I Continue To Support My Friend & Founder, Ronda Hatefi of ‘Oregonians for Gambling Awareness’ As Sept. 29th, 2020 is Oregon’s “Problem Gamblers Awareness Day”. . .

I Continue To Support My Friend & Founder, Ronda Hatefi of ‘Oregonians for Gambling Awareness’ As Sept. 29th, 2020 is Oregon’s “Problem Gamblers Awareness Day”. . .

July of 1995 changed our lives forever.

My 28 year old brother Bobby could no longer handle the addiction of gambling. 


He chose to take his own life after his calls for help failed.
~Ronda Hafemann-Hatefi

In Memoriam ~ Bobby Hafemann


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I have always been a firm believer that God brings people in our lives for a reason and a purpose. This is how I feel about my dear friend Ronda Hafemann-Hatefi. I have been blessed since the day we met, while I was still living in Southern Oregon as Ronda still resides in Oregon.

Just as her ‘Facebook Introduction reads about her, “I am a Wife, Momma, Grammy, Auntie, Friend, and advocate. And I believe GOD is good all the time.

That tells you a lot about who she is and what’s most important to her. Ronda and I have been advocating about problem gambling recovery together for many years, a while after my book released and my recovery journey was transforming into several year’s.

Ronda became an advocate for one fundamental reason. But I will share her written words as to WHY …I was lucky enough to survive both my suicide attempts, and I am always aware that many do not. Here is a little more about who my dear friend, Ronda Hatefi is and how and why she advocates to share help and hope to those with Gambling Problems …

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Ronda Hatefi founded Oregonians for Gambling Awareness Organization in 1995.  Chair of Lane County Problem Gambling Advisory Committee since 2003, and member of Lane County Mental Health Promotions Board, (formally called Suicide Prevention Committee) for 10 years.   

Ronda has petitioned and received a signed proclamation by the Governor of Oregon every year since 1997, declaring September 29th, 2020 as Problem Gamblers Awareness Day. She had the first recognized day for problem gambling in the United States which laid the ground work for a National Problem Gamblers Awareness Week in March. 

Ronda has received a Champion in Volunteer award from Lane County, Oregon and a Leadership and Dedication for Problem Gambling Awareness award from Oregon Health Authority.


Honoring Bobby & Sharing Hope From Problem Gambling


P.G.A.D.
O.G.A.O.

P.G.A.D is Problem Gamblers Awareness Day, which is September 29th, in honor of Bobby’s birthday. Ronda has petitioned and received a signed proclamation by the Governor of Oregon every year since 1997. This was the first recognized day for Problem Gambling in the United States, and helped to create National Problem Gamblers Awareness Week in March each year.


OREGON GAMBLING HOTLINE:
1 – 877 – 695 – 4648
1 – 877 – MY – LIMIT

The National Problem Gambling Helpline
1-800-522-4700.
National Helpline is confidential and available 24 hours a day.


THE STORY – THE BEGINNING


My Mom was happily married to my Dad for 54 years, they had 5 children, and 10 grandchildren. Bob had a big circle of support around him. 

We have learned now how we could have better supported him, by educating ourselves. We thought that by making him realize what he was doing, or by helping him find a new “hobby” that he would be okay.

What we didn’t understand is that his illness did not allow him to feel or see the support we offered.  It was not as simple as, “find a new hobby.”

He was a good person, with good values, morals, great strength, and he was very intelligent. 
He was also a very compulsive person. He did everything with 110% effort. He was a one friend person, video games captivated him, he played to win, he worked so hard at every job, he wanted to be the best. When he gambled it was no different. 


He first gambled when he was 18, he won $500 on a scratch ticket.  He liked the idea of quick and easy money.  He gambled from there on a little bit here and a little bit there.  He played the Oregon Megabucks and scratch tickets mostly for the next few years. But in 1991, the Oregon Lottery video poker was introduced and quickly took over his life.

After playing video poker, within the four short years, he changed from being a very conscientious person who always paid his bills, had money in his pocket, and many nice things. He then became someone who had to borrow money from anyone who would give it to him. He pawned his valuables, kipped bills, and started writing bad checks. He was so ashamed and angry with himself for getting into this position.

Bobby didn’t want to hear what we all would tell him repeatedly that he withdrew from the family all together. He stopped coming to the family gatherings, birthdays, and holidays. He felt that he didn’t want to be there if he couldn’t buy gifts to give.

He went to our Mom on Mother’s Day 1995, and he told her that he didn’t understand what was wrong. He had called the Oregon Gambling Hotline for help and, the State said to him that what he was doing was entertainment, but for Bobby, it wasn’t fun anymore. He wasn’t eating, couldn’t sleep, and was angry all the time. He knew that he needed help, but didn’t know where to turn. Our Mom made some phone calls and got him started in counseling in June.

Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. The State of Oregon had pulled all the gambling treatment offerings at that time, saying that it was contradicting to call it entertainment when you may become addicted. Bobby’s gambling treatment counselor diagnosed him as depressed, not knowing how to council a gambling addict. She prescribed Prozac, told him to get back into hobbies and the things he used to enjoy, and released him after just a few visits. They prescribed meds for his depression, but not being monitored. We found out later that he quit taking them early on.

THEN?

The Phone Call …

On July 22nd, 1995, we got the call that my Dad and two nephews had found our Bobby dead. It is a day of so much emotion for me. I started my morning so excited to go to Portland to surprise Bob at his company picnic. The excitement turned to sheer terror when the phone rang. Our brother EJ asked to talk to my husband; I knew right then that Bobby was gone. I am not sure why I knew that because I had no idea he had thought about ending his life.

I do not remember getting ready to go or the ride to Milwaukie, OR. What I do remember is seeing my parents waiting for us in their driveway. The looks on their faces will be with me forever. My Mom was so angry when Bobby (Hafemann) died; she wrote his obituary listing his death as suicide, thanks to the Oregon Lottery …

Bobby Hafemann

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If Ronda’s story of her beloved brother Bobby has touched you, resonates with you?

I urge you to visit her website to read “the rest of the story” here: https://www.ogao.org/the-story/ …I also kindly ask if you would either or both re-blogg this post or link on your WP site or share using my social media share buttons through your social media? In unity we may raise more awareness together and reach someone’s loved one who has a gambling problem.

Please, don’t wait to give them HOPE and get them HELP or even talk to them about it.


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Since Bobby’s passing, Ronda has worked hard to keep Bobby’s memory alive. She does it by bringing action, change, and solutions to problem gambling while raising awareness about this cunning disease and addiction and suicide awareness as it took her brother. And just like myself and Bobby, 1 in 5 will try suicide.

It is why gambling addiction is claiming more lives by suicide than any other addiction. It’s why I would appreciate you visiting Ronda’s website and see how you can help with a possible Donation, help share her message of Hope and in Memorium of Bobby and many others.

Let’s help those still suffering in silence from problem gambling by giving them an ear to listen, and let them know they can recover! Bobby Hafemann’s birthday is September 29th, 2020


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More Articles About Bobby Hafemann & Connect With Her on FB
https://www.facebook.com/OGAOrg/

https://mailtribune.com/business/family-believes-gambling-led-to-suicide

https://www.oregonpgs.org/92908-problem-gamblers-awareness-day/

https://betfreerecoverynow.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/coming-the-end-of-sept-the-2nd-annual-national-week-of-action-to-stop-predatory-gambling-and-ronda-hatefi/amp/


 

Are Casino’s Enabling Those With a Gambling Problem Into Full-Blown Addiction? Read and You Decide. A Sad Gamblers Story.

Scott Stevens’s story is not anomalous. Given the guilt and shame involved, gambling addiction frequently progresses to profound despair. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that one in five gambling addicts attempts suicide—the highest rate among addicts of any kind.

 

 

How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts

Modern slot machines develop an unbreakable hold on many players—some of whom wind up losing their jobs, their families, and even, as in the case of Scott Stevens, their lives… (Courtesy of “The Atlantic” 2016 )

…..

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On the morning of Monday, August 13, 2012, Scott Stevens loaded a brown hunting bag into his Jeep Grand Cherokee, then went to the master bedroom, where he hugged Stacy, his wife of 23 years. “I love you,” he told her.

Stacy thought that her husband was off to a job interview followed by an appointment with his therapist. Instead, he drove the 22 miles from their home in Steubenville, Ohio, to the Mountaineer Casino, just outside New Cumberland, West Virginia. He used the casino ATM to check his bank-account balance: $13,400. He walked across the casino floor to his favorite slot machine in the high-limit area: Triple Stars, a three-reel game that cost $10 a spin. Maybe this time it would pay out enough to save him.

It didn’t. He spent the next four hours burning through $13,000 from the account, plugging any winnings back into the machine, until he had only $4,000 left. Around noon, he gave up.

Stevens, 52, left the casino and wrote a five-page letter to Stacy. A former chief operating officer at Louis Berkman Investment, he gave her careful financial instructions that would enable her to avoid responsibility for his losses and keep her credit intact: She was to deposit the enclosed check for $4,000; move her funds into a new checking account; decline to pay the money he owed the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas; disregard his credit-card debt (it was in his name alone); file her tax returns and sign up for Social Security survivor benefits. He asked that she have him cremated.

He wrote that he was “crying like a baby” as he thought about how much he loved her and their three daughters. “Our family only has a chance if I’m not around to bring us down any further,” he wrote. “I’m so sorry that I’m putting you through this.”

He placed the letter and the check-in an envelope drove to the Steubenville post office and mailed it. Then he headed to the Jefferson Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club. He had raised funds for these green fields, tended them with his lawnmower, and watched his daughters play on them.

Stevens parked his Jeep in the gravel lot and called Ricky Gurbst, a Cleveland attorney whose firm, Squire Patton Boggs, represented Berkman, where Stevens had worked for 14 years—until six and a half months earlier when the firm discovered that he had been stealing company funds to feed his gambling habit and fired him.

Stevens had a request: “Please ask the company to continue to pay my daughters’ college tuition.” He had received notification that the tuition benefit the company had provided would be discontinued for the fall semester. Failing his daughters had been the final blow.

Gurbst said he would pass along the request.

Then Stevens told Gurbst that he was going to kill himself.

“What? Wait.”

“That’s what I’m going to do,” Stevens said and promptly hung up.

He next called J. Timothy Bender, a Cleveland tax attorney who had been advising him on the IRS’s investigation into his embezzlement. Up until that point, he had put on a brave face for Bender, saying he would accept responsibility and serve his time. Now he told Bender what he was about to do. Alarmed, Bender tried to talk him out of it. “Look, this is hard enough,” Stevens said. “I’m going to do it.” Click.

At 4:01 p.m., Stevens texted Stacy. “I love you.” He then texted the same message to each of his three daughters in succession.

He took off his glasses, his glucose monitor, and his insulin pump—Stevens was a diabetic—and tucked them neatly into his blue thermal lunch bag with the sandwich and apple he hadn’t touched.

He unpacked his Browning semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it, and sat on one of the railroad ties that rimmed the parking lot.

Then he dialed 911 and told the dispatcher his plan.

Scott Stevens hadn’t always been a gambler. A native of Rochester, New York, he earned a master’s degree in business and finance at the University of Rochester and built a successful career. He won the trust of the steel magnate Louis Berkman and worked his way up to the position of COO in Berkman’s company. He was meticulous about finances, both professionally and personally. When he first met Stacy, in 1988, he insisted that she pay off her credit-card debt immediately. “Your credit is all you have,” he told her.

They married the following year, had three daughters, and settled into a comfortable life in Steubenville thanks to his position with Berkman’s company: a six-figure salary, three cars, two country-club memberships, vacations to Mexico. Stevens doted on his girls and threw himself into causes that benefited them. In addition to the soccer fields, he raised money to renovate the middle school, to build a new science lab, and to support the French Club’s trip to France. He spent time on weekends painting the high-school cafeteria and stripping the hallway floors.

“Stevens got his first taste of casino gambling while attending a 2006 trade show in Las Vegas. On a subsequent trip, he hit a jackpot on a slot machine and was hooked.”

Scott and Stacy soon began making several trips a year to Vegas. She liked shopping, sitting by the pool, even occasionally playing the slots with her husband. They brought the kids in the summer and made a family vacation of it by visiting the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and Disneyland. Back home, Stevens became a regular at the Mountaineer Casino.

Over the next six years, his gambling hobby became an addiction. Though he won occasional jackpots, some of them six figures, he lost far more—as much as $4.8 million in a single year.

Did Scott Stevens die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim of a system carefully calibrated to prey on his weakness?

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Scott methodically concealed his addiction from his wife. He handled all the couple’s finances. He kept separate bank accounts. He used his work address for his gambling correspondence: W-2Gs (the IRS form used to report gambling winnings), wire transfers, casino mailings. Even his best friend and brother-in-law, Carl Nelson, who occasionally gambled alongside Stevens, had no inkling of his problem. “I was shocked when I found out afterward,” he says. “There was a whole Scott I didn’t know.”

When Stevens ran out of money at the casino, he would leave, write a company check on one of the Berkman accounts for which he had check-cashing privileges, and return to the casino with more cash. He sometimes did this three or four times in a single day. His colleagues did not question his absences from the office, because his job involved overseeing various companies in different locations. By the time the firm detected irregularities and he admitted the extent of his embezzlement, Stevens—the likable, responsible, trustworthy company man—had stolen nearly $4 million.

Stacy had no idea. In Vegas, Stevens had always kept plans to join her and the girls for lunch. At home, he was always on time for dinner. Saturday mornings, when he told her he was headed into the office, she didn’t question him—she knew he had a lot of responsibilities. So she was stunned when he called her with bad news on January 30, 2012. She was on the stairs with a load of laundry when the phone rang.

“Stace, I have something to tell you.”

She heard the burden in his voice. “Who died?”

“It’s something I have to tell you on the phone -because I can’t look in your eyes.”

He paused. She waited.

“I might be coming home without a job today. I’ve taken some money.”

“For what?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“How much? Ten thousand dollars?”

“No.”

“More? One hundred thousand?”

“Stace, it’s enough.”

Stevens never did come clean with her about how much he had stolen or about how often he had been gambling. Even after he was fired, Stevens kept gambling as often as five or six times a week. He gambled on his wedding anniversary and on his daughters’ birthdays. Stacy noticed that he was irritable more frequently than usual and that he sometimes snapped at the girls, but she figured that it was the fallout of his unemployment.

When he headed to the casino, he told her he was going to see his therapist, that he was networking, that he had other appointments. When money appeared from his occasional wins, he claimed that he had been doing some online trading. While they lived off $50,000 that Stacy had in a separate savings account, he drained their 401(k) of $150,000, emptied $50,000 out of his wife’s and daughters’ ETrade accounts, maxed out his credit card, and lost all of a $110,000 personal loan he’d taken out from PNC Bank.

“Stacy did not truly understand the extent of her husband’s addiction until the afternoon three police officers showed up at her front door with the news of his death.”

Afterward, Stacy studied gambling addiction and the ways slot machines entice customers to part with their money. In 2014, she filed a lawsuit against both Mountaineer Casino and International Game Technology, the manufacturer of the slot machines her husband played. At issue was the fundamental question of who killed Scott Stevens.

Did he die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim—as the suit alleged—of a system carefully calibrated to prey upon his weakness, one that robbed him of his money, his hope, and ultimately his life?

Less than 40 years ago, casino gambling was illegal everywhere in the United States outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

But since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, tribal and commercial casinos have rapidly proliferated across the country, with some 1,000 now operating in 40 states. Casino patrons bet more than $37 billion annually—more than Americans spend to attend sporting events ($17.8 billion), go to the movies ($10.7 billion), and buy music ($6.8 billion) combined.

The preferred mode of gambling these days is electronic gaming machines, of which there are now almost 1 million nationwide, offering variations on slots and video poker. Their prevalence has accelerated addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators. A significant portion of casino revenue now comes from a small percentage of customers, most of them likely addicts, playing machines that are designed explicitly to lull them into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as “continuous gaming productivity.”

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The Rest Of This Sad Story Can Be Read In THE ATLANTIC here: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/12/losing-it-all/505814/

It goes more in-depth on facts and studies of Slots and Electronic Gambling and HOW Casinos are attracting and making their profits of a small percentage of people like Mr. Stevens and many others with a problem or addicted gambler, including myself. I share this article because when I first read it, I saw myself when addicted to gambling. Especially the area of hiding what I was doing, controlling the money and paying bills that gave me ample ways to not only cash but also HIDING what I doing and was spending on my gambling.

“We Are Only As Sick As Our SECRETS” . . .  ~Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

 

 

Sad Example Why Depression is Serious and Mental Health is so Important. R.I.P. Actor, Verne Troyer. AKA Mini-Me

Sad Example Why Depression is Serious and Mental Health is so Important.          R.I.P. Actor, Verne Troyer. AKA Mini-Me

“One of my favorite comedies are the “Austin Powers” series and of course Actor Verne Troyer who played the character, Mini-Me in the movies. Sad news today that he has passed away at the age of only 49 from a battle with depression.” With his favorite line being, “You Complete Me,” it is quite the shock that he has passed on.”

I now hope that many who read about it through the media and internet will now understand just how serious depression can be when others like me and now Verne passing away from undisclosed issues from depression. It needs to be a wake-up call for all us to know and treat mental and emotional disorders and illness very seriously.

I know first hand as both my suicide attempts were not just from my addiction, but also from undiagnosed severe depression and other disorders. It had become so bad along with my gambling that I just wanted to die because I had no idea what was wrong with me! Here is what we know for now about Verne …

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From His INSTAGRAM:

It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today.

Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible. Verne hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message every day.

He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude. On film & television sets, commercial shoots, at comic-cons & personal appearances, to his own YouTube videos, he was there to show everyone what he was capable of doing. Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he’d be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined. He also touched more peoples hearts than he will ever know.

Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles. Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately, this time was too much. During this recent time of adversity, he was baptized while surrounded by his family. The family appreciates that they have this time to grieve privately.

“Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help.”

In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in Verne’s name to either of his two favorite charities; The Starkey Hearing Foundation
https://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/
Best=Buddies: https://www.bestbuddies.org 

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Austin Powers in Goldmember.jpg
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Article Courtesy of YAHOO NEWS Carla Herreria 2 hours 24 minutes ago

Verne Troyer was 49 years old, who rose to fame after playing Mini-Me in the blockbuster “Austin Powers” films, died on Saturday, the actor’s representatives confirmed to HuffPost.

 

“Verne was an extremely caring individual,” an official statement shared with HuffPost read. “He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible.”

 

Troyer’s representatives did not disclose a cause of death but said that that the actor “was a fighter when it came to his own battles. “over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much,” the statement read.

 

“Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help.”

 

Troyer was born with a form of dwarfism in Centreville, Michigan. He, his older brother and younger sister grew up in an Amish community, although his parents had left the religion when he was young.

“My parents taught me to be optimistic and independent,” Verne said in a 2015 interview with the Guardian. They made me feel that I could do anything I set my mind to, which has really helped me,” he added. “They didn’t make allowances for me because of my height.”


Troyer said his parents were
 his role models“They never treated me any different than my other average sized siblings,” he wrote. “I used to have to carry wood, feed the cows and pigs and farm animals” …

“Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him,” his “Austin Powers” co-star Mike Myers said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”

In recent years, the actor had launched his own YouTube series where he shared his recipes, interviewed people, reviewed products and answered questions from fans.

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My thoughts as I close this Tribute to a little-statured man who had a very BIG HEART… depression, even by itself a battle some of us just don’t win. If you or someone you know or care about is battling from depression or any Mental Health issues, please reach out to them and get help. There now are many places we have to get loved ones and friends help and there is NO SHAME in doing so.

Suicide National Hotline & Mental Health Help: 

Nami National Alliance on Mental Illness

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/What-to-Do-In-a-Crisis

CALL THE NAMI HELPLINE

800-950-NAM

Iinfo@nami.org

M-F, 10 AM – 6 PM ET

FIND HELP IN A CRISIS OR TEXT “NAMI” TO 741741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Addicted and Problem Gambling Can Cost More Than Money . . .

Addicted and Problem Gambling Can Cost More Than Money . . .

“There is a reason why I often share that “Gambling Addiction” is now the #1 addiction with the highest suicide rate than any other form of addiction. It needs to be repeated, and my heart breaks when I read another story of “Suicide from Gambling Addiction” like this I’m sharing today.  Another family has been devastated and torn apart with another life taken by this cunning disease.”

I recently came across this article published by  The Atlantic Magazine that also asks the question, should casinos be legally held partially accountable for the financial crisis and death by suicide of an addicted gambler? In this sad case, I do feel they should be. And I feel the spouse or family who may not have known how bad the gambling problem was, or what other negative activities took place by the addict in which to find money to gamble with because they are sick and making poor choices within one’s addiction.

The casinos do entice many to “Come, Play, and Win Big” in many of the commercials and I have read how casinos or places that have legal gambling use many tactics to keep gamblers playing longer. So, read this and share how you feel about legal action in my comment section. I’d love to know what you think.

How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts

Modern slot machines develop an unbreakable hold on many players—some of whom wind up losing their jobs, their families, and even, as in the case of Scott Stevens, their lives.

.

imageedit_1_2667344462

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JOHN ROSENGREN    DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE

On the morning of Monday, August 13, 2012, Scott Stevens loaded a brown hunting bag into his Jeep Grand Cherokee, then went to the master bedroom, where he hugged Stacy, his wife of 23 years. “I love you,” he told her.

Stacy thought that her husband was off to a job interview followed by an appointment with his therapist. Instead, he drove the 22 miles from their home in Steubenville, Ohio, to the Mountaineer Casino, just outside New Cumberland, West Virginia. He used the casino ATM to check his bank account balance: $13,400. He walked across the casino floor to his favorite slot machine in the high-limit area: Triple Stars, a three-reel game that cost $10 a spin. Maybe this time it would pay out enough to save him.

It didn’t. He spent the next four hours burning through $13,000 from the account, plugging any winnings back into the machine, until he had only $4,000 left. Around noon, he gave up.  Stevens, 52, left the casino and wrote a five-page letter to Stacy. A former chief operating officer at Louis Berkman Investment, he gave her careful financial instructions that would enable her to avoid responsibility for his losses and keep her credit intact: She was to deposit the enclosed check for $4,000; move her funds into a new checking account; decline to pay the money he owed the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas; disregard his credit-card debt (it was in his name alone); file her tax returns; and sign up for Social Security survivor benefits.

He asked that she have him cremated.He wrote that he was “crying like a baby” as he thought about how much he loved her and their three daughters. “Our family only has a chance if I’m not around to bring us down any further,” he wrote. “I’m so sorry that I’m putting you through this.”

He placed the letter and the check in an envelope drove to the Steubenville post office and mailed it. Then he headed to the Jefferson Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club. He had raised funds for these green fields, tended them with his lawn mower, and watched his daughters play on them. Stevens parked his Jeep in the gravel lot and called Ricky Gurbst, a Cleveland attorney whose firm, Squire Patton Boggs, represented Berkman, where Stevens had worked for 14 years—until six and a half months earlier, when the firm discovered that he had been stealing company funds to feed his gambling habit and fired him.

Stevens had a request: “Please ask the company to continue to pay my daughters’ college tuition.” He had received notification that the tuition benefit the company had provided would be discontinued for the fall semester. Failing his daughters had been the final blow.

Gurbst said he would pass along the request.

Then Stevens told Gurbst that he was going to kill himself.

“What? Wait.”  “That’s what I’m going to do,” Stevens said and promptly hung up.

He next called J. Timothy Bender, a Cleveland tax attorney who had been advising him on the IRS’s investigation into his embezzlement. Up until that point, he had put on a brave face for Bender, saying he would accept responsibility and serve his time. Now he told Bender what he was about to do. Alarmed, Bender tried to talk him out of it. “Look, this is hard enough,” Stevens said. “I’m going to do it.” Click.

At 4:01 p.m., Stevens texted Stacy. “I love you.”

He then texted the same message to each of his three daughters in succession. He unpacked his Browning semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it, and sat on one of the railroad ties that rimmed the parking lot. Then he dialed 911 and told the dispatcher his plan.

.

524e7-gamble

.

Scott Stevens hadn’t always been a gambler. A native of Rochester, New York, he earned a master’s degree in business and finance at the University of Rochester and built a successful career. He won the trust of the steel magnate Louis Berkman and worked his way up to the position of COO in Berkman’s company. He was meticulous about finances, both professionally and personally. When he first met Stacy, in 1988, he insisted that she pay off her credit-card debt immediately. “Your credit is all you have,” he told her.

They married the following year, had three daughters, and settled into a comfortable life in Steubenville thanks to his position with Berkman’s company: a six-figure salary, three cars, two country-club memberships, vacations to Mexico. Stevens doted on his girls and threw himself into causes that benefited them. In addition to the soccer fields, he raised money to renovate the middle school, to build a new science lab, and to support the French Club’s trip to France. He spent time on weekends painting the high-school cafeteria and stripping the hallway floors.

Stevens got his first taste of casino gambling while attending a 2006 trade show in Las Vegas. On a subsequent trip, he hit a jackpot on a slot machine and was hooked. Scott and Stacy soon began making several trips a year to Vegas. She liked shopping, sitting by the pool, even occasionally playing the slots with her husband. They brought the kids in the summer and made a family vacation of it by visiting the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and Disneyland. Back home, Stevens became a regular at the Mountaineer Casino. Over the next six years, his gambling hobby became an addiction. Though he won occasional jackpots, some of them six figures, he lost far more—as much as $4.8 million in a single year.

______________________________________________

Did Scott Stevens die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim of a system carefully calibrated to prey on his weakness?

_______________________________________________

Stevens methodically concealed his addiction from his wife. He handled all the couple’s finances. He kept separate bank accounts. He used his work address for his gambling correspondence: W-2Gs (the IRS form used to report gambling winnings), wire transfers, casino mailings. Even his best friend and brother-in-law, Carl Nelson, who occasionally gambled alongside Stevens, had no inkling of his problem. “I was shocked when I found out afterward,” he says. “There was a whole Scott I didn’t know.”

When Stevens ran out of money at the casino, he would leave, write a company check on one of the Berkman accounts for which he had check-cashing privileges, and return to the casino with more cash. He sometimes did this three or four times in a single day. His colleagues did not question his absences from the office because his job involved overseeing various companies in different locations. By the time the firm detected irregularities and he admitted the extent of his embezzlement, Stevens—the likable, responsible, trustworthy company man—had stolen nearly $4 million.

Stacy had no idea. In Vegas, Stevens had always kept plans to join her and the girls for lunch. At home, he was always on time for dinner. Saturday mornings, when he told her he was headed to the office, she didn’t question him—she knew he had a lot of responsibilities. So she was stunned when he called her with bad news on January 30, 2012.

She was on the stairs with a load of laundry when the phone rang.

“Stace, I have something to tell you.”

She heard the burden in his voice. “Who died?”

“It’s something I have to tell you on the phone because I can’t look in your eyes.”

He paused. She waited.

“I might be coming home without a job today. I’ve taken some money.”

“For what?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“How much? Ten thousand dollars?”

“No.”

“More? One hundred thousand?”

“Stace, it’s enough.”

Stevens never did come clean with her about how much he had stolen or about how often he had been gambling. Even after he was fired, Stevens kept gambling as often as five or six times a week. He gambled on his wedding anniversary and on his daughters’ birthdays. Stacy noticed that he was irritable more frequently than usual and that he sometimes snapped at the girls, but she figured that it was the fallout of his unemployment.

When he headed to the casino, he told her he was going to see his therapist, that he was networking, that he had other appointments. When money appeared from his occasional wins, he claimed that he had been doing some online trading.

While they lived off $50,000 that Stacy had in a separate savings account, he drained their 401(k) of $150,000, emptied $50,000 out of his wife’s and daughters’ ETrade accounts, maxed out his credit card, and lost all of a $110,000 personal loan he’d taken out from PNC Bank. Stacy did not truly understand the extent of her husband’s addiction until the afternoon three police officers showed up at her front door with the news of his death. Afterward, Stacy studied gambling addiction and the ways slot machines entice customers to part with their money.

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In 2014, she filed a lawsuit against both Mountaineer Casino and International Game Technology, the manufacturer of the slot machines her husband played.

At issue was the fundamental question of who killed Scott Stevens. Did he die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim—as the suit alleged—of a system carefully calibrated to prey upon his weakness, one that robbed him of his money, his hope, and ultimately his life?

Some Facts: Less than 40 years ago, casino gambling was illegal everywhere in the United States outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. But since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, tribal and commercial casinos have rapidly proliferated across the country, with some 1,000 now operating in 40 states. Casino patrons bet more than $37 billion annually—more than Americans spend to attend sporting events ($17.8 billion), go to the movies ($10.7 billion), and buy music ($6.8 billion) combined.

The preferred mode of gambling these days is electronic gaming machines, of which there are now almost 1 million nationwide, offering variations on slots and video poker. Their prevalence has accelerated addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators. A significant portion of casino revenue now comes from a small percentage of customers, most of them likely addicts, playing machines that are designed explicitly to lull them into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as “continuous gaming productivity.”

(In a 2010 report, the American Gaming Association, an industry trade group, claimed that “the prevalence of pathological gambling … is no higher today than it was in 1976, when Nevada was the only state with legal slot machines. And, despite the popularity of slot machines and the decades of innovation surrounding them, when adjusted for inflation, there has not been a significant increase in the amount spent by customers on slot-machine gambling during an average casino visit.”)

Other Gambling Addicts & Lawsuits: 

“The manufacturers know these machines are addictive and do their best to make them addictive so they can make more money,” says Terry Noffsinger, the lead attorney on the Stevens suit. “This isn’t negligence. It’s intentional.”

Noffsinger, 72, has been here before. A soft-spoken personal injury attorney based in Indiana, he has filed two previous lawsuits against casinos. In 2001, he sued Aztar Indiana Gaming, of Evansville, on behalf of David Williams, then 51 years old, who had been an auditor for the State of Indiana. Williams began gambling after he received a $20 voucher in the mail from Casino Aztar. He developed a gambling addiction that cost him everything, which in his case amounted to about $175,000.

Noffsinger alleged that Aztar had violated the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by engaging in a “pattern of racketeering activity”—using the mail to defraud Williams with continued enticements to return to the casino. But the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment in favor of Aztar, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit instructed the district court to dismiss the case, declaring, “Even if the statements in these communications could be considered ‘false’ or ‘misrepresentations,’ it is clear that they are nothing more than sales puffery on which no person of ordinary prudence and comprehension would rely.”

TO Read The Rest of The Article as there is more to this story  visit here:  The Atlantic Magazine  .  .  .  .


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SO, what are your thoughts and feelings around this? You know how I feel, so let me know what you think. I know there are those who never been “touched” by problem gambling and feel it’s the addicts “choice.”  I don’t fully by that either. Addicts are sick. I did not wake up one day and decided I wanted to implode and destroy my life. As I always say,

“Hate The Addiction Not The Addict.”


* Author and Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon *

 

The Oregonian Puts A Spotlight on Addicted and Problem Gambling With The Oregon Lottery: “Selling Addiction.”

The Oregonian Puts A Spotlight on Addicted and Problem Gambling With The Oregon Lottery: “Selling Addiction.”

“While researching data and facts last week for my week-long blogging for “The National Week Of Action Against Predatory Gambling” along with Les Bernal, my hardworking friend over at
Stop Predatory Gambling, I happen to come across a series that is written by  Senior Political reporter Harry Esteve on the Oregon Lottery and it’s called:   “Selling Addiction” series ….  
It is a very interesting series about how “The Oregon Lottery Offerings” have affected many Oregonians and their families.”


See, I lived in Southern Oregon for over 26 years before moving to Arizona in late 2013 and I to had  become addicted to the Oregon ‘Lotteries Video Poker/Slot Machines’ that were introduced back in 1991 and Keno way before that. If you have read my book “Addicted To Dimes,” then you know how that all turned out for me, NOT GOOD. Yes, I did also gamble at an Indian Casino 40 miles North of my home, but it was the slot machines by the Oregon Lottery that fueled my gambling addiction most times because of access.  They are everywhere!!

I could walk across the street to the bar and gamble, walk up a block and there were 3 more lottery retailers with machines I could gamble on. And so on. I was gambling 2 to 4 times a day at my worst of my addiction. In turn, I attempted suicide twice and blessed I failed. But many others were not AS fortunate. as I. This series will share much of that as well  .  .  .  .

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Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com
By Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com
on December 06, 2013 at 8:07 AM.

Oregon Lottery: Readers continue sharing stories of bankruptcy, shame, despair…

The Oregonian invited readers to share Oregon Lottery experiences in a questionnaire. We published dozens of their stories as part of our “Selling Addiction” series, and that led to even more submissions. Here are some of the latest to come in. Because of the personal nature of comments, many asked that their names be withheld all or in part.

Portland,OR woman, 52

Have you ever won a big prize?

I won $1,500 on Big 5 when it first came out. I think that was the beginning of my slide into problem gambling.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

Yes, my mother gave me some money and instead of going to my bank I spent it gambling. It made me feel bad, remorseful, stupid — all the names one could call themselves.

Has your life been affected by gambling?

Yes, it has impacted relationships and my ability to save for retirement. It has caused me to come close to lying which is something I never do and to spend money I should not be spending. It is sneaky and insidious when you get the gambling bug. I’m an educated women and I feel like I should know better but when I start it is hard to stop. I do not like the person I have become since I have become addicted and I struggle every day with fighting the urge. I worry about my future.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

The Oregon Lottery management has no vested interest in helping gamblers and is only interested in hitting targets, etc., and how to hook more gamblers. I feel like they do everything in their power with ads, putting signs outside buildings that I have to see everywhere I drive which tempt people like me, to hook and retain problem gamblers. The lottery should have an overseeing agency to put them into check.

For example, the lottery should not be allowed to advertise on buses/TV/papers nor put its signage outside business establishments. They have an obligation to help the very people they purposefully attracted. Ten percent of their revenues should be dedicated to problem addicts and making help/programs more accessible in better parts of town. But they don’t want to treat the problem gamblers because if they do, they will lose the very people they depend upon. Oregon should have never gone down this slippery slope.

Beaverton, OR man, 33

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

$100 to $400.

What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?

They are fun to play, and they are very addictive. The thrill of possibly winning big is what keeps me playing.

Have you ever won a big prize?

I have won $800 and $600 and won a couple of times of $400-500. I hit the max credit and won twice, and that is a wonderful feeling. Losing that much is the exact opposite.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have always paid my bills on time, but I have lost a lot of money to the point where I could have paid off my bills rather than just making the monthly payment to stay current. I have used cash advances on some credit cards but have then paid them off only to do the same thing over and over again.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

For sure! I can sit at a machine for hours drinking and playing, going back and forth from the machine to the ATM and back. I think that I’ll just pop into the bar on the way home from work as the wife won’t be home for another hour or so and play 40 bucks. Three hours later and a couple of lies, and you head back home down $300. You go in there thinking, “I can win $300” only to lose the very $300 you were trying to win and MORE!

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

Never have sought help. Currently trying to coach myself to quit, but it is very hard, knowing I can be at a machine within 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes less, from just about anywhere in this state. I think typing this out is a big step for me: To admit to myself that I do have a problem but with the hope to correct the problem.

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

For sure. The amount of money I have wasted playing these highly addictive and expensive video games would total over $15,000 over the past 12 years, with the most damage coming in the past five years. Could have paid off several bills sooner than I did. Could have all that money saved for a down payment on a home or in an IRA. Have lied to others about where I have been and what I was doing. Wake up the next morning with the worst feeling I have ever had. A feeling of remorse and regret and shame. Feelings that humans should not have to feel from a “game” or “entertainment.”

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

I get that the “State” benefits from a small population of the state, but I believe that there are other ways to get money for schools and parks and feel that this is a problem that the majority of people don’t ever speak about so the numbers are probably higher than reported. My short answer is NO.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I believe that for myself and my family that if these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me. That may sound like an excuse but “out of sight is out of mind.” Spirit Mountain and Chinook Winds are quite a drive. It’s certainly not right around the corner but you know what is?? About 15 to 25 bars on my way home from work.

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Mike Burton, 72, Vancouver, OR

I served in the Oregon House of Representatives 1985-1995. I made several attempts to curb the lottery in 1985 and then video lottery in 1991.

My objection to video poker is three-fold:

1. The easy access just makes it easier for problem players to lose.

2. The losers, as your article’s point out, are those who can least afford to lose. We knew this in 1991; no one listened. Then-Senate President Kitzhaber (after I had the expansion bill stopped in the House) came down from his podium and made an impassioned plea to pass the bill, saying there were no problems.

3. Worse, it creates a false economy. That is, there is very little created in the way of “new” money or jobs, it simply shifts the money around and the state becomes the addict here, depending on its revenues to fill the budget and always being hungry for more. This avoids the real debate about fees and taxes because lottery winnings are a “tax” on someone else — a stupid tax.


Vancouver man, 65

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

$200-$2,000

Have you ever won a big prize?

Oh, yeah, that’s part of compulsive gambling, winning the big one and giving it all back and then some.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have enough money and can afford to lose big, but it isn’t about the money. It becomes a living lie of deceit, deception and not facing up to one’s problem.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

I have. I regularly attend GA meetings and work the 12 steps “day by day.” It has helped, at least yesterday and hopefully today!

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

Yes, the self-deception and lying to oneself about the problem have been tough to overcome. I’m a college-educated, smart guy. I have a great job and earn $150,000 per year. The people who work for me and with me respect me. I am well-known in my community for my work with youth baseball. Yet, when it came to gambling, I didn’t have the sense of a goat. I couldn’t stop until I’d maxed my daily withdrawal on my cash advances. The only way I’m beating this is “day-to-day.”

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

No, the state should realize the lottery is nothing more than a regressive tax. The majority of those who lose can’t afford to lose. I see it at my GA meetings week in and week out. “I got paid from my job waiting tables and lost it all. … How am I going to pay my bills?” It’s ugly, real ugly. But, as I am a compulsive gambler, the state, too, is hooked on it. The fact that more up-to-date slots are coming speaks volumes. The state will continue to bleed those addicts dry and will create another generation of them.

Gail, 66, Tigard, OR

How long have you played Lottery games in Oregon?

I seldom play; it’s my 85-year-old mother who has a gambling addiction.

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

She’s lost, as far as we can calculate, around a quarter of a million dollars in the last 10 to 15 years.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

She did seek counseling a few years ago. Until they said they were being “shut down” due to lack of funds. It didn’t do any good, anyway. She lied to us and to the counselors.

Do you know other people who have a problem with gambling?

I just know that my mother’s problem is really sick and sad and disgusting. And it’s really caused a major problem in our family. I should mention, her gambling has gotten much worse since the death of my dad eight years ago.

Beaverton woman, 41

How long have you played Lottery games in Oregon?

I have played scratch-off tickets since I was about 10 years old. My parents would buy them for me and cash them in if we won anything. I began playing Keno when I was a teenager in restaurants with my parents. I began playing video lottery machines when I was 25, and I have had a gambling problem since I was 26.

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Where do you typically play?

I will play anywhere that has a video poker machine if I am by myself. Nobody talks to each other. There are people who will use the ATM repeatedly and hit the buttons on the machines in frustration when they are losing their money. I will often find a bar or restaurant downtown near my workplace and play on my lunch breaks. It was always the same people playing when I arrived, who appeared to be workers downtown also.

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

I have lost an entire paycheck the day I was paid within a matter of 90 minutes. If I begin gambling, I will spend as much cash as I have on me. As soon as I’m started, I am completely out of control.

What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?

Nothing anymore. It is fun to win until you play because you have to win. I gamble infrequently compared to as much as I did six months ago. Six months ago, I was playing before work because Maddy’s opened at 7 a.m., playing on lunch breaks at bars downtown and playing on my way home.

Have you ever won a big prize?

I won two $2,500 jackpot prizes in two days. I have won a third $2,500 jackpot and another $1,500 jackpot. There are countless times I would win $500 over an initial investment of $60 or less. It was a rush to see them count out all of those $20 bills on the bar and being unable to close my wallet. It was a rush to live recklessly with financial abandon with my winnings for a day or two after winning.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have a discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy from multiple payday loans, maxed out credit cards and overdraft checking account fees. I’ve been sued multiple times for failing to repay obligations. The rest of my family is very financially responsible. I haven’t told anyone that I’ve been bankrupted. I feel like a liar and a cheat like I would be a complete embarrassment to my parents, and despite a college education and a very good job, I feel like I am the biggest idiot to ever come out of my gene pool.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

I closed my bank account and cut up my ATM card. If I had access to any more cash, I would spend it. If I ran out of all resources, I would use a hot check and get a payday loan to cover basic expenses, sometimes to gamble more. At one time, I was juggling five payday loans at once, using one to pay off another, re-borrowing to pay off another — it was a vicious cycle.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

1-877-MYLIMIT (The Oregon Lottery Help Line) – is honestly a complete joke. Many of the programs they referred me to serve criminal clientele as well, so you feel like even more of a lowlife for having a problem. Most of the programs they referred me to in the Portland area did not return my calls seeking treatment. I sought the help of a psychiatrist, who put me on the prescription drug Naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist, hoping to change the reward structure in my brain so that I could somehow find gambling less exciting. I completed an intensive outpatient mental health program through ‘Kaiser Permanente’ four months ago after completing a bankruptcy and suffering from suicidal ideation.

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

My life has been affected in every way by problem gambling. I tell half-truths or even bald-faced lies to my friends and family about my whereabouts or my finances. I’m nearly 30; I do not live on my own because I haven’t been able to afford to, I’m bankrupt, and I have difficulty meeting my basic needs. I feel like I have to start my adulthood completely over again and learn better financial habits due to the wreck that the Oregon Lottery has helped me to make out of my life.

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

No. I think the Oregon Lottery should be shut down as soon as possible. There is nothing good that can come out of it. The devastation it causes people should not be used for revenue by the government. The justification — providing schoolchildren with materials they need or providing medicine to the poor and ill — should not be any type of excuse for this type of pain and devastation. Oregon is in the business of ruining lives.

<    <    <    <     >

“I feel like a liar and a cheat” Now this statement from this person interviewed for this article is exactly the way I FELT when I gambled addictively. And is why I added it to the Title of MY Book/Memoir. I did FEEL like a Liar and a Cheat!  That is what Compulsive Gambling Addiction turned me into, a liar and a cheat.

It was my way of taking accountability and ownership of all my “Character Defect and to those, I had HURT  within my addiction.” So that statement she made was powerful to me when I read it. I will be sharing much of this series all week & weekend long . . . .

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Author & Recovery Columnist,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon


Product Details

( Ebook now on sale for 3.10! )
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“How does a Good Girl Go Bad? Based on the author’s true life story and experiences told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, a haunting tale of gambling addiction, dark family secrets, living with undiagnosed PTSD, and much more. She has overcome, she has triumphed in recovery one day at a time. So read this woman’s remarkable brave story!”


My Story In Heroes In Recovery Being ‘Dual Diagnosed’ Come Share Your Story Too!

“We Are Heroes In Recovery!”

 

YOU SHARE.  WE SHARE.

In honor of National Recovery Month,Heroes in Recovery is running a September storytelling campaign to help break the stigma of seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues. When you share your story, we’ll post it to our social media channels as soon as the story appears on our site. All of our stories deserve to reach as many people as possible. When you share, we share!

 

Now that it is ‘National Addiction and Recovery Month, I thought I would share a little place I love and have shared my Story of “Dual Diagnosis.”  Meaning I live life in recovery with mental health challenges. Sitting in the rooms of AA and GA I am hearing more people in recovery are also dual diagnosed. Is this becoming a new trend with addiction?

Well, I think so as I was also invited by Patricia Rosen of  ” The Sober World Magazine ” to write an article for her about this very topic for her November issue. Of, course I said YES!
But I thought I would share my own Article and Story the kind folks at Heroes In Recovery had asked me done last year. Hope you enjoy reading mine. Then go share your story with them. Our experiences, strength, and HOPE does inspire and help others!!

#        #          #          #

.CatherineL

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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.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)

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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. 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 and 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, recovery and 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 illness. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives.

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. Through my own recovery and by writing my book, 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. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. I learned this the hard way.

Now that I have reached nine and a half 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 early 2017. It will be more of “how-to” for reaching that elusive first year of recovery. And through my Recovery Blog below:

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catherine-townsend-lyon

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With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted, and my readers asked me, to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share my recovery 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   . . . .

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author

Coming The End of Sept. ‘The 2nd Annual National Week Of Action To Stop Predatory Gambling’and Ronda Hatefi.

IT’S TIME TO STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING
FROM GOVERNMENT & STATES…

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*TIME AGAIN FOR “THE NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION TO STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING” SEPTEMBER 2016*

Fall is in the air and that means another week of ‘Raising Awareness, Educating, and Informing the Public about Problem and Addicted Gambling’ . . . . .

Most all my friends and recovery blog followers know I live my life in recovery for almost 10-year’s from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse. For my new visitors?

That is what this recovery blog is all about. It is my continued journey from my current book/memoir titled; “Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) ” My story of my life and what I went through with gambling addiction and living with undiagnosed mental health, which cost me way more than the money lost, it almost cost my LIFE TWICE by SUICIDE.

So once again this year I will be blogging here all month long in “Honor” of My dear friend Ronda Hatefi and her brother Bobby Hafemann who had committed suicide due his gambling addiction. Suicide should never be an option to STOP GAMBLING ADDICTION.

 
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Image result for Ronda Hatefi
.    ( Ronda Hatefi and a Photo of her brother Bobby Hafemann )

My dear friend Ronda lost her brother July 20, 1995, and for 21 years she has been sharing his story and raising awareness of State Lottery Predatory Gambling. See, Bobby Hafemann became addicted to ‘The Oregon State Lottery Video Poker machines’ after they were introduced in 1992 throughout the State of Oregon, USA. And as Ronda knows, so was I later in 1997 on for many years. Shortly after Bobby’s death, she started the organization Oregonians For Gambling Awareness and petitioned Oregon’s governor to proclaim September 29 as “Problem Gamblers Awareness Day.”

I spoke with Ronda the other day by phone and told her that The Oregon Lottery and our State failed her, her family and Bobby by not having enough funding for Bobby from the lottery for treatment services they are supposed to set up for those who become addicted. There have been many articles written about Bobby Hafemann and his story through the year’s, here is one to get the full scope of Ronda and her families loss here: http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/since-brothers-suicide-ronda-hatefi-has-worked-to-raise-awareness-about-problem-gambling/

And the expansion of lottery and casinos? That will be another blog post topic here this month. And this is not taking into account all the Indian Casinos that have opened throughout my former state I lived in for over 26-years myself. Gambling machines were everywhere! So last year’s very first “National Week of Action to Stop Predatory Gambling” was to Honor and Remember Bobby Hatefi and were many events held with the help of Les Bernal and the fine folks of
Stop Predatory Gambling  ….

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Les has been National Director since 2008 when the national network grew into the organization of Stop Predatory Gambling. Like many of the thousands of citizens who have fought against government-sponsored casinos and lotteries over the last twenty-five years, Les was a convert to the cause. The more he learned about the spectacular failure of this public policy, so the more committed he became to work for a more honest, fairer, healthier and more hopeful vision of the path to American prosperity.

He has spoken and written extensively about online gambling, regional casinos, and state lotteries, all of which are being promoted by our government and states to citizens. He has testified before Congress, he has appeared on national television and radio including 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, National Public Radio and The BBC. He has been cited by more than 550 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated. He has also spoken before more than 1000 business organizations, college audiences and faith groups across the nation.

They are a great resource to see how gambling establishments are “impacting your community.” So visit their website, type in your STATE, and see what you can do to help in your community here:  Check Your State
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Now  Ronda works very hard sharing her “Take a Break Campaign” that has been educating and raising awareness about addicted gambling.  And Ronda will be with us all month sharing more about the campaign and how she advocates. But today, I wanted to share a little of what she and her family experienced and had gone through watching her brother, their son slip through their fingers as he became deeper into gambling addiction.

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THE PLACES LUCK WILL TAKE YOU  ~ Ronda Hatefi

My story is about luck. You know, everyone today wishes to be lucky. Lucky enough to win the game, to get the promotion at work, to not get a speeding ticket when your late for work, and of course to win the lottery or just your local poker game.

How much does just plain luck have to do with these things? Are some people just luckier than others? Can you increase your luck by carrying a lucky penny, rabbit’s foot, or token of some sort?

I used to think these things were true. We always said that my brother was the lucky one in our family. As kids we would walk through the store together, he found a $20 bill near the register. Camping we all walked along the same log, he found the $10 bill. He was always picking up coins off the ground, and somehow we all just knew it was because he was luckier than we were. This did not stop in adulthood.

When he turned 18 he bought himself a scratch ticket from the Oregon Lottery. Guess what, $500 winner. How can one guy be this lucky? He continued to buy lottery tickets, winning some, losing some. He bought some mega bucks, and keno tickets as well. We heard a lot more about the winning than we did the losing so I can’t really tell you a percentage of wins to losses.

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Then video poker machines came into Oregon. This was a new challenge for him, one that he took on like any other, with 110% effort. Again, he started out lucky, with wins; enough for him and us to all think once again, he was just lucky.

After some time, it seemed that his luck had started to run out. Things were not going his way anymore. He was losing more than he was winning, to the point of having to borrow and sell things to keep gambling, and he was passed up for a promotion at work. He continued to gamble, more than he had been to try to get his lost money back. Chasing that win, knowing that his luck would turn again. It didn’t happen liked he had hoped. For a guy that was used to winning, these were some pretty hard facts to face.

He became suicidal and spoke about it to only a couple of people who didn’t know what to do so they did nothing. I am not sure how long he felt this way; I know that he did write a few notes. The last one he wrote was the hardest to read. He spoke of a cruel world, (things weren’t going his way anymore), he felt like a ghost, someone that no one could see, and that he couldn’t see anyone else. You see, Bobby’s luck took him places for a long time, but when it ran out, he lost more than his money.

Before he lost his life, he lost his self-respect, his self-esteem, his quality of life, his love of life, and his desire to live and hope. He wanted it all to stop. This is way too much to lose; I think gambling with these things is too much to ask. My point of this story is that you really can’t rely on luck, you may be lucky for awhile but chances are it will run out. You hear about the good things that gambling does, the big wins, this is the other side.

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If you can’t control it by sticking to time and money limits or if it controls your thoughts, or it is not fun anymore, it is time to get help.  I have learned there are people out there that care, and that really want to and know how to help, that it is okay to talk about your gambling problem or your family members gambling problem without feeling the shame and guilt that Bobby felt. I know that if we continue to educate people on this issue that maybe we can help others not suffer the same pain that Bobby suffered and that we are still suffering today.

I have always said that the pain that my family and I have felt is sometimes unbearable, but it is nothing compared to what he must have been feeling at the moment he decided to end it. I can’t imagine having that kind of pain over something that is offered as entertainment by our State and Country.

Please help us continue to share about the addiction of gambling, and the trouble it can cause. Know that help is available. It is free, confidential and it works.


If you live in the State of Oregon, Please Call 1-877-MY-LIMIT ( 1-877-695-4648).

If in any other State Call The National Hotline: Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700).  If you feel ‘Hopeless’ call The Suicide Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours every day  .  .  .  .

 

Ronda Hatefi –Eugene, OR.
Founder  Oregonians for Gambling Awareness Organization and Ronda Hatefi  And The Take a Break Campaign.

Gambling Addiction, Suicide, and Alcohol Just Don’t Mix.

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome New Ones!

One of my favorite newsletters and websites I enjoy is a helpful place to learn about mental health, addiction, and recovery. It is called;  Psypost … They do loads of research and share psychology and neuroscience news, reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society. Our mission is to spread information about social science and neuroscience research. By reporting on a wide variety of important, interesting, and overlooked studies, PsyPost hopes to provide the general public, mental health professionals, and academics with free updates on new research — providing everyone with a glimpse into the latest knowledge being uncovered by scientists and clinicians.

I came across this article that I knew was important to share. Since I am dual diagnosed, I found it most interesting and quite helpful. I hope you who come visit and read it will too!

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“Gamblers who drink alcohol are more likely to entertain thoughts of suicide”

From Our Scars of Addiction Comes A Recovery Story From Inside Us ~ Tell, Write and Share Yours. . .

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends!

 

Todays little recovery post is about OUR STORIES  . . . .

Many of my friends here know just how my current book came to be. It was thanks to my ‘Higher Power.’ He hands his hands all over the whole process. When I began writing, it wasn’t to write a book. It was from reading a news article in my local paper while still living in Oregon. The story was about a woman who was found dead by a shot-gun wound and had committed suicide in an Indian Casino hotel-room 40 miles North from where I lived.

I had gambled there many, many times myself. The suicide note she left behind said, “to tell her family she was sorry, and that she just could not stop her addicted gambling.”

Apparently she had a bad relapse that cost her LIFE. And I think you know the rest as I have written about here a lot.  I felt her pain. I knew how she must have felt when she pulled that trigger, as I myself had been at the edge of DARK & HOPELESSNESS before with my own two suicide attempts. I Thank God each day for still being here to help others in recovery.

My point to this is, . . . we all have a story inside us to tell. Those of us who have battle scars from this devastating, cunning and insidious addiction knows what it is like when that “monkey on your back” just won’t let up with triggers and urges to go out and gamble when your trying to live a life in recovery. Early recovery is hard, no two ways about it. But we all have a story inside us to write, tell and share.

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Our journey’s maybe different, but the result, that place we end up is the same, we had become addicted to gambling and now reaching for recovery. I began my recovery with journaling.  And when I read the article about that hopeless, now dead woman? I had my husband pick me up 6 little spiral notebooks on his way home from work that day, as I had an urge that would NOT leave me alone to write! I had to see all that I had done within my gambling addiction on paper, between the lines.

After I was done purging, healing along the way? I read it over and then just put it away. What a freeing feeling to have all that “baggage” off me, off my back, off my heart and on those pieces of paper in those 6 notebooks. Journaling is one the best tools you can have and use in you’re in recovery.

I can never stress that enough. As far as book being published? Well that is why you need to read my book. LOL. But we all do have a story within us. Don’t you want to share yours?

Until Next Time Recovery Pals .  .  .  .

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Recovery Advocate and Writer For AddictedMinds.com

Product Details

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)
May 14, 2014

Kindle Edition

This Weekend Is “National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling!”

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends, Supporters and New Visitor’s,

“THIS is a SPECIAL weekend for me to take action and share my gambling addiction and recovery with as many as I can reach along with the fantastic friends over at Stop Predatory Gambling. Les, Melynda, and Ronda Hatefi have worked hard to “Honor The Memory of Ronda’s brother, Bobby Hafemann who took his own life by suicide from addicted gambling, and to make this weekend happen!  Bobby had become addicted to Oregon State Lottery sponsored Video Poker Machines when they were introduced everywhere throughout the State of Oregon.
And so was I.


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I lived in Southern Oregon for over 26 years before moving to Arizona. It is the Government & State’s way of Legalizing Gambling for profit.”
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~ “Bobby Hafemann took his life because he became addicted to electronic gambling machines. Who was the primary sponsor and beneficiary of the machines that led to his death? His own state government.”

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Oregon's Problem Gamblers Awareness Day: 'Gambling took that from us'
(courtesy of the Oregonian News)

Here is Bobby Hafemann’s story. I will be sharing my own experiences with these state-run video poker machines this weekend. So I hope you will come and visit several time to “Honor Bobby’s Memory” and support my 8 1/2 years in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling.

Bobby’s Story:

Oregon’s Problem Gamblers Awareness Day: ‘Gambling took that from us’

Why Do I Write and Freelance Recovery Write?

Why do you write?

Since living my life in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse for more than 8 years now, and even as a young teenager, I always had a diary. I also learned to journal through treatment, therapy, and later in life, in addiction treatment. I have always had some sort of diary or journal with me most of the time. I enjoyed writing, made up poems with a wish that someday they would become some famous words in a song. Just having dreams. Maybe even being a writer someday or a published author. Then things began to happen in my life that I would ask God many, many times
Why Me?

As a little girl, I had many dark secrets being held inside me for many years. It’s when some of my rage slowly began, but you’d never know it. My secrets of years from heavy-handed discipline, hurtful verbal abuse by my parents as a teen, sexually abused from age 7 to 11 years old. And not by one, but by two men, so-called friends of the family. And certain things that happen in a dysfunctional family that linger with you, an awful secret my parents kept from my brother, my sisters. and me for years until we found out later in as adults. I seemed to hang on to all of that, and stuffed it way deep inside me. Then adulthood comes calling. Life begins to happen. The job, the responsibilities,  marriage, the bills, and the stress society puts on us. And you think your just another normal, average, everyday person like the rest of the people living in the world. Boy was I wrong.
Why?

One day, something happened. Something changed inside me A sort of shift. Not a particular event or anything, but just something inside you doesn’t quite feel right. Call it self-awareness? Oh no. When you bury hurt and pain for years? It builds and builds, and my storm was coming  . . .
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Then, you lose a very special person in your life to cancer. This starts a chain reaction in life. He was only 36 at the time of his passing, and he was like my brother I never had.  And, . . he happened to be the only person I ever told what I went through as a little girl. Things no little girl should have to endure.

Now he was gone . . .

That set up that  “Perfect Storm” in my life at the ripe young age of 30. And for the next 11 years or so I lost myself. I lost myself to a deep dark monster called gambling addiction. Now your most likely asking yourself about now, “what does all that have to do with writing?”. . .  I’ll get to that shortly.

I was about 36 when it began around 1996. I started using gambling to “escape the old past haunts and pain knocking at my door.” I was also suffering undiagnosed mental and emotional health disorders. Went undiagnosed, as my psychiatrist says, since I was that little lost, hurt and isolated girl. Then the gambling addiction and alcohol abuse on top of all that pain years later?  Lets just say it didn’t end very well.  All of that story can be read in my current book titled, “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.”

My writing was of my saving grace. Even after all the bad I went through with my addictions, and there was a lot of bad, and yes, due to my poor choices, but I was a very sick person at the time. No, no excuses, just insights into an another addict.  Another addict who has turned her life around for the better.  But 2011 and a news article got me write, I wrote like crazy to see it all.  All the bad, all the good, and even in my darkest of days, even after my 2 failed suicide attempts, the 2 hospital trips, and to the Mental/Addictions Crisis Center in 2002, and 2006.

WHY did I write?

Because I needed an outlet to purge all that old hurt, pain, shame, guilt, and so much more! Writing for me was like my bible. Yes, my 5 hand written notebooks were also my bible. Writing helped me to sort through it all, begin to heal, and to begin to start letting go, start to forgive, and begin long-term recovery and healing. Writing was my life line into my soul. It helped me to recover from this cunning addiction of gambling and alcohol abuse. Writing was again responsible for my 5 notebooks I hand wrote in for a year. Everything I went through with my addictions, which became a published book.

And the rest? GODS intervention, his doing and Miracle. He was the one who gave me a way to help others suffering from this and all addictions. He has given me my purpose in life, to help others. He was the one who gave me the gift to write. (And that doesn’t mean I’m a professional writer). . . It means I get to express my recovery, share my story and journey through the magic of written words. I can share what is in or in my heart at any given moment. That is what being a writer means to me and why.

Even today, it still brings tears to my eyes when I read those dark pages in my diary/journals after both suicide attempts. I was so angry the first time at God! I just wanted him to let me die already, so I wouldn’t hurt myself, and those around me any longer through my addiction. It wasn’t ME, it was the Sick Me! I didn’t have the strength to stop compulsively gambling, and was really tired of being sick and tired. The second suicide attempt? Well,  that was all me. I had stopped taking my bipolar, depression, and PTSD medications. And in just a few short weeks, I spiraled out of control to another suicide attempt and mental break down.  ~My world went Black for the second time~

To Be Continued . . . . *Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author/Writer*
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“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~


$5.99 to buy     

A Very Special Day Is Coming This September ~ The First Of It’s Kind

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

 

This September is going to be very special! The public will get a glimpse of how gambling addiction has an impact in our communities.
There will be a two-day event, in honor of a very special man I could relate to but was taken from us to soon thanks to “The State Oregon Lottery, Legal State Video Poker and Slots, along with gambling addiction.”

His name is Bobby Hafemann, and like me, he lived in Oregon where gambling is legal through the Oregon State Lottery commission. Here is some of his devastating story Courtesy of my amazing friends at:
Stop Predatory Gambling  ~ Visit Stop Predatory Gambling.Org Today

 

Bobby’s Story:
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Bobby Hafemann took his life because he became addicted to electronic gambling machines. Who was the primary sponsor and beneficiary of the machines that led to his death? His own state government.

Bobby’s sister, Ronda Hatefi, has organized an annual day in her state for the last twenty years to remember her brother and all of those citizens who have been damaged by government-sponsored gambling.

EUGENE, Ore. — “It’s been nearly 20 years since RondaHatefi lost her older brother to his gambling addiction.”

“(He) just needed everything to stop,” Hatefi said. “We talked about that just shortly before he died, he said ‘I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I’m not functioning, I don’t know how to make it stop’.”

She said her brother, Bobby Hatefi, struggled with a gambling addiction for about 4 years before he took his own life at age 28.

He would go to the bowling alley to play video poker after work. He told his sister it quickly became an obsession.

Ronda remembered her brother telling her, “I don’t do it because it’s fun, I do it because I have to, the paper I put into the machine isn’t money to me, it’s just paper to keep the game going and I don’t know how to get rid of it.”

YouTube Medford, OR News Report About OR Lottery & Addiction To Gambling

After losing her brother July 20, 1995, Hatefi decided to use her brother’s story to educate people about gambling addiction.

“That’s who Bobby was, he was an involved person in our family that we all adored and gambling took that from us,” she said.

Shortly after Bobby’s death, she started the organization Oregonians For Gambling Awareness, and petitioned Oregon’s governor to proclaim September 29 as Problem Gamblers Awareness Day.

The state has honored the day for the last 19 years, and Hatefi said she’s found a way to celebrate her brother’s life.

“Because I think honestly (if) Bobby were standing here beside me today, I think he would stand up for this fight,” Ronda said.

Hatefi passes out leaflets to every place in the state that has video lottery machines, hoping they’ll put it on their machines. She said she wants people to know that there is help, and there is hope.

If you want to talk about a possible gambling problem or know someone who may need treatment, call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (695-4648). (This is for Oregon Residents Only)
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You see, Bobby’s story is very much like my own. I lived in Grants Pass, OR from 1987 until Sept 6th 2013, when I moved to Arizona for my husbands work. And I tried and had 2 failed suicide attempts myself. So I know the pain Bobby was feeling. I know those thoughts of thinking it would be better I were dead as to not feel the shame, guilt and feelings of despair because we couldn’t stop gambling. It all becomes to much to bare. Having to admit your weak and have no control is a hopeless feeling.

That is why I advocate against expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lottery services loudly! In Oregon, the lottery commission not only added Keno to their offerings, but then added video poker machines as well. And in the past few years they added video slots to all the video poker machines as well. And they are EVERYWHERE throughout the State. In bars, taverns, restaurants, they even have lottery retail shops popping up all over the place.
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As long as food and beverage is served? they can have up to 6 lottery machines in each establishment. Guess who they are making their PROFITS off of? Not the occasional person, no, it’s the problem and addicted gamblers they are making profits from. So it’s time to let the public know and see the “UGLY DOWN SIDE” of this ever-expanding problem of gambling. And that’s what will be happening this Sept 2015!!

“I know, as do so many gamblers, what it feels like to be so desperate and full of pain that I wanted to take my own life. . .
– See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/voices/

First National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling, Sept. 26 & 27 ~ In Honor of Bobby Hafemann

Bobby’s sister, Ronda Hatefi, has organized an annual day in her state for the last twenty years to remember her brother and all of those citizens who have been damaged by government-sponsored gambling. To highlight the voices and stories of the millions of Americans like Bobby Hafemann, we are organizing the first-ever National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling on
Sat. Sept. 26 and Sun. Sept. 27. We will publicize how this public policy is dishonest, financially damaging to citizens and contributing to the unfairness and inequality in our country.

Through our creative actions we’ll call attention to the needed shift away from government’s dishonest, predatory and failed experiment with gambling toward a fairer, healthier and more hopeful vision of America’s future. Our common message:
Predatory gambling cheats and harms everyone–even those who don’t gamble.
See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/blog/first-national-day-of-action-against-predatory-gambling-sept-26-27/

We’ve all seen the feel-good proclamations by public officials and their token efforts to stop the damage with their 1-800 phone numbers and their almost meaningless “self-exclusion” policies. But they still keep the machines running, designing them to be even more financially damaging and addictive,  while continuing to push more forms of predatory gambling onto citizens and making it even more accessible. This is why we have to confront and protest!! It’s Time!

There will be at least 100 separate actions across the United States. The “action” can be anything you (or your group) want it to be and the list of ideas is limitless. The action should reflect our common message. Some possibilities include: doing a visibility with homemade signs in your community, organizing a prayer vigil, participating in a “Freedom Players” event at a regional casino (or at a local restaurant/tavern with video gambling machines) and so on.
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So my pledge to this cause is to keep sharing all that is happening with this very special weekend here on my Gambling Recovery Blog. As I get more info I’ll share with all of you. I’ll be blogging my own experiences with the Oregon Lottery when I was living in Southern Oregon, and much of it is shared in my current published book,
“Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat” available on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

In Honor of Bobby Hafemann, and this up coming event, my E-book is now only $1.99 all summer long so those in recovery can download and read at a much more affordable price. And remember, gambling addiction is a real disease . . . .

*Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Gambling Recovery Advocate*

 

 

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

Hello Recovery Friends and New Friends & Visitors,

 

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

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

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

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

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Now there is always an event, thoughts, or even a feelings that triggers us. Then the build up, then we end up giving in and gamble, drink, or use that drug. After we feel guilt, shame, and remorse for being weak, and on and on. But if we are not shown or taught to break each section apart of the CYCLE, and learn to have awareness and feel when things are not right BEFORE you have that slip or relapse, then you will be forever stuck on that wheel of the addiction cycle. It needs to be interrupted and changed.
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Now here are some things I had to learn to get out of that ‘cycle’ and stay safe! Oh, and my other gambling war story? Make that long story short, I blew 8,000.00 in 2 1/2 months!!! That’s how cunning and insane addicted compulsive gambling really IS!! Yes, I had a choice, but when your sick, in the middle of an addiction, you don’t make health choices. I was gambling at the Oregon lottery places two and three times a day.
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And yes, I look back on those days and think, “what a frigging waste of money”.  But, you lose all sense of value of money, well, actually you don’t FEEL anything. And if you win? You’ll gamble every penny, and if you lose?, you’ll be out chasing the money you lost!  I was so zoned out when I crossed that line into addicted gambling, and one reason I take one of my meds for mental illness. Because all the years of addicted gambling depleted my brains ‘pleasure and reward’ feelings and chemicals to the point that I got no pleasure out of anything, yes, … even sex. I knew you all where thinking that right? LOL.
It’s been almost 8 years in recovery and I still don’t have a bank ATM/Debit card. It could be a trigger.
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That is one of the things I did. Well, my husband did to safe guard himself and our money. Not that now he doesn’t trust me, I don’t still trust MYSELF, because my addiction and I are always ONE BET AWAY from disaster. Another thing to tie all this up in a Big Christmas Recovery Bow, is to have a “Relapse Plan” ready to use when this time of year rolls around. Actually, for anytime. We face life events all the time in our recovery. It’s one of the ways our addiction can tempt us. When were vulnerable. Also with HALT…
H-Hungry … A-Angry … L-Lonely … T-Tired ….
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Some of my relapses happened that I talk about in my current published book, Addicted To Dimes. When I attempted suicide the first time, it was from addicted gambling and undiagnosed Bipolar.
Spent 19 days in a Mental & Addiction crisis center, with the first 4 days on suicide watch. Not Fun! Second time, like I shared earlier, a bad gambling relapse/binge, and some of my Bipolar and severe depression meds stopped working to, but not the reason for me relapsing.
That’s on me. And I have taken accountability and ownership for all my misdeeds I did within my addiction. I have done much of the deep recovery work to learn about my addiction, how to stay in recovery, the inner work of my character defects, and more.
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I still have a sponsor today, and she says I’m her model recovery student! LOL.
So do yourself a favor this Holiday Season, and give yourself a Christmas gift. Go to my resource pages here on my blog, and copy & paste my “Relapse Prevention Guide” I have posted here. It has all you need to know about keeping you and your families money SAFE. I had to copy and paste the whole work book myself to put it here for all to use.
It will save you through life events and the holidays!
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OR A PROBLEM GAMBLER.
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Yes, I still have had moments when life throws way to much your way in life, and no matter how hard, and how much recovery work you do, you still need a relapse plan.
When I lost my mom and my best friend from cancer in 2002? I had a huge relapse. It was not pretty!!
And some of my triggers? Paydays, and paychecks! If I had no money to gamble with, I would obsess until it was payday! And off I went! Can’t tell how many times I spent a whole paycheck in just an HOUR of addicted gambling! Does this sound familiar anyone?
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The other thing you need to do in your recovery, again, learn and break down the “Cycle” of addiction.
The last gambling specialist I had, and I talk about him to in my book, worked with me for a whole year on the cycle of gambling addiction. He would not release me until I could tell him how to interrupt the cycle and tell him each part of addiction cycle. HE drove me crazy! But, he is a big part of why I’m a success in my recovery today. I call him my ANGEL. Thanks to Boyd I will celebrate 8 years in recovery on Jan 29th. 2015. He helped me get my Life Back!
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So I wish you all a Fabulous Holiday Season! And if you know anyone who may be a problem gambler, please share my recovery blog link with them. It just might save their life …
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Good Resources about Problem and Addicted Gambling can be found at
Gamblers Anonymous: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/  and a great place to is The National Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/
And the National Hotline for Gambling Addiction ~ 1-800-522-4700. And of course you can buy and mail my book or e-book of my personal story of Gambling Addiction as a Christmas Gift too!
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A

May God Bless You All,
Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Addiction + Mental Illness Can = SUICIDE …

(This Post Not Suitable for Young Children ~ Warning)

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I felt so dark, sad, hollow and alone. Even though there were people all around me, talking about all these knives around me in my living-room, how I wasn’t responding. Cuts on my wrists, but DAMN, they got there in time.”

That is all I think I heard before I blacked out again. Next thing I know, I wake up in a strange room, and people could look at me through dark glass window & camera’s. My head hurt, and I had tunnel vision, fuzzy blackness I could see around the sides of my eyes. A pain and heaviness I can not fully describe. Scared, alone, and wanted to go home! But I couldn’t, as I found in the next few days. That was November 2002, right before my 40th birthday,

I Attempted SUICIDE! …
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I feel many of us who have tried suicide think this way, (the above quote). I know at the time, I did. I didn’t have an ounce of self-worth in me. I think I was even beyond hating myself if that is possible. All I could feel is this blackness all around me. Just in limbo of nothingness. No sound, no sight, just black and fuzzy. As  I always say, “the lord sometimes takes us down a path, even a bad path, to help us learn from our mistakes, our bad choices, or just about life. And did he have me learn something from it.” He wanted me to learn that my life was worth way more than suicide. That I meant something to someone, I just couldn’t see or feel it at that time.

This past week and a half, I’ve been transported back to that frightening place, that black, hollow, empty place. But not by my hand, by my husband’s nephew, Ricky. He had attempted suicide for the second time in just under two months. I knew exactly how he felt. He had taken all his psych meds again, all at once a week ago. He just moved back here to Arizona 3 weeks ago from South Carolina. I did that my 2nd attempt in 2006.

He’s been in the Air Force for 8 years. Then got out a year ago August, and he has gone  mentally and emotionally down hill since. It just breaks my heart, and it gets worse.
Again, the lord is teaching me what it looks like to attempt suicide, to see what I DID to my loved ones around me at the time of my own. How I scared the hell out of my husband. I now know what it looks like, the hurt and worry I caused many. Yes, the lord is still teaching me.

Ricky lives with my husbands siblings in their parents home. Mom & dad have been passed for sometime now, but the kids all live in the home. And as we all know what happened to me when my husband, Tom and I moved here a year ago. We’d only lived with them for only 2 months, and had to get the hell out of that house! Tom’s 2 brothers are very verbally abusive.
I was having 4-7 panic attacks a month, and cried myself to sleep many nights.There were 7 of us in one house. There is no communication skills that go on in that home. Everything is an argument about who is right or wrong. So I’m sure for Ricky, it’s not the best place to be, even though he is more of family then I was, it’s not a healthy environment for him.

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What was more gut wrenching for me, after we they got him to the ER, then he was in ICU, things calmed down a little. They came home and went through Ricky’s car and room to find recent credit cards opened, and many receipts for withdrawals at a couple of gambling casinos here. You have no idea how hard that was for me to hear. And a hard pill to swallow that I couldn’t help one of my own family members. See, my husband’s side of the family love to go gamble. I already new Ricky’s brother Dustin was a problem gambler as he told me so when we first moved me. So then I really knew the truth of the whole problem. It was exactly like me back in 2002.

Also, it seems the only places Tom’s siblings go when they want to get away is to Las Vegas, or Laughlin, NV. And every time Ricky came to visit from South Carolina, they all went there for a mini vacation. I also knew, when Ricky & Dustin’s dad passed 2 years ago, and Tom’s sister, Janis told us he had done a 2nd mortgage on their home 8 months before he passed. She didn’t find out until he died. He had forged her name some how, and took a loan on the house for $150,000.00. So the boys grew up knowing their dad was an addicted gambler.

Then, the following year we lost Janis to intentional suicide by taking all her psych meds and overdosed. So these 2 men have had nothing but heartache for the past 2 years. Mental/Emotional illness runs in their family. We all tried to help save Janis, but she just never recovered after her husband, the boys dad passed. The house was going into foreclosure, and she could not afford to pay both the 1st and 2nd mortgages, and they had built that house many years before when the boys were little. Now a year later, and these boys just haven’t been able to recover the loss. Dustin for now is stable and doing well on his bipolar meds.

But Ricky has had a struggle for about 9 months now. He did get on with Boeing for 6 months after he got of the Air Force, but he said the work was very stressful. Classic signs for someone with bipolar, severe depression, and suffers PTSD, but he was working through it. But about 4 months ago he started having some problems with his meds, and he started going down hill. So after the 1st suicide attempt, he quite his job at Boeing, and was going to use his GI Bill  money to go back to college. Then he started going down hill fast.

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Just talking to him on the phone, we could hear the depression when he was still in the hospital in South Carolina. I called and talked to Tom’s oldest sister Pat, ( the only sane one in the family besides my hubby), I told her, we refuse to lose another family member to suicide. He needs help, more help then the VA was giving him. Ricky had went to the VA while still in South Carolina, and they started messing around with his meds, and that just plunged him down deeper into depression. That’s when he then took all his psych meds and heart pills all at once. He was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks. That’s when I told my husband, someone needs to fly back there to move him here or going to lose him.

So Tom’s youngest brother flew back, moved Ricky here to Arizona. He seemed to be doing Ok the first couple weeks here. But, as usual, the first thing they all did when Ricky got here? Was go to F_ _ king Laughlin, Nevada!!  WTF?
You don’t take a mentally unstable kid on a gambling vacation! But, as usual, no one listened to me, not until we found all the receipts in Ricky’s car. Even his own brother could have told us, as him and Ricky now share a bedroom. I was so angry!! So, after they got back from Laughlin is when Ricky’s depression took a bad turn. We did have set in place medical and mental health appointments for him before he got here. But, it didn’t stop him from taking all his meds again, and have his 2nd suicide attempt. And this time the ER doctors almost weren’t able to bring him back and breathing again.

He was on life & breathing support for 4 days before he awoken from a coma. We were able to get medical directives done, but we still need to get a ‘Power of Attorney’ in place to help him since he is an adult. I told Tom’s sister, if need be, will take it to the court if we have to and save his life!
We were able to get him OUT of the VA’s care and into private behavioral crisis care. He was released medically on this past Wed, and we found him a bed in a place called Oasis Behavioral Crisis Center. For now he is in good hands. But for me? That is another long story.

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For me however, it was really hard on me. It transported me back to 2002 when I had my own 1st attempted suicide. I knew exactly how Ricky felt, and that place of darkness and hopelessness he was feeling. And I didn’t know how much it was bothering me until I went to my own mental health appointment this week. I had an hour & 1/2 long session that was very uncomfortable. For those of you who know a little of my back story, you know the journey I have been on this past year or so. Being uprooted in a short period of time, packing our life away in box’s to put into storage. and had to move from Southern Oregon to here in Arizona was a very traumatic experience for me. I’m still not over it. I keep pretending to myself that if I go nowhere while here in Arizona, then I will have no memories of ever being here.

Yes, I know how crazy and unhealthy that sounds, but when you also have Agoraphobia with panic, it is real easy to do. With all this drama going on, it has hit me hard with my own depression, and the old feelings of my past. It’s why I practice , and why I keep a recovery plan in place for these type of life events. Because it could make me slip. My own appointment was very emotional, and I will be going for therapy once a week now. It is also due to having problems with PTSD now as well. For some reason, some of my childhood trauma, the hurt and pain has come back, and the nightmares, and I can not figure out why? So for my mental and emotional stability, my psychiatrist is having me back in therapy for a while.

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I bawled my eyes out in my therapy session, as I needed the release. I was trying to keep it all together as best I could, and really didn’t know how deep all this drama going on had gotten inside me. It was using the old ‘mask my feelings with a smile’ kind of thing. It bothered me in my session of how easy it was for me to mask my feelings from all around me. Because in recovery, that is a No, No! It bothered me that I was just not that in tune to my feelings building up around all this trauma. And that’s what it was, more tragic trauma for me. So I guess I have more work to do in balancing my feelings in recovery, and with my mental and emotional challenges when life crisis happens. And it will. Are you prepared?

These are some of the important issues I want you to take away from my sharing and venting.
Be prepared in recovery, and with your behavioral & mental health. If and when outside events or trauma happen around you, you need to be prepared for how it may affect you. I won’t lie, the thought of a few hours of gambling did go through my mind a few times. But I chose not to act on making that devastating choice. Don’t hold all your feelings inside. Talk them out with someone. And learn how easy it can be for us to feel others pain and hurt, and tend to make it our own. I did that in early recovery and it caused me to relapse.

We can be of recovery help and service to others that are having a difficult time, but there is a fine line of helping others in recovery, and others who maybe in crisis. We are not trained, nor is it our job to manage someone’s crisis. Get the proper people to do that. Be it first responders, calling the police, a hospital or even a crisis hot-line. What I try to do is keep myself from being part of the family crisis in person. I gave advice, looked things up on the Internet for Tom’s sister, but I didn’t go to the house. I spoke to her on the phone. Even though I didn’t know how deep my feelings were around Ricky’s set back and suicide attempt, I knew it was bothering me a bit, so I kept my distance. His sister understood. So I ask all my recovery friends and all who visit, please keep us in your prayers.

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dreams, inspirational, encouragement, motivational, positive thinking Quotes
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I know Ricky is in the best possible place he can be right now. And he will get the help he needs for his mental and emotional health. It seems loss and life events doors just won’t close! The boys parents, a good blogger friend of mine took her life some few months back.
It makes me feel uneasy as I’m also now in the process of doing med changes next month myself. I’ve been on a meds draw down since last month.

But all this stuff, this drama going on makes me nervous. The meds I’ve been on for to long now are causing my liver count & cholesterol to get to high, so we need to change me to new ones. And I’m scared! It’s time to be honest, I’m afraid I’m going to get unstable, or something happening like what Ricky is going through. So again, I’m going to therapy once a week now until I get regulated when I start the new meds. But I still feel apprehensive.

Just keeping it real. So I’m back to journaling everyday so I can share more of this med change experience. So will see what the next few months bring. I shall keep you all posted! I know I sound like another broken record, … but Thank You to all my friends and visitors for all your prayers and encouragement. I see many of you on other social media sites, and your caring means so much to Tom and myself. Much Luv!

So until next time friends, be Well, Blessed, and Healthy!

If you or someone you know is in suicide crisis, please call the ~

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number

1-800-273-8255

 

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

 

 

“We Shall Never Forget Her, A Bright Shining Star”~In Remembrance Of Kaitlyn…

Hello & Welcome Recovery Friends & New Visitors,


My blog post today is in Honor & Remembrance of a young woman gone to soon. As like those famous one’s who were taken way to soon, so does many other precious lives in this world each and everyday from suicide in all manners.
The thousands of bright shining stars that have dimmed and have no big headline or news clip to say who they were.

My good friend Rhonda is stead fast in keeping her daughter “KAITLYN’S” memory and spirit alive by making sure we all never forget her. And I join with her in doing so. Even though I never met Kaitlyn personally, face to face, her mother has blogged about the beautiful heart and soul of who she was, and her spirit will always be a part of many who knew her. So here is a beautiful Re-share of a blog post that was done courtesy of “Wake Forest School Of Medicine” in Honor of Kaitlyn that I felt needed to be shared here on my recovery blog.

What can I tell you about both Kaitlyn, and her mom Rhonda that miss Rhonda has not told you already on her wonderful blog here: http://welding81.wordpress.com ? I can tell you this, Rhonda wrote her a book about her and her daughter that is available on Amazon, that really need to be read. Part of Rhonda’s journey of keeping her daughter remembered is to educate, inform, raise awareness about Mental illness and Suicide. And she has accomplished this in her book
titled; “My Bright Shining Star”  http://www.amazon.com/My-Bright-Shining-Star-Brilliance/dp/1905399944/
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Rhonda has a big heart, a caring soul, and has the most awesome southern accent I ever heard! She has so many in the blogging community praying and keeping her and Kaitlyn in our thoughts always. So here is the beautiful that “Wake Forest” wrote, and Rhonda shared on her blog…
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My Kaitlyn…


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In Remembrance of Kaitlyn Elkins by Wake Forest School of Medicine

Every long once in a while, I like to put this link up that Wake Forest School of Medicine made on their online newsletter in memory of Kaitlyn. It continuously runs on that newsletter. They created a fund for their Wellness Center to give more resources and help for those students there that experience depression and make it easier for them to access these resources without fear of bad consequences to their education and career. They are trying and taking steps and have actually hired another psychologist for that sole purpose.

I myself, will give to this cause every year so hopefully what happened to Kaitlyn will never happen to another medical student at Wake Med. If any of you have a few dollars to give (does not have to be much, or as much as you want) it would be wonderful to me and the rest of our family if you would honor Kaitlyn by a donation if you can.

If not, simply click on this link and read the dedication to Kaitlyn and look at some of her art and poetry and a few lines from classmates (which to me are rather sad and made me know how lonely my daughter may have been).

I hope medical schools continue to make things better for their medical students, to make better the horribly isolating and stressful environment that they live in which causes much depression. Not that Kaitlyn ever mentioned anything about that, it is still true as I’ve heard from many med students and doctors that it is true…

I’ve heard from some physicians that they would not wish being a doctor in this day and age on their worst enemy as being a doctor is nothing like it once was. They once had respect, did not have to be at the mercy of insurance companies and ridiculous malpractice premiums, get sued at the drop of a hat, and try to cram in as many patients as humanly possible, not because that is what they want, but because that is what they have to do to even make money. And the list goes on and on and on.

If I had known what being a physician means in this day and age, I would have gotten down on my hands and knees and begged Kaitlyn not to go into such a field instead of the few talks I gave her about “well you know med school is horribly hard, residency is a torture chamber and being a doctor consumes your life.” I would have done more than that…I would have begged her to do something else. Whether that would have made a difference or not, I don’t know because Kaitlyn was very strong willed. We won’t have any good doctors in America one day the way things are going. Then what will we do?

http://www.wakehealth.edu/Oasis/Remembering-Kaitlyn-Elkins.htm

wake forest
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God Bless All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
In Remembrance Of Kaitlyn Elkins….
http://www.amazon.com/My-Bright-Shining-Star-Brilliance/dp/1905399944

“The Day My World Went Into Blackness”….

I Will Never Forget That Day….
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My day had started like many before. I woke up knowing what I “needed” to do, but my addiction was in full gear, and was pulling at me with fury of urges and triggers to just go gamble my feelings away. To become numb again, so I didn’t have to watch my best friend be buried into the earth. She had died of cancer, a long illness that I had to watch. She wasted away to nothing more than a shell of the woman I came to love.
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I had been called 6 days earlier, after she took her last breath in this world. I had wished it was me who went to a final resting place, as I was so tired of the life I had been living with undiagnosed Bipolar,  and in the middle of a full-blown gambling addiction that had such a hold on me that I was the one who should be in that coffin! My life had been spinning out of control for months, and years worth of addicted gambling with drinking, and all the “destruction” that had come with it. What kind of destruction you wonder?
Well, hell…I have a list that is longer than my arm. Now that I can look back and see what I didn’t know what I know today…..
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The hiding of money, the wasted money spent, the lies I had to tell to cover up what I was doing, NOT only to myself, but dragging my husband down with me. And he had no idea. I hid it so well that it became exhausting and uncontrollable. All the time spent and wasted behind all those slot machines, card tables, and State Lottery stores gambling on those DAMN video poker machines and the casinos. Having to wait to get the mail daily before my husband, so he wouldn’t find out. When did this all get so out of control?
Hell I don’t know, but the destruction and deterioration continued. Towards the end of 2002, just before my 40th birthday, and the day I was to be at my best friends funeral, I just about died myself.
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After selling some of my gold & jewelry, and a few other things at a pawn shop, I headed North that Saturday morning to gamble my troubles away. With the “Urges” so strong running through my veins,  and my husband at work, I took the 42 mile drive to the Indian Casino I truly don’t even remember driving there. I spent most the day wasting my money, and stuffing those machines with the hope of numbing myself of all the feeling of shame, guilt, grief, denial, blame,  and any other feeling you could think of.
I was also dealing with past wounds of child sex abuse on top of all that! I have no idea how much I spent that day….
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Or even how long I was at the casino. You see I don’t even remember driving the 42 miles back home. All I remember was that I screwed up again!! I had a bad relapse and binge, or so that’s what it’s called in my recovery program & at my gamblers anonymous meetings. See, I had just started my first attempt to enter recovery from Addicted Gambling and Alcohol. Funny, I only drank when I gambled. The drinking was easy to recover from. My “Demon” was the gambling!! All I remember is that everything went “BLACK”….Like my brain just went into total darkness. I should never been behind the wheel of a car. I do remember when I got home, going to the phone, but that’s it! After that, all I remember was waking up with this heavy, deep darkness. Laying in a hospital bed, hearing voices but I could not really see or feel much. I don’t know how much time lapsed from there when I woke up again in a little room, I lay in a small bed. I got up to open the door and found it locked. There was a button by the door, so I pressed it.
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A woman’s voice came over a speaker. She asked me what I wanted. WTF? I wanted to know where the HELL I Was, and why was my door locked?!! As I got a little bearings about myself, I noticed that my arms and especially my wrists were all bandaged. I started to feel the blackness return around the edges of my eyes and vision, so I lay back on the bed and started to cry. I was alone, scared, and didn’t understand what was happening to me. A while later, a nurse and psychiatrist came in my room. I just wanted to be left alone.
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The nurse took my blood pressure while this man was asking me all sorts of questions. It was like he was taking, but I could not understand what he was saying. The nurse gave me some pills to take, and told me that my husband would be coming later today to see me.
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Finally, as my head cleared a bit, I began to understand a little of what the man was explaining to me.
That’s when I found I had suffered a “Mental & Emotional” break down due to being in the middle of a “cycle of Bipolar disorder” with both manic depression, and an episode of high mania coupled with the high stress levels from my addicted gambling. It all seemed surreal and was too much for my brain. I was in a Mental & Addiction Crisis Center, via the hospital. My own doctor had been there and had a meeting with the psychiatrist and they diagnosed me with Bipolar disorder, and a few other emotional disorders. I felt SO depressed, tired, confused, and alone. That is also when I started to journal. My councilor said I needed to help make sense of my feelings. I’d been stuffing all this baggage for so long, that it contributed to my stress levels, and from the constant gambling became all too much, and my mind went haywire. That some of my nerves and chemicals in my brain could not support all the emotional stuff going on, so it just shut down!
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After a day or so, I met with an addictions specialist. She gave me some papers on gambling addiction DETOX. That I was going through that now. She then explained a little of what happened. I was so shocked and blown away that all these issues TOGETHER made me try to commit SUICIDE. I had short-term memory loss which would go away she said. They started me on meds to help, but it would take a few weeks before I’d start to level out. She then told me all that happened, and that my husband was SO worried about me. That I gave him a very big scare. I didn’t mean to, and knew I had to come clean with him. After all the years we have been married, I’d never kept secrets from my husband. He was my best friend!
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I also found as a few more days passed, I got the whole story of how my world went BLACK. Apparently when I came home from the casino, I called my addiction councilor to let her know I had relapsed. Then she said I stopped talking to her, and in reality I was blacking in and out. So she called 911. She told me the police came to my home, found me unconscious on my couch in my living room with cuts all over my arms and wrists, bleeding and had kitchen & butcher knives all over the couch. My blood ran to ice when she explained it all. The police took me straight to the hospital. I don’t recall ANY OF IT! Then after the hospital, by ambulance I was admitted into the Mental/Addiction Crisis Center, and was on suicide watch for the first 4 days, which brings me to the meeting with my councilor. I have to say that I was so shocked at how F_ _ ked Up I was.
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I was then told that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder with mild mania and manic depression, along with OCD and AADD. That I was started on a medication and recovery plan, and would start to feel better in a few weeks. That my Doctor and the Crisis Psychiatrist wanted me to do other therapy for the past childhood traumatic events that took place, and for grief over my best friend. These issues were adding to my over all well-being. I have to tell you, I thought my world was coming to an end. Both doctors said I most likely had the Bipolar problems since I was little, and since parents didn’t understand about this way back when, I went diagnosed for sometime. The gambling addiction is what brought the Bipolar to the surface.
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I felt like I was a damaged person with all this going on. It was all so overwhelming to me. Then when I was alone, I’d think that others, and my husband would think I was a Looney Tune! I thought he might leave me. I felt if I’m having a “hard time” accepting all of this, what was my husband going to think? Will he want to walk away? You know what he said to me?…..”I know the beautiful girl I married all those years ago is still in there inside you, so I’m not going anywhere.”……That was all I needed to know to begin my battle and fight to get my life back from the “Darkness”…..Yes, will never forget that day, the day my world went BLACK…..

Personality Disorders Awareness Network (PDAN)'s photo.
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Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
PSALM 30:5, King David wrote, “Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY will come in the morning”….

Don’t Try Suicide!

*SUICIDE* Can be a touchy Topic for many, but this Blog Post of my friend Cassie, a connection & Super Fan for The Dr. Phil Show, has an interesting take & story of her Own.

cassiewarrensocialtalk

HERE IS MY COMMENT ON LEFT FOR HER ABOUT MY FEELINGS OF HER BLOG POST…..

THANKS Cassie for Sharing this Message! As we both know how we as people can get to the bottom of the VOID, Blackness, nothingness, and no matter how a person gets there, it is not a good place to be. We all take different paths & journey’s in this thing called life, but when your NOT STRONG enough, beaten so far down that the only thing in life that looks good, is to not be on earth any longer……it’s not from just giving up, nor is it feeling a like a victim, or even being a coward…….IT’s about the life long battles some are just not strong enough to fight on their own.

There are so many things in the world today, our society we live in, the things WE have NO control over that can happen to us maybe as a child or teen, or as adults we may suffer from different issues like addiction or Mental illness, or a LIFE changing event happens, a car accident or loss of a child, there are SO many things that can bring a Burden to carry that is JUST TO HEAVY to Bare, that we are not prepared to handle, so we start to consider we’d be better off dead than alive.

We truly won’t know why or how a person gets to this point until we get to Heaven–the other side, to talk with those who were successful of their Suicide to REALLY HAVE the Understanding of WHY,……..That’s just how I feel about this Issue.

Myself having 2 failed attempts, I know I was at my Lowest point in Life and I was SO TIRED of fighting all that Life and the LORD was sending my way. It really is hard to put into words. ALL I know is the Lord saved me for a Reason and a Purpose….and that is my Life Long Mission, is to help others with Addiction, Recovery, Mental & Emotional health, issues around Suicide…….and WHY it is not the Answer. That is what I try to do everyday I’m still breathing so no one else has to choose Suicide as AN OPTION……….Catherine :-)

Author, Catherine Lyon

Two Interesting Stories ~~ Mental Health in the Black Community & CVS on Drugs…..

 Recovery Friends, Followers, and Seeker’s,

I happen to be scanning the Web, and I came across a couple Informative Articles I though should be *Shared* and I had no idea about some of the issues in which these two articles speak about. I like to share information as much as I can with the Public, as educating and knowledge is very Powerful in Recovery, and in Life. My first I’ll share is from a link a good friend of mine, *Deborah Palmer* shared on one of my many addiction Groups I follow on LinkedIn…….It’s from *Ebony* on-line, they have a Wellness page, and they write about Mental Health illness & disorders prevalent in the African-American Community……
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BLACK SUICIDE: When Prayer Is Not Enough

In the wake of a young star’s death, psychologist Donald E.  Grant, Jr. says mental health is not something we can simply put in God’s  hands
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Mental health concerns are among the  biggest and most dangerously tabooed topics in Black America.  A  comedian once said that the only mental condition in the Black community was “a  nervous breakdown”. This speaks to the millions of Blacks in the shadows  suffering alone, managing the weight of the world in silent bent knee  prayer.  Perhaps if we ignore it for long enough or fail to name it, it  will magically disappear.

One of Black America’s most tabooed topics recently re-entered our  consciousness, our Twitter feeds and our Facebook timelines.  Lee Thompson  Young, best known as Disney’s “Jett Jackson” and a current TNT leading man, was  found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound.  Black social  media was buzzing with demands for mental health awareness, touting this level  of intimacy with psychology that felt diametrically opposed to what the  realities of Black mental health show.

Although Black suicide has historically been low  when compared to other groups, don’t be fooled.  From 1981-1994, Black suicide  rates grew by a ghastly 83%. Today suicide is the third leading cause of  death among young African American men. In 2010, over  80% of all Black suicides were males. Women of most all ethnicities attempt  suicide at a higher rate than men, yet men complete the task at a higher rate; a  stomach pump does nothing for a gun-shot wound to the head. Black  women are less likely than any other American demographic to commit  suicide.

By all accounts, Young, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi  Fraternity, Inc., was a likeable star on his way to being actualized as a true  Hollywood talent.  With all this he still chooses this fatal act of  intra-personal aggression. Given the consistent vilification of Black men and  the existential emasculation associated with vulnerability, might there be an  inherent self-destructive mechanism by which we operate?  We must  understand that participation in counseling is not synonymous with weakness.  It’s clear that a very naked discussion on mental health is long overdue.   Who will lead this charge in a community where these issues remain cloaked in  invisibility?

Research has  indicated that familiarity with professional counseling services plays a  huge role in whether one will actually make an appointment with a mental health  professional6.  Blacks  under utilize mental health services across all socio-demographic domains5  and are dying silently as a result.  Statistically,  Blacks are disproportionately impacted by risk factors and experiences that  increase psychic stress, hopelessness and trauma; factors that all contribute to  suicidality.

Why do so many of us still refuse to get help? We are well represented in  the barber shops and beauty salons on Friday, in the nightclubs on Saturday and  at church on Sunday…yet our presence in the therapy room remains nil.  Do  we believe that we can style, party and pray ourselves to mental wellness?   I do see psychic value in a fresh haircut, a strong social support system and  sturdy spiritual foundation. I do, however, have a problem with our community’s  practice of praying ‘demons’ out of people plagued by schizophrenia, or beating  the defiance out of a boy suffering from undiagnosed bi-polar disorder.

Many strong and resilient qualities exist throughout Black  communities.  The natural selection of those Africans who survived  colonialism and the Middle Passage left a gene pool worth note.  We cannot  leave our legacy to untended psychological injuries.  Access to mental  health services has improved in most communities and is often offered at low to  no cost.  Our culture sanctions the rejection of this rich experience,  limiting our exposure to its value.

We must make an intentional and strategic shift, opening dialogue about our  mental health and unique wellness needs.  We must demand that the  psychological community offer culturally congruent services and train culturally  competent clinicians.  Families must acknowledge that Aunt Sally suffered  from major depression, she did not just have a nervous breakdown.   Adjudicating bodies must see that Johnny suffered from PTSD and was not just an  incorrigible kid on drugs.  If we are serious about positively impacting  suicide, fatherlessness, incarceration, misogyny and illiteracy among Blacks, we  must act now.  As I pray for Lee Thompson Young’s family, I also pray that  the Black community discontinues its sole reliance on prayer as a scapegoat to  confronting real life issues.  We must learn to tolerate the anxiety  associated with vulnerability and not run.

Dr. Donald E. Grant, Jr.  is a professional psychologist and  the Executive Director of Mindful Training Solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @DrGrantJr


**I had NO idea about the Stats of Mental Health issues in the Black Community, that is why I found this Article So Interesting. There is a couple other Articles below I left the links for so you can check them out**…….

More Ebony

**This next Article I also found interesting as well. I think it’s very RARE of a Large Pharmacy Company like CVS would go the Lengths it has on cracking down on Doctors who will GIVE ANYONE What EVER they need why it comes to DRUGS, and I FEEL it is WHY we are seeing such high influx of Prescription Drug Overdose’s and Suicides lately. The worst offenders I’m sorry to say are the *SO CALLED PAIN Management Centers popping up everywhere**………..

CVS cuts access to opioid painkillers  for suspect doctors

Published August 22, 2013

CVS Caremark Corp said on Wednesday that it has taken the unusual step of  cutting off access to powerful painkillers for more than 36 doctors and other  healthcare providers found to prescribe the drugs at an alarmingly high  rate.

 

The drugstore chain, which was drawn into a government crackdown on  prescription painkiller abuse last year, began revoking the dispensing  privileges of certain providers in late 2012, said CVS Chief Medical Officer  Troyen Brennan.

“This isn’t a definitive solution to the problem,” Brennan told Reuters. “We  wanted to share what it was that we did and have other people in healthcare,  including other pharmacies, look at what we did and discuss what some more  comprehensive solutions might be.”

CVS disclosed the suspensions in an article published on Wednesday on the  website of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Abuse of opioid prescription painkillers like Oxycontin ranks as the No. 2  cause of accidental death in the United States, CVS said. In 2009, painkiller  use was cited in more than 15,500 overdose deaths, according to the U.S. Centers  for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has targeted large pharmacy chains  like CVS and rival Walgreen Co, as well as distributors such as Cardinal Health,  to stem the flow of prescription drugs where abuse is suspected.

The DEA revoked the controlled substance licenses of two CVS drugstores in  Florida last September. In June, Walgreen reached a record $80 million  settlement with the DEA to resolve allegations that its negligence in  record-keeping and dispensing allowed the highly addictive drugs to reach  abusers and be sold illegally.

Brennan said that CVS has not yet discussed its findings about suspect  providers with the DEA or others.

CVS said the suspensions followed an analysis of prescriptions brought to its  drugstores from March 2010 through January 2012 for hydrocodone, oxycodone,  alprazolam, methadone and carisoprodol.

CVS said it first identified several dozen healthcare providers — from a  database of nearly 1 million — with extreme patterns of prescribing high-risk  drugs. CVS checked their prescription rates versus other providers in the same  specialty and geographic region, the ages of the patients and the number of  patients paying with cash for the drugs.

For instance, one “outlier prescriber” in the field of preventive medicine  was prescribing on average more than 44,000 doses of high-risk drugs, compared  with 662 for similar providers.

CVS asked 42 providers for more details about their prescribing habits. Six  of those 42 gave what CVS said were legitimate reasons for the high volume of  prescriptions, such as a medical director at a hospice prescribing  painkillers.

The company said its stores and its mail-order pharmacy will no longer  dispense controlled substances for 36 providers who it said could not justify  their prescribing habits. Brennan said that an additional “handful” have been  suspended as the company continues its analysis…..

**I really hope that the many Large Pharmacy Chains throughout this country get on board, and do what CVS is doing. Maybe it will SLOW down these Doctors, and Doctor Shoppers, and lower the needless Drug overdoses and needless lives being lost**..

**Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon*
Recovering Addict of 6yrs…