“And The Oscar Went To? Relapse Prevention Part 2”

Hello Recovery Friends And Welcome New Friends!

Well, since my name never got called for a “Golden Naked Man Statue,” I suppose we should get to my 2nd part of my post  about “RELAPSE PREVENTION”…..

Now I know many may think, WHY is she doing all this? I’ll tell you why. I shared in my book about “WHY” I started writing again to begin with. It was a newspaper story I read about a woman at an “Indian Casino Hotel.” She had a room there and must have had a very bad Relapse or Slip, because she shot herself with a shotgun in her room. There was a note left, but police only disclosed a part of the note, “and please tell my family I’m sorry, I had relapsed and could not stop my gambling.”
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When I read that, a tear came down my cheek, as I could feel that woman’s pain. I knew exactly how she felt when she pulled that trigger. It’s because I almost was her, and could have been her! So I swore I would do all I could to help others who suffer, and who are stuck on the” INSANE CYCLE” of compulsive addicted gambling. NOT one more person should ever feel that “SUICIDE” is the only “OPTION” to quit your addicted gambling. I’m tired of all the loss of precious LIFE from Suicide from ALL TYPES of ADDICTIONS.
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*WE NEED TO REMEMBER~WE ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS*!!

So get your tool box out and a notepad for PART 2 of Relapse Prevention….
I happen to read an article about Addiction & The Brain. There is a little part that I’ll share here, because it explains how the brain gets involved in the confusion of addicts and addictions….”Courtesy from http://www.azccg.org Which is a fantastic resource for Gambling Addiction help and information, “Arizona Council Of Compulsive Gambling.”
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“Individuals who are more biologically at risk for addiction are likely to have a neurobiological basis for deficits in experiencing pleasure, reward and satisfaction. Additionally, they are more likely to be emotionally unstable and impulsive, or experience either over- or under-arousal. Addictive substances and behaviors act in some ways to “fix” such neurobiological risk factors. However, the addictive “cure” only serves to intensify the problem, by further aggravating the underlying biological problems.
Taken alone, this discussion of addiction in relation to the biology of the brain probably seems disheartening. But the mind is a component of the addiction equation, as well, and next month I’ll discuss tools for reducing our subservience to the brain’s neurotransmitter systems.

However, it is important to recognize that medication helps the brain to function. While this may aid an individual to better utilize the mind, medication does not necessarily “heal” the mind or, by itself, stop addictive behavior. Ideally, the mind will be used to make healthy choices, not choosing to seek escape, euphoria, or relief via the quick fix of our  addiction.  However, we can change the chemistry of our brains through activities such as relaxation, prayer, meditation, eating mindfully, exercising and such. When you take a few minutes to breathe deeply and slowly, your brain chemistry automatically changes, your brain waves change.
One example is, when a compulsive gambler is gambling she or he changes the brain in the same way, since many gamblers report that gambling relaxes them. While this may seem true on the surface, gambling and other addictive behaviors only provide the illusion of providing this type of relief. If we took a brain image of someone who was gambling and compared it to someone who was meditating, we would have vastly different pictures.”…..
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*This to me was fascinating. The brain is very complex, and I know a few of my mental disorders are a direct effect from my brain being over used or not enough chemicals in other area’s of my brain. And Yes, medication does help me, A LOT. So, now we have learned a little about the addicted brain, and my last post we talked about FEELINGS, and making a plan to prevent Relapse, and to USE the “Skills & Tools” we learn to cope with “urges, triggers, and everyday life. Here is the next area you need to explore to help keep you safe, and part of your relapse plan,*
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IN EARLY RECOVERY YOU NEED TO:~ (Use the list of 37 Warning Signs in Part 1)
Here a just a few… 

1. Apprehension about well being.
2. Denial
3. Adamant commitment to stop gambling.
4. Compulsive behavior
5. Compulsive attempts to impose abstinence on others.
6. Defensiveness
7. Impulsive behavior.
8. Loneliness
9. Tunnel vision.
10. Minor depression
11. Loss of constructive planning.
12. Plans begin to fail.
13. Idle day dreaming & wishful thinking

WE need to recognize any of the above symptoms, then you need to take action. Make a list of coping skills you can use when you experience a symptom that is common for you. This will happen. You will have problems in recovery. Your task is to take affirmative action at he earliest possible moment. Remember, a symptom is a danger signal. You are in trouble. Make a list on what you are going to do. Are you going to call your sponsor, go to a meeting, call your counselor, call someone in G.A.
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Now detail several plans of action.

Plan 1._______________________________________________________
Plan 2._______________________________________________________
Plan 3._______________________________________________________
Plan 4._______________________________________________________
Plan 5._______________________________________________________
You need to check each warning symptom daily in your personal inventory. Also you need to have other people check you daily. You will not always pick up the symptoms yourself. You may be denying the problem again. Your spouse, sponsor, or fellow G.A. member can warn you when he or she feels you may be in trouble. Listen to these people. If they tell you they sense a problem, take action. You may need professional help in working the problem through. Don’t hesitate in calling and asking for help. Anything is better than relapsing. If you overreact to a warning sign you are not going to be in trouble, but if you under-react you may be headed for real trouble. Compulsive gambling is a deadly disease. Your life could be at stake.
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The High Risk Situations
It’s been found that relapse is more likely to occur in certain situations. These situations can trigger relapse. They found that people relapsed when they couldn’t cope with life situations except by returning to their addictive behaviors.
Your job is to develop coping skills for dealing with each high-risk situation.
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NEGATIVE EMOITIONS:
Thirty-five percent of the people who relapse do so when feeling a negative feeling that they can’t cope with. Most felt angry or frustrated, but some felt anxious, bored, lonely or depressed. Almost any negative feeling can lead to relapse if you don’t learn how to cope with the emotion. Feelings motivate you to take action. You must act to solve any problem.
Circle any of the following feelings that seem to lead you to gamble.
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*THIS WAS A BIG AREA FOR ME! EMOTIONS SOMETIMES GOT THE BEST OF ME, Disappointments, Arguments with Co-workers, Spouse, Family, Stress from work, WE NEED TO REMEMBER WE HAVE NO CONTROL OVER….People, Places, or Things……Or our Gambling Addiction!!*
1. Loneliness
2. Anger
3. Rejection
4. Emptiness
5. Annoyed
6. Sad
7. Exasperated
8. Betrayed
9. Cheated
10. Frustrated
11. Envious
12. Exhausted
13. Bored
14. Anxious
15. Ashamed
16. Bitter
17. Burdened
18. Foolish
19. Jealous
20. Left out

21. Selfish
22. Testy
23..Weak
24. Sorry
25. Greedy
26. Aggravated
27. Expansive
28. Miserable
29. Unloved
30. Worried
31. Scared
32. Spiteful
33. Tearful
34. Helpless
35. Neglected
36. Grief
37. Confused
38. Crushed
39. Discontented
40. Aggravated………………….
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Develop A Plan To Deal With Negative Emotions:
These are just a few of the feeling words. Add more if you need to. Develop coping skills for dealing with each feeling that makes you vulnerable to relapse. Exactly what are you going to do when you have this feeling? Detail your SPECIFIC plan of action. Some options are: Talk to my sponsor; call a friend in the program; go to a meeting; ect.. For each feeling, develop a specific plan of action.
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Feeling._____________________________
Plan1.______________________________
Plan2.______________________________
Plan 3.______________________________
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Feeling._____________________________
Plan1.______________________________
Plan2.______________________________
Plan3.______________________________
etc, ect,……
Continue to fill out these feeling forms until you have all the feelings that give you trouble and you have coping skills for dealing with each feeling.
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Social Pressure:
Twenty percent of people relapse in a social situation. Social pressure can be direct, where someone directly encourages you to gamble, or it can be indirect, as in a social situation where people are gambling. Both of these situations can trigger intense craving, and this can lead to relapse. For example, over sixty percent of alcoholics relapse in a bar.
Certain friends are more likely to encourage you to gamble. These people don’t want to hurt you. They may want you to relax, and have a good time. They want their old friend back. They don’t understand the nature of your disease. Perhaps they are compulsive gamblers themselves and are in denial.
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HIGH RISK FRIENDS: Make a list of friends who might encourage you to gamble.
Make a list of friends who might encourage you to gamble.
1._______________________________
2._______________________________
3._______________________________
4._______________________________
What are you going to do when they suggest that you gamble? What are you going to say? Set up a group of G.A. where the whole group encourages you to gamble. Consider carefully how you are feeling when they are encouraging you. Listen to what you say. Have them help you develop appropriate ways to say no.
High-risk Social Situations
Certain social situations will trigger craving. These are the situations where you have gambled in the past. Certain bars or restaurants, a particular part of town, certain music, athletic events, parties, weddings, family get together. All of these situations can trigger intense cravings.
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Make a list of five social situations where you will be vulnerable to relapse.

1.______________________________________________
2.______________________________________________
3.______________________________________________
4.______________________________________________
5.______________________________________________
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In early recovery, you will need to avoid these situations and friends. To put yourself in a high-risk situation is asking for trouble. If you have to attend a function where there will be gambling, take someone with you who is in the program. Go with someone who will support you in recovery. Make sure that you have a way home. You do not have to stay and torture yourself. You can leave if you feel uncomfortable. Avoid all situations where your recovery feels shaky.
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INTERPERSONAL CONFLICTS:

Sixteen percent of people relapse when in conflict with some other person. They have a problem with someone, and they have no idea how to cope with the problem. The stress of the problem builds, and leads to gambling. This conflict usually happens with someone you are closely involved with: wife, husband children, parents, siblings, friends, boss, ect..
You can have a serious problem with anyone, even strangers, so you must have a plan for dealing with interpersonal conflict. You will develop specific skills that will help you communicate, even when you are under stress.
You need to learn and repeatedly practice the following interpersonal skills.
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*These Below are VERY Important*….
1. Tell the truth all the time.
2. Share how you feel.
3. Ask for what you want.
4. Find some truth in what other people are saying.
5. Be willing to compromise.
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If you can stay in the conflict and work it out, that’s great. But if you can’t, you have to leave the situation and get help. You may have to go for a walk, a run or a drive. You might need to cool down. You must stop the conflict. You can’t continue to try to deal with a situation that you feel is too much for you. Don’t feel bad about this. Interpersonal relationships are the hardest challenges we face. Carry a card with you that list people you can contact. You may want to call your sponsor, minister, counselor, fellow G.A. member, friend, family member, doctor, or anyone else that may support you.
In an interpersonal conflict you will fear abandonment. You need to get accurate and reassure yourself that you have many people who still care about you. Remember that your Higher Power cares about you. God created you and loves you perfectly. Remember the other people in life that love you. This is one of the main reasons for talking to someone else.
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When they listen to you, they give you the feeling that you are loved.
If you still feel afraid or angry, get with someone you trust and stay with that person until you feel safe. Do not struggle out there all by yourself! Every member of G.A. will understand how you are feeling. We have all had these kinds of problems. We have all felt lost, helpless, hopeless, and angry.

Make an emergency card that includes all the people you call if you are having difficulty. Write their phone numbers down and carry this card with you at all times. Show this card to your sponsor. Practice asking someone for help in treatment once each day. Write the situation down and show it to another member. Get into the habit of asking for help. Call someone everyday just to stay in touch and keep the lines of communications open. Get use to it. Don’t wait to ask for help at the last-minute, this makes asking more difficult.
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*I do have to confess that this part of the relapse process seems a little SCARY, but I have DONE all of this over and over to keep myself safe when I first started my recovery. AND IT WORKS! The more you work your plan you WILL BE successful in your recovery. It’s hard to imagine having to SET boundaries with certain friends, but honestly if these so-called friends do NOT support your HEALTHY CHOICE’S to Support your recovery? then are they really a true friend? I don’t think so. So as hard as it maybe, and I had to do it myself, there were a few friends I had to stop being friends with because they did not support me in recovery. TRUST ME, you WILL make awesome, caring, and true friends in your recovery! This next section of the relapse guide and section is interesting*….|
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POSITIVE FEELINGS:
Of all the times you gambled to celebrate. That has gotten to be such a habit that when something good happens, you will immediately think about gambling. You need to be ready when you feel like a winner. This may be at a wedding, birth, promotion, or any event where you feel good. How are you going to celebrate without gambling? Make a celebration plan. You may have to take someone with you to celebrate, particularly in early recovery.

Positive feelings can also work when you are by yourself. A beautiful spring day can be enough to get you thinking about gambling. You need an action plan for when these thoughts pass through your mind. You must immediately get accurate and get real. In recovery we are committed to reality. Don’t sit there and imagine how wonderful you would feel if you gambled. Tell yourself the truth. Think about the pain that gambling has caused you. If you toy with positive feelings, you will ultimately gamble.
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Circle the positive feelings that make you vulnerable to relapse. *Yes, you CAN relapse over excited, happy, Lets Celebrate our good fortune with a few hours of addicted gambling*
1. Affection
2. Bold
3. Brave
4. Calm
5. Capable
6. Boisterous
7. Confident
8. Delightful
9. Desire
10. Enchanted
11. Joy
12. Free
13. Glad
14. Glee
15. Happy
16. Honored
17. Horny
18. Infatuated
19. Inspired
20. Kinky
21. Lazy
22. Loving
23. Peaceful
24. Pleasant
25. Pleased
26. Sexy
27. Wonderful
28. Cool
29. Relaxed
30. Reverent
31. Silly
32. Vivacious
33. Adequate
34. Efficient
35. Successful
36. Accomplished
37. Hopeful
38. Orgasmic
39. Elated
40. Merry
41. Ecstatic
42. Upbeat
43. Splendid
44. Yearning
45. Bliss
46. Excited
47. Exhilarated
48. Proud
49. Aroused
50. Festive
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A Plan To Cope With Positive Feeling:

These are the feelings that may make you Vulnerable to relapse. You must be careful when you are feeling good. Make a action plan For dealing with each positive emotion that makes you vulnerable to gambling.
Feeling ________________________________________
Plan 1. ______________________________
Plan 2. ______________________________
Plan 3. ______________________________
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Feeling ________________________________________
Plan 1. ______________________________
Plan 2. ______________________________
Plan 3._______________________________
etc, etc,
Continue this planning until you develop an approach for each of the positive feeling that make you vulnerable.
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*OK FOLKS……This next statement is VERY TRUE!! In my very early recovery, I kept thinking I could still gamble like A NORMAL PERSON, what ever normal is, and I’d get a few months in thinking, “Man, maybe I can gamble. I know I can control what I’m doing, or how much I spend.” Well, it’s like doing the same thing over and over expecting a Different Result each time, but all I got was more money wasted, more time gone, and got more and more depressed, more Guilt & Shame for what I lost, and closer and closer to the Edge of Suicide!!*
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TEST PERSONAL CONTROL:

Five percent of the people relapse to test if they can gamble again. They fool themselves into thinking that they may be able to do so normally. This time they will only use a little. This time they will be able to control themselves. People who fool themselves this way are in for big trouble. From the first bet, most people are in full-blown relapse within thirty days.

Testing personal control begins with inaccurate thinking. It takes you back to Step One. You need to think accurately. You are powerless over gambling. If you use, you will lose. It’s as simple as that. You are physiologically, psychologically, and socially addicted to gambling. The cells of your body won’t suddenly change, no matter how long you are clean. You are gambling dependent in your cells. This will never change.
*AS GA TEACHS US….DON’T TEMPT or TEST YOURSELF, Stay out of “Risky” places!*
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HOW TO SEE THROUGH THE TEMPTATIONS:
You need to look at how the illness part of yourself will try and convince you & your thoughts that you are not a problem gambler. The illness will flash on the screen of your consciousness all the good things that gambling did for you. Make a list of these things. In the first column, mark early gambling, Write down some of the good things you were getting out of gambling. Why were you gambling? What good came out of it? Did it make you feel social, smart, pretty, intelligent, brave, popular, desirable, relaxed, sexy? Did it help you sleep? Did it make you feel confident? Did it help you forget problems? Make a long list. These are the good things you were getting when you first started gambling.
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Early gambling                    ~                   Late gambling
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1.______________________ 1.______________________
2.______________________ 2.______________________
3.______________________ 3.______________________
4.______________________ 4.______________________
5.______________________ 5.______________________
6.______________________ 6.______________________
7.______________________ 7.______________________
8.______________________ 8.______________________
9.______________________ 9.______________________
10._____________________ 10._____________________
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Now go back and place in the second column, marked late gambling, how you were doing in that area once you became dependent? How are you doing in that area right before you came into the program? Did you still feel social, or did you feel alone? Did you still feel intelligent, or did you feel stupid? You will find that a great change has taken place. The very things that you were gambling for in the early gambling, you get the opposite of in the late gambling. If you were gambling to be more popular, you felt more isolated and alone. If you were gambling to feel brave, you were feeling more afraid. If you were gambling to feel smart, you felt stupid. This is a major characteristic of compulsive gambling.

Take a long look at both these list and think about how the illness is going to try to work inside your thinking. The addicted part of yourself will present to you all the good things you got in early gambling. This is how the disease will encourage you to gamble. You must see through the first use of negative consequences that are dead ahead.
Look at the second list. You must be able to see the misery that is coming if you gamble. For most people who relapse there are only a few days of controlled gambling, at he most, before lost of control sets in. There are usually only a few days or hours before all the bad stuff begins to click back into place. Relapse is terrible. It is the most intense misery that you can imagine.
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And Finally, WHAT is a lapse & relapse?
A lapse is the first bet. This is the first step before a full-blown relapse. A relapse is continuing to gamble until the full biological, psychological, and social disease is present. All of the complex biological, psychological, and social components of the disease become evident very quickly. For now lets call a lapse a slip even though G.A. does not use the word slip….
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*So this concludes our PART 2 of *Relapse Prevention Plans. Part 3 will be easy cake, as the guide goes over Behavior chain, slips, and coping with triggers, and options. Then you can put it all together for your own “Daily Prevention Plan for Relapse”!
Mine saved me many times! I still keep it in the back of my mind as a mental FEELING check off list each day. Another helpful thing to do is to start a “Journal or Recovery Diary” as it seems more real when you see all you have been through within your gambling addiction, when it is ON PAPER in black and white. It can really put things in perspective.
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And hey, you never know, you just may be able to use those journals later down the road to write your own book about your story. Of course at the time I had no idea my journals would be part of my current book. I’m currently writing 2 more books, and one is the follow-up to my first, “Addicted To Dimes” (Confessions of a liar and a Cheat)  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485
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God and my recovery has given me so many blessings these last 7 years in my own life. I became a published author for the 1st time, thanks to all my “Fundraising 2012 & 2013 “Donors, and allowed me to meet many “Wonderful People” in recovery, other recovery writers, bloggers and authors, and many recovery professionals and organizations, and councilors. I have also been blessed to meet many NEW Friends. My recovery is what gave me my “PASSION” for writing back! So in my 2nd book, I am writing “All Things Recovery. What others can do, like the relapse plan you all are learning, and SO much more about recovery from addicted compulsive gambling. And explored & researched the “Why’s” and reasons men gamble differently then women. Part 3 will be posted in a few days. AND DON’T forget to SHARE your thoughts in the Comments!
I hope part 2 has helped many, and make sure you practice! Because we truly are “All A Work In Progress” in Recovery!
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God Bless All!
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon


 

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