Red Flags and Warnings On How Addicts Get What They Need-Want …

“The two hardest areas for me when even thinking about becoming ‘Bet Free and Sober’ were ‘Surrender and Honesty.’ 

Let’s face it, beginning recovery and treatment is SCARY” …
~Advocate/Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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I remember two things back in the day trying to recover from gambling addiction and stay sober as I would drive to my GA meetings. One, listen to my favorite CD and song by Mary J Blige – “No More Drama,” and Two? Seeing this passage above and trying to believe in IT!

Today I received my SoberRecovery newsletter and read an article that really rang true to me when first coming out of treatment and trying to maintain early recovery. It kind of grab me around the throat a little as the title of the article I’m sharing made me think back to those early days when I would get a few weeks ‘bet free’ and then BAM! I’d be back out gambling and I am sure some of what I was saying to others rang true with me.

I would do or say anything to get what I wanted or needed so I could go gamble. I hope those who are living with or know a problem gambler will learn some warning signs to be aware of. As this also happens when the addict does relapse as well … It is why I share special articles that we all can learn, be informed, and educated by.
Catherine

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Communication Styles Addicts Use to Get What They Want

By Patrick Biegler 


Effective communication is essential to the human experience. Our ability to communicate allows us to form and maintain relationships, let others know what our needs are and reach out to help each other. In reality, however, we’re not always good at communicating effectively and this can cause a number of problems for us.

For those of us with an addiction, our methods of communication are often problematic. We tend to communicate the “need” for our drug of choice in unhealthy ways that further damage our relationships.

Here are the 4 different communication styles and how they tend to play out in everyday circumstances.

1. Passive

This is the “doormat” style of communicating. Passive communicators tend to allow others to walk all over them and often suppress their needs.

Friend: “I’m so sorry I forgot to invite you to the party last night.”

Self: (feels angry, lonely, unloved, rejected)“That’s ok, no big deal.”

In this style of communication, the passive party does not express the feelings that are taking place. Without expressing our true feelings we are likely to suppress them, which is a very dangerous place to be for an addict.

2. Aggressive

This is the “bullying” style of communication. The tendency is to threaten or express a high level of anger.

Friend: “I’m so sorry I forgot to invite you to the party last night.”

Self: (feels angry, lonely, unloved, rejected) “You should feel sorry! You’re such a selfish, uncaring jerk for not inviting me! See if I invite you to the next get-together!”

Here, the aggressive party expresses some of the emotions (mainly anger) by lashing out at the other party. While expressing one’s emotion can be healthy, this style of response is overdone and tends to leave other emotions unaddressed. Additionally, the other party walks away angry and resentful, leaving both parties unhappy. It leads to a negative experience that raises relapse risk for someone with an addiction.

3. Passive/Aggressive

This style of communication is one that addicts tend to be quite proficient at. It’s a manipulative way to get our needs met and is often an attempt to “guilt” the other party to give in.

Friend: “I’m so sorry I forgot to invite you to the party last night.”

Self: (feels angry, lonely, unloved, rejected) “That’s fine, it’s always nice to know how unimportant I am to you. Perhaps I should give you my phone number again since you seem to have forgotten it.”

Once again the emotions are not appropriately expressed directly but the inference from the response indicates that there are negative emotions that have resulted. This here is another style of communication that leaves both parties in a negative emotional state.

4. Assertive

Generally, the assertive communication style is the best way to communicate. It involves both parties listening to what the other has to say and fosters genuine dialogue about the emotional impact of the event.

Friend: “I’m so sorry I forgot to invite you to the party last night.”

Self: (feels angry, lonely, unloved, rejected) “I appreciate the apology and I must say that I felt angry and rejected by not being invited. I understand it was a genuine mistake and I’m willing to forgive and forget.”

Here, both parties express their true feelings in a non-confrontational dialogue, hopefully leaving both parties feeling heard and understood.

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For addicts, this style of communication often feels very uncomfortable, especially for addicts. We’re not very adept at recognizing and expressing emotions in a controlled manner and we don’t like feeling vulnerable by expressing our true selves. With enough practice though, we can learn to more effectively communicate our needs and feelings.

How Addicts Communicate to Feed the Addiction

For someone who is still in throes of addiction, there are two styles of communication we’re accustomed to using as our primary means of conveying the things we desire: aggressive and passive-aggressive.

Here’s how my past conversations usually played out.

Aggressive:

Me: “Hey, I need $30.00.”

You: “What for?”

Me: “Does it matter? I need the money! Give it to me!” (implying that “If you don’t give me the money, I’m willing to steal it.”)

Passive-Aggressive:

Me: (I need drugs and I need to get some money.) “Hey, can you lend me $30.00 for gas for my car?”

You: I don’t know, are you going to buy drugs with this money?”

Me: “Of course not, I need it for gas money.”

You: “I’m not sure I trust you, the last time I gave you money you spent it on drugs.”

Me: “Fine, if you won’t give me money, I won’t have a car to drive to work. Thanks a lot!”

Approaching Someone with Addiction

If you’re dealing with someone with an addiction, know that he or she will do ANYTHING to get his or her drug of choice. If that means lying to you or manipulating you, we WILL DO IT. The drug is the goal and whatever it takes to reach this goal is fair game for us. So what do you do?

1. Realize that whatever we say, we are trying to manipulate or intimidate you in order to feed our addiction.

2. Have a firm resolution not to give in to threats. If we “need” money for ‘rent’ then pay the bill directly, don’t give us the cash to pay it.

Recognizing these styles of communication is an important step to learning how to change our behavior to more effectively communicate our legitimate needs.

It is also important to recognize how addicts manipulate communication to score drugs. Honesty and candor from both sides are key to effective communication and recovery from addiction. When we all communicate our needs and concerns in an assertive manner, we have a much better chance of working together towards a life free of addiction and toward recovery.


Gamblers In Recovery? Take Your Holiday Financial Inventory Now! Guest Article By Northstar Alliance.

Happy Holidays Recovery Friends and Visitors!

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GUEST ARTICLE BY:  Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance


Financial Counselors Can Provide Exceptional Services to Recovering Gamblers and Their Families from The Devastation To Finances .  .  .  .

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“In addition to the social and emotional devastation of gambling addiction, which may include loss of relationships, residence, physical health and career opportunities, the damage exacted to one’s finances is significant.”

While therapists and groups such as Gambler’s Anonymous can help address the mental and psychological challenges from a gambling disorder, other experts can help gamblers rebuild their financial house.

Financial counselors can provide a variety of services to both the gambler and their family. By taking appropriate measures, counselors can help gamblers rebuild their credit and safeguard the assets of “affected others,” whose money the gambler may have accessed during their addiction.

Many compulsive gamblers have accumulated a seemingly insurmountable level of debt by the time they seek help. Financial counselors can work on their behalf to obtain special, lower interest rates from creditors to satisfy existing debt. Financial counselors can also consolidate debt so that the recovering gambler pays a single monthly payment, an option known as a debt management plan. While debt consolidation is a tool that’s available for anyone — gamblers and non-gamblers alike — it can be especially helpful for someone who has incurred debt from gambling addiction and requires a plan to start on a new path.

Recovering gamblers seeking financial relief should be wary of debt settlements, which are fundamentally different than debt management plans and which have been the subject of scrutiny from the Minnesota Attorney General. Debt settlement is a form of debt relief that is considered to be extremely dangerous by financial experts. The process, which involves the paying off of debt to a creditor after mutually agreeing to a sum less than what is owed, often leaves consumers with damaged credit scores and can sometimes lead to even deeper debt.

In addition to credit card assistance, financial counselors can also help with management of student loans and mortgages. HUD-certified financial counselors specialize in foreclosure prevention and can potentially help those who have lost much of their money from gambling by working with mortgage companies to make mortgage modifications. According to Cate Rysavy, senior director of Financial Services at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, people are able to avoid foreclosure 64 percent of the time when working with a housing counselor.

Financial counseling can also come to the aid of family members whose monies may have been stolen by the gambler or who may have unknowingly enabled the gambler by providing financial support. Counselors can provide protection to spouses by offering separate accounts for spouses and others to prevent access by the gambler.

A recovering gambler might also wish to engage a Power of Attorney (POA) to help control the disbursement of funds. By setting up a POA, a gambler can ensure there’s controlled access to monies and specify exactly how the funds are to be used. A POA is a formal contract that must be given great consideration. It can be canceled by revocation by the individual or a resignation by the POA, ( Power of Attorney ).

In addition to helping those in financial distress, financial counselors may also be the first to identify someone’s gambling problem. They may note frequent cash withdrawals from a casino or determine that something’s amiss with a client’s expenditures given their budget and income.

Ideally, financial counseling, when necessary, takes place at the same time as treatment for gambling addiction. “If someone’s not acknowledging their addiction and seeking treatment, financial counselors are not in a good position to help,” says Cate, who says the biggest concern when working with gamblers is the possibility of relapse. At Lutheran Social Service, counselors are encouraged to make the call for treatment or to GA while they’re still meeting with the problem gambler. See below for help with addiction debt help from gambling. . . . .

National Credit, Debt, and Finacial Services of Consumer Credit Counseling can be found here in your area:

Connect with an NFCC Certified Credit Counselor   800.388.2227

Consumer Credit Counseling: FREE Debt Help!  Call Us At: 866-464-5243

  1. Get a free credit counseling session
  2. Reduce your interest rates
  3. Prevent late and over the limit fees
  4. Pay off your debt in most cases within 5 years
  5. Consolidate your unsecured debt into one easy monthly payment


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Welcome to Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance

Who We Are!

Gambling, in all its various forms, has become increasingly prevalent in today’s society. In fact, 75 percent of Minnesotans have participated in a form of gambling in the last year. Most who gamble are able to enjoy it as a healthy form of recreation. Others, however, are unable to stop, even when their gambling habit empties their wallet and tugs at their soul. The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance was formed to address the needs of Minnesotans whose gambling goes beyond normal recreation bounds.

The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA), Minnesota’s affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling, is a non-profit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. We achieve this by increasing public awareness about the growing problem and compulsive gambling and advocating for support services and treatment for persons adversely affected by gambling.

Come Visit Us Today! We Can Help .  .  .  .

Early In Recovery? It Will Be OK . . .

“I sure remember those early days when I first went into treatment, in patient first for 2 or so weeks, then out-patient treatment and group for 5 months. It had been my first suicide attempt from my a huge gambling binge! This was set off by a few “life events tragic” happening all around me and I just snapped as all went BLACK!”

It was if my body and mind just said, “no more!”

Well, lucky for me I’m here writing and sharing this with you as that attempt failed. Now I understand and experienced why suicide is the highest among all other addictions currently. And It is very hard to describe what that felt like, the actual hopelessness and darkness surrounding you when you can’t see, hear, or feel anything. It is like your whole sensory is completely shut down. Not to mention the medical ramifications of what I had just done. I was also suffering undiagnosed bipolar issues as well.

It wasn’t until I was placed in a crisis center and properly diagnosed, started on medications, and finally started to come out of my fog and darkness that gripped me so tight. No, not a panic attack, I was suffering from gambling addiction. Our bodies are amazing specimens. But here was a little of what I learned about the mental and physical things that happen to you when you get to such an obsessed and manic state from gambling addiction to the point you feel better off dead than alive. Because you just want the madness, especially in your head to stop. Here is a little of what I researched and found out.

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“young woman leaned against glass wall in crisis moment”

“Courtesy of Everyday Health.com”

The risk-taking behaviors common with bipolar disorder can include an addiction to gambling.

People with bipolar disorder often engage in addictive behaviors. They may compulsively shop for things they don’t need, engage in frequent and risky sex, or spend long hours at the workplace.

They also are apt to engage in compulsive gambling. People who are bipolar tend toward behaviors that include spending too much money on lottery tickets, spending hours in front of video poker machines, and taking frequent trips to casinos.

Connecting Bipolar Disorder to Gambling
Bipolar disorder causes extreme swings in a person’s mood, energy levels, and ability to get things done. It’s also known as manic-depressive illness, a name which reflects these swings in mood. Patients can be overexcited and filled with joy and purpose in a manic episode, and then suddenly swing into a depressive episode, becoming sad, joyless, and drained of energy.

Researchers have found that bipolar disorder and gambling addiction often occur together. Half of all gambling addicts in the United States also have a mood disorder, according to one national survey. A Canadian study found that people with bipolar disorder were more than twice as likely to have a gambling addiction as someone in the general population. Another study found that, among those surveyed, a mood disorder preceded gambling addiction in 80 percent of the women and 58 percent of the men.

Bipolar Disorder and Gambling: What Research Suggests

The exact nature of the link between gambling addiction and bipolar disorder has not been fully explained by researchers. Doctors and mental health professionals tend to believe that gambling addiction may be linked to the highs or lows associated with bipolar disorder:

  • People with depression use gambling to self-medicate. This theory holds that patients use gambling to help themselves feel better during a depressive phase. The rush associated with the risk of gambling may help them rise out of their depressive funk.
  • Gambling reflects the impulsive nature of a manic phase. People in the grips of a manic phase often have impulse control issues. They may engage in kleptomania or go on an eating binge. Some researchers believe gambling might serve as another outlet for impulsive behavior.

Another possible theory is that compulsive gambling may be an early-onset form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which people with bipolar disorder experience at an increased rate compared with the general population.

Treating Bipolar Disorder and Gambling

If people with bipolar disorder are self-medicating with gambling, that may mean there is a biochemical process they are subconsciously tapping into to ease their mania or depression. They are using a specific behavior to make themselves feel better because that behavior prompts the body to release hormones or neurotransmitters that naturally treat their mood disorder.

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Several studies have shown the potential for bipolar disorder medications to also help people deal with a gambling addiction:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are powerful antidepressants. Studies have found that SSRIs can reduce the need to compulsively gamble in some people.
  • Lithium, an often-used mood-stabilizing medication, also has shown promise as a bipolar disorder drug that treats compulsive gambling.Lithium reduces the impulsiveness associated with manic phases and could stop the addictive gambling that takes place when a patient is in the grip of mania.
  • Opioid antagonists like naltrexone (Revia) also may help by blocking the release of certain chemicals. Opioid antagonists work on nervous system receptors that respond to opiate drugs. It is thought that gambling and impulsive behavior causes the release of biochemicals that interact with these receptors, causing a feeling of pleasure and reducing the person’s sense of impulse or urge. By replacing those biochemicals, opioid antagonists reduce the person’s need to gamble to make himself feel better.

Psychotherapy directed at treating bipolar disorder also might help treat a gambling addiction, some research suggests. If the person becomes better able to deal with his mania and depression, he will be less likely to pursue gambling as a means of relieving his symptoms. A combination approach may bring the best results for this difficult combination of disorders.

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When I read this little article, bells went off!!  I was so “out there” mentally and emotionally, that I to was given lithium for awhile in my treatment plan for bipolar.
Because my urges and triggers were constant! The impulses were very out of control that I needed the lithium for that reason.

And as my blog post title says, “It Will Be OK.” Early recovery is hard. I never sugar coat how hard it is. But when you are “dual diagnosed” meaning you are in recovery from addiction and living with mental health, at times in early recovery it was like an uphill battle. When I was released from the crisis center and entered the treatment out-patient program? I did pretty well for about the first 90 or so days. But, no one told me the facts about percentages of early recovery relapse ….

A wonderful video to watch about warning signs and relapse prevention is here on  Addiction and Recovery .org  … I also have a  full workbook & guide here on my blog resources page for “Relapse Prevention”…  You need to have a plan ready when you start recovery. Don’t forget, the journey will be a lifetime. But the longer you refrain from gambling, the faster your triggers, urges, and impulses go away, and you can break free from the cycle of this cunning addiction.
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I am being Honest, It will be OK. Life will get so much better in Recovery!

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Author & Columnist for In Recovery Magazine  ~ “The Author’s Cafe” debuts in June!
Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ Come Subscribe!