“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

old_caesars_palace_las_vegas_1

This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

the-rat-pack-movie-poster-1967-1020194580
I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

LasVegas-MGMgrand

One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

Showgirls at the Welcome Sign - 8-15-07

Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

“Gambling for Seniors by AARP Calls Slots Financially Devastating and Their ‘Electronic crack”…

“Gambling for Seniors by AARP Calls Slots Financially Devastating and Their ‘Electronic crack”…

Since moving here to Arizona from So. Oregon a few years ago, I was shocked to see so many Indian Casinos all over this State. Now I know Oregon and California have casinos every as well, but here? IT IS LIKE Drug Addiction! Being the Indian Casinos are selling “Crack.”

So I happen to come across an article in AARP Money Section, written by John Rosengren is a freelance journalist. It is an eye-opening article on how problem gambling and slots are now affecting our senior population and devastating their “Golden Years” financially.

It is a long write-up but worth the read! so you can read the full article here on AARP Mag.com.

THE CASINO TRAP: “As the gambling industry booms, aggressive marketing targets older patrons.”

thNBVRZL00

“CASINOS use marketing ploys to target older patrons — and empty their wallets.”

Beauford Burton had enjoyed the occasional poker game in his youth, but in his 60s the slots hooked him. He and his wife, Sharon, started making the 2 1/2-hour drive every Friday from their home in Kings Mountain, N.C., to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, where they won occasionally but lost more frequently. In one year, he lost about $50,000, nearly the equivalent of his annual salary as a manager in a textile company.

They often stayed longer than they’d intended—many times the casino would offer them a free hotel room Saturday night. Burton can’t remember ever paying for a room. He had access to an exclusive bar with free drinks and food, preferred seating in the restaurants and suite upgrades in the hotel. Harrah’s once flew the couple to its casino in Laughlin, Nev., and covered all their expenses—except, of course, what they gambled.

In the end, Burton knew that all of the freebies weren’t really free and that he had paid for them tenfold with his losses. “I have always known you don’t get something for nothing, but I fell for it,” he says. “It’s the good old devil at work.”

Over four years, the slots drained more than $100,000 from Burton’s 401(k). But he kept playing. He cashed in a life insurance policy, took out cash advances on his credit card and gambled away Social Security checks meant to pay utility bills. Finally, in 2008, the gambling habit took his home.

By then, he was playing in a panic, betting up to $15 to $20 a spin, chasing his losses and pursuing the one illusory jackpot that he hoped would save him. “As you start to lose, you think, This is a luck thing, my luck is going to change,” says Burton, now 73. “But the more you go, the more you lose. It ends up in desperation. I can see how people get so deep that it causes them to take their own lives because it gets really, really bad.”

THE RISE OF THE CASINOS:

Of the 101 million visitors to America’s casinos in 2014 (the last year for which information was available), nearly half were age 50 or older, according to data from the gambling industry. In 2014, American casinos reported over $66 billion in gambling revenue, and much of that profit came from these older gamblers.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies revealed that many older adults viewed the casino as a place where they can socialize and escape from loneliness or grief.

It’s never been easier for them to get to one. Long gone are the days when the twin casino meccas of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., represented the sole options for American gamblers. Regional casinos have proliferated dramatically since 1988 when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act legalized casino development on Indian lands. That sparked a loosening of state prohibitions on gambling and a nationwide casino building boom. Today, 1,400 casinos are spread across 40 states. Regional casinos are especially attractive to those who prefer to drive themselves and do not want to have to spend the night. States with large populations of adults over 65, including Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and West Virginia, have all expanded casino gambling in recent years.

.

Wynn-Casino-Slots
.

ADDICTION EXPERTS SAY IT’S ALARMING:

Older adults are an especially desirable demographic for the gaming industry because they fill the floors during off-peak hours, and casinos market to them aggressively, offering discounts on breakfast and lunch, free drinks, and guarantees to “instantly win up to $1,000 Free Slot Play!” They stage free daytime entertainment such as polka dancing, magic shows and live “Golden Oldies” shows.

The “third of the month club” provides complimentary shuttles from senior centers and retirement housing complexes on the day they receive their Social Security checks. Some casinos stock their bathrooms with adult diapers and disposal receptacles for diabetics’ needles. They provide wheelchairs, walkers and more handicapped parking spots than a hospital. One Nevada casino operated an on-site pharmacy—since closed—where accumulated play credits could cover the standard $25 copay on medications.

The gambling boom—and the aggressive tactics the industry uses to lure older patrons—has alarmed addiction experts. Even casino patrons with no history of problem gambling can develop addictive behavior as they age. According to a 2005 study by David Oslin, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, 1 in 11 adults over age 65 bet more than they could afford to lose in the previous year. The study suggests that more than 4 million older Americans could have a gambling problem. “That’s a higher rate than we have for most diseases,” he says.

‘SLOTS ARE THE NEW ELECTRONIC CRACK’

Slots are also the most addictive form of casino gambling, with the machines designed to maximize your “time on device” until you’re out of money. A 2001 study by psychiatrist Hans Breiter, then of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, confirmed that the machine’s nickname—”electronic crack”—is an apt one. Using MRI scanners, he found that in subjects playing slots, the brain’s neural circuits fired in a way that was similar to those using cocaine.

Several factors make gamblers particularly susceptible to addiction behavior as they age. Loneliness, social isolation and the loss of a spouse can encourage older people to seek relief in casinos. “For someone older who has been sick in the hospital or who is bored or lonely, that can have a big impact on them,” says clinical gyro psychologist Dennis McNeilly of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

More serious age-related cognitive decline plays a role, too. A 2012 study found that changes in the anatomy and chemistry of brains in dementia patients 65 and up, particularly in the frontal region—which controls executive functioning—”may render older adults particularly vulnerable to the stimulation provided by the slot machine.” Dementia afflicts about 14 percent of the U.S. population over 70 years old, and an estimated half of those (nearly 2 million people) are undiagnosed.

“With both the reward system and impulse controls impaired, that creates the perfect storm for someone to develop problems with gambling,” says Michael Hornberger, a neuroscientist at the University of East Anglia in England. Cognitive issues can cause sufferers to lose their sense of money’s value, and those with dementia often repeat a singular behavior such as pushing the button on a slot machine over and over. “They just keep playing as long as the casino lets them,” Hornberger says.

13810484-mmmain

FROM SOCIAL GAMBLER TO ADDICT:

Beauford Burton’s experience at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is typical of such relationships.

In addition to sending birthday cards and weekly mailings with ticket deals to shows and vouchers for free play, the casino assigned a VIP host who called Burton at home to invite him back for various specials. Casino hosts often lavish personal attention on high-rolling older charges, asking about their health, reminding them to take their medicine and eating meals with them.

“The whole premise of a host is to extract as much money from that player as possible,” says ex-host John-Talmage Mathis, who worked as VIP marketing director at the Boomtown Casino in Bossier City, La. “For older people, the host becomes their friend, giving them all the attention they may not be getting from their children or friends.”

Casinos award hosts bonuses based on how much the gambler loses. “The losses of your player,” Mathis says, “are your success.”

As the industry seeks to expand, more women are being enticed into casinos, and more are experiencing problems, according to a study published in the journal Psychiatry.

Many slot machines are now designed specifically for women players, who, like longtime slots addict Melynda Litchfield, sometimes feel bonded with their machines. Litchfield, 56, worked 27 years at a Chicago-area hospital, climbing from staff nurse to administrator with a salary of $100,000.

Yet she couldn’t afford a prom dress for her daughter because she lost so much playing slots at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Ill., 10 minutes from their home. For Litchfield, the atmosphere was as addicting as the machines themselves. The staff treated her warmly and called her by name. “They gave me so much personal attention and TLC that you get, the false impression these people—who are milking away all of your money—actually care about you,” she says.

The casino also served as a dream world escape, to a place where she did not have to tend to the needs of anyone else.

“I didn’t want to talk to anyone,” says Litchfield, who quit gambling in 2012 and is now a national victim advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling. (A fantastic resource)…

“I just wanted to get lost in my machine.”

__________________________________________________

HERE is where I will stop, and again, please visit this link AARP Mag.com for “the rest of the story.” I wanted to stop here because I know exactly what this woman was talking about. It was one of the reasons I got hooked on slots. I just wanted to escape, numb or zone out with a few hours of gambling. As many who know me and have read my memoir, I was escaping from old pain from my childhood when it resurfaced again and I didn’t know how to cope with it all!

DON’T BE FOOLED. Casinos are targeting everyone, not just our Seniors….

 

 

 

 

I Advocate With “Facing Addiction.” New Health Care Reform May = Less Treatment Funding For Gambling Treatment too!

I Advocate With “Facing Addiction.” New Health Care Reform May = Less Treatment Funding For Gambling Treatment too!

“It is time to step up and let OUR VOICES of RECOVERY be HEARD! DO NOT Stop Funding To Treatment Services MANY Desperately NEED To RECOVER!!”

GET INVOLVED TODAY AND SHARE YOUR VOICES!

A MESSAGE FROM FACING ADDICTION:

Image result for Copy Free Images of the White house

As the national debate increasingly focuses on health care reform, we need you to share your story of how the current healthcare system has helped you or someone you love and care about access to treatment.

We at Facing Addiction—along with a majority of the Action Network—are very concerned about the American Health Act proposed last week in the US House of Representatives. Specifically, there are two provisions that would severely reduce coverage for people seeking access to care for addiction:

1) There will no longer be a requirement for many insurance plans to offer mental health and addiction services at parity with physical health conditions – learn more here.

2) Federal support of the Medicaid expansion population in the Affordable Care Act that has provided coverage to between 1.3 and  2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders would be eliminated. This places an incredible burden on states if they are going to attempt to sustain the current coverage – learn more here.

Facing Addiction is not alone: AARP, The American Medical Association, The American Nurses Association, The American Psychological Association, and The American Hospital Association have expressed serious concerns about the proposed bill.

As this debate moves forward in the coming days, we need you – perhaps more than ever!

Given the bi-partisan nature of the addiction crisis, members of Congress, from both parties, have asked us to collect stories from people who have received access to health care and/or treatment for a substance use disorder individually, through a health insurance marketplace, or through Medicaid expansion in your state. Regardless of your politics or how you might feel about the need for national health reform, your voice is so critical.  Please, click here to share your story.

Here are some news stories from across the political spectrum that have commented on the damage that this bill will cause to those suffering from substance use disorders:

Please, share your story TODAY on how access to care has helped your family. We will pass these stories on to officials in Congress who are debating this legislation. It has never been more important for all of us to stand together as a movement and to continue facing addiction.

Sincerely,

THE FACING ADDICTION TEAM!

Facing Addiction

Book Review and Interview Share. Meet USRA Series Champion Racer and New Author, Justin Peck…

Book Review and Interview Share. Meet USRA Series Champion Racer and New Author, Justin Peck…

‘ I turned back to the half-finished note I had written to her. My heart breaking and the tears flowing. I set the notepad down, reached into the truck’s console, grabbed my pistol. Loaded it. Put it to my head and pulled the trigger.’

That was then, today USRA Series Champion Racer and New Author, Justin Peck has come a long way from those dark days of the unknown….  One of my perks if you will, of working and being an “Author’s Cafe” Columnist for “In Recovery Magazine” is I get to meet a lot of wonderful new authors and enjoy reading their books. And Justin Peck is one of them. I can not tell how much his story moved me to the core of my being. I knew the pain, darkness, and hopelessness he felt when he pulled that trigger.

I also know the impact it has on our spouse and family as I had my own two failed suicide attempts. And I know how much Justin’s book is going to help all who suffer from mental health disorders and challenges I and many live with every day.

Let’s learn more about Justin Peck and about his fantastic Memoir, his story….and as he says;  “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!  Moderation is for those who don’t believe in their abilities.”    ~ Justin Peck
.

.

ABOUT THE MEMOIR:

Bulletproof by Justin Peck gives insight to a life full of pain, struggle and the perseverance required to overcome it all. Not only is it an inspiration for those suffering from mental illness, his story has the power to motivate anyone looking for a light at the end of the dark tunnel that everyday life sometimes seems to be. As he shares experiences of learning to deal with the challenge of bipolar disorder, you’ll find the strength and courage to live and enjoy life a little more each day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR & RACER ~ Courtesy of PRNewswire:

Top Motorsports driver and team owner of Race Pro Technologies, Justin Peck #49 has published his life story, titled “Bulletproof.” Telling his tale of addiction, literally beating death and overcoming mental illness while learning to use it to his advantage, Justin Peck is an inspiration to so many who may not be able to see hope or light at the end of their dark tunnel. The metamorphosis of a mental health condition has catapulted Justin Peck into a champion on the track and in life. “Bulletproof” lays out the trials and tribulations of the painful, yet powerful transition that taught him how to free his mind. Transparent and raw, Justin shares examples of courage, defeat, and lives to tell how he rose above it to beat the beast.

Justin Peck has accomplished so much since becoming #Bulletproof.  From becoming an off-road USRA champion, owner to Race Pro Technologies team, founder/owner of Gear 49 Motorsports Nutrition, loving father, upholding legislation and so much more, he has since taken this opportunity to speak across the country and bring awareness to the challenges facing those with mental illness.

“Bulletproof” speaks to anyone plagued by addiction, bi-polar disorder or mental health issues, and suicidal tendencies just like Justin. It can help guide friends and families of suffering loved ones, athletes and people mentally crumbling on the inside, but play a strong face on the outside, or anyone stuck in life needing a splash of inspirational boot camp.

Since that day he drove to the top of a mountain, put a pistol to his temple and pulled the trigger – but the bullet refused to fire, which drove him to have a wake-up call and a call to action to change and save not only his life but also others.

____________________________________________

Since reading Justin’s book, I have been more inspired to share more of my own challenges and story about “the mental health” side of myself. So I thank Justin for the motivation as HE IS now my Mental Health CHAMP! Her is my 5-Star Amazon book review and a few others so you know this ONE is a must read and WORTH your time to do so!
.

BOOK REVIEWS FOR  “BULLETPROOF, A Memoir” now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and here on Justin’s Author Website.

February 13, 2017 – By  Catherine Lyon

5.0 out of 5 stars5-Stars ~ “Off Road Race Champ #49 and Now Mental Health Champion Advocate

I was thrilled to receive an early copy for an honest review of Justin Peck’s Memoir by his publisher/agent.

What an amazing story Justin has shared of his life battling challenges of bipolar and mental health. He truly is doing a service to our cause of shattering the “Stigma” around those who suffer and are learning their way to have a normal happy life despite the effects.

I do know the level of “hopelessness” Justin felt when he pulled the trigger to END the “madness” as I have had my own two failed suicide attempts as I went undiagnosed with bipolar, manic depression and agoraphobia for years. So when reading Justin’s story, I could relate. His book proves that no matter who you are, successful or not, mental health can touch and affect anyone and has NO boundaries and can claim anyone.

An exceptionally well-written memoir and well worth the time to read! Thank you, Justin, for sharing your story and not being afraid of “stigma” in order to help others. This book will do it and what a legacy to leave behind.

“In Recovery Magazine” Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

_______________________________________________

 

on February 11, 2017

Format: 5-Stars on Amazon Kindle Edition

“This is definitely a page turner. Justin has truly lived a full and fascinating life. I am glad that more and more people are bringing attention to mental illness. Hopefully, someday there will be less stigma associated with mental illness.”

 

on February 2, 2017
Format: 5-STARS Amazon Kindle Edition

“This book takes you on a roller coaster of emotions. Whether you personally struggle with any form of depression or mental health issues, I would guarantee you know someone that does and on some level, you will relate to the stories told.”

______________________________________________

Here is some of an in-depth interview with Justin and his book Courtesy of  “The Huffington Post”  – Kimberly Jesika, Contributor

I saw in your story where you put a gun to your head. What were you going through at the time that brought you to that place?

I had a pretty rough few months before the gun.  I had just come off of a tremendously manic phase in which I created another new company and was going non-stop.  I felt the depressive state coming and tried super hard to fight it, but as it always does, it got the best of me.  I remember waking up that morning like I typically did, kissing my wife and kids before I left for the day.  I was reeling inside with despair, but I had no one to communicate that with.  I knew that this was the beginning of a phase that I didn’t want to fight again, and when I saw the opportunity to end it, I tried.

I had an aunt with Bipolar disorder growing up, sadly she did not get over hers and died at 32 after turning the corner trying to get her life back. How did you know you had Bipolar?

I knew I had some disorder from the age of 13, but back then, there was little known about Bipolar- disorder.  It really wasn’t until I tried to take my life that I realized I needed help from a professional because I knew that it would only be in time before I tried again.  After I pulled the trigger, the rush of adrenaline and emotion immediately pulled me out of the despair (for the moment) and it was then I realized that there is always a way out.  If I could control my adrenaline or get more of it, then I could escape the despair.  Now, that works to a point, and I have fought extremely hard my entire life to find that perfect balance. I still contend, but things have got substantially better.

Please go by The Huffington Post for the rest of this AMAZING Interview with Justin Peck here:  “The Huffington Post”  – Kimberly Jesika, Contributor
__________________________________________________

Check out this YouTube Video and listen to Justin Live!

 

*Now go connect with Justin on Social Media and tell him Cat sent YOU! *

On Facebook
Now on Instagram
On Twitter too!

 

** Presented By Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon **

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

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

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

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

 

WHAT IS GAMBLING ADDICTION?

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

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

Isn’t Problem and Addicted Gambling a Financial Problem?

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


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

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

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


_____________________________________________

th7m8zsw6q

.

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

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

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

_______________________________________________

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

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

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

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

How Do I Exclude Myself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

BAN YOURSELF FROM USING ATMS AT MANY CASINOS

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

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

BAN YOURSELF FROM INTERNET GAMBLING

Gamblock prevents access to internet gambling sites.

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

_________________________________________

self-exclusion

________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________________________

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

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

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

.

gambling-addiction-3-728

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

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

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

____________________________________________

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

 

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

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

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

My recovery journey first started in 2002 and reset in 2006. Both times I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt and then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay. In 2002 I was diagnosed with mental health disorders while in the middle of a full-blown gambling addiction. I was suffering from bipolar manic depression, PTSD, and OCD from past childhood trauma and abuse, and today, still manic depression and agoraphobia.

Then again in 2006, another breakdown, but this time the problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that I could be “normal” like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well.

I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had depleted all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess? No excuses, just insights. Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the courts and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I’m still paying today. My point?

You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work with a gambling addiction specialist. After my problems had occurred, I worked with a recovery expert for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our stories and words of our “character defects” can be powerful tools to help others.

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

.


.

I am a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. I had picked up nasty habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking within my addiction that needed more correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye opening. He helped me break down the cycle of the addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I’d been given a relapse prevention workbook, and although I didn’t relapse into gambling, the book has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.

Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. My journals were a guide with help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me.

I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, freelance writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By publishing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen not to be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how quickly one can become addicted when using it for all the wrong reasons. It truly is a real disease and illness. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has on our communities, family, and our lives. This also goes with mental health and those who suffer from its many forms.

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

The best advice I can give?

When starting recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it. Work a steady, balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way in early recovery before that little “Lightbulb” above my head went off!

.

addicted

.

Now that I have reached TEN years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned we can now weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book;
“Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat” has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I advocate and share as much as I can with others. It is to prove we can recover from this insidious addiction.

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

With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted, and my readers asked me, to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share this on my recovery journal in blog form. So my second book I am working on now is about just that. How to make that first year in recovery. All I can urge others to do is never give up. You are worth a better life in recovery. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover. Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen to and learn.

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

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

 

I wish you all a successful and learning recovery journey!

.

57dde73c4a1f98c1546293eedfd4f850

Author/Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon  🙂  XoXo

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

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


.

ribbet-collage

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

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

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

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

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

And I know I am not alone in this….

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

.

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Periodically unplug.

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

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

Happy New Year.  🙂