Bet Free Recovery Now: Holiday Series. Real Voices & Real Stories of Gambling Recovery. Bernie’s Story…

Bet Free Recovery Now: Holiday Series. Real Voices & Real Stories of Gambling Recovery. Bernie’s Story…


It dosen’t matter the preference or choice of staying in action with gambling like slots, poker, lotto or scratch tickets …It is about learning to interrupt “The Cycle” and use the tools and skills we learn in our choice and path to recover from gambling addiction.

Advocate, Catherine Lyon



BERNIE’S STORY

I’m Bernie and I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler. My Last bet was November 21, 2007.

I grew up on a farm not too far from what is now known as Soaring Eagle Casino. I was not attracted to casinos because to me they were represented by a pole barn. The reason I say that, is because growing up that is what Soaring Eagle was. It wasn’t until much later that it became the place it is now. I found myself being a bit of a loner when I was really young but that only goes to the way I felt.

It wasn’t until High School in the fall of 1979 that I was introduced to what would become my chosen form of gambling (scratch-off tickets). Back then, it was just one now and then with friends from school. I went to a Christian High school a half hour away from where I lived, so the first 2 years I lived with a family in another town during the week. But most of this has little to do with the active part of my addiction.

I was however exposed to functional alcoholism during this time. When I started driving I started smoking and on occasion buying scratch-offs. The smoking became a problem when I was diagnosed with clergies and lost interest due to how it was affecting my breathing, but the gambling was still just a ‘once in a while’ activity.

While in college I met and married my first wife. It was at this time that I saw my first look at what a compulsive gambler looked like. My mother-in-law had a room filled with losing tickets of every sort and was always getting them. I swore at that moment that I would never be like that. She was a nice person most of the time, but the things I saw with her gambling was not very pleasant. Over the years, I would begin to gravitate toward doing exactly what I said I would never do.

My marriage became a stress point for me. We had two sons and I was still getting my degree several years into the marriage. We argued more and more as I went from low paying job to low paying job. By the time 2000 rolled around, I had had a good job with the state, but it was not enough because we were both driving insane distances for work. I left there due to failing a training process, to try and get closer to home and returned to lower paying jobs. I tried to start a business or two and failed to ‘make enough’. This led me to wanting to stay away from home more.

With me working at convenience store and as a direct care worker, I was able to do that but needed to ‘kill time’ to avoid her (my wife). My addiction became worse and gave me a way to stay away during times we were both awake and home more. I’d get home after she had gone to sleep and she would be off to work by the time I woke up. Gambling had become an escape from the problem.




In 2007, my world began to come apart! My mom died and later I would almost lose my job as a result of someone stealing from my till. That resulted in a big argument and fighting to get my job back. Then would come my suicidal feelings (they had always been under the surface but this brought them out in spades). I ended up spending time in an adult psychiatric hospital for 10 days which gave my then wife time to discover just how bad my gambling had become.

This led to more fights and after several years of arguing came the separation. Then came divorce and the realization that all these years I had actually had Asthma and Sleep Apnea. Ultimately the divorce made recovery better for me and in 2013 I remarried a wonderful woman who has been my rock.

Back to 2007, November 21, 2007 to be exact. I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting that night and after it I bought what would be my last scratch-off ticket. That action sent me into tears as I realized I had a problem. It was $1 but it was after hearing stories of people who went to prison and experienced losing everything. How could I buy a ticket after that?

Since that time, I have focused on using my background to help others who are in recovery. It took some time to get my feet under me and deal with my addiction, but once that began I was writing and even speaking about the addiction. That is how I got to where I am today and doing what I do today.

My background is as a Bachelors Level Social Worker with the following added pieces: I started out studying to be a Lutheran Minister, focused on knowing my faith. I studied informally, as well as formally, many world religions. I studied to be a teacher for a short time. I studied Psychology (which became my minor). As I started recovery, I studied everything I could to understand addiction and combined what I learned with every experience and educational aspect of my life.

That said, I am disabled because of health issues today, but I still push forward with writing and creating materials. My first 3 years of recovery were my hardest as I continued to sell my addiction to others while figuring out how to stay clean in this environment.

Today, I am living proof that we can stop our addicted gambling and be successful maintaining long-term recovery and why I continue to SHARE HOPE, so others with a problem will reach out for help like I did. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

Please reach out to Gamblers Anonymous here http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/content/about-us and find a meeting in your area. It is a great place to start …Bernie.


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Why Hope Is the Key to Successful Recovery | The Recovery Village Ridgefield

Christmas Season is Here With a Pandemic. Things We Can Do For a Safe Stay-At-Home Recovery Holiday…

Christmas Season is Here With a Pandemic. Things We Can Do For a Safe Stay-At-Home Recovery Holiday…


What a whirlwind of a recovery year we all have had, RIGHT?

As a person maintaining recovery and an advocate, it has been an a wild and bumpy ride to say least. I many people looking recovery resources and mentoring than ever before while this pandemic continues to rage and continue to spread like wild fire.

I don’t know about you, but many things have occurred in my recovery journey this year that I couldn’t catch my breath. With Thanksgiving come and gone, the Christmas season is upon us, an odd year for sure; I am sure ready for a New Year! How do you live your recovery lifestyle amidst all the crazy going on since early 2020? I thought I’d share some of mine and make a point that no matter what life may throw at us?

We just never give up our recovery.

Has it been a challenging year since COVID turned our recovery path upside down? Well, yes. But I, for one, kept my long-term recovery path through it all. How do you ask? It wasn’t easy! It started with some personal and business pitfalls around the end of March. My literary marketing business took a hit as one by one, I lost all my author clients as they got furloughed from their jobs. It wasn’t about the little extra income I made. It was thinking, now, what will I do with all my time?


3 Tips To Navigate The Holidays When You Are In Recovery — ELEMENTS OF  RECOVERY



With authors having no money to market and promote their books. Nothing was selling as people focused on where the rent money, bill money or new jobs would come from, and just as recovery and everything else began to shift to online only. Then? It was an election year on top of that! And if you are a person who is on social media like I have to be when my business was running, it got really politically ugly and I had never seen America become so divided.

So, with the pandemic still spreading and medical experts telling us to STAY HOME, I actually had time to make Thanksgiving dinner with a nice turkey meal even though it was my birthday on Thanksgiving day. And as GOD is always taking care of us, I was blessed with gifts and even had a birthday cake my husband had special ordered for me.

Again, recovery has been rough since we can’t do meetings or groups in person. And tougher for me as a recovery advocate unable to speak, raise awareness and NO recovery awareness live in-person events.
So, here are some things I have been doing to keep my recovery path moving forward, keeping it intact, and continue to share my voice and help others know that Recovery is Possible.


Read – Journal – Watch – Listen!

Since having more time, I have been writing and journaling like never before. It includes my recovery writing like for my column in “Keys to Recovery” newspaper and I was invited to write an article for a global magazine called ADIVA Magazine for their column “Her Story” for the Fall/Winter issue. Very exciting! I was honored to be part of the ADIVA Family.

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Article and Recovery in ADIVA Mag “Her Story”



Here are some things you can do at home through the holiday season to enhance your recovery.

Journaling is an amazing tool for processing “old pain” and healing. Another area is reworking your 12-Steps. Did you know when you continue to work your steps? You can go back to them at an earlier time and see what areas you need more growth, but you can see how far you have come. This helps to build your self-esteem and self-worth needed to move forward, maintaining your recovery.

Reading is a tool we can use to stay educated and learn by reading many addiction and recovery books. Audiobooks and e-books have become most popular since the pandemic. You can listen to a great book while doing work or cleaning at the same time. I have also been watching and listening to lots of podcasts and radio shows. I’ve even been a guest on several this year as an advocate. Visit my Book Suggested reads while you are here or visit this Amazon link and see all the amazing books on addiction/recovery to read! https://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Health-Mind-Body-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=4716

All of these activities can enhance our recovery during the holiday season.


Listening & Watching: Since most of as us have already shifted to online everything for recovery, like GA, AA, NA meetings, recovery groups, FB Live Celebrate Recovery, worship, and more. It is also important to continue being supported within your recovery by friends and family.

There are many free apps and platforms we can use to do so. Skype, What’s App, FB Messenger, Zoom, and watch FB Live events & visit recovery groups and many more. But never discount the good ole PHONE. Check-in with friends, your sponsor, and let them know how your doing. Watching and doing Podcasts shows is agreat way to share your voice and story of recovery! I have been a guest on several this year.


Last? Dive into the Christmas season by making your living space in your home Merry and Christmasey with decorations, lights, and maybe a little tree. Even though we can’t be all together this Christmas, you can still enjoy the season within your own home. Put on a mask and walk the neighborhood to see all the festive light displays or even drive to them in your car. It will also help the winter or seasonal blues and be healthy for our mental and emostional well-being.

So, yes, we still find ourselves with this pandemic during our recovery holiday season, and again, spreading. Listening to health professionals and those experts in your state or country you live in and to stay healthy and safe is part of our life, our recovery journey, and while keeping our recovery intact.

You Got This!



It’s called having life-balance! Besides, the good news is the vaccines are coming, and so is a “Fresh Happy New Year for a “Do-Over!” I know 2021 is going to bring us all life and recovery renewal, peace, and serenity. Next year, we will have so much to celebrate and have gratitude for knowing we all made it through.

Those of us maintaining recovery know we never give up!

Recovery Advocate, Catherine Lyon


How About We Destigmatize Those Who Are Homeless & Stop The Labeling. My Friend and Guest P. W. Robinson Has a Little Something to Share About Homelessness as I Do…

How About We Destigmatize Those Who Are Homeless & Stop The Labeling. My Friend and Guest P. W. Robinson Has a Little Something to Share About Homelessness as I Do…

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Not everyone will be having a ‘Happy 4th of July’ even as we are living in uncertain times and in the middle of a growing COVID-19 pandemic, still, it seems even with all the unrest happening and groups of protesters chanting about these lives and those lives matter. Has anyone stopped to think about the lives of those who are spending another 4th of July HOMELESS? Probably not.

Why is it that those who are less fortunate are the FIRST to be FORGOTTEN ABOUT? What is the first thing YOU THINK when you see a person a man or woman pushing a shopping cart with the only belongings they have? I know and so do many but you say it. But I will.

Did you know that many of those lives affected by having no place to call home and that there are a variety of homeless populations which includes families, adult men and women, mothers and their children, persons living with HIV/AIDS, individuals overcoming substance addictions, and some who are physically and mentally disabled? Don’t they deserve dignity?

DO THEY NOT Deserve help in areas of economic, emotional, and spiritual well-being in order to enhance their confidence and self-esteem and have a sense of personal pride? YES.

So I’m sharing a letter by one of my awesome friends who lives in Oxnard, CA., in Ventura County. He wrote and sent to some city council officials as he has been tirelessly speaking out and speaking up for those who are not The Least, The Lost, and The Homeless who feel Hopeless …They are human beings like all of us. So meet P W (Peter Robinson).

Peter also advocates through FAITH and knows that is a little unconventional and makes some officials uncomfortable but those who are homeless come from all walks of life, are part of our humanity, and they deserve to have hope for their future. Many times low self-esteem and shame stop them from speaking up or looking for help and services.

Maybe the stigma and labels need to be removed and not used. I’m guilty of it, but not purposely called them the homeless in an intentional negative way. And like other groups of people like protesters for “Black Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “Police Profiling & overuse of Force” well, those lives of people who have to live on the street or in a shelter and not always by their own doing, don’t their Lives Matter?

THEY SHOULD MATTER FIRST…

Here is part one of a two-part letter (email) P W wrote and emailed to many officials and a few newspapers and officials who run a shelter called “Mercy House”…I will share more of my thoughts tomorrow when I share PART TWO.

Please share your comments and thoughts with us!!

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Homeless-Man

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To whom it may concern:

I’m very heartened to hear a rumor of a decision to purchase local motels and provide some housing for our most vulnerable residents. I’m writing today on behalf of the Mercy house shelters, in order that all facts are before the council and others as they deliberate future allocations of money and compassion.


A homeless shelter–the concept itself– is the most significant healing initiative there is, and the godliest and compassionate instinct a community can ever have.


By, literally, sheltering people from danger
, and hatred, and hunger, and fear, a homeless shelter provides an immeasurable contribution to a world in desperate need of warmth and compassion and directly saves lives each and every day.

The biggest ongoing and debilitating dangers to the homeless are hopelessness, depression, and suicidal instincts. The item that we lack most is competent mental health care or any at all.

It’s a thing that affects all poor people–dramatically lower levels of mental health care. We’re never even given a test for a diagnosis, the first step actual healers and doctors always take.

It’s the thing that keeps the gulf wide between the haves and the have-nots. I know because I’ve received treatment while in each condition. The homeless don’t recover because we don’t receive the tools necessary to do the job.

“Accountability”

The most abused and misunderstood term in the healing world. In the case of the homeless, by not providing any competent mental health care, then giving up when that person can’t complete the dozens of small tasks necessary to finding housing, we’re asking a person with a broken leg to walk on it until we’re satisfied or sleep outside on the ground. “Fill out these forms in a timely manner, or sleep outdoors.”

It is, bar none, the cruelest and most useless term in the language of the enemy. It’s because it has a fluid definition, and these standards are being applied arbitrarily, according to the lack of understanding inside one individual for another.

Personally, I’ve done my part long ago, submitted my paperwork correctly, and await the news that something might be available that I can look into. We have several folks in here with housing vouchers and nowhere to use them. We’re backed up with qualified applicants, and have been almost since the beginning.

We’ve all done our part and are fully ‘accountable’, by any definition of the word.

I was healed of this condition before I contracted the disease, so to speak, in an in-patient setting–so I function as someone out in the world. I have no vices or bad habits, I don’t break the law or steal or abuse anyone, I simply don’t have housing.


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Those descriptors apply to most of the folks inside this shelter. We don’t fit the profile of who you hate, but we’ll suffer in exactly the same ways when local services are reduced or discontinued. The only difference between myself and most others out there is that I’ve had treatment for my conditions.

It’s why the Peer system is one of the few known successful methods of helping. Absent actual quality mental health care, peers–formerly homeless folks, now recovered and well-versed in the red tape production necessary to moving forward–are a necessary component in generating forward momentum.
 

“Mercy House at the Armory”
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Despite words to the contrary, from people with other agendas
, the Mercy House effort at the Armory in Oxnard has been an ongoing success. For each person here who is ‘taking advantage of or abusing the system and another flat-out misconception–there are four or five of us who are taking advantage of this opportunity to heal and grow and come up and out of this quicksand, this ongoing nightmare.

Those who sleep in here much of the day–very few of us, the majority older and disabled–have so much pain when they move around that not moving around seems the better choice, and all-day sleepers are submerged in depression and hopelessness, or recovering from recent horrible trauma.

Those who use meth are in a hopeless state, period. Bored to tears, no way to climb out, no potential positive outcome, no loving moment on the horizon… meth provides a way for folks to kill themselves without admitting that’s what they’re doing. In exchange for brief moments of euphoria, everyone who uses meth is utterly miserable, before and during, and the hangover and shame innate to the experience can last for weeks.

 

They have no hope because they’ve never been shown any reasons for hope.” 


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The staff here has been brilliant beyond compare. There was no template for a pandemic for homeless shelters, and they’ve adjusted to changing and difficult situations on the fly, with grace and compassion. The leadership is rock-solid and has been since the beginning. Without naming everyone I’d like to, we have truly been blessed with gifted, dedicated healers in here, doing their work at a level far in excess of their compensation.

In my opinion, it makes the most sense now for Mercy House to take control of the Community Action Project, and all homelessness-related new initiatives in Ventura County. You’ve installed them in a position of frontline healing and real influence–let them do what they do. I have some fundraising ideas if that’s what is needed.

“Low-barrier concept.”

‘Low-barrier’ in a homeless shelter simply describes the process of checking in for the night–we don’t use a breathalyzer. Unfortunately, there is no breath test for meth, not that I would want those folks forced outdoors necessarily, either. Leaving people outside because they have a booze or drug issue is about as cruel as a thing can be, and there are very few in here who have those issues, anyway.


In fact, at this time, I’d say we have less than 30%
in here who use anything except marijuana, if that, which is an essential healing treatment for ADD, ADHD, and general depression, and is prescribed by doctors.

At this very moment, sitting on my bunk, I see teachers, engineers, managers, brainiacs. A black man who owned a fleet of taxis. I see a doctor, an architect, artists, and several musicians. A professional comic, a groundbreaking female mortgage broker, the founder of a local Animal Rescue biz. I can go on and on. No one in here is ordinary. Or anywhere, come to think of it.

When I talk to people who don’t know anything at all about homeless shelters, having never slept or worked inside of one, I’m often struck by their idea that it’s some kind of cushy ride. I assure you, it’s anything but that.
 

“An Experiment”
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As an experiment
, let’s take 100 of you indoors-dwellers, strangers to each other, and move you into one big room, double bunked.

Let’s make half of you physically challenged or full-on physically disabled, with walkers and canes and wheelchairs, as is our demographic. By necessity, we’ll use a building with limited bathroom accesses, and limited ADA facilities. Of the remaining population, all will have mental health conditions–some legally disabled, most undiagnosed and untreated.

How will you do, all alone with these strangers, with no place to hide your emotions? With no place to cry? I can tell you I’ve walked up on real tough guys, the hardest men you’ll ever meet, hidden down an alley, crying their eyes out for all they’ve lost. Men among men, weeping like children.


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Skid Row's Midnight Mission Now Has Overnight Shelter for Homeless ...

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Ladies…how would you feel?
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If you’re like most of my female roommates, you’ve had a long and successful work life, you’ve been an entrepreneur or business owner, you’re at minimum a former high-performer. You’ve raised children, and often buried some.

Now, you’re injured, legally disabled, and you’ve had every single thing taken from you. Money, property, jewelry, automobiles: your friends and family, men in general, have taken it all from you, then abandoned you to wolves.

You’ve been beaten, raped, and beaten some more. Respect, love, friendship, trust–all beaten out of you until you have nowhere else to turn, nowhere to go but outside.


Now, you’re standing in line in a homeless shelter waiting to use an ADA shower, everyone around you is immersed in their own suffocating crisis, and you’re wondering what went wrong. You have no place to store personal food–there just isn’t room for it here. There is one television tuned to a channel you may or may not like.


Welcome to their world–not “cushy”, but a far, far safer and better world than the one that lurks just outside the door. Outside, they don’t even let you use a bathroom. You have to walk for miles to urinate. There are no mirrors to fix your hair in. The outside world holds nothing but terror, hatred, and neglect. Outside, all those previous crimes, the beatings and rapes, against your precious heart and your mortal soul, continue unabated.

 

Try to imagine living without a door that you can close. That’s what a lack of sheltering really means, for a woman. If nothing more, let’s shelter the women of Ventura County, even if it’s in some giant tents. We cannot be so weak as to not be able to handle that. It’s impossible.

 

 

Thank you for reading. I stand ready to aid in any way I can.

With love and hope,

P. W. Robinson
Oxnard, Ca.

 

 

 

 

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us. It’s My Seventh Year of Recovery Holiday Watch and Blogging. Ramblings of Christmas’s Past …

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us. It’s My Seventh Year of Recovery Holiday Watch and Blogging. Ramblings of Christmas’s Past …

 

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WELCOME Recovery Friends and New Friend Visitors . . . 

 

Well, the holiday season is here! First comes Thanksgiving, and you know the rest. I am doing my Recovery Blogging and on Holiday Recovery Watch again this year. It will be my seventh year in a row. WHY?  Because no one needs to be ALONE through the holiday season.

I know from my own experiences how hard the holidays are when maintaining recovery or for those who may be looking to reach out for help. And believe it or not, it is the most active time on my recovery blog and my email me as well.  Some do come to reach out for help from this cunning disease of addicted gambling. I can’t count the many paychecks I wasted for a few hours of “Escaping” my haunting traumatic past childhood and abuse.

I began using gambling as a way to cope and not FEEL the pain of my past anymore. Hence, one of the underlying issues of the “WHYS” I became an addicted compulsive gambler. Another thing I like to do for the holidays, and again, I will be lowering the cost of my ebook, a best-selling memoir titled; “Addicted To Dimes. Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat”

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Beginning Nov. 26th, 2019 through Jan. 21st, 2020
 my ebook will be on sale for only $1.99 as it makes a great gift if you know someone you care about who may have a gambling problem. By reading my memoir, it just may open their eyes to know there is help available and they are not the only ones suffering in silence from a gambling problem. Funny how many ask me how I came up with the subtitle.

It came to me very easily as “Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,” is what gambling addiction turned me into while deep within my addiction! It is a raw in-depth look inside the “how and why” I became an addict as my past childhood trauma created “The Perfect Storm” for me to turn to problem gambling as it turned into a full-blown addiction …

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My E-Book Now on Amazon!


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TO BE CLEAR, my book was not written for a “HOW To RECOVER,” book, it is about my life and the “WHYS” I turned to addiction in the first place. But, by reading the book, my hopes are they may relate to my experiences and give them HOPE …That many people have a gambling problem and have been successful in maintaining long-term recovery from this cunning addiction and disease. I can still remember some of my Ghosts” of Christmas’s past and when I was still deep within my addicted gambling days like it was just yesterday.

 

I freshly remember those times going into a department store, as I was walking up and down the isles with tears in my eyes and wishing I could buy this or that for those I loved for gifts. So many feelings ran through me like sadness, anger, shame, and guilt because I had no money to do so due to gambling it away.  It would just trigger me with more anger and rage and set me up and off to another gambling binge in hopes of winning enough money to buy Christmas gifts for everyone. Well, like they say? “The House Always Wins!” But now I was gambling with my LIFE and not just MONEY anymore.


Another holiday sickening story … In 2002, we got to a point and, of course, due to my gambling addiction, we’d thought we’d have to sell our home before we lost it. But? A family member, an enabler came to give me another bail-out. He stepped in and gave me the money! I was given the money to get caught up but within 2 days? 

I gambled it away. 

OH, the lies, the covering, and hiding were exhausting and the suffering in silence for many years was taking a toll on me. And then? Right before Thanksgiving in 2002, I lost my best friend and had watched her die of ovarian cancer and set me spinning to an awful gambling binge so bad I attempted my first suicide! That was how I spent my 40th birthday and Thanksgiving that year was from my first suicide attempt.

It was a failed attempt and spent the next few days in the hospital. From there, I was transferred into an addiction/mental health crisis center for 28 days and where I began treatment for my gambling addiction. While there and after many tests ran, I learned I had been suffering from several severe mental health issues of severe depression with high mania, PTSD from my childhood sexual abuse and trauma, anxiety and more. I was a broken mess!


Some of my points and an example? We have lost many and those who we have read about who were high profile people. Although every life matters, we have lost many from the disease of all types of addictions. The danger here is the longer you are abstinent the greater the risk of death and don’t recover from a relapse.

As I looked, I did not find research or a study to this fact, I did, however, find a 2014 article close to the topic written by my friend and Author, Omar Manejwala and his book; “Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough” who shares some perspective of this topic.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/craving/201402/how-often-do-long-term-sober-alcoholics-and-addicts-relapse

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Even though I didn’t need a substance for my addicted gambling. didn’t need to pop some pills or drink a mood-altering liquid or need to use a needle? I got the same rush and euphoric high as a drug addict or alcoholic and so on …I would be triggered and had the same cravings as any other addiction. ADDICTED GAMBLERS just do it with our own brain and body chemicals, so again, scary, No Substance Required and just as deadly!

 

Now I have always been a firm believer that we need to stay very conscious of where we have been and where we came from with our addictions and where we are today. We can never become complacent nor think we are ever “done” with our recovery work. However, how you choose to get there? it is your Power to Choose. For myself, I needed any and everything I could do to begin and maintain recovery. After you attempt suicide twice from this baffling addiction? You have to do whatever it takes! And I did.

If you work a 12-Step program, go through Treatment, Counseling or whatever you decide on? You have to be diligent and keep reworking those steps, working on changing those character defects, change your thinking process and all those nasty bad habits and behaviors we learned and relied on to us within our addictions.

WHY?

Because all that recovery work becomes an important tool to look back on of your earlier work and see where you still need more recovery work and to see the growth in areas. You can also see how your self-worth begins to come back and the shaping of your new life begins … There are times like the holidays when we need to look back to appreciate where we are today, living in the now, and begin living a beautiful life while maintaining your recovery journey.

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So don’t wait! The holiday season is a perfect time to reach out for the help that is available to begin your recovery. Don’t you want to LIVE a new beautiful life? It’s not too late to have an amazing holiday season with family and friends, as you become bet free and happy. I have been very ‘Blessed and I am Humble and have a heart of Gratitude’ for my recovery journey thus far. That comes from “a power greater than I” and from all that I do as an Advocate. And you can be happy too!

Isn’t your life worth a new beginning?

YES!

YOU ARE Worth IT and so much more! 

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~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Big Jim Downs Visits Austin, Texas State Capitol Today and The News Is AMAZING.

Big Jim Downs Visits Austin, Texas State Capitol Today and The News Is AMAZING.

Welcome Recovery Friends!

It is no secret that I am “being of recovery service” as media manager to a couple who is fighting this Addictions Crisis in America with all that they have! Literally. We have been friends, Big Jim and Marisol Downs for almost three 1/2 years.  I met Jim while he was accomplishing his first event of “Walking Across America 4 Addiction Awareness.” He had just finished his own 16-month treatment and recovery program while living in a faith-based rescue mission. He had finally had enough of drugging and drinking after 34 years of it! He was at the bottom after an anger rage he couldn’t remember after it happened.

He decided it was time for him to get help, for him and GOD to have a long conversation about his life and what was it he was missing? It was FAITH. He walked to be able to hear and get closer to GOD. He was redeemed from addictions, but without GOD in his life? He surely knew he would relapse and that to JIM was not going to happen. So he went for a walk from Panama City FL. to Canada! When Jim finished the “walk,” he founded and began “Big Jim’s Walk Inc.”

Now, with a new mission from God and years maintaining recovery, Big Jim is now “Biking Around America 4 Addiction Awareness and with powerful recovery support and treatment team behind him. He has already in just 2 and half months saved 41 lives from addictions who reached out to him while biking around America!

And? Well, I think I will let you read the rest of the “Ride” story courtesy of “The Eagle” newspaper located outside Houston, Texas as that is WHERE Big Jim has made it to and will be speaking on the State Capitol Steps in Austin, Texas today!! I would like to invite all who are my supporters of this blog go Donate and support Big Jim Downs as he riding for MY Addiction I am recovering from as MARCH is Problem Gambling Awareness Month! Jim and Marisol are doing this ride on the kindness of people who know this addiction crisis in America is reaching everyone’s communities and claiming too many precious LIVES.

So I invite you to contribute and I THANK YOU in advance and donate here on Big Jim’s Fundraiser on the Official Website of Big Jim’s Walk Foundation. 

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PEDALING FOR HOPE

Addiction-recovery advocate makes unexpected Bryan-College Station, Texas stop…

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“Now five years clean, 50-year-old Jim Downs is hiking and cycling across the country to share his heart and testimony of hope with other addicts, and he has a mission to visit the steps of every state capitol in the continental United States this year.”

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Jim Downs battled the long road of drug and alcohol addiction for more than 30 years before finding rescue in a faith-based recovery program.


Now five years clean, the 50-year-old Florida
man is hiking and cycling across the country to share his heart and testimony of hope with other addicts, and he has a mission to visit the steps of every state capitol in the continental United States this year.

On the way to Austin on Thursday, Downs’ bright yellow-green Performer JC26X recumbent trike blew a tire just outside Bryan-College Station. His wife, Marisol, who was driving the couple’s car, met up with her husband in Bryan so he could strap the trike to the vehicle roof and take it for repairs.

Marisol often has to stay back in Florida to work while Jim makes his long journey, but she tries hard to follow her partner in the car when she can, hoping to help him if he runs into trouble. Sometimes she’s able to travel ahead of him and let recovery centers and news outlets in the local area know Jim will be pedaling into town.

The couple runs the charity organization known as Big Jim’s Walk and is in the paperwork process of having the group designated formally as a 501(c) nonprofit, Marisol said. The program started just two years ago when the couple decided to embark on a charity walk together from Florida to the Canadian border, talking to drug and alcohol addicts they met on the way and connecting them to recovery programs.

Now the organization is staffed by several people who have access to a catalog of addiction recovery programs throughout the country. When they meet an addict on a trip, they connect the addict to a long-term recovery program that will care for that person free of charge.

So far, they have helped 42 people since 2017 and have spoken with both small-town politicians and high-ranking state elected officials about funding for sober living and addiction programs.

Jim said that while he took a quick stop in Bryan to deal with the broken trike, he wanted to share his story with the people of the area via media outlets, hoping his testimony could help anyone in the Brazos Valley battling some kind of addiction and needing hope.

Jim was raised in California by what he described as a stable middle-class family and had never witnessed drug or alcohol abuse. But, he says, family issues led him to turn to drugs at school to deal with emotional problems. Having first tried illicit substances at 12, he eventually spiraled out of control and was an addict for 34 years.

He attempted suicide five times, was fired from jobs, was homeless at times and was repeatedly arrested, he said. He said he eventually let down his children and takes responsibility for leading one of his kids into methamphetamine addiction.

After enduring a psychotic blackout just over four years ago, he decided to reach out to Panama City Rescue Mission in Florida, a faith-based recovery program.

“I went in with a chip on my shoulder about recovery and an attitude of ‘I’m only doing this once,’ especially since I’d had heard people say they did it four or five times,” he said. “… Getting a relationship with God and working the 12-step addiction program through that relationship, I was digging deep and dealing with the root cause of all of it — a sense of abandonment.”

Recovery was not a simple process. Jim explained that recovery takes work and dedication, and lots of support from friends and family members who are not addicts. Jim said he would like to see more opportunities for those battling addiction to enter a recovery program that looks at the long-term healing process beyond the initial days of detoxification.

His mission as a sober man riding his bike cross-country is to connect the people he meets with the services that will help them in the same way he was helped. If those services aren’t available to a person in their immediate area, Jim stressed his organization will pay for that person to be bused to a town where they can receive treatment.

“The objective is to let everyone out there know that I get it,” he said. “I’ve been homeless, eaten out of garbage cans, done dope most of my life. I encourage people through my testimony and let them know they don’t have to live that way and there is hope. Then I offer them free recovery.”

The couple planned to drive on Thursday night to Austin, where Jim could have his trike wheel repaired. Next stop after speaking in Austin: Phoenix, where he plans to keep passing on the message of hope.

To reach out to Jim and Marisol Downs and learn more about their charity, visit bigjimswalk.com.

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Easter Is An Important Time To “Celebrate Your Recovery”… With Faith, Hope, Change, Forgiveness, and LOVE.

Easter Is An Important Time To “Celebrate Your Recovery”… With Faith, Hope, Change, Forgiveness, and LOVE.

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MARCH is Problem Gambling Awareness Month with My Friends at “The National Council on Problem Gambling.”

“MORE NOW Than ever we need to “Have The Conversation” about Problem Gambling.”  With the ever growing expansion of gambling options, now comes the risk of more people affected and may become problem gamblers. My mission for my blog is to educate, inform, help, and raise awareness of problem gambling and gambling addiction.

Here now is a message from my friends and hardworking advocates at “The National Council on Problem Gambling”….

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The National Council on Problem Gambling Goals:

 

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.  The 2017 PGAM theme is “Have the Conversation” and the goals of this national campaign are:

To increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment & recovery services.

To encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for problem gambling.

PGAM is a grassroots campaign that depends on the participation of NCPG state Affiliate, organizational and individual members; state health agencies; gambling companies; recovery groups and a wide range of healthcare organizations and providers. 2017 is the 13th year for this event.

Groups across America hold conferences, air Public Service Announcements, provide counselor training, host screening days, insert paycheck stuffers, buy billboards and many other activities to provide thousands of hours of volunteer and community service. Calls to the NCPG National Helpline Network jump by an average of 30% in March, a measurable and meaningful nationwide impact.

Let us know what you are doing this month to help spread the message that compulsive gambling is a real issue that needs to be addressed. Email Sushmita at sushmitau@ncpgambling.org for any questions or updates on your activities. You can also interact with us on social media, where we will have daily updates about Problem Gambling Awareness Month! We are on Facebook and Twitter (@NCPGambling)

So please go connect with these fine folks and check all their resources!

Visit their Calendar for events happening in March and throughout the year! I am proud to work with them in advocacy throughout Social Media all year. They offer a wide range of programs to help many from becoming a problem or addicted gambler.

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One of their most valuable resources at the Councils website is, “Real Stories and Voices of Recovery” as Treatment Does Work!

Christine’s Story:


“Within six months after the big win, I realized I bit off more than I could chew. I had given back all the money, and more. I kept chasing that feeling of the huge win. […] In 2004, I started a business that quickly had financial success. I had so much money that I thought I’d never run out. But eventually, I couldn’t even come up with postage to ship a package. I started selling stolen goods to cover my losses and eventually ended up in prison on a mail fraud charge.”
(Read more about why Christine is candid about her addiction and how her life is today.)

 

Ann’s Story

The first time I gambled was at Mystic Lake with friends. It was simply a “let’s go out and do something fun” kind of thing. In fact, for many years I was a mere social gambler and assumed it would be like that for my entire life. I could go to Las Vegas to meet relatives and not even care if I gambled or not.

But then I had a personal life crisis and gambling became a way to forget everything that was going on. I realized that when I gambled, I didn’t have to be responsible to anyone. It became a way to escape my life’s problems and the rest of the world.

Before I knew it, I was going out to gamble every night. Then I started to have financial problems. And then I realized I couldn’t stop… nor did I want to stop. Every time I left the casino, I’d tell myself I was going to quit. Then when I got home I’d find more money to go back with.

Once I became hooked, it became my life. Gambling became my main source of entertainment. It was the only thing that I cared about. I’d cheat, steal and otherwise do whatever it took to get money.  But it was never about the money. I didn’t want to win money… it was a just a means to an end. Money had allowed me to hit more buttons so that I didn’t have to think about how screwed up my life was.
I engaged in unhealthy gambling for about three years. I spiraled downhill quickly. I lost my home, my cars, everything. I embezzled from my employer and was caught. That should have been the end of my gambling.

However, I continued to gamble from money I earned with a part-time job. I even remember gambling the night before I went to jail. That was when I finally stopped.

Part of my sentence required that I seek help, such as with a group like GA. I went to my very first gambling meeting at Club Recovery. I remember being so embarrassed to be there. But I got through it

Getting through the first meeting was the hardest. Even though it’s a meeting for those with gambling problems, nobody thinks that anyone has done anything worse than they have. You think you’re the absolute worst person.

When I think back on my recovery and my experience, I have learned a lot. For one, I realized that recovery is a choice. For the longest time, I didn’t think it was. I thought it was a matter of willpower.

Most people don’t understand the insatiable urge you have when you have an addiction. It almost feels like it’s an instinct to keep at an addiction. I’ve learned that you can get over the shame and guilt. Guilt is feeling bad about what you’ve done while shame is feeling bad about who you are.

I’ve learned a few other things. One is that you can’t beat yourself over the head to convince others as to why you’re addicted. People in my family have been so supportive of me but they still don’t understand how this can become an addiction. There comes a point when you just accept yourself and others.

You also realize that to conquer addiction you really need to put yourself first. That can be hard to do, particularly when you feel like you need to make amends to others, but you have to make peace with yourself before thinking about being in a full relationship with friends, families and an employer.

There is nothing more encouraging than listening to other peoples’ stories and their recoveries. As you hear them share their story, you learn that you’re not really a horrible person with no hope of recovery. You learn that you can fix yourself and become a whole person again…. that this addiction doesn’t have to define you.

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“LIKE ME, WE CAN RECOVER FROM THIS CUNNING ADDICTION CALLED GAMBLING.”

Author/Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

THIS Is My Story:

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)

$3.10
  (Click Here to Purchase )

 

 

More New Book Reviews for My Book: ‘Addicted to Dimes’ . . .

” I am always Humbled and Grateful when others buy and take the time to read my book and have a Heart of Gratitude when they leave a book review as many have.  Thank You! ”

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NEW BOOK REVIEW FROM GOODREADS:

Good honest stuff! We need more stuff like this — more people telling it like it was and also telling it like it IS after getting free. To me, this author is helping. She offers hope for people hurting in a very broken world. Her sharing is the exact opposite of “looking-goodism” in which I spent so many years in bondage, and reading she had, well-defended by walls as thick as Jericho. This book proves that victory is possible, no matter how deep the darkness. And I say that’s a good thing!



NEW BOOK REVIEWS FROM AMAZON:

5.0 out of 5 stars A story to be remembered

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) (Paperback)

Fascinating read. This author truly brings to light an issue that needs public awareness. She portrays her turbulent and painful childhood, what brought her to gambling, and all the heartache that went with it. She holds the reader’s rapt attention throughout her journey from the initial highs to the devastating lows, and finally to recovery and freedom. This book is one to be remembered.

5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Story of a Remarkable Life Journey….


Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) (Kindle Edition)

Catherine Townsend-Lyon’s riveting story of her downfall into a life of addiction to gambling is a heart-wrenching read that ends with a great light of hope. It was hard to put this book down, so involved in wanting to know where it all went and landed in the end. Recommend this to anyone addicted to gambling, or any other addiction, as it offers the raw authentic story and hope for healing.

 

About My Book:

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“How does a good girl go bad? Based on a true story, told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, this haunting tale of addiction, family secrets, abuse, sexual misconduct, destruction, crime and…. recovery! One day at a time, one page at a time. Learn and read this remarkable and brave story.”

Available on Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble & WalMart Online!

 

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WARNING: Relapse Is Really Hard On One’s Heart, And My Heart Is With Sean…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Seekers, and Visitors,

Today has been really hard on my heart when it comes to recovery. RELAPSE can be a mean ‘Bitch’ when she comes back around for you when you least expect it!…


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Sometimes our higher power gives us the opportunity to watch and learn what relapse looks like by watching others in their struggle to recover. It’s what I have been doing now for almost 3 weeks. My good friend Sean is in trouble! And it’s so heart breaking to watch. My friend, and next door neighbor has been on a drug relapse for about that length of time. I have talked with him, tried to help him, but I know I can not make the tough choice’s for him about his addiction or recovery. It breaks my heart that all I can do is watch him crumble.

He went down to visit his parents in San Diego about 3 weeks ago. When he got back, he seemed to go into a depression. I know and understand what that type of ‘separation depression’ looks like, because I’d get that way myself after a visit with friends and family down in So. Cal. So I understood what he was feeling.
We even talked about it. I shared with him what I would go through when everyone had left, and was gone.

The same would also happen when my family came to visit me and my husband in So. Oregon, and then go home after a week or so, I would get depressed. Even though my family is a bit dysfunctional, there still family….LOL. I to would feel the separation depression, and it would hit me hard. We have no children of our own, so it was especially hard when my nephews came with my parents to visit, it would be even harder to regroup after everyone was gone and by myself and hubby again. So I noticed the same with my friend Sean. Then he also started to slack off on going to his NA meetings, RED FLAG.  His son came over one day and had pot on him, and of course his son got Sean thinking that pot  is not a drug…. WTF? is what I was saying in my head to myself, another RED FLAG.

As we all know anything that is mood altering is a DRUG.
Sorry but, POT IS A DRUG. No amount of Medical Marijuana cards will change my mind about that! That it’s a herb, and not a drug. Yeah Right!
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So, Sean started to smoke it with his son. He told me he had smoked pot. And of course we had to AGREE to DISAGREE that pot is a drug. Well my friends, one thing WILL lead to another, and he got right back on the PILL PONY EXPRESS, buying and taking Oxycontin and other pain pills! As an addict in or out of recovery? One drug WILL lead you back on the “Cycle” of addiction.

Now some of you are wondering,…. WHAT? Why didn’t you help him more?
Well, he’s an addict that’s why. Oh, I have talked to him. But as all of us addicts in recovery know, he has to make the choice to get back into rehab, or back on track with his recovery himself. I can’t do that for him. All I can do is encourage him on how well he had done the last 121 days, and to say that NO ONE can take those days away from him. That now with those 121 days clean, proves to him he can do this!
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So, finally, just an hour ago, he came over and had tears in his eyes while he told me he has had enough. He was going to the hospital and then checking himself voluntarily into rehab to detox properly, and start over once again. We hugged, we cried together. I told him how proud I was of him. That the days he made, and work he’d done in those 121 days of recovery, all the meetings, all the “Celebrate Recovery” meetings too, has given him today the ‘Awareness’ of knowing he needs the professional help to recover. I know that he wouldn’t have done that otherwise.

Even though my DEMON was Addicted Compulsive Gambling, and Alcohol abuse when I gambled, addiction is addiction regardless the type. What is the definition of addition?

ad·dic·tion

: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)

: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something

Full Definition of ADDICTION

1 :  the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>

2:  compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly :  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful and repetitive.

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Change,… that’s what it takes to break the “Cycle” of any addiction. CHANGE. Change our diseased thoughts, thinking, habits, and addicted behaviors. BRAVE. To be brave enough to make those changes within ourselves to be healthy and happy without addiction through recovery. Courage. To have the courage to be aware that you’re dying within your addiction and/or relapse. It takes courage to admit your sick and you need help.
That is what I saw today in the eyes of my good friend and neighbor, Sean W.  Even through the tears, all I saw was a man saying, HELP ME, I NEED YOU, I NEED YOUR RECOVERY SUPPORT! And he knows I got his back!

I may not know a lot about DRUG addiction, but I know enough to see when someone is in pain, lost, and in a relapse. But again, all I could do is talk to him, be a good listener, and reaffirm to him the months he had, and he knows in his heart he can DO THIS!

See, since my husband and I had to relocate from Southern Oregon to here in Glendale, Arizona, I don’t have many friends here. I do have a good sponsor, she is a follow recovering gambler, and fellow author to, Marilyn Lancelot. But my neighbor & friend Sean, who lives next door moved in the month after we did here, and that’s about it as friends here. I do have a couple of girls in the complex that I talk to now and then, but I don’t get out much because of my damn Agoraphobia with Panic, and Bipolar Depression. I’m on the computer a lot! NO……. don’t worry, I’m not addicted to the internet or my computer!…LOL.

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One thing I do know, I’m glad I never chose drug addiction as my choice of  escapism from life, just gambling and alcohol. WHY? Because with my addictive, and obsessive personality? I most likely wouldn’t be here today writing this blog post. Addicted gambling & alcohol almost did me in by ‘SUICIDE TWICE’. It’s why I share it, as gambling addiction cost me so much more than money or material things I sold or pawned, it almost cost me my life. I have lost 4 friends in my Recovery Treatment Group and Gamblers Anonymous Group in So. Oregon. I don’t want to lose another friend due to addiction.

So as July 1st was “Addiction & Recovery Prayer Day”….. I ask all of my recovery friends, followers, liker’s, and new visitors,… PLEASE say a prayer for my friend Sean, he really needs them. I’m so grateful to have all my friends here on my blog. Because its times like this that I can come, write my feelings,  my thoughts, fears, worries, and triumphs to share with all of you here. I’m blessed to have all of you! Even if it’s just through Cyber-Space. It means so much to me to have a blog community of friends just, SOMEWHERE. And I have THE BEST! I hope you all know that…. Xo Xo

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Thanks all for your prayers for Sean, and thanks for reading my ramblings…

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Many Blessings & Happy 4th Of July!
Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Author Of “Addicted To Dimes”
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485