Breaking Through Stigma and Raising Awareness About Problem Gambling To Those Who Gamble? Ground Breaking.


In no way shape or form am I endorsing or encouraging others to gamble. But for those who can for the right reasons of a few hours of fun and entertainment, and share Responsible Gambling and my story when you don’t? That to me is progress! We know gambling will never be banned or prohibited, that wouldn’t be fair to those who can for enjoyment. Having a direct source to share my story on a gambling watch dog site is Ground Breaking…

~Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon


A few weeks ago I had been approached with an invitation to be interviewed by an overseas company that is a gambling watch dog for gamblers of all types to keep them safe. They have a blacklist of venues who may use bad practices when it comes to online gambling options at all types of casinos.

Now, I know many who come to visit here may be maintaining recovery like myself, so I won’t mention the site by name. They wanted to do a interview as they are revamping their website and they are hosting new pages of resources and raising awareness about problem gambling and patrons to practice responsible gambling.

At first I thought? Hell No! I would NOT be willing to be on a site like this where people come to look for the best places to gamble. Because I thought it would be like endorsing GAMBLING! Then, I went and explored the website and seen that “The National Council On Problem Gambling” is listed as a resource and I do a lot of networking with them and am a member as an advocate.

So I thought, what an amazing way to reach people who may need help and these resources and be able to help them before they get way to deep into full blown addicted gambling?

In no way shape or form am I endorsing or encouraging others to gamble. But for those who can for the right reasons of a few hours of fun and entertainment, and share Responsible Gambling and my story when you don’t? That to me is progress! We know gambling will never be banned or prohibited, that wouldn’t be fair to those who can for enjoyment. Having a direct source to share my story on a gambling watch dog site is Ground Breaking…


It would be right at the source and where the people are who may need to hear MY STORY, Raise Awareness, and help Shatter Stigma by letting them no there is NO SHAME reaching out for help if gambling begins to interrupt any areas of their daily lives.

So I wanted to share the interview questions they asked of me and how I answered them. This really is an awesome opportunity and a ground breaking idea to also help break the stigma of those who may or do have a gambling problem know that it’s OK to reach out for help! ~Catherine


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No Shame In Asking For HELP


INTERVIEW WITH A RECOVERING GAMBLER ~ Champion of Awareness


When did you first start gambling? What got you into it?

Answer:
I had always enjoyed gambling with my girlfriends as we would go to Reno or the Indian Casino a couple of times a year and never had a problem. It used to be a fun thing to do for an hour or so with friends. Have lunch at the deli and play a little.

I don’t come from a family background or parents who were gamblers. For me, it began around age 30 when I noticed I began gambling a little more than an average person. Now, with 14+years of being bet free and maintaining my recovery, it started after a life event, when my brother-in-law passed away in 1992.

At the same time, I was living in the Oregon, (USA) and they had introduced video poker machines, later in the 2000s they slot style games to the machines. But when my brother-in-law passed away, I began to notice I was gambling more. By 1996, gambling became a problem and I was going more and more often. See, some of the reasons I used gambling was for an escape or trying to cope with the grief.

On top of this, I experienced childhood sexual trauma and abuse. When that pain came back and the grief of loss, I started gambling more. Those roots and underlying issues are why I used gambling to numb out. Sadly, once you lose control over your gambling and get sucked into the “cycle,” you can never gamble normally again. My gambling became a full-blown addiction.

One area stood out to me. Having a lot of access can bring gambling excess. I could walk across the street and gamble, or walk a block or two and gamble. Not only did we have Indian Casinos not too far, but the lottery video machines where in all our restaurants, deli’s, bars, and taverns. Very accessible.


Did you ever gamble online? What kind of sites?

Answer:
Believe it or not, at that time, I never gambled online. First, because we did not have internet at that time. Second, I was lover of all the lights, bells, and noises of a casino or playing the lottery sponsored machines. Even today, the online casinos really don’t cross my mind. I will be honest and transparent and share I have been to Casino.org and tried your free play games to see what is new for research for my advocacy work to stay updated on the trends, but I don’t play or buy anything! I don’t even play Facebook games. Even though there are games like trivia or scrabble type games, still, I avoid them.


Which games did you play most?

Answer:
When I did play back then be it at a casino or the lottery machines, I mostly played the slots or video poker.
I loved slots that had fun bonus rounds like video poker called “Flush Fever” …But most times I’d play slots.


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Speaking at an addiction and recovery awareness event
at the Arizona State Capitol.



When did you notice it was becoming a problem? What were the signs?

Answer:
Again, I have to say it started in 1992, but really ramped up and crossed the line into full-blown gambling addiction around 1998. I had begun gambling more, higher betting, playing more money until I attempted suicide and my first addiction Crisis Center stay an began treatment for addicted gambling in November of 2002.

That is how bad my problem gambling became. It was a slow progressive climb to where I ended up a statistic of 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try suicide. Looking back now, some of the warning signs were gambling for longer periods of time, lie about why I was gone so long. Stop doing things I enjoyed, missing family get togethers, call in sick to work if I was winning, ignored medical or dental appointments, work, began having money problems and arguments over money with my husband, etc.


How did gambling negatively affect you? E.g. financially, in relationships

Answer:
Some of the above and eventually when you have no money to gamble with? I began selling or pawning things of value, took out credit cards and payday loans my husband had no idea about. Dug us in a huge financial hole and lost my friendships with most of my friends. Would argue with co-workers, lost jobs over my gambling until it became NOT gambling with money any longer, I was gambling with my life and had two failed suicide attempts. Those were just some of the negative impacts I had from my gambling addiction. It was a never ending battle if I won or lost. When you lose control, when you win? You think you will win all the time. When you lose? You go back out and chase the money you lost. It become a sick “cycle” you can’t seem to get out of.


What did you do to overcome your addiction?

Answer:
I did ANY and EVERYTHING I could get my hands on to recover!

After my second failed suicide attempt in Jan. 2006, I started gambling treatment, again, and in the Addiction Crisis Center again and I guess you can call it a “do-over”… I finally surrendered to the fact that I can never gamble again like regular people who don’t have a problem. I had lost all control over my gambling to the point that it almost cost me my life. See, it is NOT about the money lost or won, it became life or death for me.

Here I was again, I began in-patient treatment for 30-days and transitioned into out-patient for the next 6-months, attended Gamblers Anonymous for many years as a source of support, treatment therapy, worked with an addiction specialist for a year to help me process and overcome the childhood trauma I endured, learn the process of forgiving and making my amends where needed. And began to slowly work through my financial inventory and slowly paying all my debts. I attend “Celebrate Recovery “virtually.

In 2010 to 2011, I wrote my memoirs to see everything gambling addiction had taken from me and my family and was published in book form in 2013 by “The Kodel Empire Publishing group.” In it I share the Why and How I became a gambling addict. It’s titled “Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Lair and a Cheat” available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online bookstores.


What advice do you have for someone else who may be struggling?

Answer:
First, don’t wait to get help or suffer in silence like I did for many years from problem gambling. There
is help available in all states in the USA and in many countries around the world. There is no shame in reaching out for confidential help. If you’re not sure where to look for help, I founded and run my website called “Bet Free Recovery Now (Dot Com)” and have a page of resources of places I trust and have advocated alongside the work they do and the treatment services offered to those with a gambling problem or a full-blown gambling addiction.

No matter what type or your preference of gambling problem you may have, be it online gambling, casinos, lottery, bingo etc., there are many options for treatment and help to gain your life back. I need to be real and honest about gambling triggers, cravings, and urges to gamble, they will only subside when you refrain from gambling, and you’ll learn the skills and tools to help you refrain from gambling when you chose to get help.

realistically gambling of all types will never be banned or prohibited, and in some world countries, gambling is still illegal. And in the USA, there are still some states that sports betting online gambling is also illegal. Banning gambling would not be fair to those who can do it with no problems what so ever.

However, the public needs to be aware of the dangers and pitfalls and if or when it becomes a problem within there lives.


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Advocate/Author Catherine Lyon