  33. Learn origami with this tutorial. You don’t have to be Japanese to be good at it.
  34. Design your dream room or make 3D structures on Sketchup!
    The program is completely free!
  35. Take a class to learn how to play a musical instrument.luminosity
  36. Sell your stuff online, you can use eBay, CraigsList and now even on Amazon!
  37. Pick something you love, and then make a website on it! Get started at Webs.
  38. Get a pedicure or a manicure, they are fairly inexpensive and make you feel well pampered.
  39. Listen to your old CDs; I have boxes of those!
  40. Make a wiki page at WikiPedia.
  41. Take some fun quizzes. Are you left brained or right brained? Take the test out Here.
  42. Take up fabric crafts. Knitting, sewing, and
    crochet are fun to do.
  43. Play some fun mind games and sharpen your mind at Luminosity. com.
  44. Do crossword puzzles. You can find free kakuro puzzles at Kakuro.com
    and free Sodoku puzzles at Livewire Puzzles.
  45. Design your own T-Shirts! www.cafepress.com
  46. ___________

What do you do for fun?

*OK Recovery Friends,…. Can you add any others to this Fabulous List of Maggie’s? Lets see if we can. If you have some not listed you can add in comments or email Maggie above. Lets make her proud! Happy Weekend Recovery Friends*…
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Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Author Of  “Addicted To Dimes”
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

“A Recovery Journey To Reach Contentment, Serenity, And A Little Spiritual Peace”….

Hello And Welcome MoonShiners, Recovery Seekers, And Visitors,

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yeah write weekly writing challenge #163 weekend moonshine grid

I remember when I first entered recovery. I was sitting in my first ‘Gamblers Anonymous’ meeting and was listening to others experiences, and the trusted servants that had long-term recovery away from the ‘Bet’ were very inspiring. They spoke about finally getting some, “Peace, Serenity, and some Contentment” in their lives, and in their recovery. So I began to wonder? What is it going to take for ME to reach those 3 ultimate goals?
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Well, those of you who know me know I tell it straight when it comes to my recovery, no sugar or cherries on top because it won’t help me or you. Part of the answer to reach contentment in recovery is? “You have to the work”….  It’s just that simple.

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philippians.

After being in a addictions/mental health crisis center for a total melt down, black out of my mind, I began an out-patient treatment program and weekly group. I also started making GA meetings too. Was I perfect at recovery in the beginning? “Hell No,” but the key was not “TO GIVE UP”!
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As we learn about the disease of compulsive addicted gambling, and alcohol abuse, eventually things that we learn start to sink in and make sense. It will also start to make you feel uncomfortable if you relapse, as these things we learn are in our thoughts, and start to interrupt our addiction. At least for me it did.

Truth is, it took me several times in and out of my gambling treatment program for a few years, attending GA meetings, all the while I’d get some months away from the BET, then relapse. But, I NEVER GAVE UP.
Most of that comes from shame, guilt, denial, control, or thinking we can do recovery on our own, with shear will power! SO HOW IS THAT WORKING FOR YOU? It sure didn’t work out well for me, by 2006 I was back in crisis mode, then back in the crisis center for 21 days for the 2nd time, as I attempted SUICIDE for the 2nd time as well from a bad gambling binge & relapse….

See, the first crisis center stay, I found I was suffering from undiagnosed mental illness. Come to find out, I had been suffering with ‘Bipolar Manic Depression, and PTSD’ from the childhood sex abuse I endured as a little girl. I was using addicted gambling and alcohol when I gambled, to hide and escape from those ‘ugly’ past memories that started to come back and haunt me.
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It’s what I learned in treatment, and through my psychiatrist that was helping me with the bipolar &  my meds. I thought I was so damaged as a human being, and it was hard to accept the woman I became with mental disorders, gambling addiction, and past abuse. I was so, so broken in heart, spirit, mind, body and my soul was “Black”….
#ThoughtForTheDay - Keep It Real 100%
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Not to mention what I was putting my poor husband through with all this mess! But he really understood about, ‘Unconditional Love’ as he worked and stayed with me through all this madness and all the hurt I caused through my addictions. It’s very rare to find a man today with that type of commitment!!..(Sorry Guys).

But it’s true. He stayed and helped me every step of the way. Later in recovery I asked him why he didn’t just leave? His Answer?  “I knew that sweet girl I married those years ago was still in there somewhere.”  He chose to stay and work through all the hurt, pain, past damage, as now we know that together we can make it through any storm, any trial & tribulation that comes our way! Our marriage is so much stronger today than when we got married! He truly is, and will be ‘The Love Of My Life’ until our last breath on this earth. Even knowing about my past, my abuse, he accepted me for the woman I was, and I am today.
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Bring It On!

YEAH BABY!!
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So now we fast forward in my recovery 7 years and 4 months. Wow, has life been interesting!
When I was 4 years into my recovery, I read a little story in our newspaper about a woman who shot herself in her casino hotel room. Boy did that light a fire under me to write, and see all I had been through with my gambling addiction. Didn’t know one day it would be put into a book manuscript by an old friend of mine. Then when she was done, she emailed the first 50 pages to a friend of hers who is publisher, and BAM~POW!,…On my 50th birthday I became a first time published author! Again, that was 2012, and I have been writing, blogging, advocating, and being of recovery service to others ever
since.

WHAT? You ask if I’m aware of how blessed I am? You got it baby! I am a very blessed girl today, but it’s about getting the work done in recovery that will make things happen! We can’t have that ‘Peace, Serenity, and Contentment’ in recovery without doing the work. Now I know your asking what work are you talking about?

It’s the recovery work we get in our treatment programs, support meetings and working through the 12-Steps, and admitting to ourselves that addiction has us beat, and total surrender! Surrender the control you think you have over your addiction! Even if you don’t believe in a program due to thinking it’s a ‘religious’ program, which it’s not, you can still buy a 12-step book/guide to help you work through the “Why’s” of addiction. And the other most important thing to do is learning about how the “Cycle” of addiction can be broken down and interrupted. That’s a MUST.

See, in my published book, I tried to give insights as to why many of us turn to addiction. I share my life and addiction journey, and destruction of what I went through starting as that abused, hurt and damaged little girl that I was. Later in life, that gave me feelings of entitlement as a VICTIM. I used all the ‘negative’ things that happened to me as fuel for my addictions.

Even though it says in the 12-steps that, “we can recover not knowing why we gambled in the first place.”  But for me personally, I learned through treatment and therapy that my past childhood trauma, and the undiagnosed mental illness played a big role in my addiction. Because when those old feelings come back to haunt us, some of us don’t know there are places to go to get help instead of turning to addiction in the first place.
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So we need to know there is a lot of help out there for all types of addictions. I have many listed here on my recovery blog as ‘Recovery Resources’…. and I even have a fantastic ‘Relapse Prevention Guide” too! Relapse doesn’t have to be part of your recovery journey. But, everyone’s recovery path will be different. So choose what feels comfortable for you. Yes, it’s a powerful thing to listen to others testimonies and stories, but some things may work for some, but not for others. Spend time and research all the types of recovery help out there.

And recovery also doesn’t have to be costly either! There are many places that offer low-cost, or even free addiction help. I went through the ‘State of Oregon’s free treatment program, which included my 2 crisis center stays, and it was all paid for by the Oregon Lottery Fund. Pretty ironic right? Of course my point is this, it doesn’t matter where the help and treatment comes from, as long as you get the help you need. Most states may have a “Department of Health in your county, so check there first. They may offer free gambling, alcohol, or drug treatment programs paid by your state.
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Many say; “It takes a village” to get better! So good supportive people in your recovery life is a MUST! Pick your friends wisely. I know sometimes people may not be understanding or supportive, and they call that ‘STIGMA,’ don’t worry about that, you may even lose a few friends along the way, but it’s important to have supportive people in your recovery. You will meet good supportive friends in your 12-step meetings. But you may need to cut loose the one’s who are not ‘Bet free, Drug free, or Alcohol free’…

So do the work! Start those 12-Steps you have been putting off. I even have friends who have NO addiction, but they do the 12-steps to lead better lives. The steps were not written for JUST people in recovery. Many use them as principles of living. And in closing, I hope all who come and visit my blog, KNOW THIS,…. you are not alone. I will be here for all who come seeking recovery from not just ‘Addicted Gambling,’ but all Addictions. I sponsor many on the internet and from my home group in Gamblers Anonymous, http://www.gambleranonymous.org/  http://www.aa.org/  http://www.na.org/  http://wwwfoodaddictsanonymous.org/  http://saa-recovery.org/

And always remember…… recovery is not about Perfection ~ It’s Attitude!

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May God Bless You All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

“To Know The Woman I Am Today, You Need To Know The Little I Was”…
From My Book “Addicted To Dimes” (Confessions of a liar and a cheat)

 


Recovery Thought Of The Day…

Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, And Welcome New Visitors,

Today’s recovery message comes from my good friend and fellow author; “David Wilson.” I received my weekly email from his inspirational blog each week, and thought this weeks really speaks recovery. http://giveitathought.com
It shows that we all can see or hear the same thing, but we all my interpret it differently from one another. It’s the same with recovery. We all come from different paths of addictions into recovery, but each one of our testimonies, our stories are much different from each other…
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*Today’s Thought* ~

Two men look through the same window just after a rain storm. 
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One sees the muddy ground that will hinder his daily chores, while the other sees the sunshine that brings warmth and brightens the day. The difference in each man’s view is caused by their different belief systems. Their belief system governs their perceptions and how they choose to believe. It’s the classic question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” It all depends on your perception and the way you think about it.  Keep in mind the saying, “The Sea Can’t Sink a Ship Unless it Gets In, and Negativity Can’t Drag You Down Unless You Let it In”.

*Courtesy of my friend; “David Wilson” of http://giveitathought.com *
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I believe this to be very true in recovery as well. Many get stuck on that part of incorrect thinking when we first start recovery. Especially addicted compulsive gamblers. We want instant answers, things to happen right now! Now we all know that won’t happen, so we have to learn ‘Patients’…

We need to work on our core belief that addiction has up licked, so we enter recovery because we keep doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result that never happens. The same damn thing happens, more negativity, sabotage, and more pain from gambling and loosing more money, from drinking and can’t stop after a couple of drinks, and we need to shoot up once again, because were coming down and just can’t handle it! So we continue the old ‘behaviors and habits’ for a quick fix, and instant gratification. We have forgotten how to ‘feel’.

A good example of this is 12-step programs. Either for AA, GA, Na, and others. Many come for a bit, and then stop coming because they feel that the “Unity & Fellowship,” along with a ‘Higher Power’ automatically makes a 12-step meeting a “Religious” program, when we all know that is not true. That part of the program is to be stronger than just ONE Addict, and so we come together in “Unity” for a common goal and principles of the program. We share fellowship so we know we don’t have to be alone in addiction or recovery. We have support of the fellowship as we read the combo book together in our meetings, then we share our experiences, strength, and hope for the other part of our meetings. We share our past, present and today, trying to stay in, or attain recovery from addictions. Many people do believe in God, and his son Jesus Christ as their personal choice as Higher Power, but we use HP so all who come into fellowship can believe in who ever is their own.

 

That’s the beauty of a 12-step programs. But as our ‘Today’s Thought” shows us, we all can see one thing but all believe something different. Hey, there are ‘Many’ recovery options out there today. Even on the Internet. We have no shortage of awesome recovery programs to seek support, treatment, and to be with others like ourselves. There are hundreds of good support groups as well! One of my favorites is http://www.myaddiction.com …They have info and support about every type of addiction out there! Another great place in which I also have a recovery blog at is; Recovery Author, Kate Stevens… Addictionland,… http://www.addictionland.com

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What you have to ask yourself if your still being a participant in your addiction is,….are you willing to look inside yourself, truly admit you are an addict?  Denial can be a funny beast, and will keep us from the help and life in recovery we deserve, being clean, sober, and bet free! So those are my recovery ramblings and thoughts for the day!
I hope you all are enjoying your long holiday weekend friends!
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SO,….You have any ‘Thoughts” about today’s topic?
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Many Blessings Friends,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485