“WHAT? The Holidays Are Here Already? ~What To Do In Recovery Around The Holidays …

Hello Recovery Friends and New Friends & Visitors,

 

.

.
.
Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a rough time around this time of the year. I know I have in the past ‘self sabotaged’ my own Christmas season. WHAT?
You want to know how I did that?

Well, I hate telling “gambling war stories” of my past “Compulsive Addicted Gambling”, but we all know we can learn a lot from others stories and personal experiences, so here goes! …

It was back around Christmas 2005, and we had almost lost our home to foreclosure, but a good friend of ours got a “short sale” done just before it did in late September. I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, and low self-worth that I knew it was because of my past gambling is how we got into this mess in the first place! Of course, no excuse’s, just insights.
.
Well, that and were we lived was the first area hit hard at the very beginning of the financial & housing markets starting to collapse,  jobs going away, and we were having a rough go of it trying to get past the financial devastation from my past years of addicted gambling, along with my husband loosing his County job due to the Oregon timber funds no longer being given to Oregon communities.
.
So the house sold, we rented a place to live and moved. But we didn’t get enough for the house to pay much off. And the rest of the money, and around Christmas? I had a bad Gambling Relapse. NO, not a one time slip, a bad relapse and binge. That was toward my final ROCK BOTTOM. It was so bad, that at the end, I tried to commit suicide for the 2nd time!! That’s how bad a binge it was. AND? I actually committed a crime. But that is a whole other blog post, or, you can read my full memoir of all I have been through with gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, living at that time with mental and emotional illness/disorders, thanks to all the years of compulsive addictive gambling, and all the cunning bad habits & behaviors we pick up along the way.
.
It was at this time as I was in this relapse that I went through much of the money left over from the house, that was supposed to pay a chunk of a small balance on a private held 2nd mortgage. WELL. that never happened. I would gamble at two different types of places. The first was an Indian Casino North 42 miles from my home in Oregon. Then, I also gambled at many places that the Oregon Lottery had retail stores, with 6 video and slot style casino games on them. I could walk across the street to a bar and gamble AND drink! I could go up another few blogs and there were 4 other places I could go gamble too! Gambling through the Oregon Lottery is everywhere in Oregon.

.

.


.
.

.
I had done well in my recovery, and had about 6 months gamble free at the time. But something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter the addiction, it’s ‘always waiting’ for us. Like the holidays for instance, and the point of this post, we can have a lot of temptations around us at this time of year. There are holiday parties for both personal and work related, we may have had fall outs, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9…make amends where ever possible) with friends and family, many different reasons that can wind up as a trigger or bring on urges. Stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads!
.
OK, where was I? OH, … if we are never shown, or work on “The Cycle” of addiction, we will always be one drinks, one pill, one needle, and one BET away form relapse. I know I talk about the “cycle” of addiction a lot because I never really was told, taught, or broke it down until way later in my recovery. Hard to believe, as I had gone to Gamblers Anonymous, and been in the rooms of AA for years, been in and out of out-patient gambling treatment programs, and in-patient treatment, therapy, AND, … treatment groups, and never was sat down and taught the full cycle of addiction, and broken down part by part.
And the ironic part? My treatment and crisis stays were paid for by profits from the Oregon Lottery!!

.

.
Now there is always an event, thoughts, or even a feelings that triggers us. Then the build up, then we end up giving in and gamble, drink, or use that drug. After we feel guilt, shame, and remorse for being weak, and on and on. But if we are not shown or taught to break each section apart of the CYCLE, and learn to have awareness and feel when things are not right BEFORE you have that slip or relapse, then you will be forever stuck on that wheel of the addiction cycle. It needs to be interrupted and changed.
.
Now here are some things I had to learn to get out of that ‘cycle’ and stay safe! Oh, and my other gambling war story? Make that long story short, I blew 8,000.00 in 2 1/2 months!!! That’s how cunning and insane addicted compulsive gambling really IS!! Yes, I had a choice, but when your sick, in the middle of an addiction, you don’t make health choices. I was gambling at the Oregon lottery places two and three times a day.
.
And yes, I look back on those days and think, “what a frigging waste of money”.  But, you lose all sense of value of money, well, actually you don’t FEEL anything. And if you win? You’ll gamble every penny, and if you lose?, you’ll be out chasing the money you lost!  I was so zoned out when I crossed that line into addicted gambling, and one reason I take one of my meds for mental illness. Because all the years of addicted gambling depleted my brains ‘pleasure and reward’ feelings and chemicals to the point that I got no pleasure out of anything, yes, … even sex. I knew you all where thinking that right? LOL.
It’s been almost 8 years in recovery and I still don’t have a bank ATM/Debit card. It could be a trigger.
.
That is one of the things I did. Well, my husband did to safe guard himself and our money. Not that now he doesn’t trust me, I don’t still trust MYSELF, because my addiction and I are always ONE BET AWAY from disaster. Another thing to tie all this up in a Big Christmas Recovery Bow, is to have a “Relapse Plan” ready to use when this time of year rolls around. Actually, for anytime. We face life events all the time in our recovery. It’s one of the ways our addiction can tempt us. When were vulnerable. Also with HALT…
H-Hungry … A-Angry … L-Lonely … T-Tired ….
.
Some of my relapses happened that I talk about in my current published book, Addicted To Dimes. When I attempted suicide the first time, it was from addicted gambling and undiagnosed Bipolar.
Spent 19 days in a Mental & Addiction crisis center, with the first 4 days on suicide watch. Not Fun! Second time, like I shared earlier, a bad gambling relapse/binge, and some of my Bipolar and severe depression meds stopped working to, but not the reason for me relapsing.
That’s on me. And I have taken accountability and ownership for all my misdeeds I did within my addiction. I have done much of the deep recovery work to learn about my addiction, how to stay in recovery, the inner work of my character defects, and more.
.
I still have a sponsor today, and she says I’m her model recovery student! LOL.
So do yourself a favor this Holiday Season, and give yourself a Christmas gift. Go to my resource pages here on my blog, and copy & paste my “Relapse Prevention Guide” I have posted here. It has all you need to know about keeping you and your families money SAFE. I had to copy and paste the whole work book myself to put it here for all to use.
It will save you through life events and the holidays!
.

OR A PROBLEM GAMBLER.
.

Yes, I still have had moments when life throws way to much your way in life, and no matter how hard, and how much recovery work you do, you still need a relapse plan.
When I lost my mom and my best friend from cancer in 2002? I had a huge relapse. It was not pretty!!
And some of my triggers? Paydays, and paychecks! If I had no money to gamble with, I would obsess until it was payday! And off I went! Can’t tell how many times I spent a whole paycheck in just an HOUR of addicted gambling! Does this sound familiar anyone?
.
The other thing you need to do in your recovery, again, learn and break down the “Cycle” of addiction.
The last gambling specialist I had, and I talk about him to in my book, worked with me for a whole year on the cycle of gambling addiction. He would not release me until I could tell him how to interrupt the cycle and tell him each part of addiction cycle. HE drove me crazy! But, he is a big part of why I’m a success in my recovery today. I call him my ANGEL. Thanks to Boyd I will celebrate 8 years in recovery on Jan 29th. 2015. He helped me get my Life Back!
.
So I wish you all a Fabulous Holiday Season! And if you know anyone who may be a problem gambler, please share my recovery blog link with them. It just might save their life …
.
Good Resources about Problem and Addicted Gambling can be found at
Gamblers Anonymous: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/  and a great place to is The National Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/
And the National Hotline for Gambling Addiction ~ 1-800-522-4700. And of course you can buy and mail my book or e-book of my personal story of Gambling Addiction as a Christmas Gift too!
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A

May God Bless You All,
Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Today Is The Last Day Of “Problem Gambling Awareness Month” Are You A Problem Gambler?

How does one know if they have a Gambling Problem?


.
One of the best ways you can find if you’re a “Problem Gambler” is to visit http://www.gamblersanonymous.org and take the “20 Questions Quiz”…

Gamblers Anonymous 20 Questions…

Please answer the following questions.

1. Did you ever lose time from work due to gambling?

__________yes__________ no

2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?

__________yes__________ no

3. Did gambling affect your reputation?

__________yes__________ no

4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?

__________yes__________ no

5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?

__________yes__________ no

6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?

__________yes__________ no

7. After losing, did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?

__________yes__________ no

8. After a win, did you ever have a strong urge to return and win more?

__________yes__________ no

9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?

__________yes__________ no

10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?

__________yes__________ no

11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?

__________yes__________ no

12. Were you reluctant to use gambling money for normal expenditures?

__________yes__________ no

13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?

__________yes__________ no

14. Did you ever gamble longer than you planned?

__________yes__________ no

15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?

__________yes__________ no

16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance your gambling?

__________yes__________ no

17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?

__________yes__________ no

18. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustration create within you an urge to gamble?

__________yes__________ no

19. Did you have an urge to celebrate good fortune by a few hours of gambling?

__________yes__________ no

20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

__________yes__________ no

 

*Most compulsive (problem) gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.

If client answers “yes” to at least seven of the 20 questions, the client may have a gambling problem.*
.
WHAT IS PROBLEM GAMING?
.
Here is the definition of ‘Problem Gambling’ by the helpful friends Of “The National Council Of Problem Gambling” http://www.ncpgambling.org/
.

Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term “Problem Gambling” includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as “Pathological”, or “Compulsive” Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.
.
Please note the statistics below are generally estimates on a national basis, and in most cases are based on compilations of various state or regional studies. Therefore, these figures should be taken as broad generalizations, and not specific scientific findings. It is the purpose of the NCPG to encourage the development of more and better research on this issue and to be able to provide the public, government, industry and decision makers with this type of information. Additional information may be found in the literature and links on our Resources page. For information specific to a state, contact our State Affiliate council members. To find a National Certified Gambling Counselor (NCGC), please search our counselor database.
.
Pathological Gambling Criteria:

 10 Questions About Gambling Behavior

1. You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
2. You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
3. Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
4. You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
5. You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
6. You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling.
7. You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
8. You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
9. You have been remorseful after gambling.
10. You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
.
AGAIN: If you or someone you know answers “Yes” to any of these questions, consider seeking help from a professional regarding this gambling behavior by calling the National Problem Gambling Help-Line Network (800.522.4700) toll-free and confidential throughout the U.S…..

.
Besides my OWN VOICE of the dangers of problem and addicted gambling, here are a few more “Real Voices” of those who have had gambling problems. Our stories can be “Powerful” to help others who may suffer and need to reach out for HELP!
.
In order to get beyond the statistics and provide a more personal and individual picture of this issue, this section features the stories of individuals who have been affected by problem gambling, including problem gamblers and their family members, friends, colleagues and employers; treatment providers; advocates; and any others….
.

Roger is a gambling addict. Once he starts gambling, his repeated experience is that he can’t stop. His addiction takes over. He cannot gamble sensibly. He is a compulsive gambler, an addict.

His gambling problems do not begin with a  bookmaker or in a casino. His gambling addiction is part of him. He has a compulsive nature.

He is highly talented. In the rag trade, he had made a million by the age of 25. He had a trophy wife, a fine home, a posh car and loads a money to spend on ‘toys’, the ‘must have’ trinkets that made him feel special.

Roulette WheelBut then he discovered casinos and bookmakers and his gambling problem took off. He tried to control his betting but his stakes increased. He was soon clearly addicted to gambling, and possibly to alcohol and cigarette smoking as well, although he would not admit it. He complained that he was stressed.

Playing poker online started to take over from other gambling experiences. He hoped he would be safe, out of the clutches of the bookies and croupiers, but the amount he lost grew with each game. His problems increased.

He lost the support of his wife when he emptied their joint account at the bank. It had been intended to be used for school fees and holidays.
He then gambled with cash taken from his work. But soon he would lose more than he could earn. So he began to steal. As an addicted gambler who had lost control, he could not stop.
****************************

Sheila was an alcoholic for many years and had discovered Alcoholics Anonymous. She met other addicts who also dealt with other addictions through similar anonymous groups. She began to see that anything can be addictive. Using a drug or alcohol, primarily to change feelings, was no less dangerous than eating excessively or using obsessive sex or other compulsive relationships.

 

online gamblingShe began to gamble on the Internet, just an occasional punt here or there. But, for her, a card was a drug. She went from two bets a week to two bets a day and then, later, to twenty bets a day. She knew that this was problem gambling. Now she recoganized that she was a problem gambler.

 

She had legal problems when she couldn’t pay her bills and she got further into debt.

 

Like any other addict, she was eventually in so much pain, emotionally, financially and socially, that she asked for counciling. She wanted advice on how she could learn to gamble, or drink or use other addictive substances, sensibly.

 

I explained that there was no way back. She had crossed the line. She felt under attack and said that all she wanted was to be able to have the occasional tipple or flutter. I said that her own experience showed that this had not been possible in the past and was unlikely to be possible in the future.

 

Her parents allowed her to borrow money so she could get the help she needed, or she would continue to switch one addiction for another……

*These are just a couple of stories from those who became addicted to gambling. It’s truly why I published my book of my own story od addicted gambling. So others can know that you can recover from this “destructive disease.” There is NO SHAME in asking for help! Your first step is just picking up the phone and call for help. That’s really HALF the BATTLE of your RECOVERY!*
.
*National Gambling Help Line ~ 1-800-522-4700
*National Suicide Hotline ~ 1-800-273-8255
.
May God Bless You All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
.
.
REMEMBER, It’s Not about “Perfection” in Recovery….it’s about “Progress”!! ODAAT Recovery Friends…