Bet Free Recovery Now: Christmas Series Sharing Real Voices, Stories, & Struggles With Problem Gambling Anonymously… #7 of The Series.

Bet Free Recovery Now: Christmas Series Sharing Real Voices, Stories, & Struggles With Problem Gambling Anonymously… #7 of The Series.


Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors…

When I first entered treatment and began my journey to healing? The first few things I learned right away? We never give up, never give in, and yes, I had many struggles staying on my path of recovery with a few slips here and there. I do know how difficult it can be beginning early recovery.

We are expected to change, be open to change, and begin the hard work of reclaiming our lives back from a cunning and insidious addiction. That requires much work to be done. See, next month I will be maintaining recovery for 14-years, and I can tell you two things…

It won’t always be hard, and your life will become not just better, it will become AMAZING! It will become a blessing, fulfilled, happy, and peaceful, much better than you could imagine or dream of. That, I can promise you.

This is why I got permission to share many other stories and real struggles and the determination many have who made it within recovery, and some who are figuring it out. See, we always need to know where we came from, never become complacent.

It is why I make many visits to gambling addiction websites and read what people share and hope to give constructive advice that will hopefully help those who search for that successful place within recovery. There several sites that offer Chat rooms and Posting Wall to interact and engage like minded folks recovering from gambling addiction. One is called Safe Harbor http://www.sfcghub.com/cgsf1.html and they offer meetings, chat, and much more. Also, GamTalk https://www.gamtalk.org/groups/community/ who offers an active forum, chats, and a community posting wall too.

Both offer exceptional Recovery Resources and can be found on each front page of their websites. And you can do so on both being anonymous. Here are some anonymous voices of those recovering or beginning the journey. Yes, we are “works in progress”… ~Catherine Lyon, Advocate


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GAMBLERS VOICES RECOVERING:

Gambler:
“I am understanding alot and feeling some hope by reading these posts…
I am a gambler…
I must stop…
I want to stop…

But then I decide to continue…Why, why asked myself!
Why do you do this??
Why do you sink yourself hopelessly into this addiction”…


Someone Replied:
“We have all had false starts so do not lose heart, like a smoker it is rare to stop smoking at the first attempt but the important thing is to keep the goal of stopping in mind. Do not be too hard on yourself for lapsing, just say to yourself, ok next time I will succeed. For me it took time and education (and Gamcare Counselling), the more I learned about the gambling industry the more it’s appeal diminished.”

Once something loses it’s appeal the easier it is to let go of it. I don’t like words like ‘addiction’ and ‘illness’ as I think this encourages ‘victim’ mode. We are not victims we have choices but we need to retrain our brains so that we can change the choices that we make. For me learning about the gambling industry online did a few things, it occupied my time instead of gambling, it opened my eyes to what a well constructed industry it is with one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY, it changed my perception of what gambling actually had to offer.

A good example is smokers, why is it that some stop with relative ease whilst others will have withdrawal symptoms for years (and more likely start again). It is all to do with our approach and perception, if we anticipate difficulties we will have difficulties, if we can re-educate our brains to really accept the damage we are doing then smoking becomes something that no longer appeals and is no longer desired. For me the approach with gambling was the same as the smoker, make your new hobby educating yourself as to the construction of an industry that has one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY.

I actually found it all quite interesting, quite an education and the more I learned the more pointless gambling became. For me there was no epithany moment, no praying to a god or a higher power hoping for that lightbulb moment when my life would change it was a methodical deconstruction through gaining knowledge. I do recommend counselling with Gamcare, they will not judge you but they do help you find your own answers within yourself. I can only speak for myself but I am not unique and if this method helped me then it might help you. I hope it does.”


A GAMBLER:
Gamcare (https://www.gamcare.org.uk/ counselling helped me to take responsibility and own my habit without being judgemental. I am a very logical person in every aspect of my life, with the exception of gambling. I soon realised that when I gambled (online slots, one in particular) that winning was not actually the goal, playing was the goal. If I won it merely served as more playing time.

This made me realise that gambling was a way to lose myself for a few hours, ignore the responsibilty of being an adult. There were times when I would win early on and it was futile to stay on so I would stop, I would then feel agitated and unfulfilled. I read somewhere that the first time you have a decent win that the adrenalin rush to the brain is so great that the brain puts up a barrier to protect itself, same as a fuse works in a plug. Once that barrier goes up the intensity of the win is never equalled again, yet still we try to acheive it.

It’s the same reason that an adrenalin junkie increases the danger of their extreme sport pursuits. I think that the slots are very much geared around transporting us to our childhood with their cartoon characters, bright colours and music, back to a time of being carefree and irresponsible. The more logic I can apply to what I do the less appealing gambling is. Are brains are capable of many things and continues to learn througout our lives, it is our job to grasp that opportunity to learn how to control our illogical urges. I removed guilt and shame from my agenda and decided to own my problem instead of seeing myself as a victim with an ‘illness’.

I can only speak for myself and from my own experiences and my logic may not apply to all but so long as you are dealing with your problem then you are on the right track, I just hope that my logic strikes a chord with some of you and helps you as it has helped me. There is no wrong way to stop but if we share our experiences then maybe we can all help each other”…
They also have resouces and blog: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/


A GAMBLER:
“Here’s to a new day, making a decision to turn my will over to my higher power. Doing my best to stay connected to Him. Hoping to turn this ship around. Great advice everyone, especially on researching the cunningness of the Casino.

They know what they are doing. They make millions and billions doing it. Let’s stop giving them our money!
They are rigged and we won’t catch our losses. Time to bury that chapter!”

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A GAMBLER:
“I told my husband about my addiction and now he hates me and says he doubts everything about our relationship!!”


SOME REPLIES: “Normal reaction. Hurt people hurt people.”

“I can relate CJ. It is going to take time for me to get my husband to trust me again. I have lied to him so many times. I am very manipulative. I don’t like the person I am right now. I definitely want to change. I also want to be able to tell the truth again, nothing but the truth.”

“He doesn’t hate you, he’s shocked and hopefully when he has had time to process the information he will be supportive. I find gambling the most misunderstood of addictions, it seems to carry the most blame because non addicts associate gambling as playing or having fun. I found counselling with Gamcare very helpful. They do not judge you but help you to understand yourself.”

A GAMBLER:
“I feel so ashamed and feel like I have let my family down. I am just disgusted with myself. I have wasted so much money that could have been put towards something other then wasting it”…


SOME REPLIES: “Hi did you read my post?” — “No, I am new here.”

“I feel as you do but if we are just posting and reading everyones sorrows, how is this going to help us? Are we to do self-interflection and draw for the post that we are not alone? What about the next urge to gamble? I need something more tangible, more intervention with human conversation”…

“D” I understand the need for a plan. I find myself being scared and sometimes encourages me by reading but you’re right, we need more of an action plan.”


MY REPLY WAS:
“I was given an awesome Relapse Prevention Guide years ago when I began my recovery path and I have it listed on my gambling recovery blog for anyone who needs it. You can copy and paste where ever you need. It truly helped me make and KEEP a relapse plan and did help me get out of the loop of relapses. Especially helps during the holiday season when we may have more stress or life events.

Here is the link to the page: https://betfreerecoverynow.wordpress.com/gambling-relapse-prevention-guide-to-survive-life-events-that-works/

Reading and learning from others experiences can be tools to know we are not alone, we all have similar struggles from this cunning addiction, and you have the action and choices that can also be your solution… Like we learn, “keep doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result”? Never happens with this disease.”


A GAMBLER:
“Today I made a payment plan. This feels like a good step as I work at being steady and not rushing through.. Slow progress is still progress. Better than continuing to dig a bigger financial hole. Today has been a good gamble free day!”

REPLY:
“Well done! Recovery is about progress not perfection.
Keep it up ODAAT (One Day At A Time)…


LASTLY, A GAMBLER:
“Good morning! I am looking forward to talking with you as I work the twelve steps and start the recovery process. I recently admitted I am powerless over gambling and my life has become unmanageable. I don’t like the feeling of being hyjacked when it comes to gambling but that will always be the case. I want to abstain. I do believe my only hope lies with surrendering to my higher power. I will seek my higher power today.”


REPLIES:
WELL DONE! The first 3 Steps of the Gamblers Anonymous Program
1) We admitted we were powerless over gambling – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.
“K”


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A Recovering Gamblers Poem of Hope

Fellow gambler, take my hand; 
I’m your friend, I understand. 
I’ve known your guilt, your shame, remorse; 
I’ve borne the burden of your cross. 
I found a friend who offered ease; 
He suffered, too, with this disease. 
Although he had no magic cure, 
He showed how we could endure. 
We walked together side by side; 
We spoke of things we had to hide. 
We told of sleepless nights and debts, 
Of broken homes and lies and threats. 
And so my weary gambler friend, 
Please take this hand that I extend. 
Take one more chance on something new, 
Another gambler helping you.




Christmas Past Blast Throwback. Reshare Article of Mine From Christmas Past…

LET’S QUIT TO WIN THE HOLIDAYS!
By Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ “Keys to Recovery Newspaper”

 

group at holiday dinner table

 

“Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a tough time around the holiday time. I know I have in the past with self-sabotaging my Christmas season. How do you ask? Let me share a “war story of Christmas past.” We can learn and grow in recovery in when we safely look at the “Then & Now of Christmas’s Past”, as an addicted or problem gambler.”

 

Many of us in recovery advocate to show to others who still suffer from this cunning addiction the importance of sharing our experiences, strength and hope with others when we do tell some of our “war stories.” It does show how insidious this addiction is. It is one of the areas I don’t feel is proper about 12-Step programs. They tell us not to share war stories as it could maybe trigger someone in a meeting.

But, if we don’t learn from these mistakes or choices, how do we look back and find growth in our recovery? Yes, you can see growth by just doing the 12-steps, but may need more than that to recover fully. I know I did. I recall one Christmas that has to be my worst within my gambling addiction and will never forget. And it is why I make sure all holidays now are safe, happy and full of JOY. It was back in 2005.

Our home we had lived and worked very hard for, had to be sold through a short sale or we would have lost everything we put into it. But even then, it felt like we lost it as we are still paying on the balance that was not covered by the sale. It also caused me to make a few bad choices, residual addicted “thinking,: I had committed a crime, that big catastrophe! I wrote about it in my memoir, and I was reeling.

I stopped taking my bipolar meds, then took them all at once! I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, low self-worth and again suicidal because 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. We were so financially broke. I remember being in JCPenney walking around aimlessly wishing I could buy this or that for the family for Christmas and again in Walmart. Luckily, all our family lived in other states than Oregon. So I had to do the same lame thing I had done for many past Christmas’s, just send a card.

It was tough already that we both had job loss, the very beginning of the economy and markets were getting ready to pop. We had a hard time finding good paying jobs, and I ended up back in an addiction/mental health crisis again with another breakdown right after the holidays. It was all too much!

When I got released from the crisis center, I knew I had a lot more recovery inner work, which included financial inventory to take and work on. I had been doing well in my recovery and gamble free at the time, but something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter what the addiction is, it’s always waiting for us.

 

STOP Desperately Gambling For The Holiday 

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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 that can be stressful. We may have had fall outs due to the holidays, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9… make amends where ever possible) with friends and family. Many different reasons that can become a trigger or bring on urges. The stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads! The “cycle” if not broken or interrupted will keep you either in the addiction or just on edge waiting.

That is what I needed the second time around after coming out of the crisis. I chose to work with a gambling addiction and behavioral specialist. And he would not “cut me loose” until I could tell him how the “cycle” of addiction happens, and tell him the skills and tools to stop it which took me a year. Once I learned and applied those skills and tools, I began on the road to long-term recovery.

So my point is everyone needs a relapse plan. A solid plan that will help you avoid these pitfalls. I had been given a workbook that I now have listed on my recovery resource pages, for all to come and use for their recovery from gambling here: Holiday Relapse Prevention Guide.

It shows step by step what is needed to make a plan to prevent relapse for any occasion, like the holiday season, life events like a loss from death, a job loss and much more. These events and the holidays will come. So you need to prepare before, not after they happen. Be prepared and use those tools taught and learned in treatment, or a 12-step program, maybe in therapy or however you choose, to reach out and start your recovery journey. And learn about “the cycle” of addiction.

 

When you do, I guarantee you will have many, many ‘Happy Holiday Seasons’ to come!

 

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“You Are Worth It In Recovery and a Happy Holiday Season!!
Catherine