“Let’s Give The 12-Steps It’s Do” My Guest Article Pick of The Weekend From “The Fix”…By Adam S.

“Let’s Give The 12-Steps It’s Do” My Guest Article Pick of The Weekend From “The Fix”…By Adam S.

There seems to be a new kind of revolution going on around “The 12-Step” model of gaining sobriety these days. I have been seeing more and more people move “away” from the 12-steps as a choice for their main source of becoming and maintaining sobriety. Why is this happening? What I have read on the web have been reasons like some not comfortable that our courts are mandating criminals who have drug and alcohol problems so the courts are demanding they attend AA, Na, GA, etc. Women have spoken out about men trolling them as some of them are court-mandated as sex abusers and pedophiles. Good point. There is even an award-winning film out about it by Monica Richardson titled; “The 13th Step”…

Now many know I am not a huge fan of the 12-step model as the main choice to recover even as we now have many 12-step programs to help with alcohol, drugs, porn, eating, and even gambling addictions. This of course was and IS from my own experience and knew JUST A/The 12-step program was NOT going to be my only source of recovering from my addictions.

WHY? Because my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse were so bad that I needed an actual reprieve as I was in a crisis from a failed suicide attempt and needed to be away from access to gain this. See, many don’t understand that decades ago when ‎Bill W. and Dr. Bob · ‎Lois W. wrote the Big Book, it was not intended to “treat” alcohol addiction. It was a way for Bill W. explain and sell the Traditions to the fellowship. Bill knew no one would buy a book about Traditions, so he included the essays on the steps. And to work on how to best approach alcoholics and began trying to help men recover from alcoholism.

For me, I learned early it would be a more of support, fellowship, and unity. Not for “treatment.” So, here is an article I read that gives The 12-Step Model it’s “do.”

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12-Step Privilege: Unpacking the Recovery Knapsack. Does Privilege Happen Of Treatment Options?

 

“The 12-step community enjoys massive privilege in our systems of treatment and recovery support and has gone unchallenged for the better part of a century.”

We have all heard it said that “the disease does not discriminate.” People of all ages, races, genders, and cultures are affected by substance use disorder. However, some people have a much easier time navigating our systems and finding the resources and support they need to sustain long-term recovery. Usually, these advantages can be attributed to privilege. People with financial or healthcare privilege have easier access to higher quality treatment. Those of us with white privilege are less likely to be incarcerated. People with gender privilege don’t have to worry about residential accommodations getting in the way of treatment.

Many of us in the recovery community have committed ourselves to combating privilege and trying to make treatment and recovery more accessible to everyone. Most of us have given lip service to the idea that there are many pathways in recovery. However, one of the biggest systems of privilege is right under our noses every day. The 12-step community enjoys massive privilege in our systems of treatment and recovery support and has gone unchallenged for the better part of a century. Many of the recovery community’s social justice champions live every day of their recovery without recognizing their own privilege.

As you read the list below, think of the advantages of belonging to a 12-step fellowship. Would you have the same advantages had you chosen another pathway to recovery? Do you feel that you deserve them more than other people because 12-step recovery is superior? If you are a member of a 12-step group and you question, justify or deny this privilege, perhaps this will help.

Peggy McIntosh’s seminal workUnpacking the Invisible Knapsack, has helped a generation of white people understand and begin to address their privilege. I have altered a few of McIntosh’s elements of privilege for the 12-step community and provided examples for some.

    1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people in 12-step programs most of the time.
      Anywhere you look for people in recovery, you will find 12-step members. This is because they are churned out by the thousands by rehabs that favor 12-step facilitation. (see below)
    2. When I look for a recovery meeting in my community, I can be sure to find a 12-step meeting.
      There are 12-step meetings every day, from early in the morning to late at night. Other programs are not as widely available to their participants. As a result, people who prefer other methods often have to attend 12-step meetings.
    3. If I talk to a non-recovering person about my 12-step program, they will have heard of it and have some idea of how it works.
      People on the outside of the recovery community are familiar with the 12-step process, especially the part about making amends. This makes people think that everyone in recovery owes something back to society or family members or friends, whether they do or not.
    4. When I tell people I’m in recovery, they assume correctly that I’m in a 12-step program.
      Most people, when they think of recovery, think of people sitting in a circle of chairs in a church basement, listening to someone tell their “story.” People in 12-step recovery will usually ask a “test” question to see if you are in a fellowship (“Are you a friend of Bill?” “What’s your home group?”); if you don’t answer correctly, you may get a funny look or condescending reaction.
    5. I can assume that people in positions of authority who are in recovery are in 12-step programs.
      Have you ever met a cop, a judge, or other person in authority who was in recovery? There’s an excellent chance that they were 12-step members.
    6. I can talk to other recovering/recovered people and they will not doubt the quality or stability of my recovery based on the way I achieved it.
      The reverse of this–expressing doubt about someone’s recovery based on the fact they achieved it in a different way than you– is a form of gaslighting, and it happens to people who don’t subscribe to 12-step programs. The dominant paradigm is that people in recovery have to have a “program” in order to have a good recovery.
    7. If I want to be of service to others in recovery, I have many opportunities to do so through 12-step programs.
      It’s one of the most admirable aspects of the 12-step community; however, opportunities to volunteer outside of the 12-step fellowship are few and far between. This is also a double-edged sword and source of stigma, as people in recovery are expected to be “in service” to atone for their perceived shameful behavior.
    8. If I ask to participate in any community discussion about substance use issues, I can be assured of a seat at the table.
      Bereft of any professional qualifications, a person who holds themselves out as active in the local 12-step community is automatically considered an expert on substance use disorder and recovery.
    9. I can be pretty sure of getting a job in the treatment field with other people who are in 12-step recovery.
      Dog whistles happen in job interviews too; a person from a 12-step fellowship is undoubtedly well-connected to others in recovery who staff the local treatment center. In addition, 12-step members rarely have to go against their own personal beliefs in the workplace, since 12-step philosophy dominates the treatment system.
    10. 12-step groups are commonly given free or heavily discounted rates on rentals of space and other materials in order to function.
      Most churches and other community spaces rent space to 12-step groups at unheard-of rates that another organization would be hard-pressed to obtain.
    11. I can shop for recovery literature, materials, accessories, or paraphernalia and be sure that 12-step programs will be represented.
      Have you ever shopped at a store that sells recovery paraphernalia? Try to find a recovery t-shirt, keychain or medallion that doesn’t have 12-step slogans or imagery on it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
    12. I can view movies and TV shows about recovery and be sure that 12-step programs will be represented.
      12-step fellowships and their members are featured in nearly every book, film, or other media production depicting people with substance use disorder. This adds to the common public perception that everyone in recovery is in a 12-step fellowship (see #3 and #4). Dog whistles to 12-step members are also ubiquitous. The TV show My Name is Earl was one huge dog whistle.
    13. When nationally recognized figures in the recovery community speak publicly, I can be sure that they will use 12-step recovery language with which I can identify.
      If you attend any kind of rally or public event dealing with recovery, even if speakers are careful about their own anonymity, 12-step language, slogans and concepts will undoubtedly be part of the presentation.
    14. When I learn about the history of the recovery movement, I am told that people from 12-step programs made it what it is.
      Most of the early pioneers of recovery were 12-step members. These people are to be admired and respected; however, this does bestow privilege on their descendants in recovery.
    15. 12-step recovery contains concepts and language from a privileged spiritual pathway.
      The basic texts of 12-step programs are replete with language from the most dominant, privileged spiritual pathway in the country. Therefore, people who were already spiritually and culturally privileged have that privilege reinforced when they enter a 12-step program. Those from other faiths, or from no faith, are forced to adjust their thinking to the language used; this is the most frequent reason people give for seeking alternatives to 12-step programs.
    16. If I present myself for substance use treatment, I can be sure that the treatment facility I attend will embrace and endorse 12-step recovery.
      People from 12-step programs who come to treatment are familiar with the content of the clinical programming at most rehabs. Those who come to treatment from other pathways are likely to be told that they were “doing it wrong.”
    17. If I should need recovery housing, I can easily find a place that accepts 12-step membership as valid for the requirements of the residence.
      The vast majority of recovery houses require daily 12-step meetings, as well as sponsorship and attendance at in-house meetings. Those from other groups are either not admitted to the house or forced to adapt.
    18. I can travel to another country and be sure of finding a 12-step meeting.
      It’s a strength, no doubt; there are 12-step meetings in nearly every civilized country.
    19. I can openly criticize other methods of recovery and others will support me.
      Spend a little time on social media, and you will see this in action. Medication-assisted recovery and other “alternative” pathways are regularly disparaged, and there is nearly unlimited support from fellow 12-step members.

    20. I can dismiss criticisms of 12-step programs and others will support me.
      Sure, 12-step recovery gets criticized also; but again, there are thousands of people who will rush to its defense.

Just as in other privileged communities, there are members of the 12-step community who will call this idea divisive and make impassioned calls for unity to avoid the discomfort of acknowledging their privilege. This is a normal defensive reaction; however, it is important to move past it and get to the real work.

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The whole point of understanding and acknowledging one’s privilege is not to feel guilty or defensive; but rather, to promote equity in the recovery community so that more people can find recovery through diverse pathways. Defensive reactions take many forms; here are a few to avoid:

      1. “If you want more alternatives to 12-step recovery, why don’t you start your own fellowship?”
        Starting meetings is a good thing, but other pathways in recovery cannot be expected to match the strength and advantage of the 12-step fellowship overnight.
      2. “Why do you have to attack 12-step recovery in order to promote equity?”
        Pointing out privilege is not putting anyone down or attacking 12-step recovery. It is simply asking for those with power to help those without. It is often said that “Equality feels like oppression to the privileged.”
      3. “The recovery community needs to come together. Talking about privilege is divisive.”
        The whole point is that we are already divided along lines of privilege. One of the characteristics of privilege is that it’s nearly invisible to those who benefit from it. Only the privileged can afford to put unity ahead of equity.

So, now that you have recognized your privilege, how can you take responsibility for it? Again, I have compiled some commonly accepted ideas from a number of sources and modified them slightly to fit the context.

      1. Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about other recovery methods and groups, and don’t automatically expect people from those pathways to do the work of educating you.
      2. Really get to know people from other recovery pathways. Know them as people, not just avatars for their recovery method.
      3. Listen to people and advocates from multiple other recovery pathways when they speak. Listen without responding.
      4. Empathize with people from oppressed pathways. This does not mean sympathize. Empathy means being with a person and understanding and sharing their feelings and concerns.
      5. Amplify. After listening and feeling, use your privilege and access to amplify voices of those in oppressed recovery groups.

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      6. Challenge others in your privileged group who perpetuate stigma and stereotypes about other methods of finding recovery. Let them know that this is not OK.
      7. Work to offset, counteract, and neutralize your privilege and the systemic inequity. Use your privilege to open doors, forge new paths, and lift up members of the oppressed recovery pathways.

We in the recovery community are some of the most passionate advocates there are. In our relatively short history, we have removed many obstacles to treatment and recovery.

It is important that we do not become the obstacle… Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, and LOUD Advocate 🙂

 

 

 

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“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

I told myself at midnight new years’ eve, I was going to write, share, and be more open and transparent about my mental health issues this year. So when I came upon this article and gave it a read, I knew I had to share it today as many of us who maintain recovery from addictions are dually diagnosed with mental health challenges like myself. And those who don’t understand what it is like to battle agoraphobia along with depression and a few other disorders I have been working through, many seem to cling to “The Stigma” around all of the ABOVE.

Now, yes, I do understand that those who have not been touched by mental or emotional problems or disorders or know or have a family or friend who does, not all people are sorry to ‘ignorant’ about these topics. However, there some who don’t think mental health problems, like Tom Cruise, even exist. HA!

I’m here to say they do and about 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffers from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and more.

That is 1 in every 5 people suffer in just the United States alone. So, sorry Tom Cruise and L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, YOUR WRONG. Here is an article that helps us have insights on how paralyzing “FEAR” can make us feel TRAPPED…By 

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How Fear Traps You into Being Someone You Are Not…

“The fear response is triggered when facing danger.”

The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions.

External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways. 

  • Fear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are.

  • Fear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity.

  • Fear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm.

  • Fear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger are often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighborhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined.

  • Avoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world.

  • Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.

  • Fear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing on the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now.

  • Survival emotions such as anger (fight); worry, panic and anxiety (flight); depression and hopelessness (freeze) limit your emotional expression and narrow your emotional range. Negative feelings drag you down and deplete vital life force while positive emotions such as trust in yourself, courage and hope strengthen and nurture you.

  • Fear cuts you off from the flow of life and universal benevolence you could tap into.

  • Destabilized by fear you lose your firm grounding in your own power. This diminishes your ability to recognize potential agendas by external sources of fear. As a consequence, you become an easier target for manipulation and abuse.

Fear is the result of a physical mechanism involving the adrenals and various other body systems. In cases of real and acute danger, this is useful as it alerts you to the need for action.

However, the same kind of responses are also triggered by imagined danger. With the lines between real and imagined danger often blurred in modern life, fear in all its forms can become chronic. Like with ‘Agoraphobia’ or other panic type disorders.

“Tricking you into believing that you are weak and without inner resources or that a catastrophe is imminent, fear and its allies are some of the most damaging emotions to allow into your life. You have a choice what you do with your fear: stay in its thrall or make the decision not to be pulled into it and question it is associated — and usually automatic — thoughts.”

 
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There are many different ways to defuse fears. All of them involve feeling it without trying to suppress the feeling or run away from it. Like other emotions, fear follows a bell curve where it rises, peaks and eventually subsides if you stay with it as a witness rather than disappearing into it. When you have weathered the emotional storm and feel calmer, take a good look at your thoughts and the reality of the situation.

Examine your triggers and the beliefs associated with them. What is their origin, do they reflect the truth? What is your fear about? How you see yourself, how other people might think of you, what you are told about the world? What keeps you in a state of fear?

Depending on your situation, devise your own path to freedom. You may decide on “gradual exposure”, i.e. approaching a feared situation not at once but in several small increments over a number of days or weeks.

You could also draw a “fear ladder” with your “little” fears at the bottom rungs and the “big” ones on top. Begin addressing the less difficult ones and gradually work your way up. It will show you that you do not have to give in to fear and let it define your life and how you see yourself.

Enlist help and support if you need it, but ultimately no one can do this work for you. Remember, you are much stronger and more resilient than fear will allow you to know.

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About Christiana Star

Christiana is a counseling psychologist and writer with a strong focus on self-help, personal growth, and empowerment. Combining professional experience with a spiritual outlook on life, her work offers new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway. When she is not writing, Christiana can be found in nature: tending her fruit and vegetable garden with various degrees of success or exploring Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches with her very quirky little dog.

Download the free ebook “10 Keys for Moving Forward when Life Has Changed”, receive the monthly newsletter or access her weekly blog at www.christianastar.com.


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This part of her article HIT ME, “Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.”

That is me! I feel safe in my places within my “Comfort Zone.” It truly is debilitating and then I get depressed as it feels like looking out a window as LIFE is passing by WITHOUT ME In It…

So, what role does fear play in your life? What have you found useful in overcoming fears? If you are struggling, what is your difficulty?  Please share your feelings and comments with me.  Maybe together we can help one another…


Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

So, A New Year and A New You In 2018? How Was Your Holiday Season In Recovery? Mine Was AMAZING!

So, A New Year and A New You In 2018? How Was Your Holiday Season In Recovery? Mine Was AMAZING!

HAPPY NEW YEAR Recovery Friends and Visitors! 

 

 

 

So, how was your “Holiday Season?” Let me gush and ramble a little about how mine was… As many of us who maintain recovery, sometimes we lose touch with family and relationships due to many reasons. Not all family members understand the healing and change one goes through when we enter recovery and reclaim our lives back from gambling addiction. And, again, the reasons are countless.

What I do know is, there are some family members who do understand and may reconnect as I got to experience this first hand this holiday season! Sad as it seems, I have several members of my side of the family I have not spoken to in years’ like my own father, younger and older sister. I have come to terms with that and moved on many years ago. But my three nephews from my older sister reached out and called me on Christmas Day evening. There is something about the “Christmas Holiday” that touches all of us when it comes to our family.

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My other 2 Nephews Matt & Mike!


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“My older sister Rose my nephew’s mom & Christina”

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And especially at holiday time. This Christmas I got calls from my nephews to wish us a Merry Christmas and to catch up. My middle nephew Mark has 4 children and we talked for 2 hours. He and I have stayed in touch through the years, but with him having a family and me busy with my work and advocacy, time gets past us.  So Mark and I talked for 2 hours and have talked again several times. He even sent me photos! I had not seen my great niece and nephew, his twin babies, since right after they were born and when we moved from Oregon to here in Glendale, AZ…3 1/2-years ago.

And HERE THEY ARE with Daddy (Mark), Mark Jr. and Bella!

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They are beautiful, right? They just turned 4. We are making plans to hopefully go see them in So. California this Spring and can not wait. We are now only 4 hours from Cali, closer than when we lived in Oregon. God works in funny ways, doesn’t he? Mark had shared and we talked of when HIS Dad was still alive, and when he and his two brothers were little, how Mike and my own dad used to go up on the roof of the house when the boys went to sleep on Christmas Eve and walk around up there as I and everyone would tell them it was Santa and the hoofs of the reindeer! LOL. The boys got so excited, so Mark did it this year, but then he rented a Santa suit and surprised his kids.

He said he was a big hit! Oh, those old Christmas memories when Mark, Michael, and Matthew were little kids. It seems that is what the holiday season does. We look back at happier times and when our family used to be stuck together like glue, and before the world around us got in the mix, growing into adults and all that life brings into it. Sad that we are all tore apart. That is a long story for another blog post. Those who have read my book know that story…

So many people tell me how can I have a “faith” in someone I can see? How do you know there really is a supreme creator or higher power known as “God?” Where are these miracles believers talk about?

Well, I know and believe in God and his son Jesus Christ. And GOD performs “Miracles” like my ‘Holiday Miracle’ this year every single day…YOU just have to believe and look around you!

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Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ Happy New Year!

CAN YOU KEEP YOUR SOBRIETY SAFE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE? YES! Holiday Spotlight on The Lakehouse Recovery Center.

CAN YOU KEEP YOUR SOBRIETY SAFE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE? YES! Holiday Spotlight on The Lakehouse Recovery Center.

YUP! New Year’s Eve is almost here!
Here is how to keep
your Sobriety in TACT!

By The Lakehouse Staff

New Year’s Eve is a big deal for a lot of people with addiction issues. It’s akin to a free-for-all booze fest, and everyone is invited. It’s also one of those holidays that we tend to future trip about, meaning, we worry how we will ever do an NYE event sober. Once you make it through your first, take notice of the bonus points sobriety offers for holidays like this. You will actually remember everything that happened, you won’t wake up and have no idea where you are, you won’t spend New Year’s Day trying to get out of jail, and you won’t be hungover like everyone else. Remember, it gets easier as you go, but you have to keep going. Here are a few tips to stay on your roll:

  1. Stand Your Ground – You may be surrounded by drinkers, so stick to your guns and turn down any offers of alcoholic beverages. If you don’t have sobriety, you have nothing, and this doesn’t need to be explained to anyone. “No” is a complete sentence. Don’t let anyone pressure you to drink; people that do, often have a problem themselves.
  2. Exit Stage Left – Have a plan in place so you can leave whenever you want to. If you drive, drive yourself. You can even let the ones you care about know beforehand that you may dip out early. What others think of you is none of your business, but keeping yourself safe, is.
  3. BYOD – Carry your own n/a drink. This will prevent others from trying to give you beverages, and it could also make the situation feel less awkward.
  4. Skip Alcohol-Fueled Parties and Do Something Different – Go out to dinner with friends who don’t want to drink, play board or hit a movie…whatever it is, these are the things we didn’t get to enjoy when we were using or drinking, and now you can.
  5. Alcathons – These are round-the-clock AA meetings that are often a party in and of themselves. The holidays can be tough on addicts and alcoholics, and spending them together is a prime example of strength in numbers.

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Welcome to The Lakehouse Recovery Center – “Southern California’s Premier Residential Treatment Center for Men & Women.” The images below are simply a brief depiction of us and our beautiful facility. We aspire to optimally merge the benefits of quality care with comforts, amenities, and surroundings most conducive for recovery. While the images below may only present a brief glimpse into our wonderful program, just know our staff is here for you at any time should questions arise… (877) 762-3707

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If you are struggling with addiction, the holidays are a great time to get sober. There isn’t a better gift you could give yourself and your family, than recovery. Call The Lakehouse Recovery Center, we are available 24/7, toll-free at (877) 762-3707. Imagine what the holidays would look like a year from now in recovery. You can do this, your life can get better, and you can recover. Call today.

New Guest Holiday Article is All About Addicted Gambling and Safe Guarding Your Finances! Addiction (Dot) Com

New Guest Holiday Article is All About Addicted Gambling and Safe Guarding Your Finances! Addiction (Dot) Com

As a recovering gambler, I know just how important it is when it comes to our finances. When a spouse or partner finds out they are living with a problem gambler, most often their thoughts go to all the MONEY.

So I feel it is important to address this while holiday blogging and sharing good helpful information through my Guest Articles I am spotlighting this season. One website that does this is one that did a 4 part series about me after my book, “Addicted to Dimes” first released and all about how I was recovering from addicted gambling. And today’s article is by my friends Addiction.com  at who has a section on their website for gambling addiction and resources…

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Financial Options For Partners of Problem Gambler

 

If things are rapidly slipping out of control as a result of your loved one’s problem gambling, it may be time for you to act now.

The fact that problem gambling affects thousands of Americans and their families is small comfort when it hits right home with your own family. You already know that the devastating emotional and financial problems affect more than just your gambling spouse. Everyone in the family suffers as a result of problem gambling.

But what can you do, you ask yourself? You certainly can’t stop your loved one from gambling. Only he or she can do that — with the help of professionals to overcome the addiction. There are some things that you can do, however, to regain financial balance in your family’s life. Perhaps you can enlist the cooperation of your spouse in this effort, but if you cannot, you can still take steps on your own.

The key point to remember is that you need to address financial issues before they become major financial problems. If you already have serious financial problems and are looking for a way to get back on your feet, some of these suggestions may also be of help as you begin to recover.

Before You Begin

While financial aspects of life with a problem gambler can be overwhelming, and you can’t force treatment on that individual, it is important to consider doing one or more of the following before you take the steps recommended here to put your financial house back in order.

  • Talk things over with a trusted friend or other family members. You need support right now, encouragement that you’re doing the right thing. Galvanized with such support, it will be easier
    • (but not easy) to move forward with some of the tips in this article.
    • Get in touch with the Gam-Anon group that’s in your area to find out when and where support group meetings are held. Gam-Anon is for the family members and close friends of those who have a gambling problem and is affiliated with Gamblers Anonymous.
    • Call the National Council on Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800-522-4700 for information and answers to any questions you may have on how to deal with a problem gambler in the family. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and all calls are confidential. You can also check out the National Council on Problem Gambling site.
    • Talk with a therapist or counselor about your particular situation. You may wish to participate in ongoing support to help you navigate the emotional roller-coaster you’re on, or you may just seek help for one or two visits.

    Financial Problems a Symptom, Not the Cause

    Often times the problem gambler will insist that if only there was more money, the family’s financial problems would disappear. If only that were true! Unfortunately, it isn’t now and it will never be that way. Unless and until the problem gambler seeks help to overcome the compulsion to gamble, he or she will progressively become more obsessed with gambling. The money will always be an issue.

    What most loving spouses do in this situation is try to bail out the problem gambler. You listen to what your spouse has to say and, of course, you want to believe that everything’s going to be all right. But this is exactly the wrong thing to do. By straightening out the financial difficulties — lending him or her money, for example — you’re just reinforcing the pattern of gambling behavior. There’s no incentive to change, and no penalties for not doing so.

    Bottom line: It’s important to remember that financial problems are just the symptom of problem gambling. They are never the cause. Gambling addiction is a serious psychological problem.

     

    Financial Actions to Take Now

    If large debts have accumulated or are beginning to mount up, you recognize that it’s going to take time to undo all the damage. Still, there are some immediate actions you can take to put a stop to the severe losses — the so-called “hemorrhaging of money.”

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    When should you take these steps? Financial management experts who council those seeking to overcome financial difficulties incurred as a result of problem gambling recommend you do so if your loved one is still in denial and continues to gamble, or if your loved one has made a commitment to quit gambling. Note that a commitment to stop gambling involves taking action to overcome it, meaning, in most cases, that the person agrees to and goes into treatment.

    No Joint Accounts — In a traditional household, there are joint accounts that both spouses have access to. When there’s a problem gambler in the family, however, that money managing technique is a definite no-no. If you already have a joint account, maybe now is the time to consider setting up separate savings and checking accounts in your own name only.

    If you’re worried that your spouse will try to talk you into giving him money you’re your account, it might be a good idea not to tell him about the separate account. You might, for example, ask a trusted friend or other relative if you can have your bank statements mailed to them so that the existence of your accounts remains secret.

You may also decide to limit your problem gambler spouse’s access to household accounts. Do not give your personal identification number (PIN) to your spouse if you have a bank debit card.

This separation also applies to credit cards. Remove your name from joint credit cards and get one in your name only. In a worst-case scenario, with credit cards maxed out all over the place, you may even consider alerting various creditors of your spouse’s gambling problem. Also, ask them not to extend any more credit to your spouse.

Monitor all Mail — Be the one to gather and monitor all the mail that comes into the house. Immediately shred and dispose of any new credit card or loan offers that come to the house.

Open a Safety Deposit Box — Why go to the trouble of opening a safety deposit box? Think about your jewelry and other expensive items your spouse may take to pawn or sell for cash to gamble with.

Don’t Co-sign any Loans — Your problem gambler will get desperate to obtain more money. Never agree to co-sign any loans or other financial obligations.

Tell Others Not to Lend the Gambler Money — This may be tough to do, letting close friends and other family members know of your spouse’s problem gambling, but you have to do so as well as ask them not to lend any money to the gambler — despite all the pleas and wild stories he or she may come up with.

Take Over Bill-Paying — The only way to get control over what’s going on with the family’s finances, you need to be the one paying the bills. If possible, arrange to take over this family financial management obligation. You could say, for example, that you’re really good at this and it’s a way of saving time and aggravation that your spouse would probably appreciate.

After Your Spouse Quits Gambling

You already know that there are some things that the recovering compulsive gambler can and cannot do. While he or she may — after treatment — be able to avoid gambling sites, stop buying lotto tickets or going online to gamble, it’s not possible to avoid the thing that all gamblers need and that is money. If your problem gambling spouse has made a commitment to quit gambling or has already quit gambling, the temptation is still there every time he or she passes a cash register, goes by or to a bank, or pays for something at the store.

Financial management experts who counsel loved ones of recovering problem gamblers say that there are a number of things you can do to help your spouse learn again how to manage money so that the family can once again regain financial stability and prevent future problems with money.

These actions cover identifying income and assets, establishing a spending plan, shifting control of finances to a nongambler, setting up a repayment plan for debts, and deciding if investing is the best option.

  • Identifying income and assets — You need to know where all the sources of income and assets come from that your spouse could use for gambling. This involves making a list of all such sources. Here are some obvious sources, but they are just the beginning of what should be on your list: paychecks, Social Security, pension benefits, unemployment income, income from trusts and credit card cash advances. If your spouse also receives income from tips and/or bonuses, remember that he or she may try to hide some of this by telling you lies about the amount (so it can be used for gambling).

    Also, list any financial asset your spouse could potentially turn into cash for gambling. These include IRAs, certificates of deposit, mutual fund accounts, the equity you have in the home, retirement accounts, real estate, cash value in life insurance policies, and bank accounts. Don’t forget personal assets such as cars, boats, motorcycles, RVs, jewelry, artwork, furnishings, collectibles, even appliances, and electronics. Be aware that your spouse may have a hidden “stash” of cash that he or she may be reluctant to tell you about. It’s important that you uncover this stash so that it can’t be used for gambling.

  • Establishing a spending plan — Once you know the sources of income and assets, it’s time to put your financial house in order by establishing a spending plan, also called a budget. Use a computer or worksheets to compile and keep track of the budget. List all monthly sources of income. Then list basic monthly household expenses — being sure to treat debt as a monthly basic expense.

    Monitor your own spending habits and cut down. Next, cut unnecessary expenses — which may be 20-30% of the household budget. Break large periodic bills into smaller monthly payments or put money each month into a savings account so that when the bill arrives, you’ll have the money. You may also wish to save money to pay for treatment for your spouse’s gambling addiction.

  • Shifting financial control to a nongambler — If your spouse is already in a treatment program to overcome gambling addiction, it’s more likely that there’ll be a willingness to allow you to take control of the household finances. If he or she is still in denial about problem gambling, however, you may be limited to what you can do on your own to take control of the finances. Support groups for families of problem gamblers can give you the emotional support you need as you begin to assume the role of financial control in the family. Follow the recommendations in the first section on taking control of the finances and add to it the responsibility for taking charge of tax returns. For shifting ownership of property, do not undertake this without first getting legal and tax advice.
  • Setting up debt repayment plans — The only way you’ll come out from under a financial meltdown caused by your problem gambler spouse is to set up a repayment plan for outstanding debts. This is also important if you want to stave off bankruptcy. The way to get started is another list. Jot down what is owed to what creditor. Include car loans, mortgages, second-mortgages, furniture loans, bank loans, medical bills, utility bills, back taxes, child support, spousal support, education loans, credit card debt and so on.

    Paying off non-gambling debts needs to take priority over paying off debts related to gambling. Next, establish a debt repayment plan with the creditors. Recognize that some debts are a higher priority than others. Also, some creditors may not accept reduced payments. If possible, have the gambler make the calls to the creditors — so that he or she takes ownership of responsibility for his or her actions. Only use bankruptcy as a last resort — since it takes a long time to recover from this option.

  • Deciding if investing is the right choice now — Not every problem gambler goes to the casinos, places sports bets, or gambles online. Some are obsessed with investment. Some experts say that problem gamblers should never invest. It’s up to you to determine whether this applies in your situation. If it does, investing is probably not a wise choice right now. However, since you are a nongambler, you should be able to continue your own investment strategies — if they continue to make sense. The most obvious investment you’d likely continue is your retirement plan through work.

    Finding Professional Financial Advice

    Besides consulting an attorney and perhaps a debt counseling service, you may also want to consider the help of a qualified financial planner as you work your way through dollars and sense strategies to overcome financial difficulties caused by your problem gambler spouse. Check out the following resources for help in financial planning.

    • Nonprofit Debt Counseling Services — These include the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or call 1-800-388-2227.
    • Financial Planning Association — To find a certified financial planner, go to the Financial Planning Association website or call them at 1-800-232-PLAN (7526).
    • Society of Financial Services Professionals — Go to the Society of Financial Services Professionals or call them at 1-800-392-6900.
    • National Association of Personal Financial Advisors — Go here to locate a fee-only financial planner for your area or call 1-888-333-6659.
    • Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. — This board regulates Certified Financial Planner licensees. To locate a CRP practitioner near you, go to their website at or call 1-888-237-6275.

    Bottom line: You’re about to embark on a long and difficult process. Regaining financial stability after losses incurred as a result of your problem gambler spouse means you will need to employ some dollars and sense strategies to get there. Recognize that it will take time and determination. You can do it, but be sure to get whatever support and counsel you need as you begin your journey.

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    ***For more informative articles about problem gambling or gambling addiction and services for help, please my friends here at Addiction.Com           

 

New Years Eve Advice To Keep Your Sobriety In Tact! Holiday Guest Article By Sober Recovery. Com and By Toshia Humphries…

New Years Eve Advice To Keep Your Sobriety In Tact! Holiday Guest Article By Sober Recovery. Com and By Toshia Humphries…

A Recovery Checklist For Ringing in the New Year. By Toshia Humphries

Active addiction can be a frightening reality for everyone, including family, friends, significant others and, of course, the addicted individual. Unfortunately, simply checking into a treatment facility and getting sober doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe from the active components of the disease for good.

The scary truth is that relapse is always a possibility. For this reason, it is necessary to know what to do if this is your experience. After all, with active addiction, even one relapse can lead to a deadly occurrence. 

That is why while the clock is winding down to the end of another year, it may be a good time to create a recovery checklist in order to prepare for the year ahead.

Here is a list of things you can do in order to keep yourself on track.

1. Review your recovery program.

Make a list of all the steps you are taking in your personal recovery program. In other words, notate any meetings you attend, therapists you see, life/recovery coaches you work with, your spiritual processes, etc. This will give you a good idea of exactly what is or is not needed in addition to what steps you’re currently taking.

Though relapse doesn’t always mean you are not getting the help you need or doing adequate work, it is certainly a red flag to consider the possibility that something is missing from your recovery program.

2. Determine what’s missing.

Once you have completed the review of your individual recovery program, it’s time to determine what’s missing. If you don’t know exactly what might be missing from your recovery program, simply ask yourself if you are addressing all the issues on a holistic basis. In other words, are you dealing with the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual components of the disease? And are you addressing yourself on the same basis?

Many times, recovering individuals do not adequately benefit from formal treatment and Twelve-Step or other recovery meetings alone. These things typically only serve to address acute physical and psychological symptoms of the disease. So, if this is all you currently do, it may be necessary to consider adding in other, more personal steps including counseling, life/recovery coaching, spiritual components, etc.

3. Make sure your recovery is holistic.

Because addiction is a holistic disease—affecting the body, mind, and spirit—your recovery program should be holistic as well. Take steps to address the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual effects of the disease. Leaving any part of you unattended will make you more vulnerable to relapse.

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4. Deal with the root cause.

Though addiction is a disease, it is actually an acute symptom of a much bigger issue. Often times, the root cause is either a physical or psychological issue in which someone is self-medicating a disorder, or an emotional or spiritual issue such as trauma, abuse, or abandonment.

Of course, neither scenario is comfortable to face. In fact, the idea of revisiting trauma or being diagnosed with and properly treated for a disorder can insight fear in many. However, ignoring these issues means you’re only setting yourself up for repeated relapse.

As the year comes to a close, make it a priority to assess your recovery, patch up any holes in your recovery plan, and strengthen yourself in your journey. Look within yourself and ensure the root causes that brought you to addiction are being dealt with and that you’ve efficiently covered all your bases. This is how you set yourself up for another sober year ahead.

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For more articles, help, and resources, please visit Sober Recovery Today!

 

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Today I am shining the spotlight on one of my favorite blogs I enjoy reading good articles and always who has great information about gambling and other addictions. They have an array of recovery resources and suggested treatments options they display on their site as well. I am a firm believer that reading and research to stay educated maintaining recovery is vital.

It is also the same for family and loved ones of the addict to have places they can get help and suggested information on how to safeguard themselves while looking for help for their loved one or friend. This article does just that. So I hope everyone gives it read and it helps others and written by Sydney Smith LPC, LADC, NCGC-II for Addiction Blog. org

 


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A Gambling Problem Can Be Difficult To Detect

Problem Gambling can be hidden for a long time which often makes it very difficult to detect. By the time the problem surfaces and the family finds out, the devastation and wreckage can be tremendous. Family members tend to know that something is wrong with their loved one but due to gambling addiction’s invisible nature, especially in the early stages of the disease, it can be extremely hard to identify.

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of, and ways to identify if your loved one has a gambling problem. Then, we’ll invite your questions about how to get help at the end.

Determining If There Is A Gambling Problem

As a family member, we may or may not know the extent of the gambling problem or how long gambling has been an issue for our loved one. We may know about the gambling, but still, have much uncertainty as to whether there is a gambling problem. So if you are asking yourself,  “How do I know if my loved one is a problem gambler?”

…the following are questions and information that may help determine if there is a gambling problem.

SIGN 1: Time away. If I know the person is gambling, the amount of time spent gambling or engaged in gambling activities increases. The gambler can be gone for long unaccounted for periods of time.

When the gambler in my life gambled, he often gambled while he was at work. So, in the early stages, I did not know how much time he actually spent gambling. As his gambling worsened, he would not come home from work and would disappear for 24 hours at a time.

SIGN 2: Obsession to find money. Is the gambler becoming preoccupied or obsessed with obtaining money to gamble or thoughts of gambling? The great obsession can be on coming up with ways to borrow money, taking out loans, pawning items for cash, or planning their next bet.

Living with a gambler in the past, I would frequently have jewelry missing or items of value just disappear. Later I would learn that my gambler would pawn these items to obtain gambling money or to chase his losses. Later in the progression of the disease, the gambler may be physically present but not there, as the mind is preoccupied with gambling.

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SIGN 3: Emotional volatility. Does the gambler have moods swings or gambles as a means to cope or change feelings? A gambler deep into his addiction can exhibit mood swings similar to those of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The extreme up and down in moods can be hard on both the gambler and the family members. The “up” moods can follow a win, and the gambler may even brag about the winnings. The “down” mood can be very depressive and the gambler may experience anxious or depressed mood, anger, and become irritable.

Gambling is used to change the way the person is feeling and the family members may hear the gambler make statements such as, “I had a stressful day at work and I just need to go gamble to unwind.”

SIGN 4: New Secrets. Are there secretive behaviors or hiding? Is the gambler becoming very secretive in his actions and with his money? Hiding of gambling wins or losses, hiding lottery tickets, tax documents, etc. becomes common.

In my therapy practice, I often hear the spouses say, “I found payday loan papers, or while cleaning, I found ATM receipts from the casino.”. The family may begin to lose trust in the gambler as the hiding, concealing, and lying about gambling grows.

20 Questions Family or Spouse To Ask Yourself

 

These are a few of the more noticeable warning signs one may experience with the gambler. In addition, Gam-Anon created a simple list of 20 questions for family members to ask themselves.

Family members of problem gamblers will answer “YES” to at least seven of the twenty questions.

  1. Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  2. Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?
  3. Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  4. Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  5. Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?
  6. Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?
  7. Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?
  8. Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?
  9. Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?
  11. Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?
  12. Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?
  13. Do you hide his or her money?
  14. Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?
  15. Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  16. Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?
  18. Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  19. Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?
  20. Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

What Can You Do Next?

This list can be found on the Gam-Anon website or in Gam-Anon published literature. If you can identify with any of the information listed above:

  • Continue to educate yourself about gambling addiction through resources and literature.
  • Reach out to a trained professional.
  • Attend a Gam-Anon or any 12-step support meeting for friends and family of addicts.

If we believe our loved one has a gambling addiction, it is OK to encourage them to seek help, however, it is vitally important for us as family members to seek out our own help.  We are not alone, there is hope, and life can get better. 

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I’d like to add that the addict does need to make the first step. Yes, it is vital and important that the spouse and family SEE through the anger and disappoint them may feel when first learning they are living with a gambling addict like my husband was. But once you look beyond that, your next step is to reach out for help to first safeguard your finances for you and your family. Gama-anon can help but also look into help from a professional. 

Maybe a financial advisor or a friend. Contact your local health department to see if the State Lottery has funded treatment and help for you and the gambler. My own treatment and my husbands guideness counselor were free and paid for by the Oregon State Lottery, including my crisis center stays and treatment. I do meetings with Gamblers Anonymous online, but there are many options for the addict and the family. And, yes, after everything we went through with my gambling addiction, my husband and I worked through it and are still married today over 28-years. You can read all about HOW in my Memoir…

WE DO AND CAN RECOVER!

Catherine 

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