MAY YOU ALL HAVE A BLESSED, HAPPY, SAFE, AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
I was invited a few years back to be interviewed by my friend Lisa Frederiksen for her fantastic informational recovery website. I thought I would share some of my interview she did, as she was kind enough to do so and to have a new platform to raise awareness about how I learned to “break the cycle” of my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse as I began the road to long-term recovery.
I was honored and jumped on the chance, (lol) as she has helped many from addiction as a powerful advocate, speaker, and in writing as a popular author of several addiction/recovery books, like her newest title, “10th Anniversary Edition If You Loved Me, You’d Stop!: What You Really Need to Know When Your Loved One Drinks Too Much (1) available on Amazon online.
First, here is more about Lisa and our interview I so appreciated her doing about me and please visit her website OFTEN at BREAKING THE CYCLES …
LISA’S NEW BOOK IS a MUST READ:
ABOUT LISA FREDERIKSEN:
Lisa Frederiksen founded Breaking The Cycles.com to provide education, prevention, and intervention services on a range of addiction*-related topics anchored in 21st-century brain and scientific research.
This research was guided by her 40+ years of personal experience with secondhand drinking, a concept she first introduced in 2009. Working to overcome its impact, she’s spent the last 16 years studying and simplifying this research on topics related to her experiences. These topics include alcoholism, drug addiction, alcohol, and other drug use disorders, mental illness, co-occurring disorders, the family member’s experience, toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, codependency, brain development, and childhood trauma.
Lisa’s goal in founding BreakingTheCycles.com in 2008 was to change, and in some cases simply start, the conversations on these topics so that together we can end the stigma, misinformation, and shame that keep over 120 million Americans stuck fighting something they truly don’t understand. This 120 million represents those struggling with their misuse of alcohol or other drugs and the people – typically family members and friends – who love them and try desperately to help them stop.
She does this through presentations, workshops, consulting, blogging and media outreach. Lisa holds a BA in Economics, the University of California at Davis and with over 39+years of experience? You’ll need to visit her page as there is TOO MUCH TO LIST! (Lol.) Here: “Changing The Conversation”…
**The term “addiction” may be regarded as equivalent to a severe substance use disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, 2013).**
Recovery from Gambling Addiction. Interview With Catherine Townsend-Lyon
“Now that gambling addiction is currently the #1 addiction with the highest suicide rate than any other and over 16 million problem gamblers in just the US alone, I want to share some of my story and devastation in my life due to this cunning addiction,” says Catherine Townsend-Lyon, today’s guest author.
Best-selling Kodel Empire Publishing Author of the book, Addicted To Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat, Catherine is a freelance recovery writer, a former columnist for “In Recovery Magazine’s ‘The Author’s Café’.” She also writes for several addiction/recovery publications, including: “Keys to Recovery” and will be featured in next month’s issue of “Recovery Today Magazine.” Catherine was chosen as a contributor to a major media article published by Time.com and Nautilus.us magazines titled; “Addicted to Anticipation: What goes wrong in the brain chemistry of a gambling addict.”
Catherine is an Expert Recovery blogger of Gambling Addiction Recovery for Addictionland.com and is the founder and author of her blog here at “Bet Free Recovery Now” covering gambling addiction and recovery.
Recovery from Gambling Addiction by Catherine Townsend-Lyon
My name is Catherine, and I am a recovering compulsive addicted gambler. Jan 29th, 2020 will be my 13th-year mark in recovery, but will never forget where I have come from with gambling addiction. I came from the depths of hell, hopelessness, and despair. Gambling addiction took just about everything from me like family, friends, reputation, jobs, my home, car, almost my marriage and cost me way more than money; it almost cost me my life twice from suicide.
At the same time, I was also suffering from undiagnosed mental & emotional health issues and disorders I had no idea about until 2002. My first failed suicide attempt. I woke up in the hospital with bandages wrapped around both my wrists and could hear two people talking about knives all over my living room as I blacked out again. They were the two EMTs and a police officer who brought me to the hospital as I found out a few weeks later. All I remember was everything going black in nothingness. Now I know it was a complete mind and body break down. A mental/emotional blackout. From there I went to an addiction/mental crisis center. Was on suicide watch the first few days.
Shortly after, a psychiatrist started working with me. And of course, here I am, I was a compulsive gambler and being dually-diagnosed with mental health disorders. So, I started working with an addictions counselor as well as a psychiatrist. I had attempted to stop gambling on my own but felt I could control it on my own. I failed with many relapses and binges due to the “diseased thinking” while in outpatient treatment. I guess I had not reached my bottom yet. Even after a 28 day stay in a crisis center and a suicide attempt!
What was wrong with me?
It’s called ADDICTION. It is a sickness that is very hard to overcome. But possible. And this wasn’t my last time I would work this circuit. Not due to actively gambling, due to the financial pressures from this disease, I had another suicide attempt in 2006 as it seemed I had not done enough work in all areas of recovery, including my financial inventory. First lesson? A well-balanced recovery plan.
But in 2006 I also just wanted to be normal, live life in recovery without having to take medications for mental/emotional issues. So, I stopped taking them thinking it was just the gambling that was causing my mental illness problems of PTSD, manic depression, mania, anxiety, and bipolar insomnia cycles. So, within two weeks of no meds? I was back to severe depression and suicidal. What was my answer?
I took all my meds at once. I had gotten to that dark, black hole of hopelessness again. Back in the hospital again, another 20-day crisis center and 4 days of suicide watch. When released this time, I had learned the hard way that I need to take my meds to maintain my mental/emotional health and well-being as they call this being “dually diagnosed or dual diagnosis.”
Recovery with even negative experiences, sprinkled with some “faith” can show us many life lessons in recovery. If we are not learning them, we won’t see our growth. Even when you are not participating in your preference of addiction, we can still have problems arise and life challenges in recovery, so being prepared is vital.
NOW, The Rest of My Story Can Be Read on Lisa’s Amazing Website At “Changing The Conversation”…
And, again, all of her books are very well written and so helpful for anyone who is suffering in silence from addictions. Please, give her a visit if you are a person maintaining recovery and there are exceptional information and advice even for family members as well.
Thirteen years ago I was within Total Darkness.
I was HOPELESS, Broken, and Shattered.
I was LOST and Never Thought I’d Wake Up From Hell.
I was Sick, an ADDICT and Filled With FEAR …
WHEN MY EYES FINALLY OPENED From My Second SUICIDE ATTEMPT …
I Was Still Frightened, Constant Pain, and LOST. BUT THEN?
I Seen A Sliver Of GODS LIGHT, I GRAB ON TIGHT, and I BEGAN TO RISE FROM THE ASHES OF ADDICTION!
GOD Whispered In My EAR … I Bless You With HOPE…
So, as I celebrate my 13th Year Maintaining Recovery, I still hold on to HOPE.
HOPE is what helps me have trust that all things are possible. Even RECOVERY.
Just as the definition of HOPE tells us:
HOPE – Noun: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
HOPE – Verb: want something to happen or be the case. A feeling of trust.
GOD has shown and given me the meaning of hope, of trust, and through his love, his forgiveness, and mercy, all the hard work of recovery, you begin to grow a new life from the ashes of addiction, learn to be able to break free from gambling addiction and start living my life within redemption, grace, humility and with a heart of Gratitude with all the blessings I have received and through each and everything I do today in both my personal and my professional life.
Today, as an ADVOCATE, author, writer, sponsor, speaker and passing on the given HOPE and share it through my Recovery Service to Others. Paying it forward to the lost, the least, and those suffering from any addiction but especially gambling addiction. I have broken free from the bondage of addiction and share what I have learned. Addiction never discriminates on who it will TOUCH. No one person is safe from addictions. We don’t wake up one day and say; “I think I’ll become an ADDICT and destroy my life.”
It doesn’t happen that way. Most times we learn through the process of treatment and recovery that there may be underlying issues and roots to how and why we turned to addiction. Many times we find it comes from trauma or tragic events in our life like childhood or teen years. And as I said earlier, NO ONE IS IMMUNED.
Just like a new recovery friend of mine, I will call him Lang. He was touched by addictions, homeless, and lost in that darkness I spoke of, as was set off by several traumatic events that happened to him as a young teen that shaped how most of his life had turned out until a year and a half ago, now maintaining sobriety. He shares the first part of his story and testimony like I did yesterday as I was invited and featured in the Ventura, CA., Newspaper of The Citizens Journal thanks to Lang.
So I hope you will take the time to give my Featured Story titled; An Addiction That Requires No Substances – This Is My Story a read for those who visit and don’t know where I came from. And? Below is Lang’s Story – Part One also in the Citizens Journal and has 8 parts total. If you are interested in reading his whole story after Part One? You can read all of Lang’s testimony beginning here within The Citizens Journal “Nobody Knows But Me.”
BIO of Writer/Advocate Lang Martinez:
On July 25, 2018, I begged God if you save my life I will give it all back to you, ” I PROMISE”
You can also find my articles in the Citizens Journal. US of Ventura County, CA.
Nobody Knows But Me: My story about being homeless on the streets of Oxnard- Part 1
What caused me personally to become homeless living on the streets in Oxnard?
Methamphetamine use. Being homeless definitely taught me a whole new learning experience of self-perseverance and survival. Bottom line, trust no one but yourself!
My number one priority in life while on the streets was to get my poison, my meth. You need money to buy that poison so how did I get the money? Speaking for myself, I’d commit what’s known as a “booster”, in other words, petty theft. If caught, petty theft in the eyes of the law is an arrest and a small stint in the county jail. With my past incarcerations, committing a felony could have sent me back to prison for a long time.
For me, a man of 55, that would be a possible life sentence. I’d steal different kinds of merchandise, from supermarkets, department stores, etc. The items I stole would range from hygiene products, clothes, electronics, food, basically anything I could sell for money to feed my addiction. Being active on the streets in Oxnard, I learned how some business establishments would even buy your stolen items. Some stores would go as far as to personally tell you what items to steal for them and then pay you 20 to 30% of the actual value. Then they would turn around and sell the items and their store for full retail. This was my profession on the streets to supply my addiction.
My second priority on the streets was food, which I never went without. I learned by trial and error that stores like the Dollar Tree or the 99 Cent Store do not have security or surveillance cameras. There is always plenty of food at these stores to steal, so for me being hungry was never an issue. These stores also have socks and underwear. By stealing these items I didn’t have to worry about not having clean underwear or socks to wear on a daily basis.
My third priority was to find a hidden spot where no one could find or see you including the police. Being hidden, you can do whatever you want and as most addicts do- get high! Being hidden is also a safety net from other homeless people on the streets in Oxnard. A homeless person will ultimately find any opportunity they can to steal everything you have, somehow, or someway. Remember what I said from the beginning, “trust no one but yourself”. Even though we are our own enemy, you still don’t trust anyone but yourself!
My personal thoughts on the whole agenda of the recent conference “Humanizing the Homelessness in Oxnard“. First of all, I don’t believe that the city of Oxnard cared enough to really bring this over-arching, overdue problem to the public. Not that the people of Oxnard can’t see it for themselves, but really face it. People of Faith say, “there is hope for everyone.” My question and response to that: “what about them”? This all took place when college students picked an agenda to do their paper on.
You don’t have to be educated or have a degree to allow yourself to have true feelings to care and make a difference. It was the students from CSUCI that cared enough to bring attention to this problem. The importance of people, good people, dying on the streets in Oxnard, CA.
My point, it took college students on Thursday, May 9th, 2019 at 3 p.m. to make awareness of this and not the city of Oxnard.
Editor’s note: The author told us he’s spent a total of about 6 years on the streets (non-contiguously) in LA and Oxnard and been in multiple recovery programs. He says he is clean now and taking one day at a time, trying to help local homeless people.
We were intrigued by Mr. Martinez’s story and inquired about his recovery status and activities, which will be in future articles in the Citizens Journal. He sent us the statement below and asked us to rewrite it for him, but it’s just too good to edit much! I was in tears as I read of his passion, sincerity, and pain. I also know that he is backing it up with action, so at least one more person is now added to his list . . .
“George, I don’t know quite know how to write it, but I want to say it. That I’ve been sober 3x in 5 years and also worked in RECOVERY, But this time is different because I didn’t want to die like this knowing that Nobody would say anything good about me and all I wanted if I did die, was just one person to say something good about me.
Everyone in my condition doesn’t want to die like this or live like this anymore and we do make promises to God if he would take us out of this misery. What is different about my promise to God this time? I said God, please don’t let me die like this! Please save me one more time and this time I will keep my promise. I will give it all back to you.
George, you know what I’m saying, so you write it the way you want? Also, I don’t want to be referred to as a homeless person- I’m NOT anymore. I trust you. I used to be homeless and all I’m doing is keeping my promise, George. You have to understand that I don’t ever want to go back to that life again and the only way I won’t is being on the STREETS telling them what my Lord and Savior did for me he can also do for you.
I’m proof of God’s miracles. Amen! ~Lang
Hello Recovery Posse and Warriors,
I wanted to let everyone know about my New Blog Name and New Blog Link Address and ask you to please come on over if you are on “BlogLovin” like I am and follow my blog and all my posts from my new Recovery Blog of “Bet Free Recovery Now!”
My old WordPress blog link of “Gambling Recovery Can Start Here” is no longer Valid: https://catherinelyonaddictedtodimes.wordpress.com due to having some Facebook challenges with auto-posting of all that happens here on my blog. 🙄 And we all now how FB KEEPS making changes … 🤪
I wanted a fresh new link to my recovery blog as I will be releasing more books in 2020 and was time to leave “Addicted To Dimes” and Gain a Fresh new Recovery Perspective. Just as we do in our journey of recovery? We are always evolving and that means Positive Change and our recovery work is being consistently done!
I appreciate all my supporters who visit and my recovery friends who have been with me since I have started blogging my recovery and life journey here for almost 7-years now. Within all this time past, if I have helped or reached one person, one life saved from Gambling Addiction?
IT HAS BEEN WORTH IT!!
God Bless All,
~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, Advocate, Columnist for
‘Keys To Recovery Newspaper’…
REMEMBER, “Never Give Up or Give IN!”
Before I share some of my friend who is in the UK, and George Boyle’s blog post here about “judging others,” we all know in the addiction/recovery arena and in the literary arena we see people being unkind or judging others’ recovery choices, advocacy or when we have published our books readers or reviewers can be unkind. It may be in a comment on our blog or, again, in leaving a book review. We need to share and speak out when others have No Understanding or Empathy for others Mental and Emotional Challenges …
My mom raised me to be “KIND” wth my “WORDS” as always said: “If you can’t say something “kind” or “corrective”? Then Don’t Say Anything at ALL.”
I think everyone should go back to this motherly advice. Doesn’t it take less energy to be positive or kind than it does to be hurtful or negative? I think so.
So my hope is everyone who reads this post will absorb some of the lessons and feelings in this post. Again, “Kindness is Golden”…OH, And? “Never Judge a Book By It’s Cover Alone.”
#NoJudgment … Mental Health Awareness … By George T. Boyle.
What do I mean by this?
I realize that within my blogs and possibly my book there are typos, there are grammar errors, etc.
And yet does this put you off from reading the content and understanding its meanings?
In some instances, it is enough of a reason for some people to not even open the book when its cover displays this.
Have you ever thought that maybe it may be the reason an author has done this to grab your attention to it, or maybe that the author or writer is so overwhelmed by other things that they will love someone to come and give support to the amazing content and work they are trying to achieve and the message I am putting out there to the world within my words in conscious thought flow.
We as humans often react in fear and give excuses in the words with people to actually engage with them in positive ways.
We create words and content which can push people away in the words we use, then we only react to the words we use, and then we only get the outcome we create from the words and thoughts we use to each other.
I love my amazing friend for prompting me to write this because all I hear in words at times are excuses for interaction which follows a reaction of no interaction then an action of no interaction or communication.
And I become frustrated at this and asked them what they are doing to themselves or to what sort of outcome they are looking for from life when they are only creating blocks in thought which are then being communicated in words, creating that action and reaction from the person creating the disempowering thought-forms.
I was having a bad day, as I was awaiting a tooth pulled out and it’s been creating enough distraction in thoughts as well as weird anxiety or energy that day, so I reached out to my friend. This friend didn’t focus on the words I was expressing or wasn’t compassionate in response to say “hey, how can I make your day better?”
The communication went to crap because my friend wasn’t focusing on how to create a positive open communication with me and they then made a decision to close communication because they reacted with the excuse of judgment and words which were creating more stress and anxiety within me which created a conversation flow off of nothing and a ZERO outcome.
Why did this happen?
Because that person didn’t react towards the other person with compassion any empathy, and love, only with a thought flow and reaction and in words of blaming the other person for reaching out to them, and used words to close down the conversation and making ME the blame for having a bad mental health day.
So what can we do to ensure when someone says: “they’re having a bad day we can react in a way toward them with words that are focused on helping them get through that.
Rather than judging them for them contacting you, for someone trying to reach out to them because they were having a bad day, they weren’t coping well with there mental health that day and then making the conversation about you and how the person who had reached out for support was wrong for doing so at that moment. Just looking to ease the anxiety of the other person and open conversation to create love in the form of communication.
“The more we release the fear and judgment around our lives we end mental health because we react to each other with unconditional love and compassion.”
We don’t read a book by its cover alone …
We read of the content within it.
Yet if you are only looking for an excuse to judge a book my book by its cover? Then you are not really taking the time to read it, nor making the effort or focus to find out what is within it. Your only making an excuse in your own thoughts because that book created a negative thought about it as to open it up or delve inside and lose your fear in loving the book.
How can we reframe the way we think and react towards other people?
THE ANSWER Can be Found by going over to Visit George’s Blog and finishing reading how this Story Ends Right Here: By George T. Boyle.
For many of us who have mental health challenges, we look to other avenues and platforms to share our experiences and day to day challenges with our mental health. Some ways I and George accomplish this are through our books our writings and blog posts. Advocacy and sharing one’s story and experiences does help shatter stigma, and it lets others know who suffer that they are not alone.
An Article I Wrote All About Arnie Wexler for and Courtesy InRecovery Magazine and An Amazing Book You Need to READ . . .
THE AUTHOR’S CAFÉ ~ By Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Columnist
InRecovery – June 30, 2017
Awhile back, the Powerball lottery drawing was for an ungodly amount of money and went a couple of rounds without a winner. I was chatting with a dear friend and fellow author, Arnie Wexler. I call him “The Grandfather of Gambling Addiction Recovery,” as his last bet in the mad world of sports betting and horse track betting was back in the 70s.
He’s never looked back. Instead, he has helped scores of people return from the abyss of gambling addiction. He co-wrote a book titled, All Bets Are Off: Losers, Liars, and Recovery from Gambling Addiction with veteran sports journalist, Steve Jacobson, in which he shares how his gambling addiction drove him and his wife, Sheila, to the edge of life.
“Steve Jacobson is what’s known in baseball and journalism as a seasoned pro, a man of credibility, conscience, and caring. Arnie Wexler? There’s a reason why for the last 35 years, he has been the news media’s go-to guy on issues of addicted gambling: He has saved at least as many souls, including his own, as Mother Teresa.”
– Phil Mushnick, Sports Columnist, New York Post
An advocate of gambling addiction recovery like me, Arnie has shared his expert advice on various media outlets and as a speaker for Fortune 500 corporations. He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including Nightline, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, 48 Hours, Crossfire and Oprah.
He is the past executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey and is a certified compulsive gambling counselor and recovery coach. He and his wife set up the hotline 1-888-LAST-BET that continues to help addicted gamblers today. I’m happy to say he’s also a good friend and my #1 recovery supporter.
Now, back to our chat about the Powerball lottery. Arnie was telling me that many in his Gamblers Anonymous group (GA) either bought tickets for a chance to win or had others buy them tickets. I was also encountering this on my online GA meetings and gambling recovery chat rooms. We both agreed that either way the tickets were purchased, it was still gambling.
See, Gamblers Anonymous defines gambling for the compulsive gambler as “Any betting or wagering, for self or others, whether or not for money, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or ‘skill’ constitutes gambling.”
According to this definition, all forms of risk or chance such as raffle tickets, scratch tickets and flipping a coin are considered gambling; though many people don’t like to include lottery tickets in the list.
Addiction is addiction no matter what your gambling preference. Arnie and I were brokenhearted as we heard about all the people in long-term recovery who had bought tickets. Even this seemly innocent purchase could be dangerous for gamblers; gambling addiction has one of the highest suicide rates among addictions.
What is your take on this? Do you think buying a lottery ticket constitutes gambling?
How about those who had someone else buy tickets for them? Is that gambling?
Should they lose their recovery time over a Powerball lottery drawing?
I know GA is not the only way to recover; many of us decided to have professional treatment including rehab, recovery coaching and even one-on-one therapy aimed at helping addicted gamblers. After doing some online research, however, I discovered that most recovery sites advocate GA’s guidelines for persons in recovery from gambling. This disease cost me way more than the year’s of wasted money, it almost cost me my life twice from suicide.
Even though they were failed suicide attempts, 1 in every 5 problem gamblers will try suicide. Gambling addiction now affects 2.9% of our population as problems with gambling. AND? Gambling Addiction is now the #1 addiction claiming lives by SUICIDE over drugs and alcohol combined. By Suicide. Google it if you don’t believe this FACT.
Lastly and finally, the word about addicted gambling is getting out and is a hot discussion all over social media – but the way Arnie and I see it?
If a recovering gambler has someone else buy tickets for them, they gambled. Gambling is gambling. www.aswexler.com
Arnie Wexler is one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in the country, who has spent the last 30 years helping other compulsive gamblers to recover. He’s a certified compulsive gambling counselor, and he was the Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey for eight years. Arnie has appeared on many of America’s top television shows, including Oprah, Nightline, and 48 Hours.
He’s been quoted and profiled in literally hundreds of magazines and newspapers. He presents workshops and training sessions internationally. He has spoken to many gaming industry executives, Fortune 500 companies, legislative bodies, and on college campuses across the nation.
Since 1994, both Arnie and his wife Sheila have trained hundreds of professionals working in addiction treatment centers, including Sierra Tucson and Betty Ford Center. In addition, they have provided extensive training to casino personnel, and have written responsible gaming policies for major gaming companies.
Here some questions we need to ask ourselves and ponder while maintaining our RECOVERY. Because Validation is an important aspect of recovering from addictions.
Do You Feel Validated?
Do You Allow Others Opinions Determine How You Feel?
Is Being “In Self” at Times Can Be a Good Thing? YES!
Validation–that sense of self as unique, worthy, and valued, with a connection with others and the universe. Validation, with no judgment, is vital for inner peace and happiness, and without it, you may feel you don’t matter. You may even feel invisible. In other words, validation requires unconditional recognition, acceptance, and appreciation for the whole person you are.
You may remember when someone lifted your spirits, and you felt good about yourself. And you may remember when some put you down, and you felt like a nothing inside. So others have the power to validate positive and negative, and you go through the ups and downs of how others make you feel.
Most of us get some positive validation from others, but there are those who live their whole life with a self-image of nothingness. When I worked in the jail, I counseled the homeless mentally ill. Sometimes I told them I saw their bright mind and good heart, and they could do something with their life. Their reaction was always the same. They’d pause, overwhelmed with tears, and say, “Nobody ever said that to me…nobody.” Then they’d wipe their tears on their shirt sleeve and smile. Validation gave them some meaning in their empty life.
We need to let each other know we’re important and appreciated, but in order to gain dominion over our own feelings, we need to learn self-validation from within. What would it be like if you validated yourself, and didn’t need it from anyone else? You would have dominion over your feelings, and it would prevent opinions by others from invalidating you. And you’d be free.
“The only permission, the only validation, and the only opinion that matters in our quest for greatness is our own.” ~Steve Marboli
Self-validation – is a life-long process, and our experiences teach us what we need to know about ourselves. We become less critical; we gain more understanding and tolerance of our total self, and we free ourselves to be who we truly are. We don’t create a new person. We simply allow our true authentic ‘Self’ to emerge.
So how do you learn self-validation with the strength to maintain it?
1. Assume the role of an observer, and think about how you really feel about you. Sad, wounded, pretty good, could be better, disappointed, etc. No judgment. Just observe and let it be.
2. You don’t have to like every feeling you have, but you do need to own all of your feelings. They’re yours. They belong to you. And you can do whatever you want with them. Throw them in the trash, hang them on the wall, get a refund. Notice when you’re feeling judgmental, and decide you’re done with that feeling. Take judgment and criticism out of your life forever.
3. Identify and list what you consider positive and negative about you. Decide what you want to keep and what you want to release.
An Example: I interrupt people when they’re talking. I can release that one.
I let dishes pile up in the sink. It’s okay to do that. (Smile) etc.
4. Start being kind to you, and know you deserve it. Give yourself what you missed as a child; begin giving yourself what you seek from others; when you feel unhappy or stressed, ask what you need, and when possible provide it for yourself; watch for success and praise yourself.
5. Accept mistakes and shortcomings as part of your learning process, and every day, look in the mirror and say, “This is me, warts and all. And I’m absolutely amazing.”
As you move along, practice relating less to your human self and more to your Higher Self, that part that transcends human pain and knows the truth of who you are. Take back your dominion over how you feel, and let that higher Self-shine with love and peace in your heart. You are beautiful.
May you always be true to your special Self. ✔💕✨✨💕
I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.
It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews. I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.
Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.
And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.
And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”
And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”
Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.
Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.
Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”
Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)
“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.
He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.
He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.
“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)
His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.
With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.
In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.
“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”
Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.
“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.
Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said. “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.
His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”
After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”
He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.
He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.
“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”
He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.
In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia:
In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Special Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.
Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.
The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.
~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~
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Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, and Visitors Happy 4th of July Week!
First I want to start by saying it has been too damn HOT here. It is the worst time of year to be living in Arizona lol. And why it’s called “The Valley of The Sun.”
We will be hitting 110 today. That is even too frigging hot to sit by the pool unless you want to get a Burn Up Suntan …Lol. Maybe I would like it more if I was 25 again but at 55 and taking meds, I just can’t tolerate the the heat like I used to.
It’s why I can not wait to move back to Oregon next year on the coast.
So, I have been having some “happy times” flashbacks lately as we get closer to the 4th of July. Have no idea why or where it’s coming from. The Fourth was always an interesting day and evening around the “Townsend Family” home as we would always have a BBQ and light fireworks. This is when I still lived at or near home in So. Cal. We would do fireworks for my nephews as they were young at the time, and the adults would act a little cray-cray right along with them! Their dad, Mike, (my brother-in-law who we lost in 1992 to cancer) was a hoot! He was crazy about fireworks! Those were the “good old days.”
But as the dysfunctional family that we were many times, alcohol abuse seemed to ramp up closer to the evening after dinner. Waiting for it to get dark, we’d let the little ones do sparklers and Mike would dazzle my mom with some spinning flower bloom fireworks. My mom got a kick at of those! One time Mike put the flowering blooms and lit a couple in my parents’ mailbox so they would fly out, spin, and they hit the ground. LOL! That didn’t work out well as it blew up the mailbox so Mike had to buy my dad a new one and help dad put up. Lol.
Yes, there were many fun times to be had through the years. Now, remember, this was way before addiction had ever touched my life. But as we had fun, the alcohol consumed by Mike, Dad, my sisters and brother, the end always seemed to end up in some sort of argument and fight as my mom didn’t drink, but she loved to chime in and piss them off by verbally making fun or yelling at them that they were a bunch of Fu_ ing idiots! Then my dad and brother would get mad at her and we’d be off RUNNING!!
It seemed almost all our family gatherings would end up this way. Day trips, camping trips. Sad really. No one in my family who drank alcohol had NO Control over it or when knowing when to stop drinking. This went on for many years. Today, my two sisters I feel are alcoholics, but they would say different. My oldest sister after Mike passed even racked up some DUI’S from drinking alcohol and driving. Which brings me to family, support, and fast forward to today. When my mom passed in 2003, my brother decided to open his new home and have relatives and friends come over to celebrate my mom’s life after the funeral.
And, again, early afternoon the alcohol began to flow. He had a pool, so many of us went swimming, and in the evening we hung out in the hot tub into the late evening they were still drinking. We were down to myself, my husband, my dad, brother and his wife, one sister and her hubby, and my older sister (single) and her boys now grown. Well, my sisters began to get a little rude and lippy and my brother chimed in. I and my hubby knew it was time to go, and we took my dad with us. Not till the next morning, we found out there were a few words spewed, pushing and things got a bit physical and the police were called.
Long story short, my brother and his wife divorced a few weeks later. My dad stopped talking to my brother. We just buried my mother and again our family is torn apart. This was a habit and behavior my mother carried on for years. If you didn’t do what she said or what she wanted, she would cut you out and stop talking to you. Life is to short for this and I would tell her so.
But she would just come at me verbally with things like “why do you think you are better than we are? or what makes you so special, I’m still your mother and can say whatever I want and like it.” Yes, my mom did NOT Like It when I set my boundaries. I guess I should back up a little. She knew how to get under my skin when I first began recovery.
When I was a little girl born in New Jersey and lived until 6 1/2 then we moved to So. CA. My mom was a heavy-handed disciplinarian when my dad was gone overseas in Vietnam while stilling living in Jersey. Now, this is hindsight and connecting the dots and learning from the years of therapy and counseling in treatment that brought many old hurtful memories of my childhood back in order to process it, let go and forgive myself.
Growing up through the years, my mom and dad said many hurtful things to me and for some reason they lingered and just stuck inside me. When I got to my teens, I never could understand why she was like this to me. As I look back, since I was the baby of the family at the time, my daddy used called me his “little monster.” A nickname that later in adulthood hit me like a brick when my mom told me about these outbursts I’d have when I was little.
She was never like this or treated my older brother or older sister like she did me. She would say I told lies, I was an ugly tomboy, I didn’t love her or our family, I can’t be their kid and must have been switched at birth in the hospital and I can go on. I can remember times I would through tantrums I would not remember afterwards, she’d lock me in my room and I’d go crazy pulling out my drawers, clothes, pull the curtains down and then? …when it was over I would lay on the floor watching their feet walk back and forth between the space of the door and floor as they passed my locked door.
I think my mom just didn’t know what was wrong or how to control me when these came on. AND? It’s why I had agreed in 2002 with my Primary Doctor and Psychiatrist when first diagnosed with severe depression, mild bipolar and mania, anxiety after my first suicide attempt. I went undiagnosed for years until adulthood! And why I feel the way my parents raised us seemed to seep down into me so deeply.
I know this because as I grew into adulthood and finally disclosed all of what happened to me as a child when we first moved to So. Cal. I was sexually abused by not one, but two men from 8 to 11 years old. At age 30, in 1992 I was having a break down about all of it right after Mike died of cancer. That was before gambling addiction, but my first of many attempts at therapy for help. In order to begin the process of healing, as my therapist told me, “I had to disclose all to my parents, it’s time.” I told my parents and I felt abused all over again as they denied it, my mom very defensively said “I was making it up. My mom said she would have known if that was happening to me or happening in her house.”
My point in sharing all this? The good memories and the BAD? Since at this point I never got to finish my therapy with the therapist because I was embarrassed and ashamed of how my family took all of what I shared about, not only the sex abuse but also how those memories of the verbal and physical abuse by my parents hurt me as well. It was then that more something changed with relationships with my dad, two sisters and brother became strained.
I think they all thought I was nuts or something. My mothers’ answer was, and her comments to me stayed with me and ended up giving me my “entitlement feelings” and added fuel to my gambling addiction when I later got entangled, abused alcohol, and crossed the line into addicted gambling. She told me:
“I don’t know why these things are bothering you when they don’t seem to bother my kids?”
I was speechless and kept hearing that in my head for many more years to come. Now, of course, here we are today and my all my siblings have had problems with broken marriages (my brother) drugs, alcohol, anger problems and nothing bothered her other children as I had become an addicted gambler. Today I now know most of my underlying issues and roots to why I turned to gambling addiction. Most of the above shared because I walked away from my first attempt of therapy racked with guilt and shame, I used gambling to ‘cope, numb out, hide, not feel, and get my anger out as I was enraged and destroying my life in the process.
“I wasn’t “getting back” or hurting them, I was sabotaging and hurting myself and my husband.”
(My nephew Mark Lake and his beautiful family)
I am happy to share that a few weeks before my mother passed away in August of 2003, I was able to call her twice a day every day until my dad moved her into nursing and rehabilitation after she became ill and off life support as she began to recoup. The family said there was no phone in her room so I could not call her anymore.
My mother and I talked about so many things before she passed. We made amends, she had apologized that she wasn’t there for me when all that was happening to me and for all of it, even my feelings around the verbal and physical abuse. She said “we were not born with a book or guide to how to raise kids.” She and my dad did their best, as she also spoke of how she was raised and learned some of it from her father.
I sure understand this still today …
Again, some points to as to why I am sharing these memories:
Many of us do have underlying pain and old haunting or issues that come from many different areas that need to be addressed. They need to be processed so we don’t use Addiction to try to cope or just try to not feel and forget. We stuff it down deep. It will at some point come back. As many are raised to know seeking out help is OK. There is nothing wrong with sharing how you feel, be it in therapy, counseling, and even in treatment, they know learning those roots and unprocessed events can help addicts be more successful maintaining recovery.
PARENTS: Be wise about how you discipline your kids. Children just want to be and need to be heard. They do want to communicate with parents without fear. I felt this way about always about the thought of talking to my own dad! You may still tell no, but please listen and talk with your kids, teens, and young adults. I feel if you don’t, if a child is being bullied, teens experimenting with drugs or alcohol, this also opens the door to what we are seeing now with too many SUICIDES.
As a trauma and child sex abuse survivor, we have to learn it was NOT OUR FAULT that these terrible things happened to us. We need to process this and learn to forgive ourselves and begin the process of healing. We lose so much self-worth as a human being when we don’t. It could lead us to addiction, to self-medicate, and again, contemplate suicide.
For The Public: We need to come together and have more compassion and empathy for others who struggle with addictions, mental illness, and recovery. We never know one’s story. It is time to come together and learn how you can help shatter STIGMA around all the topics I shared about. Did the past pains hurt more because I had undiagnosed mental health issues which made my feelings more heightened? Most likely. We need to help teach the public how to stop making us feel like victims filled with guilt, shame, or made to feel embarrassed or different when we disclose our feelings. Just because some are not as normal or as emotionally strong as other people, doesn’t make us different.
Well any of this sharing help stop addiction? Maybe or maybe not. But I can sure try by sharing my memories, truths, and my life story as I did in my memoir. It is one of the ways for me to advocate and help raise awareness, help educate and hopefully to begin to shatter stigma. Thanks for taking time to read my journey and memories!
“Writing is a solitary task; it is a hobby for most of us, it is funny and smooth, other times writing is like a horror, getting a smooth writing experience need a lot of patience, time and spirit to keep performing. During hard times we strive to search for an answer here and there, on all topics and LIFE”
Catherine Townsend-Lyon is a Best Selling Author of The Kodel Publishing Group with her shocking debut memoir titled; “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” Catherine’s Memoir is both in-depth and raw as she takes readers on a journey of many important topics that ‘touched’ her life, starting as a little girl into adulthood.
She had taken a dark path, trying to elude the past childhood pain and traumatic events. She began using gambling as a coping skill and escape into a “dream world” to forget, if only for a few hours from the haunting memories of her childhood sexual abuse, parental verbal and physical abuse, and lived with undiagnosed mental/emotional illness for years. Shaping the “perfect storm, she became addicted to gambling with alcohol abuse. So, something like gambling to be for fun and entertainment became her worst nightmare and almost took her life, twice!
Now in recovery eleven plus years, Catherine has become well-known in the addiction/recovery communities, and is a loud advocate of gambling addiction, mental health, and the expansion of Indian Casinos, State Lottery offerings, and Internet gambling venues that needs to stop across America.
Catherine’s featured in many media and recovery publications like Columbia University’s Media Release through the 2×2 Project ~ Gambling With America’s Health. And most recently interviewed for Time/ Magazine online article titled “Addicted To Anticipation” She is a former writer and columnist for “InRecovery Magazine” and a freelance writer for Keys To Recovery newspaper and column “Quit To Win.”
She is also an “Expert Gambling Recovery Blogger” for “Addictionland” of Founder/Author, Cate Stevens along with other recovery experts along with other recovery experts like Christopher Lawford Kennedy and Tommy Rosen.
Catherine lives in Arizona and So. Oregon. She is married to her husband for 26 years. She is a ‘Cat Lover’ and has three, Princess, Boots, and Simon Peter.She enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, and swimming. She owns an online business called: “Lyon Media, Book Promos, and Literary Consulting.”
Why did you write and disclose personal family experiences? Were you afraid of backlash or judgment from family and others?
Well, I felt that is what writing a memoir is all about. Since my book is about my life of many topics including gambling addiction and recovery, I wanted readers to have an in-depth view of how my family life was growing up can later become some of the roots to WHY some may turn to addiction in the first place.
I, nor many do not grow up in an “angelic” family dynamic. Some grow up in a dysfunctional or abusive situations. That was some of my experience, and later became added “fuel” to my addiction. I wanted to “set the back story” so to speak so readers had an understanding of how many of us may turn to addictions instead of knowing there are places we can get help like through counseling or therapy when your “past comes back later in life haunting you.”
As far as backlash, family needs to understand this memoir is not about them, it about how I was affected by how I was raised and disciplined. How I was also sexually abused as a little girl, and I stuffed that way for years without my parents knowing until adulthood. You will have to read my book to learn how all that turned out. I had to brave enough to share the good, the bad, and all the ugly to others who did or are going through these same issues, if you are going to write a memoir, you can not worry of backlash. I am trying to help others through my book. For me, that is what I focused on.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Not really. My first book came very easy for me. And believe or not I hand wrote the memoir in 6 1/2 spiral notebooks by hand! At that time, I was not writing a book, I was writing for myself to heal and forgive myself and to see all that gambling addiction and alcohol abuse had taken from my life. The book part and becoming published happened a year later as “divine intervention” I always say.
I am almost done with book two, but I am also co-writing another memoir, so it will release before mine. I did release a new compilation book with several other others and Dr. Rev. Kevin Coughlin in Dec. 2017 titled; “TEN THE HARD WAY: True Stories of Addiction and Recovery” and Thank goodness I have an exceptional editor, as my own second book is also hand written! The only weird thing, I love writing when it’s raining. But I am not an outline or draft type of writer. I just let the words flow out of me onto paper and by the seat of my pants!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I can thankfully say no to this question. One of the best pieces of advice I had received from another writer was, “write what you know.”
Unfortunately, I know too much about gambling addiction, recovery, mental health challenges, and childhood trauma. All these topics have ‘touched’ my life and I advocate about them passionately …
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
I pass on what was told to me in the above answer “write what you know” or write what you “feel passionate about.” If you love animals? Write an animal children’s book. If you have an open imagination? Write a thriller or mystery. An action or adventure story. I feel funny giving other aspiring writers and authors advice. I am a book promoter for many fine authors of all genres as well, so one piece of advice I can give to first-time authors? Your book takes many hours, days, and months to promote. Book sales and book reviews will not happen overnight, so don’t give up or get discouraged. KEEP writing and keep promoting your books!
“I am a writer and published author by accident” ~Author, Catherine Lyon
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently co-writing with former NFL pro from the Denver Broncos, Mr. Vance Johnson. We writing his story/memoir and legacy. It has been an amazing experience thus far. My second book is almost complete and will be a follow-up to my memoir. It will be serious, have musings, and ramblings about sharing more of my mental health and childhood trauma side of things and how to “Let The Shit Go!” … Lol.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I actually started my current book out with “the reasons how and why” I came to start writing in the first place. It was about a suicide of a woman I read about in our local newspaper when I lived in So. Oregon all year round. But, no spoilers here. LOL.
You’ll need to read my book titled; ‘Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,’ which is now listed here on “Author Shout” and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.
Again, I write what I know…. Lol. Balance is a challenge for me to fit my own writing time in as I book promote for many other authors and writing another book with someone. It is why it has taken me MANY years to get my next book done and published. So I am still a “two book wonder” at this point.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
Well, we all know indie and self-published authors are changing the landscape of the “traditional” way authors get published these days. You no longer have to be published by one of the big publishing houses anymore. Now, that’s not to say there are some self-published or indie books that may not be very appealing. (No offense to authors). As I have read a few myself and the authors are no writers, LOL.
However, there are awesome writers and authors producing some fantastic written works and it is refreshing to see that all authors can now be noticed and praised for work well done! That is part of the change with being able to self-publish. I have promoted and worked with authors that were picked up and offered publishing contracts, so the traditional publishing houses are finding many good writers and authors. That is a great thing.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
My current book was picked up by a publishing firm. But my publisher is a smaller independent publisher, however, I received an awesome offer when it came to my royalty share. The Kodel Group, Steve Laible is more like a “self-publish” helper. I had an editor and book cover designer for my current book already, so they just did my format, typesetting, and upload through Amazon’s Create Space for the paperback, and KDP for my e-book.
Going this route was the least expensive way to publish. Now most publishers won’t do any book promoting, marketing for authors except maybe send out a press release about the new book, so authors Beware and do your reseach of publishers! …And be ready to promote your books on your own. I do all my own book promoting throughout social media, PR releases, and use a few places that promote for me in mainstream media and get my books into bookstores. Authors can promote for free at many book sites or place low-cost book ads like right here on Author Shout.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
Yes. The only change or difference that I made was to my book cover. I have two different covers that are the same but different in the colors. My e-book cover has different colors then the paperback as I wanted my e-book cover to have more vibrant Las Vegas catching colors. The book cover designer took car of it.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
Being a person who maintains recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol for a little over eleven years now, publishing my book was my way of helping others with the same issues and problems as I have and was the only way I knew how to help others by sharing my voice and my story to give others HOPE that they to can recover from this cunning and devastating addiction known as gambling addiction.
Many blessings and doors have opened for me to share my voice and have a platform to help inform, educate, and raise awareness of addicted and problem gambling. I want those who have never been touched by addictions have more understanding, compassion, and empathy for those who suffer. The opportunities for writing recovery articles, writing with others, and for many publications has been 10 fold! Most have come from people seeing and reading my book, an interview, or hearing me on a radio show or podcast.
I had for two years became a recovery columnist for a premier magazine called; “In Recovery Magazine.” My column was called; “The Author’s Cafe.” I am also a writer for a recovery newspaper out of So. California called; “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” and I am an expert gambling addiction and recovery blogger on “Addictionland.” That is just the tip of the iceberg as I have a few more, but I am “blessed, humbled and thankful” for all the opportunities that have come my way. These offerings help keep me in recovery as well.
What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?
Now this question is an easy answer! Lol. Layer low-cost book ads for your books on several places like right here on Author Shout.
Since I market, promote, and advertise books for authors for living and as my online business, I have a page of what I offer to authors and writers in promoting and marketing their books and I set up all their social media accounts as well. The details are on my website: “Lyon Media, Book Promotions, and Literary Consulting.”
It is my business and home of “Cat Lyon’s Reading and Writing Den.”
I began my online business in order to help new authors learn ‘how and where’ to promote their books. Many just hire me to do it for them so they can just focus on writing more books. I place layered low-cost book ads and maybe run for them a E-book promotion. There is no shortage of authors needing help as they continue to write more books or meet the publishing deadlines, and why among other reasons they hire me to promote their books for them.
My number one valuable tip? Layer your book ads when your book first releases. Do a Beta Reader program to reviews prior to release like on NetGalley. That way you will find your readership. Use many book promo sites like Awesomegang.com or Bookgoodies.net . . . Just a couple of my other “go to places.”
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
My current book is a Memoir. About my life with many topics discussed throughout which I mentioned above.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?
I carry a spiral notebook or my laptop with me everywhere I go!
How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
Yes. My writing has evolved so much since I wrote my first book. I feel the more you write, the better you get. Now that I am writing more as a profession as well, I have taken some webinars and use writing software to make sure I continue to become a more seasoned writer.
I would hope writing my book, writing and sharing on my recovery blog where I continue to write my recovery journey is helping others. We just never know who our story will touch or help. I wanted others who still suffer or are stuck in the “cycle” of gambling addiction that ‘Suicide Is Not An Option to Stop Gambling Addiction. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Like the woman I read about in my local newspaper. And like my own two failed suicide attempts when I was deep in my addiction. Suicide is never the answer.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
As a reader myself, page count doesn’t matter. The book cover is also part of showcasing your book, so it needs to grab the reader. Same goes with the book title. The content of a book is what we as writer offer up to the reader. If your content and story doesn’t keep a reader interested in the first chapter, they might feel some “buyers remorse.” That won’t bode well for future books you publish.
Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?
Yes, I do feel a press release is very important and has value. Many first time authors can not afford mainstream advertising or hire a PR firm. So a press release sent out through PR websites is a good way to let readers and mainstream media know about your book releasing. I do them for my book promoting clients as some PR websites let you send a couple out for free.
A few I like and use are NPR, PR Web and PRNewswire are some good ones. I get some good results in books sales and book reviews.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Of course, there is value to book reviews for many reasons. Readers who shop for books lets say on Amazon, they look and read reviews before they buy a book and see its ranking. I know as a reader I do. And, Amazon emails me when someone leaves a review for my book or reads a review I have placed. It tells me it helped them decide to purchase.
Reviews on Amazon also helps your books rankings among other books in your same genre. Rankings tell authors how our books sell and compare to other books sold on Amazon. When a reader takes the time to write a review after they read my memoir, I use that as well if they leave suggestions about improving my craft as a writer.
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
A message of HOPE to others who suffer from addiction of any kind. We can recover no matter how bad or how far addiction has taken you. We all have that tiny sliver of light within us to turn our lives around if we want it bad enough.
Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?
The Internet has changed not only the landscape of how authors can easily promote their books throughout social media, but the Internet has also changed how people can find information to get help from addiction and recovery support.
As a book promoter as my in-home business, the Internet has allowed me to work from home and make an income as I have agoraphobia and mood disorder. It has changed the way we do many things for school, work, and not just the book selling and publishing industry.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read every review I get. I can tell you my current has averaged from Amazon’s Rate scale 1-5, my book is still at 4.8 out of 5 stars. So I must have done something right as a writer. So I have not experienced or had to deal with a bad book review …. Yet. Lol.
What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?
Taking on paid writing jobs has boosted my self-confidence as a writer. That also helped me get the offer to be a columnist at “In Recovery Magazine.” And why I write for several other addiction/recovery publications. For me, it is two-fold. I become a better writer and I have great platforms to showcase my writing while helping others recover.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?
Since my book is a memoir, all the people are real, and I only changed a few of the real names of persons I wrote about as I did not get permission to use their real names.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I really can’t answer this directly as my book was written very unconventional. When I was writing at the time, I wasn’t writing a book. That all happened later on.
I do however recommend using a writing aide software which I do use.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
I am really boring in this area. I really didn’t enjoy reading until later in adulthood. I wasn’t a “Catcher In The Rye” kind of reader. I enjoyed more contemporary reads by Stephen King and Nora Roberts. However, as a teen, I did love writing poems but never thought much about the “writing” aspect of it.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above. Especially for therapy and a recovery outlet.
Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?
None. Seriously. Just making sure my facts and stats were correct.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?
God created editors for a reason. Lol. My editor was Julie Hall. She worked for a local newspaper in Grants Pass, Oregon. She isn’t an editor by profession. But she edits and proofread for the newspaper. She had taken my six 1/2 notebooks and performed “magic.” Then she sent the first 50 pages to a publisher friend of hers, and that is how my book made it to being published. My publisher seen the recovery value of my memoir and knew it would it help others and hopefully bring a “Silent Underground Addiction” to light.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
Cost. Traditional publishing can be very expensive. And many first-time authors may not be able to afford it. That is where self-publishing comes in. There are several good places who offer self-publish services low-cost or even free. Amazon’s Create Space, KDP, and Smashwords are just a few. It is heart-breaking but there isn’t any value of even sending your manuscript to the big publishing houses either as most never get in front of a live person. Very sad.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Recovery and helping others is what inspires me to write. We who maintain recovery know a persons story can be a powerful tool to help others looking to reach out and enter treatment or recovery. If I can help others by sharing my story through words and my experiences? That makes me happy.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
No. I used who my publisher had at the time. She did a good job.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Since I do write for several publications, and for myself, coming up with new topics to write about can be a challenge. Writing is very freeing to me. I enjoy it and hope to continue writing and publishing more books to help others maintaining recovery and for readers to enjoy.
Lastly, do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
All of the above. Especially for therapy and a source of stress release.
Connect with more from Catherine Townsend-Lyon
My book review for an amazing read I just finished by my dear friend and now I can call her a New Fellow!, Author, Brittany L. Shelton. It is titled; Discovering Beautiful: Finding Freedom from Childhood Trauma and Self-Destruction.
About The Book:
Stories bring us together and remind us that we aren’t alone. Discovering Beautiful is a series of personal stories that illustrate what it’s really like to grow up in a dysfunctional home, as a child lost in the shadows of the chaos. It demonstrates how one little girl internalized societal stigma and turned inward to cope with the shame of her reality. This story paints a picture of a family savagely torn apart, destroyed, by toxicity and disconnection. This is a story of desperation, exhaustion, fear, and finally restoration and hope.
REVIEW: Sharing One’s Story Can Be Powerful To Help Others …
That is exactly what this book and the author will do very clearly, brutally honest, and open. It can be a bit scary sharing the “not so nice” when we are not raised in an “angelic family dynamic.” When we are told as children over and over, “don’t speak outside this house” od what goes on behind closed doors, this includes the deep hurtful pain some children endure that their parents may never know happened …
UNTIL OUR VOICE and STORY IS TOLD.
This book by Author, Brittany Shelton is exactly that. Not only is her story of pain and heartbreaking accounts of trauma and abuse, she tells it with hardly any resentment nor excuses when it comes to addiction in her life. No, it shows the seeds of power and truth that lie within us as we learn with faith to overcome, forgive, let it go, and rise up to triumph in life. The sharing much of the chaos but importance of showing family dysfunction can be generational sadly.
This is some of what you learn from this brave woman’s testimony. I too am a childhood trauma and abuse survivor and shared with the author all the many similarities we have. I always thought I was alone and no other child into an adult could have possibly gone through what I had. I was wrong! Reading her book, perfect writing style, was as if we were having coffee together and talking about each other’s life.
The book itself is easy to read and well laid out. My favorite areas that touched me deeply and musings too like, “People with mental illness scared me.” Funny, as I felt the same! First, the author defines trauma and how the effects us. I laughed when she shares how our moms teach us the “most useless shit” that seeps into our brains … and some of where we get those “I’m worthless” thoughts when told year after year. But Chapters 11 & 12 were intriguing to self-image and the way we look at ourselves until addiction beats up down so much, we don’t look anymore …
I highly suggest this book for everyone! It gives an exceptional in-depth look into so many topics and issues happening today, just as much as the child we were. How addictions can devastate families and so much more. I commend the author for sharing her story so others can learn there’s much help available and Hope. You are not alone anymore and YOU do have a VOICE!
About The Author:
I am in long-term recovery from shame and perpetual escape. I kicked my inner-victim out on its ass and have been healing from the damaging effects of childhood trauma and self-destruction ever since. I’m a believer in the kind of Truth that can set a person free, but only because I have experienced it for myself.
I live with my husband and three young boys and am simply enjoying this season in my life. My goal is to help shift how things work in my family, and I believe that change happens one memory and one new tradition at a time.
Come connect with Brittany on Social Media!
Most all know just how difficult maintaining recovery can be. Especially when we come out of rehab or treatment and in early recovery. No one knows this better than my dear friend and advocate, Aaron Emerson. I have been a supporter and friends with Aaron for a couple years now. I can tell you this guy “Never Gives Up.”
Yes, we all may have relapsed before, but Aaron is very adamant in sharing what he learns if and when we all at times have a slip. The most important fact is, Aaron is Honest, Real, and Transparent about the ups and downs of maintaining recovery.
So, that is what is my point is with this post and having Aaron share some of his story with all of us today, courtesy of his latest newsletter … “Hope From Dope” is a newsletter written by Aaron Emerson, a recovering addict, and alcoholic. It contains his writings from his Hope From Dope blog, updates on his recovery and more.
“HE IS A FIGHTER” and he never gives up with “God In His Corner!”
“I have been to rehab 7 times” …
Yes, seven times I have checked myself into rehab. Many of those times I did it to simply get my family off my back and a couple more times because I was homeless and didn’t have anywhere else to go.
But this last time, well, I entered rehab totally broken, ashamed, hopeless and humiliated. At the same time, though, I was finally ready to do everything they asked me to do and willing to give recovery a try again.
It was a rehab in Memphis, Michigan called Sacred Heart. Based on the 12 Steps, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and family support, it is a treatment center that mainly serves low-income individuals from Michigan. It is a terrific place that employs therapists and workers who are recovering addicts themselves. And, well, it saved my life.
The day I checked myself into Sacred Heart, I had two warrants out for my arrest for stealing a credit card. I was a broken person, my relationships were all shattered and nobody trusted me.
Years prior, I had been living a life of recovery after several years of heroin addiction and it was the happiest I’d ever been. However, after I let up on how many meetings I went to and distancing myself from my recovery program, I drank some beers at a wedding, triggering a downward spiral of a couple more years of on and off drinking and drug use.
So, walking into Sacred Heart on December 8, I was humiliated that after building a life of recovery, I was now back in active addiction, facing some criminal charges. I had shared my story at area high schools and been featured in news stories about recovery. But here I was, strung out and hopeless once again.
About the only thing I had going for me that day was that for the last week, I hadn’t used drugs or drank. After the cops were called on me for acting violently after a night of drinking, an Ingham County Sheriff’s Sergeant helped convince me to check into treatment and get my life together for my daughter.
I actually listened to him. The way he treated me like someone who needed help and not as a crazy criminal really gave me hope. I was used to cops doing everything they could to stick me with charges and lock me away, so when an officer who was high up on the chain in law enforcement showed me compassion and seemed to really care about me and my daughter, it triggered me to try to get sober and go back to rehab.
And since that night when Sgt. Harrison helped me instead of locking me up, I haven’t used drugs. Rehab went very well and Sacred Heart helped me get some stability in my life. When I left a few weeks later, I was sober and motivated to get to a meeting as soon as I got out.
I did and two days later I turned myself in to handle the warrants. I got a personal bond and a month later was sentenced to Drug Court in East Lansing, which provides treatment and therapy instead of jail or prison. Drug Court has introduced me to a very good support system and given me a strict, balanced life to build around.
I now have a job working 30 hours a week, go to meetings and therapy each day and am trying to be the best father I can be to my seven-year-old daughter. My life is extremely busy with work and all the meetings and therapy, but it is helping me. I feel like I have a very sustainable foundation in my recovery. I have a sponsor and a recovery coach that I call every day and another recovery coach that helps me and my family piece back together our relationships.
Out of all the sponsors, recovery coaches, therapists and probation officers I have in my life, I genuinely feel like each one of them cares deeply for me and plays very important but different pieces of the puzzle. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Sgt. Harrison motivating me to go to Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart truly helped me develop a foundation to get my life back together and I will forever be grateful for that.
It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen, it is never impossible to stand back up and fight! It doesn’t matter if you have never been to rehab or if you’ve been to treatment ten times, never give up! While in active addiction, it seems impossible to ever get sober and be happy without drugs and alcohol. That is a lie the disease of addiction tells you. The memories and hope I am experiencing today is something to cherish.
Never give up. Don’t ever be ashamed or embarrassed to admit you have a problem and need help. It takes a lot of strength and courage to check yourself into treatment or ask for help, but it is the first step to building a happy life of sobriety.
THANK YOU, Aaron, for being my Guest Today!
You can follow Aaron’s journey and share your support by visiting his website “Hope From DOPE” and by connecting with him here on Facebook too!
Please check out his book as well now available and e-book now only $3.99 here on Amazon Kindle…
Happy Thanksgiving and Welcome to “Recovery Starts Here” Special Author/Writer Interview. My name Catherine Lyon, Author and Advocate. I know I am a little overzealous as I just bought Lisa’s new book titled; “Raising The Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture” released just this past June 2017.
By the title, you may know some of what her book is about. But from all the 5-star Amazon reviews, there much more. And there is nothing like giving some practical and sound advice about alcohol and stopping alcoholism before it starts or happens.
Today though, we are going to learn more about who Lisa is and the “writer side” of her. So I hope you enjoy this “Special Interview” with Lisa Boucher.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we?
Share a little of what you do?
I am the author of 5 books and an RN. My first 4 books were novels, and my current book, “Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture” is nonfiction.
I’ve worked in all sorts of departments at the hospital: ER, telemetry, medical, neuro, and psych. To be honest, my true love is the writing biz but that doesn’t pay that well at the moment, so a girls’ gotta have a day job!
Where were you born and raised? Youngstown, OH
Tell us more about you? (Like your education, family, hobbies.)
I have a nursing degree and a BA in English. Have always been crazy about animals. I used to have a quarter horse, Sham, who I loved almost as much as I do my twin sons. I love to cook, I’m part Italian, so food is a big deal in our family. I also garden, and like Cat, love to feed and watch the birds.
Do you have any latest news?
I do! Raising the Bottom recently won the 2017 Best Book Award in the category of Women’s Health, and it was a finalist in addiction/recovery category. I also am looking forward to Shape Magazine, yes, the Shape Magazine, to run a piece that I contributed to that and will be on their online magazine.
I was also interviewed by a writer at Epoch Times, so I look forward to reading what he put together. I wish I had a specific date, but from what my publicists told me, it should run late November or early December. It may even be out by the time Cat publishes this!
Anything we should know besides you as an Author & Writer?
I’ve been sober 28 years. I am certainly no prohibitionist, but I am troubled by the “women & wine” culture that seems to be a bit over the top. Let’s not forget the kids of these women. There’s nothing funny about a drunk mom. Ask any child who has one.
Do you like writing?
I love it. It’s a process and can be crazy and maddening and frustrating sometimes, but it’s who I am. I am a writer.
When and why did you begin writing?
Honestly, I heard a voice–an audible voice in my kitchen one day. I had just graduated from nursing school, back in 1994. I was home alone one day and musing about my life, my purpose. Was nursing it? A voice came through as loud and clear as if my husband was standing in the room, but he nor my small twins were home. The voice said–”Now I want you to write a book.” I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even have a computer at the time.
What inspired you to write your first book? God.
How did you come up with the title?
I can’t remember, it was a long time ago. I guess it just came to me like my titles usually do. I have a writer’ly quirk that I can’t seem to write a thing until I do have the title.
Do you have a specific writing style?
No. With the novels, I just let it go and then do lots of cutting and pasting! With RTB, I did try to at least plan out the chapters.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The story is about my alcoholic mother; our family; my getting sober early in my disease. I then interviewed 10 other women and they shared their story. I focused on women people would never suspect they had a problem. High bottom women whose bottom was mostly internal: doctors, nurses, mother and grandmothers, young women.
I also did a chapter for the kids, “What Your Kids Say about You and Your Drinking. I feel they never get to have a voice, so I wanted to give them one. I also did a chapter, “Doctors, Nurses and Health Care.” There is so much that goes on behind the scenes at the hospitals and people have no clue. Healthcare has changed so much, and not for the better. The hospitals & some doctors, they want customers, not cures.
To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I didn’t have to travel since I was local, but I did write some of it in Bimini. Bimini is a tiny island in the Bahamas and not much goes on there. It’s a perfect place to write. Ernest Hemingway wrote some of “Islands in the Stream” there.
Who designed the cover?
She Writes Press had a design/illustrator do it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Well, it’s not a novel, but I think every person knows someone who drinks too much. It’s a book for all, whether or not you drink–you know someone who does. Forewarned is Forearmed!
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite?
I have so many books in my reading pile. I’m reading Erik Larson, and my favorite right now is David Foster Wallace. He was brilliant but sadly, committed suicide at the age of 46. He was an amazingly gifted writer. Such a tragedy.
Outside of family members, name one person that supported your commitment to becoming a published author?
Well, not many. I really didn’t talk about it all that much. It seems that if you mention you’re writing a book, everyone chimes in and says me too! I wonder how many of those people will actually finish a book. It was such a tough long road, and still is, so I didn’t talk too much about writing with people other than my family. Of course, people knew I wrote, I just didn’t look to them for support.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I’m pleased with the way it turned out. Of course, if I sat and thought hard about it I would come up with something, but why make myself crazy? It’s too late to change anything so it is what it is and I think it’s pretty darn good. I did the best I could, and I know my writer’s voice came through strong & clear in “Raising the Bottom.”
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Oh, my goodness yes! With each book, my writing got better and better. I grew as a writer.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
No, I can’t act. Can’t see that at all!
Any advice for other writers?
Keep plugging away. I think if it’s for you to write, you’ll write. I tried to walk away from it so many times, but it seems I kept getting pulled back. If you can walk away from writing and be happy and never miss the agony of it all, you’re probably not a writer. But, if you keep writing even when the journey looks so dark, you’re a writer. We can’t not write. Period.
Will you write another book?
If God wills it, I believe I will. I have some ideas already, but I’m not ready to start another book yet.
What are you reading now?
Just finished *your) Cat’s book: “Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” (what a journey she had, but survived and came out stronger on the other side!).
I’m also reading “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker.
He’s an investigative reporter and writes about the destructive nature of big Pharma: What he learned mirrors my experiences of what I’ve seen going on in the hospitals for 24 years. The pills doctors prescribe are ruining lives. It’s so sad to see lives destroyed by all the drugs they put people on. I’ve watched lives spiral down to the depths of despair, all because of the RX’s.
Do you remember the first book you read?
Anything Nancy Drew! I Think was the first series type books I can remember.
Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Jesus, & Michelangelo. Can you think of two more interesting people?
CAT: LOL… I have to agree about meeting Jesus to ask, What’s It All About? And the other person….hhhhmmmmm, ELVIS! To let him know how bad The Drug Epidemic has gotten…And some to blame is like his Doctor, Over Prescribing Pain Meds and Anxiety Meds too!
Favorite Music and Color?
hmmm, that’s a hard one. I like Norah Jones and soothing instrumental music. In my car–I’m a country girl and love the old county music of Wille, Waylon, Kris Kristofferson, Cash, Tammy Wynette. Yeah, the old stuff!
Colors: Turquoise or Black.
What do you want to be written on your headstone as part of your Legacy?
Something about healing. I’ve worked with women for 28 years, and I know I’ve been blessed to have been a part of their healing. I also want to leave a legacy of having a bit of grit. The world can be a hard place, but we can be all right if we take God with us.
“One of Lisa’s Favorite Place? ~ Palermo, Sicily – Italy!”
Do you have a blog or website? Where can readers connect with you on Social Media? Sure do! Website: Raising The Bottom.
I’m on Twitter & Instagram: @LBoucherAuthor – My Book Available on Amazon online. – FB page: Lisa Speaks of Raising The Bottom
I Thank you, Kim, for allowing me to share YOU with my readers and blog visitors. We all will enjoy learning all about you as a writer. WHAT an Honor it is to have you with us!
WISHING YOU and all my blog readers, friends, and visitors a very HAPPY, Healthy, and Sober THANKSGIVING! May God Bless You…
Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
How Does God Feel About Mental Illness?
last week, Tony began a subscriber survey that has thus far proven very fruitful. He learned more about who his readers are and what they are looking for when they visit Delight In Disorder…
“Some of the most revealing content came from the comments provided in the “other” category. When asked what sort of posts would be most helpful, one reader replied: ”
“… how God feels about mental illness and why He allows it. I know cancer patients, for example, feel the same way, but you won’t hear anyone abandoning them. Instead they receive love, prayers, and casseroles. Living alone with a debilitating illness is so hard.”
This thoughtful response raises many profound questions. I want to carefully and prayerfully respond. Yet, please understand that I am not an expert theologian or a mental health professional. Instead, I am a believer in Christ who has lived with a mental illness for over 30 years. This doesn’t give me all the answers but helps me better understand the questions.
How does God feel about mental illness? Why does He allow it?
I feel much more confident answering the former question than the latter. The depth of God’s love for us surpasses any love we could have for each other. When we look to Jesus Christ and his feelings for us, God’s emotions are revealed. Jesus became furious at religious leaders who were excluding “imperfect” (sinners) from full participation in worship. Jesus went to outer regions to reach out to those dismissed as “demon possessed” and freed them from the captivity that caused them to be separated from the faith community. Like the Samaritan lifting the bleeding man out of the ditch and caring for him, Jesus cares for those who are hurting, both physically and emotionally.
So, why? I want to approach this more as a prayer than an accusation. Like when the prophets called on God, “How long, Lord. Will you forget me forever?” In my prayer life, I have come to understand God’s mysterious role in human suffering as something beyond my ability to understand, yet something I can fully trust. I believe God has a plan for me much greater than my mental illness in this life. As the Apostle Paul says, “for this slight momentary affliction is not worth comparing to the greater glory to come.” ( 2 Corinthians 4.17). Like a woman in the midst of agonizing labor, it is next to impossible to believe this in the moment, but when her child is born…. AMAZING!
Why don’t people respond to mental illness with love, prayers, and casseroles?
I hear this from many both within the church and beyond. Mental illness can be a life-threatening illness, given the number of deaths by suicide. It is, however, viewed by many as an annoying condition that could be overcome with self-willed faith, maybe a few extra push-ups, and good old-fashioned elbow grease. I have heard people comment that they grow weary of caring for family members and friends with chronic mental illness. It never goes away.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When I was first diagnosed, I was serving as a pastor of a small congregation in Northeast PA. I spent over six weeks in the hospital, while my wife cared for our children at home, ages 3 & 1. The church rallied to provide child care, meals, rides. It was wonderful. I was given leave for recovery time and welcomed back when I was ready. Churches can be havens of refuge, but too often we are not.
Living alone with a debilitating illness is so hard.
Amen! Damn, right it is! And, one of the debilitating factors is that our mental illness coerces us to do the very things that do us the most harm and fail to do the things that could most help. It does us no good to lie in bed for hours on end, but there are days the thought of getting up seems to us like running a 3-minute mile. It would be helpful to go out and spend some time with other people, but there are days where the fear of doing something inappropriate is just too strong.
This past year, for various reasons, I tried to live alone in an attic apartment in an unfamiliar city. On Saturdays, I visited my children. Sundays I went to church. The rest of the week I was on my own. I was not able to make new friends. I tried support groups, meet-ups, readings, dating sites. People scared me or I scared them. In this climate, I had 7 episodes that required intervention. In just 18 months.
Thanks be to God and the loving support of my family, I now have an apartment in my sister’s basement. It provides me a wonderful living space of my own yet I am not alone.
I know such spaces are hard to come by for persons with mental illness.
I pray you find yours.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
My name is Tony Roberts. I am a Christian and I have a serious mental illness. Many of my friends who also have troubled minds wonder how it is I would hold onto faith after such an agonizing spiritual struggle with insanity.
Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ wonder how my mind can be so disturbed if I am a believer. I believe faith and medicine, prayer and pills, worship and therapy are God’s essential graces to promote healing.
So, I’m telling my story in the hope of sharing Good News with those who have unquiet minds and shattering stigma about mental illness within and beyond the faith community.
I hope you’ll join the conversation.
Tony Roberts, Author
Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission is on Amazon & Amazon Kindle
What can I say more about this beautiful friend of mine who was responsible for getting gamblers anonymous meetings into Arizona’s Womens prisons and correctional facilities? Marilyn has been maintaining a long-term “Bet Free” lifestyle” and she makes it look easy. She is also my sponsor while I am temporarily living in the Phoenix, AZ area for now. Marilyn calls me each week or so like clockwork, and I am so grateful and blessed to have her in my life!
I came across a wonderful in-depth Guest Interview she did not too long ago on and courtesy of EnCOGNITIVE.com … I love Marilyn to pieces as we don’t often meet true supportive friends every day like her. I am excited to mention her and I will be on an upcoming coming radio show together on Mental Health News Radio Network With – Kristin Walker! Our topic will be on ” Switching Addictions” which is also the title of Marilyn’s 2nd book. Her first is a MUST READ Titled; “Gripped By Gambling” a memoir that you won’t believe and is EYE OPENING. So let’s meet and learn more about Marilyn Lancelot…
GRIPPED BY GAMBLING (A book that will have you in tears and then laughter. A story told with the painful truth about the addiction of gambling and how I found recovery.)
Interview with a Recovering Compulsive Gambler.
“My name is Marilyn Lancelot and I am a recovering compulsive gambler. I visited my first casino in 1984 at the age of 53. For seven years, my boyfriend and I made the four-hour trek from Yuma, AZ to Laughlin, NV every weekend. I learned early on how to lie to my family and friends and how to sign my employers’ name to company checks. I considered suicide and planned it so it would like an accident.
Then one day the auditors discovered my embezzling. Horrified, I watched seven police cars pull into my driveway to take me away in handcuffs. I lost my job, home, life savings, my retirement, and my freedom. I had progressed from a Mrs. Cleaver type housewife to a Ma Barker type criminal.”
Questions and Answers:
Under what circumstance did you first gamble?
As a young girl, I remember playing cards with family and betting twenty-five cents a hand. I thought it very boring and everyone got drunk and argued. I went to dog and horse races and thought they were too slow. I remember vividly the first time I gambled in a casino. I visited Las Vegas with my husband but only played the twenty-five cent slot machines. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I spent a weekend at a bowling tournament in Reno, NV and that’s when I became addicted.
Did you win the first time you gambled?
The weekend in Reno was what many refer to as beginner’s luck. I just couldn’t lose. I felt I was destined to become a professional gambler and could earn a living in the casinos.
After the first time you gambled, when did you come back again?
When I got home from the bowling tournament I told my boyfriend what an incredible weekend I had and we must drive to Laughlin the following week. We did drive the 4½ hours to the casinos and 4 ½ hours home for the next seven years.
Was it internal or external pressure that made you want to quit?
I didn’t want to quit even though the gambling was killing me, physically, emotionally, and financially. There was no external pressure because of no-one, not even my family knew of my addiction. It was my money and I could do whatever I wanted to and when I wanted to.
What would you say was the lowest point in your gambling life?
Some of the lowest periods in my gambling were the times when I wanted to die; when my credit cards were maxed out, when I began embezzling money from my employer, and when I realized I couldn’t do anything about my gambling. But the very lowest was when the police came and took me away in handcuffs for a crime I committed to support my habit.
What were your game or games of choice?
My game of choice was the slot machine. No other form of gambling gave me the hypnotic feeling of escaping as the slot machines did.
Did you have rituals you went through each time you gambled?
My rituals for my weekend at the casino were to wear my lucky shirt, my lucky jewelry, and to follow the same path around the casino floor each weekend. I thought any changes would spoil my luck.
Why do you think it’s hard for compulsive gamblers to understand that money can’t be made through gambling? What is their mindset, do you think?
It was difficult for me to understand that money couldn’t be made through gambling because once in a while I did win and everyone around me won so my turn would come again. I believed I could win all my losses back if I just tried harder. I even bought books on how to gamble successfully. I had to continue to gamble until I hit the big jackpot.
Besides the money, what would you say was the worst thing you lost because of gambling?
I think the worst loss was my loss of the seven years I gambled. For those years I was a zombie and didn’t have time for my family. My mind was not on my job during the week because all I could think about was the weekend.
There is a theory that addictions run in families. Was there anyone in your immediate family who had an addiction problem?
My parents both had drinking problems so if addictive, compulsive behavior is hereditary, then I believe my poor coping skills came from my parents. I don’t blame anyone but myself for my addictions. My five children all became addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Poor coping skills have been contributed to addictions. Can you share with us what coping skills you’ve learned that have helped you? Then specifically how you cope with:
Anger: When I feel angry about something or someone, I stop and analyze my feelings (after months and years of practicing, it becomes second nature) and decide if I should really be upset by the situation or just move past the issue. Like driving down the freeway, if I slow down and allow someone to cut in front of me, I can’t be angry because I allowed that person the courtesy.
Rejection: Feelings of rejection go back many years even before I attended my first 12-step program. If I truly love someone and they abandon me or say cruel things to me, I tell myself, that because I love that person, I will allow them to do with their lives what they want to do. And there again is my decision to allow. If I think they may be on a self-destructive path, I will share my thoughts with them and then allow them to do as they wish. I have learned that I cannot control anyone, not even myself sometimes.
Insecurity: I am not bothered by insecurities today. There was a time when I suffered deeply from an inferiority complex. Today I don’t, I feel that I’m as good a person as I’m supposed to be and I hope people will accept me as I am.
The past: I have forgiven myself for the damage I caused in the past and the mistakes I’ve made. I will never forget them, they’re part of who I am today but I don’t punish myself for my past.
Frustration: If I feel frustration coming on, I do a quick analysis of my surroundings and what’s bothering me. I recite the Serenity Prayer and if I can do something about the problem, I will try and if I can’t, I will accept the consequences.
Or other emotions and events?
Jealousy sometimes pops its ugly head over my shoulder but with a little thought exercise, I can usually make a decision that will show me I have nothing to fear or envy.
Prior to gambling addiction, did you have another addiction? Or did you have another addiction while you were gambling?
I’ve always had addictive patterns in my life. I have had eating problems, I’ve gone through a period where I was a workaholic, I’m a recovering alcoholic and now a recovering compulsive gambler. I know today that if anything feels good, tastes good, or looks good, I have to be aware of the dangers of another addiction.
What would you say is the worst addiction? And why?
I think overeating must be the tougest addiction to cope with. With all other addictions, the person gives up the drug, habit, etc. completely, but with an eating addiction, the person has to modify their habits and continue to stay in the problem but with control.
Almost half of compulsive gamblers are now women. What do you think is contributing to this increase?
I think more women are becoming compulsive gamblers because we are more independent today, we make decisions, earn money, and many of the women are single parents with more responsibilities. Gambling is around every corner, the little store on the corner sells lottery tickets and the churches have bingo. Women feel safe in casinos and the casinos in our backyards and if we can’t drive there, the casino will send a bus to your neighborhood and give you a ride.
There are many theories as to why people develop a gambling problem. They range from social, environmental, biological, cognitive, and spiritual. In your experience, what contributed most to your problem? What theory or theories do you think affect most people?
I guess I don’t look for the reasons why I gambled, I’m just grateful that I found a way to stop. It really doesn’t matter whether we’re rich or poor, young or old, college graduate or high school drop-out, the gambling addiction is not prejudiced.
If you could draw up a plan to help someone to quit gambling, what would that plan look like in detail?
If I could draw up a plan for someone to quit gambling, I would follow the 12 steps of Gamblers Anonymous. I would encourage them to attend meetings, find a sponsor, and make an appointment to see a gambling counselor.
How do you feel about the gambling industry as a whole? Do you think they have the right to operate as a business and it’s caveat emptor (buyer beware) for the consumers?
I have no opinion on the gambling industry as a whole. I just know it’s not for me.
The gambling industry is expanding as a whole. Do you think more people will become addicted to gambling because of this?
Yes, I think the gambling industry is expanding and more people will become addicted. They can’t avoid it with the clever advertising the casinos provide. The casinos are beautiful and the gamblers are treated royally.
How do you feel about poker? Seeing that it’s all over the place now. Do you feel that celebrities playing in poker tournaments is setting a bad example to young people?
I’m sure the poker tournaments on television will tempt many viewers to take that trip to a casino and test their skill. It could be a trigger for some.
You’ve credited Gamblers Anonymous as being instrumental in your recovery. Can you share with us your experiences in the program– the people you’ve met, your most memorable moments and low-points while in the program?
Gamblers Anonymous saved my life. When I was at the lowest point in my addiction and attended my first GA meeting, I knew this was where I belonged. I knew the other members couldn’t do it for me but I couldn’t do it without them. But I do feel there are many other ways to get help and treatment.
Do you agree with the Gamblers Anonymous program that people are “powerless” over gambling?
I know that I was powerless over gambling because I tried so many times to stop driving to the casinos and I just couldn’t stop. Each weekend on the ride home, I’d cry to myself, “I’m never coming back, this is so stupid.” And half-way home I’d be planning my next trip.
Did any friend or family member attempt to understand your problem? Or did you try to hide it from them?
I don’t think any of my friends nor my family would have understood my gambling addiction. They weren’t aware of my problem because I kept it hidden so well. I even rented a post office box so credit card bills wouldn’t be sent to my home.
Do you remember how many bottoms you hit?
What was the worst or most memorable one? Every morning when I woke up and every weekend on my way home from the casino, was a bottom. The most frightening one was when the seven police cars came to my home and took me away in handcuffs.
Did suicide ever cross your mind in the midst of the addiction?
I thought of suicide many times. When I drove alone in my car I thought one quick turn of the wheel and I’d hit a wall or an 18-wheeler and that would be the end of my gambling.
How did gambling make you feel? What were you hoping to get out of it?
While I gambled, I always thought gambling made me feel good. Some nights I sat on the stool at the casino and didn’t care whether I won or lost, I just wanted to keep playing. The money didn’t seem real.
How many times did you try quitting before you succeeded?
I think I quit every weekend for the seven years I gambled compulsively. That only lasted for ten miles down the road when we left the casino and then I would be planning my next trip. I’d wear a different shirt and I wouldn’t wear that dumb bracelet because that’s what gave me the bad luck.
What were the reactions of your family and friends when you were gambling?
My family and friends never knew the amount of money I lost or won. A compulsive gambler becomes very clever with lies and covering up all their gambling problems. We just can’t let anyone know what we’re doing, they make try to make us quit and I wasn’t ready to quit.
Does the thought of gambling creep into your mind sometimes?
I’m happy to say that gambling doesn’t have a place in my thoughts. I’ve been told that I’m not responsible for the first thought that comes into my head but I am responsible for what I do with it after that. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t gambled since I attended my first meeting more than 16 years ago but I know that if I made that first bet, I’d be off and running again. And this time I would probably die.
Do you have any regrets?
I have regrets. I regret the harm I did to my employer and I’m sorry for not being there for my family. I’ve forgiven myself but I’ll never forget what I’ve done. You can process it so it doesn’t haunt you every day.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to quit?
If someone wants to quit, they’re half-way there. The desire to stop is the biggest step a compulsive gambler can make. If we don’t have the desire, we can’t quit…
My book GRIPPED BY GAMBLING may be purchased through Amazon.com and other on-line bookstores. The blog here by Author, Catherine Lyon has some good advice and resources I hope people who may have a gambling problem stay and look around while they are here and share with friends and family…
Again, I want to thank EnCOGNITIVE.com for letting me share this fantastic and informative interview with Marilyn Lancelot. She has published two more important books since Gripped By Gambling. You can visit her on Amazon for all her books here: Amazon Author Page
National Recovery Month ~ Raise The Awareness!
Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.
National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.
Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.
There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.
Now in its 27th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need.
The Recovery Month theme is carefully developed each year to invite individuals in recovery and their support systems to spread the message and share the successes of recovery. Learn more about this year’s theme.
Materials produced for the Recovery Month observance include print, Web, television, radio, and social media tools. These resources help local communities reach out and encourage individuals in need of services, and their friends and families, to seek treatment and recovery services and information. Materials provide multiple resources including SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662 HELP (4357) for information and treatment referral as well as other SAMHSA resources for locating services.
LET’S RAISE AWARENESS TOGETHER AND STOP THE STIGMA!
My Voice My Legacy ~ By Author/Advocate
All September 2017
Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,
One of my favorite things to do when I am not super busy is to visit many other blogs and websites that have good solid information and helpful advice. That is what you will find when visiting Annie Kaszina’s website. She is an author and coach and is a must site for all my friends who have been through Emotional Abuse.
It was one my underlying issues of why I turned to gambling addiction. I found her recent article interesting and helpful, so I wanted to share some of it here. I hope you will go visit her website to read the full article: “Recovery From Emotional Abuse.”
( Courtesy & By)
“How do you know when you are over emotional abuse?” is, in my experience, the question least asked. Abuse survivors ask, instead, a) “Can I heal after all that I have been through?”, b) “How long will it take to get over this?” and c) “How soon will I feel better?”
All three are important questions which I have written about before – and, doubtless, will write about again. Meanwhile, for those who might want quick answers, here goes:
- It is always possible to heal – no matter what you have been through. However, healing will require you to step out of your default thinking about being somehow broken.
- Feeling better hinges on your feelings of self-worth rather than the passage of time. For as long as you keep reliving the hurt, you cannot get over it.
- You only have to start rebuilding your feelings of self-worth to feel better. To keep feeling better and better, you only need to keep growing your feelings of self-worth. That is perfectly realistic. However, if you have been in an emotionally abusive relationship, your feelings of self-worth will take some nurturing. Those feelings are, at best, mere seedlings. They deserve to grow into oak trees.
“How do you know when you are over emotional abuse?”
This takes us right back to our opening question, “How do you know when you are over emotional abuse?” We need to start the answer from an understanding of how the process of abuse actually works. Two key things happen to anyone who is at the sharp end of an abusive relationship,
- You hear/experience an awful lot of negative things about yourself.
- You take them on board as your truth.
Emotionally abusive partners are not the world’s most generous creatures. There is just one thing that they “lavish’ on you. That thing is, of course, vilification.
Vilification is the language of the Vile.
Vilification is, as nobody else seems to have said, the language of the Vile. Abusers say vile things about their victims. They, also, treat their victims vilely. We, the abused, take that vileness on board and imagine that it is our own.
When an emotional abuser moves on, he (or she) will gather up their worldly goods and assets (plus as many as yours as they can get away with taking). The one thing that they are in no rush to take back in their vilification. That, as they see it, is their enduring contribution to your life. They leave it with you. You own it. And it continues to make your life a misery.
So, how do you know when you are over emotional abuse?
You are over the emotional abuse when you don’t buy into the vilification of yourself any longer. Now, I don’t know how big of a deal that sounds to you. However, it is not quite as easy to do as it may sound. The reason is simple – you probably don’t have the faintest idea of the process of vilification that you routinely put yourself through.
Vilification signs you need to listen out for
What are the vilification signs that you need to listen for – in yourself?
- Do you think of yourself as stupid, or weak?
- Do you think you are “broken”?
- Do you worry that you can never have a good, happy future – because of what you have been through?
- Do you feel unlovable?
- Do you doubt whether a decent man would ever want to love and cherish you?
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” )
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 Soloist, The 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
THREE STEPS to HEAL FROM Emotional Abuse
By Dominica Applegate Jul 11, 2017 – Sober Recovery
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 counseling, 12-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.
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
“Shared and Presented By Recovery Starts Here!” ~ Author, Catherine Lyon
My Story I Shared At “HEROES In Recovery” Shattering Stigma and More…
“My name is Catherine and I am dual diagnosed living with mental health challenges and in recovery from gambling addiction 10 years now!
If I can RECOVER, SO can YOU XOXO”
My recovery journey started in 2006. I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt and then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well.
I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the courts and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I’m still paying today.
My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. I chose to not do all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work with a gambling addiction specialist. After my troubles occurred, I worked with a specialist for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others.
After this second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a well-balanced recovery and had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, has bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with a gambling specialist and got my mental health under control, I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live in recovery. Those of us who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.
I am a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The nasty habits, behaviors and diseased thinking needed more correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye opening. He helped me break down the cycle of the addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t relapse into gambling, this workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.
Another tool that helped was journaling every day and reading. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. Those journals were used for help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me. I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse, sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.
By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, people who to recover and live with mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen to not be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real disease and addiction. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities, our families’ and now youth and the negative impact it has on all.
The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 1% of our population are problem gamblers. And it the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide than any addiction. Through my own recovery and sharing my testimony, I have learned a lot. The best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.
Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. What is missing is to learn how to also begin the inner work to address the roots of WHY we may have turned to addictions. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in longevity in recovery. I learned this the hard way. I became an addicted.
Now that I have reached ten years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we can weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I share as much as I can with others. I do this in many ways. My second book is almost finished, and I hope to release it late 2017. It will be more of “how-to” for reaching that elusive first year of recovery.
With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, my readers asked me to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share my recovery and journal in blog form. All I can urge others to do is never give up. You are worth a better life in recovery. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover.
Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen to and learn from. My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent in your recovery journey if you do one thing a day for RECOVERY…
“This is my 4 Year Recovery Blogging wish for all who is battling the cunning cycle of gambling addiction. Thank You, WordPress for helping me help others!”
Catherine ~ XO
“PART TWO ~ MY FINAL GOODBYE Gambling Addiction”
I still remember the days when you taught me well about trying to control my gambling and you also taught me to be in denial of having a problem, to use blame and entitlement to make me believe that gambling was so much easier than to try and stop and stay in recovery. Your sick so-called ‘friendship’ was dripping with shame, guilt. You had stripped me of self-worth, confidence, and took much life from me. So much so, I looked at myself in the mirror and only saw an empty shell of a woman that used to be so fun, humorous, loving, vibrant, and beautiful inside and out.
Yes, you taught well. And this time you were even more “cunning and baffling” to me. And when the money was gone, you made me think it was ok to “Lie, Cheat, Pawn, and Steal from someone as to get rid of all Tom and I worked hard for. You were building an even bigger wedge between my husband and me to the point I was going off the friggin rails emotionally again!
You brought me back to that dark place again. Because you had talked me into thinking I was normal in recovery and didn’t need to take my medications for my mental health. As a matter of fact, things got so out of control again for the second time in 2006, that you made me feel as though it would be best to just “DIE” than face the consequences of this round of poor choices and financial strains.
Of course, you are going to say; “those were all my choice’s I made, they were mine alone, but you know you had a hand in ALL OF IT! Your nasty old habits and addicted thinking came back and swooped right in my thoughts again when I learned I was still missing more work in my recovery, and the financial pressures became too much and again I woke up in a mental/addiction crisis center ~ via the hospital a second time.
NO, I didn’t want to take all my medications all at once, but I just didn’t have the courage or strength, after everything I had been through being arrested and being humiliated in the local newspaper because I stole from a friend. The best thing she ever did was press charges. Even though I was feeling I had to start recovery all over again, and even though I wasn’t gambling. I just didn’t have it in me to keep going to court hearings and just all of it!
But, I did start over again, along with my higher power by my side (God). I remember hearing these whispers in my ear while in the hospital for the second time. They were faint, but I heard them. I know it was that “Power Greater than Myself” telling me that I have too much to do here on earth and was called to fulfill my higher purpose of what God want’s me to do here. He would not let my journey end like with Suicide. Not even a second try! In that moment, I felt something shift and change inside me.
Many may say that’s bullshit, well I’m here today to tell you it’s NOT. I had prayed for years asking “God” to help take away all the ‘Triggers & Urges’ away from me, and that I would do the rest of the work. Well, it is true when they say; “it happens in God’s, time not ours.” Good things started to happen.
The triggers and urges became less and less as I worked hard in my recovery. It took time, treatment, and a lot of one on one meetings with my addiction counselor, and gamblers anonymous meetings, so many meetings. It took journaling daily to see my growth and my week areas. It took reading a lot of books and so much more. I then worked with a specialist for a year who really saved my life! Soon I was adding up my days, months, and years away from you. Being more of recovery service to others. That is what helped me stay in recovery too! All the while hoping I was hurting YOU as much as you had hurt me through the years of my undying love for you…
So that is my purpose today with this letter old friend. It is my letter of “Closure and Healing.” Just as writing my book was. It is time for me to say a “Final Goodbye” to you forever. It has taken me a long time to make amends with myself, to forgive myself, to love myself again within my recovery and life’s journey. To release the past and old damages of my gambling addiction and the old friendship with you.
Because of you, I’d hurt and lost many people in my life along the way. Yes, we had many good times, but the bad has outweighed the good. I have come to a place in my life and in my recovery to know I’m no longer a victim of what happened to me as a little girl anymore. It was not my fault of all that happened to me. I have learned to process, forgive, let go and let GOD. He alone is the one, my savior that steers the wheel to my heart and this vessel.
I’m strong enough today to know I was a very sick addict and know it was not all my fault. My past doesn’t define the woman I am today.
I have taken my power back and NO LONGER ALLOW YOU IN MY LIFE! I Walk By Faith and not by Sight Alone.
Because all that time you used me. You also used my past and childhood pain and trauma against me in our friendship, and “REAL FRIENDS” don’t do that. Do I have times I wish this could be different? Of course.
I no longer need to think of you anymore. You see, real friends love, care and support you in life. My life today is so happy, fulfilled, and blessed that I’ve been making all my “DREAMS” come true without you. So many blessings and doors have opened for me since I exposed the truth about you in the release of my book. So others can have an inside in-depth look at how ugly you really are. How deadly you can be and how easy you take over.
Now, 10+years it has taken me to write this and part from you forever. I really never thought this day would come for me all those years ago. I can still and always will remember the worst of our times together, as it keeps me from becoming “complacent” in my recovery.
I remember when I could not tell myself I will NEVER GAMBLE AGAIN. I never need step foot in another casino in my lifetime. Every time I did, you made me want to. You’d make me long for you. No, no, not any longer. Today I have the courage and bravery to say NO to you! Many say God doesn’t perform miracles. They use the excuse that they can not believe in something or someone they can not see.
I pray for those people who say or feel this way daily. And for those still stuck and suffering from the insanity of the “cycle” of this addiction.
Because “GOD” does perform “Miracles” all around us. You just need to LOOK, Listen, and Hear them!
I AM one of his “Walking Miracles In Recovery.”
So Goodbye Gambling Addiction, I Don’t Need You Anymore!
“Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow ~ I no longer suffering in Silence”
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author/Freelance Writer
Welcome Friends and Visitors!
YES, sorry that it has been a while since I have blogged about my journey and recovery from gambling addiction now 10+years IN!
I also have had many blessings come my way recently and thought I should share what I’m doing in my own recovery path. On of the beautiful things about recovery is we continue to grow when we have a plan in place for whatever life brings us. It can a new trial or test, or it can be an awesome learning opportunity. If we are NOT learning along the way, we become close minded and maybe not open to seeing all the miricales that happen in life and in our recovery journey!
Lately, I have been on a journey myself of living wellness in LIFE. Yes, in life, not just in recovery. I have been craving more than “just” living a life in recovery and have learned we have many choices to get there. Our recovery is only a part of life. Living an authentic fun and peaceful life from addiction should be a goal when reaching long-term recovery.
We need to explore what we need to do to maintain and continue to grow, and there are many ways to accomplish this in both the treatment side and doing our inner work side, especially for those coming early into recovery. TWO great tools I have been using is an Educational DVD Series and finished reading the book; “Addiction To Recovery: Unlocking Your Potential.” They both have transformed my recovery. The book is the material used for the DVD’S.
And if you have been in recovery from gambling addiction long-term, let’s face it; you don’t need to be a person who works in the field of treating gambling addicts to know there has not been much development in treatment options for those of us who become addicted gambling. And, there is much confusion of what to call a gambler who becomes addicted. Labeling a disease I feel adds to the “stigma” around many addictions let alone gambling, and hampers many who may seek for help.
Now, by all means, I am sharing this as a recovering gambler’s perspective and is what I call myself when speaking about my recovery from this illness. I am not an expert in the field, nor a therapist or treatment expert. It seems; however, we learn a lot about our addiction by research, by our treatment choice and the education we receive, and even by just listening to others around you in a group or GA meeting. We can look at recovery in the same way. And I have heard many “old” battles and disagreements about what IS the best route or path to recovery. A 12-step model, professional treatment, spiritual path or others. Recovery is not a “one size fits all” concept.
When we label people though, it may make them feel “like their disease” if that makes sense. I know I don’t like being labeled just because I live in recovery from addiction. I also live with mental health challenges, so more labels around that too. My addiction is called many names; “pathological gambling,” “compulsive gambling,” “addicted or at risk gambling, gambling disorder” and problem gambler,” and on and on. It can be very frustrating! But I am certain these various terms reflect the efforts of researchers and treatment providers to be able to describe the different levels of severity shown among people with gambling problems.
The same is lacking for new and innovative ways to treat gambling addiction. Some even treat it as a “Mental Health” issue and require a treatment model of cognitive-behavior. I disagree as an addiction IS a disease, and a disease is a medical problem, not just a mental health issue. The various treatment models used for gambling addiction, I found the problem was the effectiveness of these options and what seemed to be missing.
Because as I went through treatment myself, and attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings as well, did I relapse? YES, and I was seeing the same people in both my treatment group and GA meetings, out and had relapsed as they were out gambling too! That seems to question the actual honest success rate of these options of treatment. And with this in mind, most treatment options tend to only focus on three stages of treatment; crisis or intervention, followed by rehabilitation and ending with maintenance. Again, all my observations and what I experienced.
I feel what is missing in most types of treatment options is the so-called “maintenance.” The aftercare and teaching us how to begin the stage of “inner work” and self-reflection to address those deeper underlying issues, maybe pain, past trauma or abuse that may have had a part in those turning to addiction in the first place. It is the way addicts can learn to take back the power of our lives, begin the healing process, learn to forgive and then “let it GO.” Only then can we journey to a better way of life. Former addicts need the necessary skills and tools to inner work of our character defects and “clean out the soul” so to speak.
In recovery from gambling, we need to learn how to “feel” again as we used addiction to ‘numb or escape’ from our problems, life, or any pain or hurt. There are many ways to learn these skills if you are not receiving it within your choice of treatment and recovery. Some ways to begin “inner work” can be by journaling each day, write what worked and what areas you had problems that day and correct them. Reading addiction/recovery books, recovery magazines and even recovery papers like “Keys To Recovery,” and even working the 12-steps and rework them are all excellent tools to start the inside work, especially in early recovery.
So, listening to recovery podcasts and DVDS are great ways to learn more about what others in recovery are doing to live a well-balanced, and happy life in recovery. Many add prayer, meditation, and even yoga as ways to a truer inner peace and gain serenity. These are all actions I use in my recovery. Coming into recovery is scary enough, but learning a deeper meaning of yourself and life without addiction in the process is the best part of your recovery that gets you to long-term recovery IN happiness from addiction.
Life doesn’t stop just because you are recovering. It takes honest surrender that gambling has you beat, that you are ready for change, and you want your life back. It takes a lifetime journey, but always remember we “all are works in progress.” I think as others in recovery from gambling addiction; we need to continue to ask ourselves?
What more can we do to help decrease the “stigma” and increase how we can help and be of service to others fighting this addiction? I say?
“Keep having the conversation and advocating.” I know I will!
**Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, Former Columnist, Freelance Writer**
A Door That is Open to All-The 12-Steps As Spiritual Path.
by Dr. Jane S. GallowayAuthor of “The Gateways- the Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality- Dynamic Practices That Work”
“Your Bottom – It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning” ~Rev. Dr. Jane Galloway
It seems that almost everyone who has a deep spiritual conversion through the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, at one time or another says, “I wish everyone could have the spiritual experience of this universal spiritual path!”
More than a few have tried to translate their excitement into books or articles too. I don’t know how many who aren’t already on the 12-Step journey ever read these things, but I never have, and I have been on that path for a long time.
My interest is in how people thrive, not in the study of illness.
Working for years with young children, I studied the ground- breaking work of Jean Piaget on the four cognitive stages of child development, so it makes sense that I understand the work of 12-Step recovery through a developmental lens. The Steps do, after all, provide a template for growing up, albeit as adults.
It is true that many who find themselves in treatment for addiction have missed some crucial stages of foundational growth along the lifespan, often accompanied by trauma. The Steps begin with an admission of powerlessness over whatever source we have chosen as artificial fuel. Step 2 introduces a Higher Power to the conversation.
It is also true that the working of these Steps is designed to connect us to a lifelong, integrated connection to both a solid foundation and “god as we understand god.”… The 12th Step actually presumes that an awakening is the sole result of this process, and begins with “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps…”
And they work. The Steps…they work. And that makes them pragmatic, practical and qualifies them as a path that deserves some deeper inquiry.
Over the years of my own recovery, I doodled brightly colored grids comparing the 12-Steps, the 7 Chakras, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, The Kabbalah Sephirot (Tree of Life), Chinese Meridians and the basic teachings of the Jesus Path from the Nagg Hammadi Scrolls book of Thomas. Something was at work there and knew I would get around to figuring it out one day, but in the meantime, I doodled ladders.
Believe it or not, as a former agnostic who was really, really mad at God, after I got sober I actually left a rather successful acting career to formally pursue both the study of religions, and ordination as a minister, and to look at AA, William James, and American Pragmatism as “The Growth of a 20th Century Pluralistic Spiritual Movement”.
At the same time, I studied and worked in the Human Services, The humanistic psychologies of Maslow and Carl Rogers, and found some links between both of the above areas in the Human Potential Movement and Positive Psychology movements in Post WW ll America. But it wasn’t until a member of a spiritual community I led in New York City cornered me and said that while I was great at teaching a lot of things, they wanted to know what worked for me.
And my instant answer, after many moons of study, practice, attending seminary and 12-Step meetings, chanting circles, having my aura drawn and doodling ladders, was immediate. “Oh, that’s easy. It’s the 12-Steps, and all of this other holistic psycho-spiritual stuff I have done along with them.” And then she said, “Write that.” So I did.
The Gateways- the Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality /Dynamic Practices That Work (Sacred Stories Publishing Sept. 2016) includes all of those brightly colored ladders, plus a lot more. In describing my work as “a development model,” I have consistently met with a sort of puzzled silence from both recovering people and spiritual folks. So I finally began to get at the core of the thing.
The following, describing developmental psychology (from the website of the American Psychological Association) says what the 12-Steps do, minus the spirituality: “Developmental psychologists study human growth and development over the lifespan, including physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality and emotional growth. “ apa.org American Psychological Association Science in Action.
In “The Gateways”, I prioritize the spiritual, go into the basic essence of each Step, then create a technicolor system of practices and possibilities for exploring a lifelong path of deepening, growth, and expansion along spiritual lines using the 12-Steps. Along with that is some history and a couple of personal stories to show how this has all worked in my life, a juicy Resources section, a Bento-Box of Mind/Body/Spirit tools and a suggested 12-week program for leading a spiritual growth group using the method.
The actual book is gorgeous, and the psycho-spiritual, holistic, hands-on work in it creates a resource for all of those people who may or may not be on a 12-Step path per say, or may not be addicted to anything, but desire to go back and build a strong spiritual foundation for a life that works.
And the book is so pretty you could eat it. Truly. But don’t. Use it! And enjoy.
It is my hope that the resource I have created in this work is a practical companion for the beautiful channeled wisdom of the AA founders when they described the spiritual path of the 12-Steps in Chapter 4 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, We Agnostics:
“To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open we believe, to all.”
Please visit my website at Jane Galloway.com
Let’s Connect on Social Media:
“I am in no way demeaning or saying that The 12-Step Program and model is not a form of treatment, nor that it doesn’t help people recover from drugs, gambling, or alcoholism. But more and more articles like the one I am sharing today and hearing many people talk about needing and wanting MORE than 12-steps to reach long-term recovery and have a well-balanced path from ADDICTION.”
So please don’t leave me nasty comments as to such. What I am exploring is a more in-depth look into having “Wellness in Recovery.” Many are now searching for ways to obtain treatment AND learn the much-needed skills and tools to begin the “inner work” needed to a well-balanced recovery without relapse or slips in the process.
Let’s face it, if we teach new addicts coming into treatment BOTH, we just may cut relapse percentages in half or more and would mean MORE NEW addicts would be getting the help they need as well.
There are many ways to go about it this.
One new exciting way I have been using and venture I am involved with is for those working in the “treatment side and facilities” and those looking for recovery “AT HOME Recovery.” Learn more about “Wellness in Recovery” and “Oak Valley Productions Educational DVD Series.” It is a fresh approach to having a well-balanced journey, learn to begin and process the underlying issues that may have you turned to addiction, and learn to release and let it GO!
It will help guide you on how to begin your “inner work” as you learn the educational side of recovery from addiction! See all the details of this non-12 step recovery series and have “Recover in Wellness” of mind, body, soul and Spirit!
“Researchers have not been able to methodologically eliminate self-selection bias or utilize adequate controls in their studies of 12-step groups and Twelve-Step Facilitation.”
When I read Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, I was surprised to see Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF) included as an evidence-based behavioral treatment for addiction. I had just done a literature review on the efficacy of 12-step-based interventions and found the evidence insufficient to support the prescription of 12-step groups as treatment. TSF is a standardized form of therapy where professional counselors try to engage their patients in participating actively in 12-step groups, in part by emphasizing 12-step philosophy during therapy sessions.
Twelve-step philosophy stipulates that addiction is a spiritual disease born of defects of character and that 12-step groups are the only cure, involving faith in a higher power, prayer, confession, and admission of powerlessness. In contrast, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a disease of the brain – a medical condition requiring medical treatment. A spiritual disease concept is not the same as a medical disease concept. Twelve-Step Facilitation treats addiction as a spiritual and biopsychosocial disease, retaining the spiritual emphasis of 12-step philosophy.
TSF was classified as a professional behavioral treatment in the Surgeon General’s Report. How can a professional, medical treatment be based on a definition of addiction as a spiritual disease? Baffled, I knew I would not be able to understand if I got stuck in bias against Twelve-Step Facilitation. I had studied the research on 12-step groups, but had only dipped my toe into the research on TSF. The Surgeon General’s Report cites hundreds of studies, and over a dozen in support of TSF. So, I did what all good scientists must do: I set aside my bias, knowing that if I want the truth, and I must assume first that I am wrong and dig deeper.
I conducted a preliminary literature review to investigate the effectiveness of TSF as a treatment, and then examined each of the sources the Surgeon General’s Report cited in support of TSF. I looked at the methodology, results, and conclusions for each. In this article, I define “evidence-based” to mean any treatment supported by numerous scientific experiments with rigorous methods that include control groups, randomization of patients to treatments, and bias-free samples. I use “12-step approaches” to refer to all 12-step-based rehab programs, TSF, and 12-step mutual help groups.
The key to understanding research on TSF is to know why the treatment was created in the first place. Researchers had documented a correlation between 12-step group attendance and abstinence, but correlation is not causation and research had been limited in several ways:
- Studies evaluating the effectiveness of 12-step groups could not eliminate self-selection bias, which happens when group members are not randomly selected and participants opt in or select themselves, creating biased samples. The people participating in the studies had chosen to participate, and researchers could not determine whether successes observed were due to 12-step participation or qualities in the self-selected participants, such as greater motivation to enter recovery, more resources, or greater receptivity to messages of God, faith and/or acceptance. The people who chose not to participate, or who dropped out of the study, were not always accounted for. Researchers could not determine whether the correlation they observed was due to the treatment or to the characteristics of the people participating.
- Twelve-step groups have no standardized methods or conditions. Leaders of the groups are often laypeople in recovery from addiction themselves. The quality of social support in the group depends on the people who are participating. The literature is interpreted by the members, who create their own cultures around the interpretation. Twelve-step cultures also pass around other information and advice, which may or may not permeate every group. Each sponsor is a different layperson in recovery from addiction, with different character traits. Researchers could not control for all of these variables all of the time.
- Researchers struggled to maintain rigorous control groups throughout studies. At a minimum, to determine whether 12-step groups have an effect, researchers needed a no-treatment control group for each study. Ethically and logistically, they could not prevent people in the control groups from receiving treatment or from attending 12-step groups.
Twelve-Step Facilitation was developed by researchers working on Project MATCH, a well-known and extensive study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Project MATCH compared TSF to Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), seeking to establish what patient characteristics corresponded with the best results for each treatment. The study found there “was little difference in outcomes by type of treatment” based on the primary outcome measures of percent days abstinent and drinks per drinking day.
By standardizing methodology for TSF, Project MATCH made some headway on strengthening the quality of evidence, but they did not find a way around self-selection bias and they did not have a control group. Many patients, however, did drop out of the assigned treatments early on in the study. Two researchers later examined the outcomes of the zero-treatment dropout group, and found that “two-thirds to three-fourths of the improvement in the full treatment group was duplicated in the zero-treatment group.”
This means that the people in Project MATCH’s treatment groups did not have significantly better abstinence outcomes than the people who dropped out of the study. Importantly, we do not know whether the dropout group sought treatment on their own, and it seems probable that they did. Based on their analysis, none of the interventions in Project MATCH seem to be effective, but without an actual control group, the results are equivocal regardless.
Some researchers have sought to re-analyze other parts of the Project MATCH data, but their findings, while supportive of TSF, are subject to the same methodological limitations of the parent study. Many other studies cited by the Surgeon General’s Report seem to support TSF as effective for improving abstinence outcomes and/or for relatively increasing 12-step participation compared to treatment as usual (TAU), but none of these studies had control groups. The Surgeon General’s Report cited one source in support of TSF that was actually an article reviewing information about 12-step programs to educate social workers, not an experimental study. The Report also cited a study in support of TSF that examined two active referral interventions, 12-step peer intervention (PI) and doctor intervention (DI), compared to no intervention (NI). The study found that while the active referral interventions significantly increased participation in 12-step groups compared to no intervention, “abstinence rates did not differ significantly across intervention groups (44% [PI], 41% [DI] and 36% [NI]).”
This study was the only one cited in the Surgeon General’s Report in support of TSF that approximates a control group, and it does not actually support the efficacy of TSF in increasing abstinence outcomes. The NI pseudo-control group still received a list of 12-step group meeting times and locations, but was not encouraged to attend. The PI group attended meetings twice as much as the NI group, and yet the researchers found no significant difference in abstinence outcomes. The DI group, essentially TSF, was less effective than the PI group at increasing attendance, and again, did not significantly improve abstinence.
My own literature review turned up articles the Surgeon General’s Report did not reference, both in support of TSF and not supporting TSF, but none of the studies I found had control groups either. Results of my literature review, including my assessment of the Surgeon General’s report sources, were therefore as ambivalent as the 2006 Cochrane Review, a systematic meta-study of all 12-step-based programs that found “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.
In medical science, if a treatment is ineffective or faces prohibitive methodological challenges, the treatment is either revised or abandoned. Twelve-step philosophy prohibits either approach. Twelve-step literature is comparable to the Bible for Christians or the Qur’an for Muslims; if the literature is removed, the identity of the group goes with it. The same basic text has been used for AA since the publication of its “Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous, in 1939. Twelve-step literature also explicitly states that “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.
There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.” Twelve-step philosophy, by taking this position, is asserting that its methods can never be wrong. If the 12 Steps do not work for people, 12-step philosophy explicitly states it is their fault, and that the fault is inborn and irreversible. The 12 Steps and attendant literature, however, are not modified.
Research does support the concept that changing “people, places, and things” and finding a network of people with a culture of abstinence can improve chances of recovery. However, mutual help groups other than 12-step groups do exist that may provide the social support needed by people in recovery. People who are not religious may be able to make 12-step groups work for them as social support if they have no other choices, but other options will most often be available.
A study in 2001 by Humphreys and Moos found that TSF may reduce health care costs for people in recovery by emphasizing reliance on free 12-step groups, as opposed to cognitive behavioral therapy. Yet their conclusions that the study indicates people should be diverted from CBT to TSF because it is ultimately cheaper amounts to advocating malpractice. TSF itself is not free and is not decisively supported by evidence; twelve-step groups, while free, are not evidence-based treatment, and other available mutual help groups are equally free options for social support. Even if TSF were demonstrably effective at promoting abstinence for some people, 12-step philosophy is heavily spiritual (specifically Christian-based) so it would be unethical to recommend TSF simply because it might save money.
After exhaustive research, I assert with confidence that 12-step approaches are not evidence-based treatments. They may be strong recovery support for people to choose in addition to a medical treatment plan, but 12-step approaches—including TSF—are not established as evidence-based for treating addiction.
Due to the methodological limitations identified in this article, I question continuing to spend thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and invaluable expertise on researching a spiritually-based treatment for addiction that cannot be proven to be effective for most people most of the time compared to “spontaneous,” or natural, remission rates. It is time to relegate 12-step approaches to the realm of recovery support services (RSS, as defined in the Surgeon General’s Report), and allocate our research resources to promising treatments that can be studied rigorously and without such crippling methodological limitations.
“It is not often when you meet someone very special that you have so much in common with through the internet and through social media. And you are “blessed” the day they walked into your life. Well, that is how I feel about my dear friend Kevin Coughlin”….
No, we have not met face to face, yes, we live hundreds of miles apart that a phone call can fix and bring us together, and yes, we really are “kindred souls,” and he is my “brother from another mother.” LOL…LOL.
The first thing I learned about my buddy and #1 recovery supporter is that he truly cares for and about those who suffer from addictions. He also cares and has trained hundreds who also care and recovery coach addicts into recovery. Kevin has his hands into so many projects it mind boggling and he keeps publishing more books and poetry within all of it! The man must never SLEEP! (Below are two new Ebooks on Amazon!)
Well, I happen to know he does suffer some with sleep apnea, so he seems to have more hours to spare than your average person. LOL. I’m in the “know” as we have become such close friends. The list of all HE IS and all HE DOES is crazy, but he does it out love and for others to have a beautiful life in recovery. Here now is just a tip of the iceberg of what Dr. Rev Kev is all ABOUT….. The short version, so please visit his helpful website at Rev Kevs Recovery World to learn more!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
My name is Reverend Dr., Provincial Superintendent Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D., most call me Rev. Kev. All that I have been, all that I am, and all that I ever will be is because of God’s grace. I am well trained. I am an International Certified Master Addictions Coach, I specialize in Drug & Alcohol abuse addiction recovery & family recovery coach, gambling addiction, Life coaching, Christian Coaching, Case Management, Prevention & Relapse Prevention, LAMA, Ethics, Spirituality, Sexual Addiction, Anger Management, Domestic Violence Advocacy, Interventionist & Life Recovery Coach, Licensed & Ordained Minister.
I am a Founder, and former Board Member & Spiritual Director of New Beginning Ministry, Inc., a residential addiction recovery program. Over the past 19+ years, we have been blessed to help thousands of individuals and families to change their lives! I am often utilized as a consultant on addiction and recovery and considered an expert in the field. I have given thousands of workshops and lectures, training seminars, and retreats.
I have been an instructor at The Addictions Academy. I am The President and CEO of Phase II Christian Coaching, LLC. I am a member in good standing in the AACC, ICCA, NAADAC, IAMMF, ECPG, NCPG, and AACT. I am an internationally published poet and a best-selling author, I am 9 time National Bench Press Champion and 2 time World Champion.
I have been blessed to be awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Counseling, Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling, and Doctorates Degrees Ph.D., DCC, DDVCA, DLC, DD, and am Board Certified by DIT Seminary IN Christian counseling. I am an Associate Professor at Dayspring Christian University and a Board Member. I have been approved by the Board for a year of study to be consecrated a Bishop at the Florida Conference next year. I have a great deal of experience in volunteer recruitment, philanthropic, nonprofit, program development.
Today, I love to write and to teach!
You can see most of his published works by visiting his Rev Kevs Library and again, above are the two latest books he has published along with this new one and all of them in e-books will soon be available in paperback! Here is more of what Rev. Kev is into with helping MANY in and reaching out to recover from addictions including gambling addiction and as a Recovery Coach!
Here is what Readers and Book Reviewers are saying about many of his published works over on Amazon .com….
Some Amazon Reader Reviews:
5-STARS-Poetry: “Meant for the recovery community, this book of poetry is really about all of life – tragedy, joy, comfort, chaos, disenfranchisement, the ennui of modern times, and love. Almost all readers will find something that will resonate with them within these pages. I was “gifted” this book, my first introduction to Rev. Dr. Kevin Coughlin.
I am so glad to find out about his work. This book is authentic; at times it is even raw and entirely sympathetic to the human condition. His brief inclusions of the canine condition gladdened my heart! I look forward to my next encounter with Rev. Kev’s work.”
5-STARS-Relaspe Prevention book: “This is a great book for those needing to become familiar with addiction/recovery. It takes you step by step through different treatment programs and sets expectations when entering a drug rehab program. You’ll become familiar with the terms associated with the various types of addictions and how to manage/prevent relapses. It discusses triggers and how to deal with them.
If you have teens, this will give you and idea of how to recognize if they are using drugs. This alone makes it worth reading.”
100% ALL 5-Stars-Addictions What Parents Need To Know book: “This book really brought insight to the dynamic between parents, grandparents and their children about the world of addiction and drugs. At times, for those who have never undergone such a thing, seem like a vast, imaginary world away…however, it is real and it is happening now. To so many of us and our loved ones. Mr. Coughlin draws upon his own experiences with addiction and the effects it had on him and his loved ones. It was an incredibly informative book, guide and I believe a lifesaver to those who are currently experiencing this with their loved ones and want to help. It helps the reader understand the causes, signs, and consequences that addiction has and explains in detail the different. Excellent, informative read!
A “bird” to me he may be writing a Memoir as well, let’s hope this is a real rumor as I will be first in line to buy that! He has had a colorful life including addiction and recovery. He writes and freelances for many recovery publications like “Keys to Recovery Newspaper”, “In Recovery Magazine and The Sober World.” He has written many coaching and training manuals for recovery coaching, training and much more!
Kevin has been on many radio and podcast shows and has an “upcoming events” page over on his website so you can catch the event he will be featured as this recovery guy is all over the place: Recovery Events, Interventions and More …
So make sure you connect with Dr. Rev. Kevin T Coughlin, Ph D., all over Social Media as well. Don’t be shy as Kevin is the most humbled nicest guy you will MEET. (No, he did NOT PAY me to write that! LOL) Please take some time to visit his website and see all his books. AND? Some of his New E-Book Release’s are promo priced right now. We know reading can enhance our own recovery. And Yes, Kevin is certified to coach for Gambling Addiction too!
Presented to by Author/Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ Recovery Starts Here!
We all know that old saying; “if want something bad enough you will find a way to get” and that is certainly true when you are talking gambling addiction.
So, you decide you are going to “BAN” yourself from a casino so you can STOP GAMBLING. Well, does this really work? Well, not from my personal ridiculous experiences . . . .
But first, shouldn’t we be educated about a what gambling addiction is? And is it really just fun and games? For many affected, NO, it is not and they will try anything to STOP!
WHAT IS GAMBLING ADDICTION?
Here is what my good friends of the National Council for Problem Gambling define’s this addiction.
Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are 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. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. And again, have no sense or fear of consequences from the destruction they are causing.
Isn’t Problem and Addicted Gambling a Financial Problem?
No. Problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences. If you pay all of a problem gambler’s debts, the person will still be a problem gambler. The real problem is that they have an uncontrollable obsession with gambling. But, in order to recover, the gambler needs to be willing to accept and surrender to the fact that he or she is in the grip of a progressive illness and has a desire to get well and stop gambling.
Isn’t Problem Gambling Really the Result of weak or financially irresponsible people?
No. Many people who develop problems have been viewed as responsible and strong by those who care about them. Precipitating factors often lead to a change in behavior, such as retirement or job-related stress.
The number one gambling addiction fact that you should know is that gambling is NOT just a financial problem. Some problem gamblers do not have financial issues even though they may lose money gambling. Gambling is an emotional issue where a person feels the need to gamble to alleviate stress or because they feel a certain type of euphoria when they gamble. Gambling is an obsession that can take over your life if you let it go too far, this can lead to the loss of relationships, jobs, and, yes, finances, but the issue behind compulsive gambling is not financial, it is emotional.
For me, gambling became a way for me to cope, escape, and numb old feelings that came back to haunt me of what I went through as a little girl in my early childhood, then into a teen and on into adulthood. And even though 12-Step programs and support tell us we can arrest the addiction and recover, I myself disagree from a “treatment” standpoint. In order for me to reach full recovery, I had to process all the “old” in a healthy manner of all the uderlying issues before I was able to grasp a well-balanced recovery and make it into long-term recovery.
As I am a firm believer in doing the “inner work” within ourselves is just as important as learning the skills, tools, and being educated about the disease. So I do 12-step meetings, but I do them for support and to be with others who understand this addiction and be of service to others.
IF you think you have a gambling problem? I always suggest to people that a great place to start is to stop by Gamblers Anonymous ~ 20 Questions and answer HONESTLY their 20 Questions and it will give you a good view if you have a problem and need help.
Now About Self-Banning or Self Exclusion: What Is This?
Now keep in mind, each STATE in the US may have their own rules and policies about this option to help someone stop gambling and harm. So for an example, I currently live in the State of Arizona so I will share this STATE’S options as there as Indian Tribe Casinos all over this state, so people have many options and ACCESS to GAMBLE.
Here is what my friends at Arizona Dept. of Problem Gambling say about Self Ban:
Self-Exclusion or Self-Ban is a process that allows a person to request to be banned from all Indian Gaming Facilities within the State of Arizona and to be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses, and the use of any of the services or privileges of the facility. You can choose either a one-year, five-year, or ten-year exclusion. This exclusion is irrevocable and cannot be altered or rescinded for any reason during the selected time period on the form.
How Do I Exclude Myself?
There are a number of ways you can go about excluding yourself. You can download the exclusion form found on this site, fill it out, have it notarized and mail it to the Department of Gaming along with a current photo of yourself. Please note: The self-exclusion will not be processed without proper notarization and a current photo. We can accept the photo electronically via email but we must have the original, notarized self-exclusion form sent to this office.
You may also come to the office to complete the entire self-exclusion process which includes meeting with the self-exclusion administrator who will discuss the program, notarize the form and take your photo as well as give you additional resources for problem gambling.
Please click on the FAQ link to the right for more information. Questions & Answers on Self Ban . . . .
Many casinos and states are also trying to help by offering these additional Ban Services as well:
The self-exclusion procedures and the self-exclusion forms are in a PDF format. To obtain a free copy of Adobe Reader, click here.
BAN YOURSELF FROM USING ATMS AT MANY CASINOS
The Everi STeP program allows you to exclude yourself from using ATMs at over 1000 gambling locations.
Automated Systems America, Inc. (ASAI) can also assist in blocking ATM transactions in some Arizona casinos.
BAN YOURSELF FROM INTERNET GAMBLING
Gamblock prevents access to internet gambling sites.
Please make sure you visit their Q&A Facts page about more questions of Self Ban and Exclusion, you will find it Helpful….
The Interesting and Comical Side of Gambling and Self-Ban:
Now, of course, I will KEEP in perspective that gambling is something many people do from time to time. But for others, it becomes an obsession, and they risk losing their livelihoods and much more because of the affliction, THAT IS NOT Funny.
But I have been sitting in the rooms of AA and Gamblers Anonymous a long time, and also when I was in treatment twice in our weekly group meetings. I can tell you I heard all sorts of stories about others who did try the self-ban from casinos. Now I never had the nerve to self-ban from the only Indian Casino 41 miles North of my home in So. Oregon where I lived at the time of my deep gambling addiction. But I have heard many stories from other women who did.
Needless to say, many told of them disguising themselves with make-up, wigs, sun glass’s and the like to hide their identity from the guards. and praying they didn’t hit a BIG jackpot for an attendant to have to come and pay them out or they would be Kicked Out! To me? That is living on the far off the edge! BUT? “If you want something bad enough?” ….
I have had many stories through the years of good and bad about self-banning, but here is a place and website I came across with stories that are both Postive and Negatives of gamblers who self-banned and gambled anyway on Psych Forums-Gamblers Banned I think you need to read. Here is one person’s experience:
“In the US it doesn’t work well. My wife signed the self-exclusion in all local casinos but she is able to play in all of them. One time she was playing, I told security that how come they let her plays when she signed self-exclusion, they immediately kicked her out. But casinos are businesses, and none of them will say no to FREE money. There is no real penalty for letting people who self-excluded play so why should they enforce it? I was considering suing them but all lawyers I contacted said that I can’t win.”
I hope you have found this to be helpful information and informative. I know I have never written and shared much on Self-Banning and I find it interesting. I think for my own addiction, it most likely would NOT have helped me as I am a type of person that would find another way to “Get What I Wany.” And self-ban could just backfire as of some other horrific stories I heard as in the rooms as well. Having access to NO MONEY to a gambler can make them turn to criminal acts. Yes, I heard some stories about this as well.
And this I DO have my own personal experience as I wrote about it in my current book, “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” And part of my title of my Memoir: “Confessions” was my way of taking accountability and ownership of the poor choices I made and the people I had hurt when I was gambling and deep within my disease.
We are only “as sick as our SECRETS” so I wrote and shared most all of what I’d DONE in a public forum within my book to hopefully help others and may they learn just far this cunning, sick and progressive addiction will take you! Here are some signs to look for if you suspect a loved one may have a gambling problem. Visit my friend’s page at Addictions.com for more information and helpful treatment and support options …
Any addiction causes highs and lows in a person, and gambling addiction is no exception. According to the NLM, here are some psychological signs of gambling addiction:
- “Feeling bad after you gamble, but not quitting”
- Feeling guilty for spending time away from your family or hurting them, but not quitting
- “Always thinking about gambling”
- Believing that gambling is not a problem for you, or avoiding thinking about how much time and money you actually spend on gambling
Gambling addiction does become a compulsion, and it is easier not to think about it than it is to soberly consider the repercussions of gambling on your life. Addictions.com
**Presented by Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of “Addicted To Dimes” **