About Gambling Addiction and Does Self-Ban From Casinos Work?

We all know that old saying; “if want something bad enough you will find a way to get” and that is certainly true when you are talking gambling addiction.

So, you decide you are going to “BAN” yourself from a casino so you can STOP GAMBLING. Well, does this really work? Well, not from my personal ridiculous experiences . . . .

But first, shouldn’t we be educated about a what gambling addiction is? And is it really just fun and games? For many affected, NO, it is not and they will try anything to STOP!

 

WHAT IS GAMBLING ADDICTION?

Here is what my good friends of the National Council for Problem Gambling  define’s this addiction.

Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. And again, have no sense or fear of consequences from the destruction they are causing.

Isn’t Problem and Addicted Gambling a Financial Problem?

No. Problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences. If you pay all of a problem gambler’s debts, the person will still be a problem gambler. The real problem is that they have an uncontrollable obsession with gambling. But, in order to recover, the gambler needs to be willing to accept and surrender to the fact that he or she is in the grip of a progressive illness and has a desire to get well and stop gambling.


Isn’t Problem Gambling Really the Result of weak or financially irresponsible people?

No. Many people who develop problems have been viewed as responsible and strong by those who care about them. Precipitating factors often lead to a change in behavior, such as retirement or job-related stress.

The number one gambling addiction fact that you should know is that gambling is NOT just a financial problem. Some problem gamblers do not have financial issues even though they may lose money gambling. Gambling is an emotional issue where a person feels the need to gamble to alleviate stress or because they feel a certain type of euphoria when they gamble. Gambling is an obsession that can take over your life if you let it go too far, this can lead to the loss of relationships, jobs, and, yes, finances, but the issue behind compulsive gambling is not financial, it is emotional.


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For me, gambling became a way for me to cope, escape, and numb old feelings that came back to haunt me of what I went through as a little girl in my early childhood, then into a teen and on into adulthood. And even though 12-Step programs and support tell us we can arrest the addiction and recover, I myself disagree from a “treatment” standpoint. In order for me to reach full recovery, I had to process all the “old” in a healthy manner of all the uderlying issues before I was able to grasp a well-balanced recovery and make it into long-term recovery.

As I am a firm believer in doing the “inner work” within ourselves is just as important as learning the skills, tools, and being educated about the disease. So I do 12-step meetings, but I do them for support and to be with others who understand this addiction and be of service to others.

IF you think you have a gambling problem? I always suggest to people that a great place to start is to stop by  Gamblers Anonymous ~ 20 Questions and answer HONESTLY their 20 Questions and it will give you a good view if you have a problem and need help.

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Now About Self-Banning or Self Exclusion: What Is This?

Now keep in mind, each STATE in the US may have their own rules and policies about this option to help someone stop gambling and harm. So for an example, I currently live in the State of Arizona so I will share this STATE’S options as there as Indian Tribe Casinos all over this state, so people have many options and ACCESS to GAMBLE.

Here is what my friends at Arizona Dept. of Problem Gambling say about  Self Ban:

Self-Exclusion or Self-Ban is a process that allows a person to request to be banned from all Indian Gaming Facilities within the State of Arizona and to be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses, and the use of any of the services or privileges of the facility.  You can choose either a one-year, five-year, or ten-year exclusion.  This exclusion is irrevocable and cannot be altered or rescinded for any reason during the selected time period on the form.

How Do I Exclude Myself?

There are a number of ways you can go about excluding yourself. You can download the exclusion form found on this site, fill it out, have it notarized and mail it to the Department of Gaming along with a current photo of yourself. Please note: The self-exclusion will not be processed without proper notarization and a current photo. We can accept the photo electronically via email but we must have the original, notarized self-exclusion form sent to this office.

You may also come to the office to complete the entire self-exclusion process which includes meeting with the self-exclusion administrator who will discuss the program, notarize the form and take your photo as well as give you additional resources for problem gambling.

Please click on the FAQ link to the right for more information.  Questions & Answers on Self Ban  . . . .

Many casinos and states are also trying to help by offering these additional Ban Services as well:

The self-exclusion procedures and the self-exclusion forms are in a PDF format. To obtain a free copy of Adobe Reader, click here.

Download a copy of: Self-Exclusion Procedures; Self-Exclusion Form

BAN YOURSELF FROM USING ATMS AT MANY CASINOS

The Everi STeP program allows you to exclude yourself from using ATMs at over 1000 gambling locations.

Automated Systems America, Inc. (ASAI) can also assist in blocking ATM transactions in some Arizona casinos.

BAN YOURSELF FROM INTERNET GAMBLING

Gamblock prevents access to internet gambling sites.

Please make sure you visit their Q&A Facts page about more questions of Self Ban and Exclusion, you will find it Helpful….

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The Interesting and Comical Side of Gambling and Self-Ban:

Now, of course, I will KEEP in perspective that gambling is something many people do from time to time. But for others, it becomes an obsession, and they risk losing their livelihoods and much more because of the affliction, THAT IS NOT Funny.

But I have been sitting in the rooms of AA and Gamblers Anonymous a long time, and also when I was in treatment twice in our weekly group meetings. I can tell you I heard all sorts of stories about others who did try the self-ban from casinos. Now I never had the nerve to self-ban from the only Indian Casino 41 miles North of my home in So. Oregon where I lived at the time of my deep gambling addiction. But I have heard many stories from other women who did.

Needless to say, many told of them disguising themselves with make-up, wigs, sun glass’s and the like to hide their identity from the guards. and praying they didn’t hit a BIG jackpot for an attendant to have to come and pay them out or they would be Kicked Out! To me? That is living on the far off the edge! BUT? “If you want something bad enough?” ….

I have had many stories through the years of good and bad about self-banning, but here is a place and website I came across with stories that are both Postive and Negatives of gamblers who self-banned and gambled anyway on Psych Forums-Gamblers Banned I think you need to read. Here is one person’s experience:

“In the US it doesn’t work well. My wife signed the self-exclusion in all local casinos but she is able to play in all of them. One time she was playing, I told security that how come they let her plays when she signed self-exclusion, they immediately kicked her out. But casinos are businesses, and none of them will say no to FREE money. There is no real penalty for letting people who self-excluded play so why should they enforce it? I was considering suing them but all lawyers I contacted said that I can’t win.”

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I hope you have found this to be helpful information and informative. I know I have never written and shared much on Self-Banning and I find it interesting. I think for my own addiction, it most likely would NOT have helped me as I am a type of person that would find another way to “Get What I Wany.”  And self-ban could just backfire as of some other horrific stories I heard as in the rooms as well. Having access to NO MONEY to a gambler can make them turn to criminal acts. Yes, I heard some stories about this as well.

And this I DO have my own personal experience as I wrote about it in my current book, “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” And part of my title of my Memoir: “Confessions” was my way of taking accountability and ownership of the poor choices I made and the people I had hurt when I was gambling and deep within my disease.

We are only “as sick as our SECRETS” so I wrote and shared most all of what I’d DONE in a public forum within my book to hopefully help others and may they learn just far this cunning, sick and progressive addiction will take you! Here are some signs to look for if you suspect a loved one may have a gambling problem. Visit my friend’s page at  Addictions.com for more information and helpful treatment and support options …

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Any addiction causes highs and lows in a person, and gambling addiction is no exception. According to the NLM, here are some psychological signs of gambling addiction:

  • “Feeling bad after you gamble, but not quitting”
  • Feeling guilty for spending time away from your family or hurting them, but not quitting
  • “Always thinking about gambling”
  • Believing that gambling is not a problem for you, or avoiding thinking about how much time and money you actually spend on gambling

Gambling addiction does become a compulsion, and it is easier not to think about it than it is to soberly consider the repercussions of gambling on your life. Addictions.com

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**Presented by Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of  “Addicted To Dimes” **

 

Recovery Guest Blog & Article Spotlight. Marilyn Davis of ‘From Addict 2 Advocate’ & Article By, Carl Towns.

Note from  of  Addict 2 Advocate:  I’m always excited to bring another voice to From Addict 2 Advocate. Carl Towns discusses his struggles with gambling addiction and offers straightforward information, his experience with gambling, and some solutions.

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Gambling Addiction: When Rewards Stop Working

Gambling is one of those attractions that are present in everyday life – the football pool at the office, betting on a presidential race, wagering a dollar on the weather, bingo at the senior citizen center. We might even get a scratch-off with our change from the convenience store, and most people turn a blind eye to these kinds of gambling.

However, the rewards for these seemingly innocuous chance games is what can fuel a gambling addiction.

Our brains have neural pathways; one of which is the brain’s reward system. This system involves electronic impulses that turn into pleasure, memory, and motivation. When a person engages in basic actions such as eating, sexual activity or even sleep; the reward system starts to work. The brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which is the one responsible for all the feelings of pleasure and euphoria one might experience upon engaging in certain activities. Experts used to think of addiction as dependency on a chemical; they now define it as repeatedly pursuing a rewarding experience despite serious repercussions.

This is the reason drugs have such an addictive power. These substances basically trick the brain into thinking it has engaged in a highly pleasurable activity and releases up to 10 times the normal dose of dopamine, sometimes even more.

Gambling, much like drug addiction has the same impact on the brain and its dopamine production/release, the difference is that no outside chemicals are working, but the brain starts to relate only gambling-like scenarios with pleasurable ones.

For me, it was just an occasional escapade because I had a couple extra bucks to blow or because I ‘happened’ to be vacationing in Las Vegas and gambling is what people do in Vegas, right? At first, I thought of this as harmless fun, until it wasn’t anymore. I didn’t get the same feelings from just occasionally going to the casinos and found that it was impossible to distance myself from the practice of gambling in any form.

Although I realize now what was happening to me,  many people are unaware that gambling addiction causes the same outcomes as drug and alcohol addiction; it is a problem that affects people all across America and the world. If your gut is telling you that someone you know or love (or yourself) is engaging in gambling at the expense of other areas of their life, these facts may help you decide if there is a problem. As with a substance abuse problem, you may need to help your loved one, or yourself, find professional help.

1. Underestimating the Disease

One of the biggest problems is that often people treat don’t treat gambling addiction seriously. Many times I was told to “brush it off” or “snap out of it”. While those statements prompted my guilt, I was unable to stop gambling, so went to greater lengths to hide my gambling.

If someone approaches you telling you they are suffering from this, listen to them and support them, just like you would do if they were addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Gambling is not unlike chemical drugs; one taste can be enough to hook someone. The first time I set foot in a casino was on a cruise with my family when I was 17. I loved it and when I went back, I started looking for bets everywhere until I was able to work and I could play money.

If you go with young ones to a casino or any gambling site, such as a horse track; talk to them and have them understand that there are risks involved and they should not feel bad if they find it difficult to stop. Caution them that gambling addiction is real and that if they are struggling, even after one round of betting, whether they lose or win, is a good way to be proactive about gambling addiction.

2. How Gambling and Substance Compulsive Consumption are Very Similar

After an extended period of time of regular consumption of drugs or gambling, the reward system basically malfunctions, and three things occur as a result:

3. What Are You Doing and Where’s the Money Gone?  

There are many symptoms related to gambling addiction, however, one word sums them up –spending. How much time are you or someone you know spending in casinos, online, buying scratch-offs and how much money is being spent there?

While the “spending” symptoms are the biggest ones to look out for, there are plenty more signs that can indicate if you or someone you know is falling or has fallen into a gambling addiction. When gambling is a secret, how much money is spent, or what activities you’re engaged in; those are huge red flag warnings. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • Breaking even will become the goal in the face of big losses (even though it probably won’t happen).
  • Gambling becomes a priority: Planning how to earn more money to gamble, how to take advantage of the games; gambling, probabilities, teams, machines, etc. are all the person can talk about, normal events (like social gatherings) are forgotten in order to go gamble.
  • Gambling becomes an exit to relieve stress or suppress feelings of anxiety and even loneliness.
  • Having the need to gamble increasing quantities of money, if the next bet is not bigger, then it’s not exciting.
  • No matter how much the person works or how much they (or you) earn, it will always be an evolving financial loss situation due to constant gambling.
  • Personal relationships, such as marriage, children, family or even close friends are put in serious jeopardy because of gambling, professional life will be affected too.
  • There are several (failed) attempts to cut down the gambling.
  • When their gambling gets cut down unexpectedly bad temper or irritability start to show.

4. Withdrawal

When I finally realized I had a problem, I tried to stop gambling on my own. I decided that isolation would work. I went to my family’s cabin (which is in the middle of nowhere, in Iowa) to get away from all the temptation.


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I always thought that abstinence syndrome or withdrawals only applied to drugs or alcohol, but in that cabin, I found out it applies to gambling too. I started experiencing unpleasant mental and physical distress, insomnia, anxiety, and even physical pain. A pathological gambler would have the need to be constantly aiming higher, making riskier bets to achieve the same thrill, and high, so when I denied myself all that, I went into withdrawal.

It was a hard path, and if you or a loved one are demonstrating signs of a gambling addiction, it’s very important that you understand it’s not a moral failure or a bad habit, but a compulsion and brain disorder. In order to be treated properly professional help must be sought, if you know of someone suffering from gambling addiction or if you are suffering it yourself, please seek help.

5. Help is Available

Remember that recovering from such disorder is something possible even for people suffering the worst of it. A pathological gambler can make his or her way back to sanity and stability in their life. Resources for gambling addiction are available through local mental health agencies or here are some online resources and books for you to see if you can identify with a gambling addiction and then find help.

The National Problem Gambling Hotline

Gambling Help Online

A great book on gambling and the price one woman and those who knew her had to pay is by Catherine Townsend-Lyon,  Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)


Regardless of whether you find help locally or online, just know that gambling addiction will not improve on its own. However daunting that sounds, I know the pitfalls of gambling addiction and the peace and of recovery. I hope you find them, too.

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Biography: Carl Towns

I’m Carl Towns a 28-year-old wannabe writer; I am also a recovering addict on the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed in the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol and gambling. I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.

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Biography: Marilyn L. Davis

A recovery curriculum author with 27 years of abstinence-based recovery, Marilyn advocates for and writes to the addicted population.
She opened and ran an award-winning women’s recovery home from 1990-2011, creating a recovery curriculum, Therapeutic Integrated Education Recovery System, which breaks addiction down into the variables and then offers time-tested exercises for healing, relapse prevention, and dealing with codependency and self-defeating behaviors.

She is the Assistant Editor at Two Drops of Ink, where she shares her gifts as a communicator, encouraging other writers to use their creativity to share their talents through writing.  She believes in the power of words and knows that how something is said is just as important as what is said.

From Addict 2 Advocate explores addiction, recovery, and codependency with the same attention; write, so people relate and heal, and become the best person they can be.

Awards
Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award, Brenau University, 2008: ongoing award for individuals in mental health, wellness and recovery.
Liberty Bell Award, Northeastern Judicial Circuit, 2010: given to non-attorneys for their contribution to the criminal justice system and their communities.

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**Presented By Recovery Starts Here! ~ Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon** 

 

“We Can Learn from Others Recovery Journey. A Little of Mine” . . . .

“When we do the inner work within ourselves and begin to clean out the “soul” is when our recovery really takes hold.”   ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon

“I am a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery from gambling addiction and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining and stay in recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered.”

My recovery journey first started in 2002 and reset in 2006. Both times 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. In 2002 I was diagnosed with mental health disorders while in the middle of a full-blown gambling addiction. I was suffering from bipolar manic depression, PTSD, and OCD from past childhood trauma and abuse, and today, still manic depression and agoraphobia.

Then again in 2006, another breakdown, but this time 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 depleted all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess? No excuses, just insights. 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. 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 problems had occurred, I worked with a recovery expert for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our stories and words of our “character defects” can be powerful tools to help others.

After my second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a balanced recovery; and seemed had more work to do. I learned that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with a gambling/mental health 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 have a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

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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. I had picked up nasty habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking within my addiction that 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’d been given a relapse prevention workbook, and although I didn’t relapse into gambling, the book 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. My journals were a guide with 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, freelance writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By publishing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental 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 not to be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how quickly one can become addicted when using it for all the wrong reasons. 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 on our communities, family, and our lives. This also goes with mental health and those who suffer from its many forms.

The public needs to understand with the expansion of casinos and state lotteries, it is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 1% of our population are problem gamblers. Through my recovery, I have learned many lessons.

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 steady, 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. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way in early recovery before that little “Lightbulb” above my head went off!

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Now that I have reached TEN 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 we can now weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book;
“Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat” has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I advocate and share as much as I can with others. It is to prove we can recover from this insidious addiction.

And I do this in many ways and many platforms, like “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” which is a free publication, Gambling Blogger at Addictionland” and for “In Recovery Magazine & Column The Author’s Cafe”. As we are now hearing more and more people today with “dual diagnosis” and seems to be more common.

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 this on my recovery journal in blog form. So my second book I am working on now is about just that. How to make that first year in recovery. 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.

My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day like I do with writing and sharing my “testimony” anywhere I can to raise awareness and educate the public. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent in your journey. So, let me pose this question and open up a “Comments Dialogue” .  .  .

“What do you do to stay in RECOVERY”???

 

I wish you all a successful and learning recovery journey!

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Author/Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon  🙂  XoXo

A Recovery New Year Message By My Dear Friend of “Discovering Beautiful” Blog ~ Brittany . . .

“First Thing First! When You Are Done Reading POST?  Visit Her Page: “My Addiction Story”


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A New Year Message In Recovery By ~ Brittany Shelton~(Courtesy of Discovering beautiful) .   .   .   .

“It is our job to keep ourselves on track, pushing toward our own goals, and to encourage other people along while they are working toward theirs.”

I won’t force you to listen to my personal top 50 song list of 2016, the things that I am most grateful for, or my complete goal list for 2017.

I just want to share one of my personal goals that I am carrying over into 2017.

It is to stop allowing the comparison game to take up space in my mind. I made progress in 2016, and this year, I am going to do a better job of supporting other people without getting distracted from what is important to me.

And I know I am not alone in this….

You read something and immediately begin to wonder if what you have just written sucks. 
You can’t help but wonder if you are blogging often enough.
Is your viewpoint relevant anymore?
Are your topics current?
Are your stats high enough?
Is there enough traffic?
Why aren’t you being interviewed?
Is your site as busy as his or as exciting as hers?
Have you participated in as many podcasts as she has?
Did he attend more yoga conventions than you did this month? 
Do you need to find more summits to network at?
Have you even started writing your second book yet?
Are you self-publishing or do you have an agent or a publisher? 
Are you not interacting enough?
Have you been sharing enough?  
Why does it always feel like kissing ass instead of real connection? 
Do we need to scrap our whole site and hire a professional designer? 
Are our networking connections even real?
Is what I am doing important?

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It’s all about what’s hidden on the inside of our experiences.

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This list could go on and on.
And don’t get me wrong, no one pushes these feelings on me. I do it to myself. But this is real shit that I feel from time to time.

I love and appreciate connections on social media and I am happy to know that I am not alone. There are people out there who understand. They get it. I appreciate all of my friends who do support my blog and I am driven to keep going by the feedback from the people who tell me directly that I have inspired them to keep living. That fuels my heart like nothing else.

“But I am ALWAYS reminding myself that God has a specific plan for my life, and I only cheat myself when I allow my mind to trick me into thinking that what I have to offer isn’t important or isn’t enough.”

Blog lists, ranks, re-tweets, shares, likes, or LinkedIn connections can feel nice, but realistically they are not sufficient substitutes that can accurately gauge anyone’s sense of self-worth, relevance, or importance in this world.

For me, my identity is found in my relationship with GOD.

His will and plan for my life is what really matters, and at the end of the day, I know that I am who God says that I am, and I am capable of doing the uniquely personal things that He has carved out for my journey. For 2017, I am going to prayerfully and more consistently remind myself of these things.

I would urge you to embrace your own goals and not to lose sight of what is important to you.

Periodically unplug.

Remember why you started.
And always support other people doing their thing too.

It is our job to keep ourselves on track, pushing toward our own goals, and to encourage other people along while they are working toward theirs.

Happy New Year.  🙂

Honored To Share This New Guest Article I Am a Part of To Help Others From Gambling Addiction.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

 Some months back I had the honor and pleasure to be interviewed and talked in length with MAIA SZALAVITZ, a New York Times Best Selling Author of her book;  Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction.

She is also an award-winning author and journalist who covers addiction and neuroscience. And currently a bi-weekly column for VICE on drugs and addiction. From 2010 to 2013, she wrote daily for TIME.com and she continues to freelance there and for other publications including the New York Times, Scientific American Mind, Nature, New York Magazine online, Pacific Standard, Matter, Nautilus, and The Verge.

She came across my recovery blog and found my phone number from my book promotions website. She called to tell me she was doing an in-depth article for the distinguished publication “The Nautilus” and “Time.com” about the neuroscience behind gambling addiction,e to be interviewed for the piece. I said sure, and I had spent an hour or so talking with Maia about my addiction to gambling. Here is the result from our talks and correspondence. I can not tell you again how honored and humbled that she shared some of my story and experiences so others can have more answers as to how this disease progress’s and how our brains can become manipulated by many factors of this addiction as a whole.

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‘Addicted to Anticipation ~ What goes wrong in the brain chemistry of a gambling addict.’

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, 53, started gambling excessively when she was 30. As a result, her 40th birthday wasn’t much of a celebration: She was hospitalized, shortly after a suicide attempt. She’d tried to slit her wrists the day she’d missed her best friend’s funeral, after stealing money from her job at a credit service to play the slot machines.

That was just one part of how bad it had gotten. She would arrive at casinos at 7 a.m. and wear bladder control underpants. She didn’t want to have to get up—even for a quick bathroom break—if she was on a winning streak. At one point she hoped to win back enough money to stave off foreclosure on her home.

“It’s where I could find stress relief,” she says of her gambling, which she detailed in a book titled “Addicted to Dimes.” “I didn’t have to worry about anything—whether it was my past, whether it was the money I’d spent. You don’t think about any of it. It’s like you just go there and you’re escaping into a whole different world,” she says

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Szalavitz_BR_LyonTILL DEATH DO THEY PART: “When we got married, he took his vows seriously. I mean, I put this man through everything,” says Catherine Townsend-Lyon (right), of her husband Thomas (left), who supported her throughout her gambling addiction and recovery.
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Gambling Addiction stands out for its destructive power and pull. With substance problems, people can blame the chemical activity of drugs and argue that addiction occurs when repeated exposure physically alters the brain. But gambling causes life catastrophes that are at least as extreme—sometimes more—without any kind of foreign psychoactive chemical getting under the skin, indeed, without any apparent “substance” at all.

“First you get that euphoric feeling, that rush and excitement,” Townsend-Lyon says, “Once you become addicted, then you get to the point where you don’t care about anything. You’re in a zone and you don’t realize what’s going on around you.”

“The high is in expecting an outcome, desiring it, imagining it, not in its fulfillment.”

Problem gambling is addiction stripped to its core—compulsive behavior that persists no matter what the negative consequences. Compulsive gamblers risk their homes, their cars, their children’s college funds, their jobs, even their lives in what looks to everyone around them like completely willful, selfish, and utterly destructive behavior.

Understanding why and how gambling can become compulsive is to recognize that all forms of addiction are a form of aberrant learning. But addiction doesn’t primarily affect the kind of learning we associate with school, or with studying for tests and trying to memorize theorems.

Instead, it involves changes in deep emotional learning, the sort of learning that makes first love far more memorable than algebra or verb tenses. From a neuroscientific perspective, learning is a brain change that associates experiences with each other and affects behavior. A critical part of emotional learning is changes in brain circuitry that respond to reward and punishment and link them with actions and the environment.

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The best way to see addiction may be as a learning disorder—one that occurs when punishment or other negative consequences no longer deter the addictive activity. As Yale researcher Jane Taylor and her colleagues explain in a review paper focused on substance addictions, these conditions “enhance positive learning and memory about the drug while inhibiting learning about the negative consequences.”1 Brain scans of compulsive gamblers suggest that the same processes are at work.2

In Townsend-Lyon’s case, her gambling persisted despite terrible financial losses, despite losing all her friends and becoming depressed enough to attempt suicide more than once. She describes losing jobs because her gambling began cutting into her workday. “When it was the worst part of my addiction, I was going before work, I was going at lunchtime, I was going after work. It was outrageous. I was just so out of control.”

While much time has been spent debating whether addiction is a disease or just a bad choice, recognizing how learning goes awry is the best way to improve treatment, prevention, and policy.

B.F. Skinner, who laid out the fundamental principles of learning through reward and punishment in the mid 20th century, recognized their relevance to gambling right from the start, says Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas and associate professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University.

Skinner told people that slot machines were basically human versions of the famous “Skinner boxes” he made for rats and pigeons. “People often think it’s a heavy-handed metaphor to call a slot machine a Skinner box, but in fact, he was calling Skinner boxes slot machines way back,” Schull says. Like the animals in their cages, slots players would pull a lever and wait to either receive a reward or not.

Early in his research, Skinner accidentally discovered an important factor that makes gambling addictive. One day, while working in the lab, he began to run out of rat treats. Since the treats were time-consuming to make and he had to do it himself, he didn’t want to stop the experiment. So instead of rewarding the rats every time they pushed the lever, he did it only once a minute. To his surprise, the intermittent reward made them push more, not less.

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CASINO CONDITIONING: B.F. Skinner, seen here in 1948, said slot machines were basically human versions of the “Skinner boxes” he made for rats and pigeons. Slot machine players, like animals in the boxes, pull a lever and wait to either receive a reward or not.  (Apic/Getty Images)
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In his behavioral experiments across species, Skinner found that the pattern of reward that created the most robust response—and the most stubbornly persistent learning—was not providing treats every time an animal pressed the lever. It was rewarding them at random: exactly like a slot machine.3Like human gamblers, pigeons began to do peculiar repetitive behaviors at the lever. It was as though they were superstitiously repeating a behavior that they associated with past “luck.”

But why would animals, including us, be more responsive to what Skinner called “intermittent reinforcement” than to getting rewarded every time you do the right thing? This is the paradox of the learning that is at the heart of addiction—whether to gambling, cocaine, shopping, or heroin—and it offers clues about what’s going wrong in the brain.

Over the course of evolution, many situations have required animals to persist despite negative outcomes; for mammals and particularly humans, finding and keeping a mate and rearing needy and demanding offspring are among the biggest such challenges. If we didn’t have a mechanism that pushed us to persevere in these pursuits, our species never would have survived. “The brain’s reward systems evolved to motivate us organisms to do things that we should do,” says Larry Young, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University who studies social bonding.

Addiction is involved the sort of learning that makes first love far more memorable than algebra.

When working properly, our basic motivational systems drive us to seek partners, despite rejection, fights, fears, and other challenges. They set our priorities, pulling or pushing us toward what their calculus determines is most likely to allow us to survive and reproduce. Our emotions, in fact, are fundamentally algorithms for rapid decision-making, which may have been shaped by the history of what actions best-promoted survival and reproduction.

The same system also makes babies seem unbearably cute, motivating parents to tolerate their noise and their constant, relentless demands—and even enjoy doing so. (Puppies and kittens often hitch a ride on this attachment system, making us want to care for them, too.)

“There’s a lot of shared neurochemistry between love and bonding and attachment and addiction,” says Young. “Basically, it uses the same neurochemistry. But love is an association in the brain that this particular individual is associated with that reward.”

In addition, the paraphernalia, the slot machine or crack pipe, becomes the focus, rather than a person. And when intense drive and a feeling of biological urgency get directed toward a drug or activity like gambling, serious problems can occur. It’s hard to make choices when the machinery that guides choice is itself misdirected.

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Young’s research on monogamous and non-monogamous voles, which are a type of field mice, shows how neurons form new connections when bonding with a mate. In monogamous voles, the release of hormones like oxytocin links the reward regions and the reduction of stress with the presence of their mate. These chemicals help the brain associate the release of natural heroin-like neurotransmitters—endogenous opioids—that enhance the bond with a specific partner. But this connection isn’t made in promiscuous voles, for whom many partners are attractive and whose reward regions don’t get rewired to form pair bonds during mating.4

The hormonal bonding process—whether with a baby or a partner—is a type of learning, one that ultimately makes our stress systems responsive to our most significant others. It lowers blood pressure and creates calm when we’re together and safe, but raises alarms when there is distance or a perceived threat of harm to the person or the relationship.

Similarly, if your brain “decides” that a drug or activity is somehow essential to your emotional survival, it begins skewing your choices and changing your priorities to put this behavior first—in the same way that people in love obsess about their partners, make time together the center of their lives and often ignore other friends or work that used to be their focus. In fact, oxytocin has been shown to reduce symptoms of heroin and alcohol withdrawal and is being studied for a potential role in addiction treatment, in part as a result of these parallels.

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Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that signals exhilaration, is critically involved in love, sex, and all addictions that have been studied. “Dopamine is the chemical that seals the deal when something special happens,” says Young. Research by Young and his colleagues shows that dopamine levels rise in monogamous voles during sex—and this type of dopamine peak is also seen when people with gambling addiction are about to bet and people with cocaine addiction anticipate snorting the sparkly white powder.5

Dopamine is also involved in the prediction of reward. While initially it rises just as a reward is received, once associations that predict the reward have been learned, the biggest rise comes not when the dice are rolled or the coke is snorted, but when the person walks into the casino or first sees the packet that contains the cocaine.6

However, if the predicted positive outcome does not occur, dopamine levels in certain brain areas drop—not just to normal, but below baseline. This punishes the bad prediction and ordinarily it makes people change their predictions and their behavior. We call the experience disappointment. But in addiction the relevant update to the prediction is not made. And so the behavior continues.

The fact that dopamine systems seek to predict outcomes also makes the patterning of addictive experience crucial to how addictive a drug, person, or experience will be. Gambling addiction rests on intermittent reinforcement alone—the experience of risk, the fact that there will be either loss or gain, creates excitement and the more unpredictable the outcome, the more compelling it becomes. With drugs, the pattern of use also matters. he more varied and irregular the dosing, the more addictive a drug will be.

Indeed, this is another reason why compulsive gamblers continue whether they win or lose—the high is in expecting an outcome, desiring that outcome, imagining it, not in its fulfillment. No win can ever be big enough to meet these outsized expectations, no loss harsh enough to dash the desire. Because dopamine calculates expectations, only a better-than-expected result can satisfy. But results seldom get better in the real world.

Brains are, in essence, prediction machines, which is why no one likes uncertainty and why solving mysteries provides such a sense of satisfaction. We seek patterns and connections, even in randomness, especially in randomness. That makes unpredictable patterns of reward—like playing the slots—into compelling puzzles that can draw us in, even if we know rationally that the odds are against us. This patterning can fool the brain into prioritizing an addiction. Townsend-Lyon’s husband Thomas used to tell her, “You love the machines more than you love me.”

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Like most addictions, Townsend-Lyon’s gambling problem “didn’t come out of nowhere.” Similar to most women with addiction, she’d had a traumatic childhood—including emotional and physical abuse and ongoing sexual abuse by a close family member and another perpetrator. Also, like most women with addiction, she had pre-existing psychiatric problems; in her case, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Studies of addicts show that trauma and certain genetic vulnerabilities—especially the two in combination—increase risk for a wide range of mental illnesses and a bewildering spectrum of addictions that include gambling, sex, alcohol, and opioids. The availability of escapist drugs and activities help determine what form the problem takes. But gambling and drugs themselves don’t cause addiction, a myth that often interferes with getting to the personal root of the problem.

“Everybody wants to think the object is the cause of addiction,” says Howard Shaffer, director of the division on addiction at the Cambridge Health Alliance, and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “So dice causes gambling addictions. Roulette wheels cause gambling addiction. Heroin causes opioid addiction. The problem is that in every instance vastly more people use the object than become addicted.” Indeed, over 95 percent of gamblers and 80 to 90 percent of people who use addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine do not develop addiction problems.7

Problem gambling is addiction stripped to its core—compulsive behavior no matter the negative consequences.

Addiction is often learned when someone with an emotional or psychological problem discovers that a particular addictive behavior helps ease it—at least at first. “I’m a childhood sex abuse survivor, and what I was doing was using [gambling] to escape, to numb out,” Townsend-Lyon says.

Townsend-Lyon had little interest in alcohol or other drugs. Gambling seemed like a relatively harmless pastime, and she was excited by the possibility of what winning might mean. But the more she played, the less important winning and losing became. Instead, Townsend-Lyon played to reach “the zone”—a place where time, space, and self melt away and the cares of the real world vanish. When they’re in this realm, some gamblers find winning big to be annoying because the bright lights and bells and other jarring signals that announce it can bring them back down to earth.

The craving and the experience of losing control are identical. Townsend-Lyon and other problem gamblers describe being deeply aware of the fact that their behavior is irrational and harmful—and yet finding themselves doing it anyway. The same is true with cocaine, heroin, and alcohol addictions.

This disconnection between desire and pleasure—between what researchers call “wanting” and “liking” is reflected in how addiction leads learning astray in the brain. When drugs are taken irregularly and in varied dosing—which is what tends to happen during addiction because supplies and money to pay for them are rarely constant—drug desire escalates, while the pleasure associated with using declines.

The random nature of intermittent reinforcement produces a similar effect in gambling. The dopamine-driven desire system needs less and less of a cue to create intense craving—but the systems that are involved in the actual enjoyment of the experience become tolerant and more is needed to experience a high or just to feel normal. This contrast leaves addicted people desperately pursuing an experience that they don’t even like much once they get it.

Recovery from gambling addiction is difficult. For one thing, there’s the sheer amount of debts gamblers accrue. For another, there’s no material substance to blame for “changing the brain” or causing a “disease.” The pattern and experience of gambling come together to make the brain vulnerable to getting stuck in a compulsive loop. If it is hard to get people to see addiction to drugs as a medical problem, the lack of a chemical to blame makes gambling addiction even more suspect in the public eye.

There’s a paradox at the heart of the way American society tries to treat addiction. We think that if people like Townsend-Lyon simply lose enough or hurt enough or get punished enough, they’ll “hit bottom” and stop. But since addiction is defined as compulsive behavior that continues in the face of punishment, punishment is clearly not the best way to deal with it. Dozens of studies show that shame, confrontation, and humiliation are ineffective and can backfire when used in addiction treatment.8

Because most people with addictions are using their behavior as a way to cope with distress, figuring out the source of that distress and alleviating it in a more healthy way is the key to both prevention and treatment. In Townsend-Lyon’s case, she needed specialist mental health care to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from the abuse she suffered, as well as specific help for her bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Finally, because addiction is misguided love, compassion, empathy, and social support are critical to recovery. Townsend-Lyon found help in a support group and through therapy, along with medication for her other diagnoses. Her husband also helped. “I was very blessed in my choice of husbands,” she says, describing how he stuck with her throughout her addiction and recovery. She adds, “When we got married he took his vows seriously. I mean, I put this man through everything. Today my life is better than before I became an addict.”

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About “The Nautilus Journal” publication:

Welcome to Nautilus. We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture, and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected. Nautilus is published through:

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Founded: 1932

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!!

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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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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

My Recovery Guest Article of the Week. Trauma and Healing.

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Healing after Trauma ~ By Christine Hill

Trauma isn’t a new or unique story in the world today. In fact, some psychologists have stated that we have an epidemic of trauma in our society, without the tools to recover from it. Trauma can be any event in your life that sends you into an extreme state of stress, fear, and helplessness. It can be physical or mental abuse in the home, a cataclysmic natural disaster, or a chronic sickness.

In any case, the primary goal after trauma is to find a way to heal. For some, this comes naturally with time. For others, recovery is a difficult process for which they’ll need help. Unchecked, trauma can cause a multitude of disorders and harmful behaviors, from PTSD to schizophrenia to addiction and risk-taking behaviors.

Here are some ways to help patients recovering from trauma find healing and peace in their lives:

Step 1: Restabilize and Find Safety

The thing about trauma is that it makes us feel unsafe and helpless. A heightened stress response keeps triggering, sending us right back to that place where we felt threatened. The most important first step to take after trauma is to re-establish safety.

“Safety” will look differently for everyone. As children, we learn to rely on others to establish safety for us. However, sometimes that system breaks down, and as we grow, we become responsible for creating a safe place for ourselves.

The first step in recovering from trauma may consist of breaking from the traumatic event or situation that you’re in. This might mean a move. It might mean breaking from certain people or patterns in your life. It might even mean using certain help or resources available in order to leave and find a new place where you can be safe and rebuild.

Establish Healthy Patterns

Most recovering patients of trauma find safety in patterns in their lives. After feeling completely helpless and out of control, it’s comforting to have something that’s in your control. Practicing self-care also supports the body’s healthy systems, empowering you to counteract the effects of trauma. Some healthy patterns will include:

  • Getting proper sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Steering clear of substances that will alter your mental state
  • Exercise

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All of these things help to balance the hormones in your system which have been thrown off by extreme stress. True, it’s easier said than done. After trauma, night terrors can interrupt our sleep. We feel powerless to set up new healthy habits like exercise. And we reach for things that grant immediate comfort and numbness, which is why trauma and substance abuse are so often paired. However, substance abuse perpetuates the pattern of trauma, and continues to throw off our self-regulatory systems, which can prolong your recovery, and send you back into a mental state that will aggravate the harmful effects of trauma, instead of leading to a path of healing.

Connect with Others

Another cruel effect of trauma is that it often causes us to feel isolated. The separation between ourselves and everyone who hasn’t experienced the trauma can feel too great to overcome. It can be hard to reconnect with people who seem to expect you to be the same old person you were before the trauma entered your life, or you might fear having to confront the trauma and having to explain it to others.

However, studies have shown that people who reach out after trauma heal much faster. You have a choice about whether trauma will cripple you, or whether you will use it as an experience that enables you to help others. Here are some suggestions to get you going:

  • Join a survivor group. Talking with others who have experienced similar things will help you remember that you are not alone. Learning about the coping strategies that have helped them will give you ideas for things to try in your life. Reaching out and striving to problem-solve with others can motivate you to find creative solutions for your own problems.

 

  • Reconnect with people who care about you. The people in your life who love and care about you can be a touchstone of sanity and safety when everything feels out of control. If you’re lucky enough to have a few people who will fight for you, make time for you, patiently listen to you, and sacrifice for you, take advantage of that gift. Remember that you don’t have to talk about traumatic experiences that have shaken you. Take your time, and ask for what you need. Be patient with yourself and with others.

 

  • Volunteer. One of the best ways to recover from trauma is to look for the good. It’s reminding yourself that you still have the power to effect positive change – not just in yourself, but in those around you. Helping others gets us outside of ourselves and helps us to see things in a different way. It helps us make new connections and realize the power that we do have. Volunteering can be an opportunity to build new memories and experiences that can counter the memory and experience of trauma in our lives.


Reach out for Help

Visiting psychologist

Group of people visiting course of psychological therapy…

 

A difficult step for many trauma survivors is knowing when to reach out for professional help. Many of us feel we can overcome the problems by ourselves, or we fear the emotional impact of reliving traumatic events. However, trauma therapists are specially trained to help patients come to terms with the events in their past, to empower them to rewrite their own stories and find a way to make daily life more functional and more enriching.


If you are having a hard time connecting with others, functioning in society – whether that’s getting daily chores done, or holding down a job, getting a good night’s rest, or building healthy patterns in your life, a therapist can give you tools and perspective that you might need in order to rebuild after trauma.


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*Author Note: I want to thank Christine Hill for a wonderful article. Since I am a trauma and sex abuse survivor myself, I could have used this advice when I finally disclosed to my parents what had happened to me as a little girl. Would the outcome have been different for me to the way the way my parents reacted?

Knowing how my parents were? Most likely not, but it may have been less traumatic for me, how having to go through the process of explaining it to them. I hope this article will help those who are still holding on to any past pain. Please, it is time to let it go  .  .  .