“I Did Not Choose to Become a Gambling Addict”…

“I Did Not Choose to Become a Gambling Addict”…

Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends and Hope Seekers,

So, within only 3 months apart, it happened again! It is pissing me off when those who have NO CLUE about any addiction or about recovery, let alone a gambling addiction nor have been “touched” by it, or know anyone with one or even a family member has. See, I happened to write about this before 3 or so months ago.

So I wanted to vent and share a little more about this as Gambling Addiction is a real disease, people! It does happen, and I am tired of others commented to me that when we advocate we are demeaning others who have real diseases like cancer, diabetes, and others.  When will people wake up and see how bad addictions of any kind are running rampant and killing many each year.

“I surely didn’t wake up one day and choose to devastate my life and my husbands’ life and become an addicted gambler.”   ~Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

Recently I read a few comments on Twitter after I tweeted about my gambling addiction and maintaining recovery. It was also about living in the “now” and a well-balanced recovery journey. There are many myths and misconceptions about this disease, the silent killer, and underground addiction. One of which was I chose to become an addict. Really? Did I decide to devastate my life for a few hours of addicted gambling?

Did I choose to bankrupt my husband and me financially? Did I want to end my life by choice because I was hopelessly addicted? No! Gambling addiction is real and is a real disease. It is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide over all other addiction. Currently, 2.9% of the population are now Problem Gamblers. It is now “touching” our seniors, high school, and college-age kids.

When I began Gamblers Anonymous meetings, I’d hear others say; “Hate the addiction, not the addict.” We are dealing with an illness and tricky beast. That is true with all types of addictions. As Robin Williams was quoted back in the mid 80’s about addiction and recovery; “There’s no shame in failing. The only shame is not giving things your best shot.” That is what we need to do when coming out of treatment and begin our new path away from addiction. We need to look for other ways to replace the time spent gambling, using drugs and alcohol. Robin Williams also said; “It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there, It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.”

Now, this could not be truer when I look back at my early recovery. We are so broken and riddled with many triggers and urges starting the path called “recovery.” We have no way of knowing how to take charge and own it. Owning one’s recovery, in my opinion, is being real, being honest, and transparent of the good and mostly all the bad. Bad behaviors, choices, and habits we learned as an addict.

But when you “Own Your Recovery” and begin the process of learning why and begin the “inner work,” you begin to change. You begin to forgive yourself for those “poor choices” you had made. You start to accept the consequences, accountability, and responsibility for those choices and actions. You begin to learn and look for some of those “underlying roots” that had you in bondage and attached to your addiction.

Now, most 12-Step programs teach us we can recover without knowing why we turned to addiction in the first place. I am not a firm believer of this. WHY? Because, if we don’t know and learn to work through those issues, how do we begin a steady, healthy, and happy life maintaining recovery? How do we move forward and become fulfilled and productive people? See, we will be “a work in process” for the rest of our lives, many get scared or feel it will be an impossible task, and easier to be an addict than to have their lives back. That is a significant roadblock for many recovering. We are dealing with a “Disease.” So back to my Twitter comments. I have had a few remarks like “addicts make a choice to be addicts.

Other people commented – “I make a “choice” every day and to say it’s a disease minimizes people who suffer from real diseases like Alzheimer’s or cancer (WHAT? Really?).”

On the other hand, I know that when I gambled, I lost the control and ability to stop and kept gambling and gambling on slots! That is how gambling addiction is described by “The National Council on Problem Gambling” and knowing we have crossed the line into uncontrolled gambling. My friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling says; “Gambling addiction—is an impulse-control disorder.

“If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones.” And I know first hand that this is true as it happened to me. No, I didn’t come from a background or a family who were gamblers. I was a normal gambler until I began to use it as an “escape, to numb out, and not feel my past childhood trauma” which came back out of nowhere.



So was it “my choice” to become a gambling addict? No.

To begin and maintain recovery is not easy. The first thing to do is reach out for help. There is no shame in doing so. And you can remain anonymous. When you do, become educated about the “cycle” of this disease and learn ways to interrupt the cycle. A sponsor, counselor, therapist, or recovery coach can help you achieve this. Read as much as you can about this addiction and make and have a solid ‘relapse plan and phone list’ to use for those “triggers and urges” in early recovery.

The longer you refrain from gambling, the less they will become. Start a journal. Journaling helps to relieve stress and anxiety. These are just a few ideas on how to begin your recovery path. Make sure you visit my Resources page and The Relapse Prevention Guide I have listed on its own page here on my recovery blog. I am always here to help. You can email me anytime if your needing help or support and where and how to be Gamble Free! lyonmedia@aol.com

Read my E-book as well as it is now on sale for just $2.99 a download on Amazon Kindle.   I share it all of my battle with gambling addiction and alcohol abuse. Giving in-depth insights and disclosing how I found and processed my underlying issues and roots to my becoming an addict. And again, “it was not a choice.” It happens … 

Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) by [Townsend-Lyon, Catherine]

How does a good girl go bad? Based on a true story, told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, this haunting tale of addiction, family secrets, abuse, sexual misconduct, destruction, crime and…. recovery! One day at a time, one page at a time. Read and learn about this woman’s remarkable and brave story. 

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Easter Is An Important Time To “Celebrate Your Recovery”… With Faith, Hope, Change, Forgiveness, and LOVE.

Easter Is An Important Time To “Celebrate Your Recovery”… With Faith, Hope, Change, Forgiveness, and LOVE.

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Problem Gambling Month Coming to a Close. What Do We Do With “Anger” In Early Recovery? Part One.

I had been chatting with a friend of mine about the issue of ANGER within our recovery path. Especially in early recovery, we tend to be agitated and moody when we are in abstinence from whatever your choice of “poison” is of an addiction. Mine just happened to be gambling and later alcohol abuse.

The alcohol wasn’t the problem after I began to do the work and be educated about addiction in general. Gambling was my crutch of “escapism, numbing out the world, and painful past trauma as a child. And damn, was I ANGRY! I could not believe I had let an addiction of any kind take over life, becoming completely unmanageable in ALL Areas of my life.

Since I am dually diagnosed with emotional and mood disorders while in my first crisis and treatment stay, hell, I was raging with anger! So I wanted to share a 2 part article for a recovery publication that I wrote several years ago about ANGER and some ways to get past it and manage. I hope it helps and will share part 2 later in the week! I also include some of my good friend Marilyn’s “wisdom” as well as she is a retired psychologist who worked in the prison systems in FL and seen ANGER from inmates on an hourly basis. I can just imagine … Lol.

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Today we’re living in an angry world, and some of it can rub off on us within recovery causing discomfort, even pain. But anger doesn’t have to be a bad thing when you understand it and know how to make it work for you. Our past doesn’t define who we are today in recovery. Let’s deal with ANGER in general and hopefully, it will help turn your jangled nerves in recovery to move Heartfelt Peace you deserve …

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“At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.”  ~Marshall B. Rosenberg


“The pot of spaghetti slammed into the wall, and I watched my supper run down onto my clean kitchen floor. I stomped my feet on it and then got a hammer and a box of nails to repair the backdoor screen through which I’d just thrown a chair. I already needed to buy a new lamp. The one I threw across the room last week was beyond repair. My husband and I were having another fight about my gambling!”

That was me–way too often–for too of my gambling many years and when repressed anger broke down the dam and gushed through with a mighty force. I know about anger. When I was a child, I was forbidden to show anger, having to be silent about what was happening to me as a child with sexual trauma. But it had to go somewhere, so it seethed inside, and I got good at stuffing it deep within me for years! Waiting until I became an adult and could let it out, uncontrolled and very painful.

Anger is a complex thing. When projected outward, it becomes destructive, sometimes even lethal. It can ruin relationships, careers, even property, as in my outbursts toward whatever inanimate object was within my reach when the monster reared up inside. Society tells us we shouldn’t get angry, and if we do, we should just suck it up. As if stuffing it down somewhere inside is going to dissolve it.

But when anger is repressed, it can cause ulcers, blood pressure imbalance, heart disease, any number of illnesses. On my 30th birthday, I vowed to never have another angry tantrum, but at the same time, my problem gaming turned into a full-blown addiction! But then my anger turned inward had caused my severe depression.

According to Marion Ross in her book, ‘Removing Your Mask’, anger is a specific form of fear at a very deep level, and most anger shows that people’s internal and external realities are not in balance. The real message of anger is almost always about one’s own beliefs, perceptions, or actions in a given situation or with particular people, not the situations or people themselves. P 194-195.

“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” ~Eckhart Tolle

So what causes anger? Where are your causes of pain? What are your addiction roots of underlying issues? FORGIVE YOURSELF …

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Sometimes repressed anger will surface without a conscious reason, especially in early recovery. But anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you or others are being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something–look what they’re doing to me, or that other person–or that you’ve fallen short of your standards for yourself–which in turn give us those feelings of “entitlement” while we are deep in addiction.

These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem issues, needing to feel secure and safe, your own character defects, loss of active addictions in your life, your sense of not caring for others, or something as simple as a need to be right. For some, being wrong means invalidation of self, but being right provides a false sense of power and it’s OK for us to do what we do in our addiction of choice.

When a situation arouses an inner fear, we use anger and perceive anger as a way to deal with a situation, sometimes just to let off steam like throwing a chair through a screen door when a spouse says you have a problem. Some of your perceptions may be accurate, but lashing out in anger is not the answer. Anger is a natural human emotion, and it can kill you or save your life, depending on how you use it. But you must use it wisely for it to work for you instead of against you.

Next week in Part 2, I’ll go into some ways to tame the tiger and put you in control, ways to allow it to help heal your fears and grow in truth for a well-balanced recovery journey.

I wish you a peaceful week in Sobriety!! Below is my new compilation book now on
Amazon Kindle and Books!

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My New E-Book! Cat Lyon

You can now find my Recovery Blog on BlogLovin too!

 

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“March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and Time To Start The Conversation Along With The National Council on Problem Gambling.”

“March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and Time To Start The Conversation Along With The National Council on Problem Gambling.”

Welcome Recovery Friends and All Visitors,

Let me just get this out right off the BAT! MARCH is Problem Gambling Awareness Month just in time for the Biggest Gambling Sports Betting Month — March Madness for College Basketball …And NO, that is NOT a Coincidence. There, I said! So that is why my Guest and introduction Article is by “The National Council on Problem Gambling

ABOUT THEM

Our mission is to lead state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for all those affected by problem gambling.  Our purpose is to serve as the national advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers and their families.  And our vision is to improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social and economic costs of problem gambling.  The National Council is neither for nor against legalized gambling.  NCPG is organized with 3 classes of members: state affiliate, corporate and individual. The NCPG concentrates efforts on the national level, while the state affiliates work at the state and local level. Major National Council programs include:

  1. The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700), a single national access point to local resources.
  2. The annual National Conference on Problem Gambling, the world’s oldest and largest problem gambling-specific conference.
  3. National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (annually in March).
  4. International Holiday Lottery Campaign (annually in December).
  5. Administration of the National Certified Gambling Counselor (NCGC) credential.
  6. Providing education on problem gambling issues to Federal, state, tribal and international governments and agencies.
  7. Distribution of information and literature on problem gambling treatment, research, and recovery.
  8. National referral resource on gambling counselors and treatment facilities.

HISTORY

The organization was founded in 1972 by Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne and Dr. Robert Custer, among others. From the outset, the Council established two principles that remain in effect today: that the organization would be the advocate for problem gamblers and their families, and that it would take no position for or against legalized gambling. This stance is encompassed today in our vision and mission statements above. A history of the NCPG from 1972 to 1985 by Msgr. Dunne was published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1. To join as a member or to support NCPG with a tax-deductible contribution, click here to view our Membership Types and Benefits.

Washington, DC – This March, the National Council on Problem Gambling will host the 14th annual Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) in collaboration with its affiliates, members and corporate partners across the country.

Approximately 2 million U.S. adults, or 1% of the population, are estimated to meet criteria for serious gambling problems, and another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered to have moderate gambling problems; yet for many, gambling remains a hidden addiction. The estimated national social cost to families and communities due to bankruptcy, divorce, job loss, home loss, and criminal justice costs associated with problem gambling is $6.7 billion each year.

This year’s PGAM theme, “Have the Conversation,” focuses on the importance of an open dialogue and candid discussion about problem gambling. A variety of media materials will be used throughout the month to highlight the common warning signs of problem gambling and bring attention to the resources available for those struggling with a gambling problem. NCPG’s state affiliates and members, both individual and organizational, will offer local programs specifically geared to their communities. A calendar of local activities held during Problem Gambling Awareness Month can be found at ncpgambling.org/pgamevents/.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month will also feature Gambling Disorder Screening Day on March 13, 2018, in collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance. Screening Day is an international movement designed to support healthcare providers in the identification of gambling problems. Gambling disorders lead to financial, emotional, social, occupational and physical harms, yet many cases go undetected, due to limited assessment for this problem. Screening Day addresses the imperative and provides tools to detect gambling-related problems as early as possible.

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month is an important time for us to reach new audiences with critical information about prevention, education, and treatment for Problem Gambling,” said NCPG Executive Director, Keith Whyte.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpg.org/chat for confidential help.

 

About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gaming. For more information on the 32nd National Conference on Problem Gambling, visit www.ncpgambling.org/conference.

 

 

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And lastly, if you want an in-depth look at how gambling can impact one’s life in a negative manner? Read my E-book which is now on sale for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle.  One Reader Says; “Excellent: Great read for the addicted gambler. Puts everything in perspective if you let this addiction continue to consume you. I can relate to her struggles.”

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Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)    How does a good girl go bad? Based on a true story, told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, this haunting tale of addiction, family secrets, abuse, sexual misconduct, destruction, crime and…. recovery! One day at a time, one page at a time. Learn of this remarkable and brave story.
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An Important Article Share and Topic Recovery Friends from “The Fix.” Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?

An Important Article Share and Topic Recovery Friends from “The Fix.” Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?


This is a very informative article
as many of us maintaining recovery are always looking for more “openness and enlightening” ways to keep us from not only ‘Relapse’ but looking to stay moving forward in recovery and a deeper meaning of happiness and fulfillment to true serenity in our lives from addiction.

I myself have started a new book that just may help you get it! It was written by one of the few living Zen Masters, Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi of today and his pupil and Author, Clifford Stevens so at the end of this post I will share this new book release with you titled; Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness and Highly Suggest it!

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The Fix – Guest Article By Elizabeth Brico 02/21/18

“Mindfulness meditation teaches people how to accept suffering as a normal, cohesive experience, and then move on from it.”


Relapse has always been a harsh reality of addiction, but as the opioid black market fills with powerful synthetics, relapse on heroin and similar drugs grows increasingly dangerous. Fatal overdoses nearly doubled between 2015 and 2016—the majority of which are attributed to opioid-based drugs.

We are bombarded daily with news headlines—some factual, some fictitious—announcing the newest therapy, or the latest hysteria-provoking scare (does death by fentanyl dust at the grocery store sound familiar?) as we scramble to unearth an affordable and effective way to curb the tragic rise in overdose deaths. Advocates wage vicious wars using news stories and social media, trying to figure out what treatment works best; what will finally fix it?

What if one of the most promising treatments to help prevent relapse has not only already existed for thousands of years, but is free and available to anyone?

Although research is still young, several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation may prevent relapse by helping people in recovery acclimate to the idea of stress as a normal experience that can be handled without the aid of substances. Opioid addiction is especially problematic because these powerful drugs actually change the way the human brain functions. Prolonged opioid use damages the pleasure-reward system and alters the way we experience both pleasure and pain.

Opioid agonist medicines like methadone and buprenorphine are often used to help mitigate these brain changes, either for the short or long-term, but Derek Alan Crain, the Executive Director for Mindful Therapy Group based out of Seattle, Washington, thinks that mindfulness meditation can be an incredibly useful tool in concert with other evidence-based treatments.

“With mindfulness, you’re teaching patients how to tune into their feelings; you’re teaching them how to suffer,” says Crain.

The idea of teaching people in recovery from addiction how to suffer may sound counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t addiction pretty much just a ton of suffering? But when a mindfulness practitioner like Crain talks about teaching people “how to suffer,” he means providing the tools and space that will allow us to accept personal suffering as a normal, cohesive experience and then move on from it. It’s true that people with substance use disorders suffer a lot. Addiction is a vicious, complicated cycle that often reinforces itself by generating more suffering which we try to escape by using or drinking. Viewed in that light, teaching someone in recovery how to suffer makes a lot of sense.

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Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves accepting experiences without judgment, including negative experiences. Rather than aiming to empty the mind or think nothing, as in other types of meditation, mindfulness asks only that the practitioner resists valuing certain thoughts and feelings over others. So, if a person is engaging in mindfulness meditation and finds herself worrying about that fight she just had with her spouse, instead of pushing that anxiety away, she would honor it.

Mindfulness asks that she recognize that the thought is there and that it’s uncomfortable, but she doesn’t quantify the experience—she doesn’t try to fix it. She can ask it to pass but she doesn’t force it away. Eventually, if someone practices this enough, she starts to understand the inherent transience of emotional states. This is very useful for people in recovery from addictions because it allows them to understand their suffering as something with an end. It also helps them to develop patience and perspective, two qualities that are often overridden by an addiction.

Ashley and Jaime are both in outpatient treatment for opioid addiction. Ashley had been using prescription opiate painkillers to mask childhood trauma for a number of years, and Jaime was addicted to heroin and pills for nearly three decades. Now, they both use medication-assisted treatment (buprenorphine), peer support, and individual counseling, but each expressed that the addition of mindfulness meditation helped prevent them from relapsing.

Jaime tells The Fix that he meditates for about 10-20 minutes each morning, using his breath as the anchor of his focus. Ashley reports that she engages in mindfulness meditation three times a week for about an hour each session—though she admits it took six months to work up from a few minutes at a time.

“I don’t think about using drugs nearly as much as I used to,” Ashley admits. “I’m more patient and more positive,” she says with a wry chuckle. “A lot of my addiction was unresolved issues I didn’t want to feel or think about. Now I’ve learned how to process them instead of getting high.”


Ashley is well-dressed, with clear skin and a posture relaxed almost to the point of ambivalence. The only visible cue to the traumatic history she discloses to The Fix is her flat affect and a slight unmeasurable distance in her eyes. Beyond that, she looks like any other middle-class young white woman. She admits that before she integrated regular meditation into her recovery, she struggled with frequent relapses. Although buprenorphine reduces the drug cravings and blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, people with trauma histories—like both Ashley and Jaime—may still have problems with frequent relapses when triggered.

Bessel van der Kolk, a Boston-based psychiatrist who has devoted his career to the study and treatment of trauma, says that “[trauma] lies in your body, so when you start taking drugs, you feel calmer. When you stop taking drugs, you have a dual issue: one is the withdrawal from the drug, the second is that you’re dealing with pain and trauma that’s still in the body.”

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While medication-assisted treatments like methadone and buprenorphine have been proven effective at reducing cravings and correcting some brain changes likely attributed to drug use, they don’t target traumatic responses. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Van der Kolk says that current addiction programs in the United States tend to ignore the curative effects of becoming re-connected with one’s body. He says we need more “programs where people become familiar with their bodies. Self-regulating their bodies should be the focus of treatment because it’s bodies [that] are stuck.”

Jaime, who could easily blend in with any group of average middle-aged men, echoes Ashley. “Meditation minimizes my [drug] use thoughts. It helps me realize when I’m trying to justify doing a shot of heroin or something.” He speaks with the plain, unapologetic candor of someone who has long accepted his identity as someone with an addiction, a quality often mirrored in followers of the 12-steps; a group to which Jaime proudly belongs.

He adds, “It helps with my anxiety too—I’m not as fidgety. I’m more in tune with myself and the world around me.”

Finding something relatively simple and freely accessible that can deter relapse is no laughing matter. While it’s impossible to know for certain how many of the 42,000 opioid overdose deaths reported in 2016 can be attributed to a relapse, it is well established that using opioids after a period of abstinence can be fatal. For people on opioid agonist medications, like Ashley and Jaime, attempting to overcome the blocking effects of the treatments can also lead to a fatal overdose.

Even without the risk of death, relapse can be an emotionally debilitating experience that leads some users to discontinue treatment altogether. Most of our current treatments focus on detoxification or acute stabilization, but relapse prevention is just as important—and a recovery practice that can function as well 10 weeks into recovery as it does after 10 years could be a vital piece of the puzzle.

Crain believes that another reason meditation helps with relapse prevention—in addition to its role in repairing maladaptive stress responses—is that it encourages an intimacy with the self.

Results from some rat studies imply that social isolation plays a role in addiction. Rats who were isolated and kept in cages demonstrated more addictive behaviors than those that were housed in a social environment. The phenomenon was also observed in Vietnam vets; a large number of soldiers became addicted to heroin while overseas, but a disproportionately high number of them discontinued use when they returned home to their communities. These studies have led specialists to speculate a social component to addiction.

Crain thinks that meditation helps people in recovery fall in love with themselves, sometimes for the first time in their lives. This self-intimacy, and the concurrent production of oxytocin, colloquially called the “love hormone,” helps people integrate and bond with their social communities, which is an important aspect of addiction recovery.

Meditation is not a magical cure for addiction. Although a mindfulness meditation practice can help reform and strengthen opioid-damaged neuropathways so that they are better able to respond to stress, mindfulness alone can’t treat acute addiction or prevent someone from experiencing withdrawal. It can, however, be a powerful tool against relapse.

And lastly, as Crain says, “An addict has been hiding from suffering his whole life. With meditation, you’re embracing that suffering. You’re normalizing it.”


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SO as I close, I highly suggest this new book; Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness that I am finishing for my recovery as being in long-term sobriety means continuing to learn and grow to a healthy and happy full life. We all are “works in progress” from addiction, being armed new education on the many ways to live a well-balanced and happy life is the way to go!
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About The Book:

Find the Seeker! by Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi and his pupil, Zen teacher Clifford Stevens, takes us on an inner pilgrimage, compassionately picking us up where we are, whether beginners or longstanding seekers. Based on the wisdom and profound, first-hand experience of a modern-day Master as well as the teachings of enlightened ones throughout the ages, the book reboots our spiritual search in order to renew our limiting, thought-driven, and ego-dominated lives. Focusing on the spiritual dimension underlying Existence which all of us share, the book addresses people of all faiths who suffer, are unhappy and seek to lead more fulfilling lives.

“Find the Seeker!” is not a wishy-washy, feel-good book offering a quick fix or esoteric porridge or pandering to those who want a spiritual baby rattle to rely on. Instead, it serves as a traveling companion and guide, enticing readers with the vision of what we really are – Absolute, eternal and unconditional Being, whole and divine – which can only be directly experienced and embodied. It serves as a powerful wake-up call for those who mistakenly believe in their being separate from the Oneness and living in a state of duality, reminding us that the Kingdom of God is really within us.

Although written by one of the few living Zen Masters and using some Zen stories, the focus is not on explaining Zen, its tenets or history. The book is in stark contrast to the majority of books which indulge in superficial descriptions or sayings and provide seemingly “precise” instructions, lists of goals or steps to take which trap us into continuing our dependency on intermediaries and religious institutions or our self-delusion of being less than we really are. Instead, accompanying the authors along the age-old pathless path we have always been on, we are called upon to empty ourselves and “drop” all our preconceptions and expectations and the limited “self” which thinks it has a life of its own, as well as the heavy backpack with all our experiences and learnings.

The book holds up a mirror to our worldly existence, suffering and the intricate workings of the ego, which entraps us in the never-ending soap opera and roller coaster of life’s ups and downs. We are led to live mindfully in the here-now, delve more deeply into ourselves and to be Self-reliant – enabling our inner guru to unfold our true nature so that we can abide in the one Self. In this way seekers become finders, and we can become the Oneness we already are, enjoying the vibrant bliss and lightness of Being that is inherently ours.

The book not only appeals to people interested in Zen but spiritual seekers and people of all faiths and confessions, especially those who suffer, are unhappy, and still have unanswered questions about spirituality, God, and life. As a result, it targets readers searching for books on personal development, body, mind, and spirit, self-help, spirituality and religion, Buddhism, Zen or finding happiness, especially those recovering from addictions. Please visit their website and blog for helpful information and “Weekly Wisdom” at “Find The Seeker – Weekly Wisdom.”

 

 

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           

 

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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