Sharing Gambling Addiction and Recovery Experiences Can Be A Powerful Way to Help Others And Those New to Recovery. Even At Holiday Time…

Sharing Gambling Addiction and Recovery Experiences Can Be A Powerful Way to Help Others And Those New to Recovery. Even At Holiday Time…

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and New Ones!

A while back I had received an exciting opportunity and invite from a major organization to “share” one of my most important times within a downfall or relapse during my recovery and what I had learned from it being in early recovery. Of course, looking back, one had always stood out to me and it was from my second failed suicide attempt and I was wasn’t even ACTIVE in addiction. No, not trying to shock anyone about suicide, but currently, one in five people gambling addictively will try suicide once as one can get in a state of feeling financially bankrupt and emotionally hopeless …

Since the Holidays are just around the corner, I will be, for the 6th year, be at home blogging, advocating, checking my email closely, and will BE available by phone for anyone who needs Recovery Support or struggling with gambling beginning the day before Thanksgiving 2018. WHY? 

Because even though I am years in my journey of recovery, I know and remember how difficult the holiday season can be when you have a problem or are addicted to gambling. Not enough money to buy gifts or even buy things to celebrate or decorate the season. I had many years of this and know how it felt.

I Hope that by sharing this article I wrote and sharing, that it finds its way to even just “one person,”  it may help and let them know there is HOPE and much HELP with gambling addiction. You are not alone. I have been through the “battle” and I am here to listen, read your comments, answer any questions, and here to HELP.
~Catherine Lyon

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“My recovery journey started again in 2006. Not from gambling but from being dually diagnosed with addiction and mental health challenges. I woke up in a hospital as the result of a second failed suicide attempt and was back into an addiction and mental health crisis center for another 15-day stay.”

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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. We are hearing more recovering gamblers and other types of addictions where the addict has mental illness as well. That was me! And the “why’s” to writing my memoir titled; Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat and that is was what my gambling addiction had turned me into, a liar and a cheat …

This time around I had a severe financial crisis happen and since I had not taken mental health meds and already worked through all our savings and retirement money, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. “Old addiction thinking and diseased habits.” What a mess I got into! The person pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the process and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I finally paid off recently. My point?

We must do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded rehabilitation. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and now legal troubles told me I still had more work to do. I needed to work with an addiction specialist. After my problems had occurred, I did get help with an expert for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others, and those still suffering the cycle of gambling addiction.

After this second suicide attempt, I also learned that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with the gambling/behavioral specialist and got my mental health under control, I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live in recovery with mental illness. Those of us who have a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

Being a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. Many of the negative habits, behaviors and diseased thinking on my part needed correcting. Working with the specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down the cycle of the addiction, as we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Even though I didn’t relapse into gambling, the workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my 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 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. They were all direct links to the roots of why I had turned to gamble and became addicted. I also never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

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By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter the stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are child 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.

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 families’ lives and the impact in our communities.  The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth.

Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Again, 1 in every 5 will attempt suicide from this addiction. And now, gambling addiction IS the 3 addiction claiming lives by suicide. This has to change! Hopefully, through my recovery advocacy, my book, and my blogging, I can help change this. I have learned many lessons, so the best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about the addiction.

Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it. Work a reliable recovery that encompasses inner reflection and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. I happen to learn this the hard way.

Now that I have reached eleven plus years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we could weather any storm together as he stayed with me through all of this. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned on many platforms and in publications.

And I share as much as I can with others who still suffer. As I write my next book, it will be about how to make the first year in recovery and beyond as it seems readers have been asking me to do. With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted to share how to attain the first year of recovery. It IS WHY I continue my recovery as an online journal in blog format here on Recovery Starts Here!
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All I can do is urge others who have a gambling problem is never give up. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the ‘professional or clinical’ side of this disease and how to recover. Sharing our story is a powerful tool for others to listen and learn from and break the power of stigma.

My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent.

Besides, this is about reclaiming your life from gambling addiction!

 

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About The Advocate:

Catherine Townsend-Lyon is the best-selling author of her shocking debut Memoir; “Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Walmart Online. Born in New Jersey, lived in So. Oregon over 25 years, she and her husband reside in Glendale, Arizona. Catherine is well known in many addiction and recovery online communities for her voice of realism, raw, and honesty about her battles with gambling addiction and now 11+yrs in recovery, living with mental illness, and her past childhood trauma and abuse.

She is finishing her third book and currently co-writing a memoir with former NFL pro of the Denver Broncos, Vance Johnson. She is a former ‘In Recovery Magazine Columnist of The Authors’ Café, and ow writes a column called “Quit to Win” for the recovery newspaper “Keys to Recovery.”  Catherine advocates and sponsors many today. Her articles have been published in “Time and Nautilus online, In Recovery Magazine, Facing Addiction, and Keys to Recovery, as well as media from Columbia University.”

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Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

 

Growing Delight in Disorder

“One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding.”

 

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As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God’s abundant grace experienced in a generous community.

I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have been blessed to be one of God’s instruments of healing, through my book, this blog, phone and video consults, speaking engagements and my podcast. My ministry has grown from a manuscript in a junk drawer to a message spreading across the globe.

My mission here at Delight in Disorder is to foster hope in the lives of those with troubled minds and cultivate compassion within the faith community for those with mental illness. To carry out this mission, I need your help. Your prayers. Your stories. Your encouragement. Your financial support.

 

Why Do You Need Financial Support?

I want to be clear your financial gifts are to grow this mission, not increase my personal lifestyle. God has blessed me with income streams to put food on the table, have a roof over my head, and meet my daily needs. Monies contributed will go to expand the outreach of Delight in Disorder.

Build community among those engaged in advocacy and mental health ministry. Produce and distribute more written content to nourish the spiritual lives of wounded souls. Promote faith and mental wellness online and through other avenues. Provide for direct outreach through workshops and conferences on healing and wholeness. These are just some of the needs I envision to grow this ministry God has laid on my heart and, I hope, yours.

How Much Will It Cost?

To become a patron, you can contribute as little as $1/month or as much as God leads you to give. Again, I want to stress this should not come at the expense of your own needs, your family’s needs, or the needs of your local faith community. Instead, prayerfully consider how much you value this mission and give out of desire, not of obligation.

What Do I Get Out of It?

While it is true there are spiritual rewards whenever we give for kingdom work, I also want my patrons to receive practical benefits. These range depending on giving tiers (with each successive tier including perks of lower tiers):

  1. $1 or more a month — Covenental Clinician: Join private FB community to discuss issues of faith and mental health.
  2. $15 or more a month — Biblical Behavioralist: Receive personally inscribed Delight in Disorder for self or as a gift.
  3. $40 or more a month — Theological Therapist: Participate in a quarterly webinar on mental health ministry.
  4. $50 or more a month — Freudian for Faith: Receive monthly devotional journal (via snail mail!).
  5. $100 or more a month — Apostle for Affirmation: Video dialogue with me about a mental health matter.
  6. $200 or more a month — Manic Depressive Missionary — I will speak at a venue near you.

 

What Is My Best First Step?

The best way to get a taste of this new mission incentive is by becoming a mission partner at the $1/month Covenental Clinician tier. My private Facebook page will launch on November 1. It will be a place where you will find a wide variety of resources. Things like — personal stories from persons like me with mental health diagnoses; news about legislation impacting those with mental illness; discussions about the best way to offer Christ-like compassion for those with troubled minds.

My goal is to have 50 Covenental Clinicians by the launch date of November 1.  As a faithful reader of my blog, I hope you will become one of my founding partners.

I hope you are as excited as I am about this new mission venture. For more information and to pledge your support, go to MY SUPPORT PAGE.

Become a Patron Today and Help Tony Grow Through Faith His Mission at “Delight in Disorder Today.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37.4)

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Who Is Tony Robers?

 

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From Ministry to Madness

In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a church in Northeast PA. One Sunday, I delivered a sermon in which I shared these words:

Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. As we listen to our bodies and minds and seek out care, we gain insight more abundant lives.

The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would end, and that I would spend the rest of my life in and out of psychiatric hospitals.

By the grace of God and with much help from many others, I served another dozen years of fruitful ministry, was married for twenty-three years and have progressed in treatment to enjoy “maintenance remission.”

From Madness to Mission

As one who has benefited from both faith and mental health treatment, I have Good News to share. And it is this — with Christ’s saving grace, the hellish impact of mental illness will be bearable.

God is with us even in the darkest valleys of despair. We have an essential purpose, to extend fellowship with others who struggle, and to fight the stigma that often leads to dangerous silence.

Many people with mental illness are angry at God, at believers, and at faith communities. People within churches struggle to reconcile medical advances about brain chemistry with Biblical truth.

I have lived in both worlds. I wrestle daily with my dual identity as a Christian who has a serious mental illness and have a hopeful word to say to both.

My mission at Delight in Disorder is to bridge the vast gap between faith and mental illness — fostering faith among those with disorders and diagnoses and promoting compassion within the faith community.

Can we partner together?

Won’t you join me on this mission? There are several ways you can help:

  1. Financially give at any level.
  2. Share this page with someone you know.
  3. Respond with your stories of faith / mental illness.

And lastly: pray for those impacted by mental illness. When we do these things, we reclaim our godly mission in the madness of the world.

 

I Thank “Facing Addiction With NCADD” For Asking Me To Share My Voice and Story Last Year as “Not All Addiction is Substance Use”…

“Recovery Flashback to June2017 ~ SHARING My Story With Facing Addiction”

Not All Addiction is Substance Use

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“Living in recovery with mental health issues can be a tough journey, as I have learned. I am a loud advocate for gambling addiction and mental health. Many people don’t understand that gambling is a real addiction, just as dangerous as drugs and alcohol. Today, suicide claims the lives of more people with a gambling addiction than any other kind of dependency.

I myself have attempted it twice.”

 
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Catherine Townsend-Lyons 1

 

My recovery journey re-started in 2006.  I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt, then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay.  The problem wasn’t that I gambled again; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks.  I thought I didn’t need them and that I could be normal like everyone else around me.  That didn’t work out too well for me.

I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone.

What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the court process, and paid steep consequences for my poor choice.

“My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances.”

I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to more work. After my problems emerged, I worked with an addictions expert for a year as I went through the legal mess I created.

After this second suicide attempt, I learned I did not have a full plan.  I also learned that God, my Higher Power, had bigger plans for me.  My purpose is helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction.  After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and began working with the expert, I got my mental health under control.  I also began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who choose to live in recovery.  The people who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

Being a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges, obtaining recovery is a wee bit more work.  The addicted thinking habits I’d relied on in the past needed more correcting.  Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down the cycle of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise in recovery.

I was given a fantastic recurrence prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t revert back into gambling, this 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 helped in writing my memoir, which is now a published book.  Writing my story and experiences was a very healing process for me.  I shared about my gambling addiction and alcohol use; my past childhood trauma, abuse, and sexual trauma; and what it is like living with mental illness.

By doing this, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental health.  I want to be a voice for those who feel they do not have one.  I also want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how one can become addicted. It truly is a silent addiction!

It is time to have a discussion about gambling addiction.  I want to inform and educate people, and I raise awareness of the effects it has on our communities and families’ lives. The expansion of casinos and for-profit state lotteries is making gambling more accessible today and is now touching our youth.

Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Gambling Addiction is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide as 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try.  The best advice I can give?  When starting off in recovery, learn about this addiction.  Work with a specialist or recovery expert to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.

Also, a reliable recovery needs to encompass the mind, body, spirit, and finances. There are many ways to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12 Step meetings, and whatever works for you. Try anything and everything you can find. Sticking with only one option may not be enough for success and longevity in recovery and being “bet free.” I learned this the hard way.

I have reached over 10 years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol. Now, my mission and God-given purpose are to reach out to others and share my story. I hope that one more life isn’t taken by suicide due to gambling addiction, alcohol addiction, or mental health issues.

No more suffering. I am loud, proud, and Facing Addiction!

Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

 

“THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES IN AMERICA TODAY THAT NO ONE HAS BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO. GAMBLING!”

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” recovering gambling addict Kitty Martz told the Oregonian. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

“Gamblers exhibit many of the same problems as other addicts. “Everything you see with substance abuse you can make an analogy to gambling problems,” Martins says, citing family strife, financial hardship, and struggles with depression or anxiety.”

“IF I WERE THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY, I WOULD WANT TO FUND PEOPLE WHO HAD THE DISEASE POINT-OF-VIEW … BECAUSE [THEY ARE] PUTTING THE SOURCE OF PROBLEM GAMBLING BETWEEN THE EARS OF THE GAMBLER.”

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HERE IS WHERE I WALK IN I was honored to be interviewed, and at the time was written and released by Elaine for ‘Columbia University and The Epidemiology Dept.’ I was happy to help contribute an “inside look” of what addicted gambling, the diseased side looks like deep within my addiction.

As an advocate of addicted or problem gambling and now almost 12-yrs “BET FREE,”  I aim to change the way the public is seeing only ONE SIDE to this so-called activity of  “Fun and Entertainment.”  Because for those who lose control and become addicted?  There is a nasty sinister side to this thing called “gambling” … 

LITTLE HELP AVAILABLE

People with gambling problems tend to elicit little sympathy. They are seen typically as exercising bad judgment when it is known that the “house always wins.” They have often hurt people they are closest to, both financially and emotionally.

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“Former gambling addicts readily admit to their flaws. But, like most people, they typically started gambling because it was available, entertaining, and provided a potential if unlikely monetary reward. However, unlike most people who gamble, they became “hooked.” That’s how Catherine Townsend-Lyon speaks of her gambling addiction. “
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Catherine began playing video lottery terminals at delis and restaurants near her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, at the time, now living in Glendale, AZ. Catherine explains, “sometime after they were introduced in the 1990s, she became obsessed with a game called Flush Fever and soon began playing before and after work and during her lunch hour.” She lied to her husband about her whereabouts and started secretly gambling their mortgage payments.

She stole from the collection company she worked for.  Even when gambling at an Indian casino, sometimes wore bladder control underwear so she wouldn’t have to get up to use the restroom while playing. When she lost money, she played to win it back, and when she won, she played to win more. In an extreme moment, she skipped the funeral of a close friend to drive 40 miles to that Indian casino so she could win enough money to prevent her home from being foreclosed. Instead, she lost everything. She drove home in tears and attempted suicide by trying to slit her wrists but kept blacking out.
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“YOU DON’T HAVE TO EVEN BE IN ‘ACTION OR SITTING BEHIND A MACHINE’ BECAUSE YOU’RE CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT: WHEN AM I GOING TO GAMBLE? WHEN AM I GOING TO WIN OR LOSE? IT JUST COMPOUNDS.”

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“It’s like a battle you have with yourself with the triggers and the urges and the obsessiveness. You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds. It’s exhausting. It’s never-ending,” says Townsend-Lyon, who, after seeking treatment several times, has managed to stay away from gambling for the last seven-and-a-half years.

Catherine says she turned to gambling at a difficult time in her life. She had childhood trauma of sexual abuse, verbal, and her parents were heavy handed with discipline. Those memories kept haunting her and then, with her husband frequently traveling out of town for weeks for work, she found herself bored and looking for a way to fill the time and escape the “old pain” that resurfaced.  She had undiagnosed bipolar II disorder and on top of that had been sexually abused when she was younger, she had not been raised to know to seek therapy.


“I wasn’t a drug person or an alcoholic or anything like that, although I did drink more when I gambled. And because I was gambling, that was my coping skill. That’s what I was using to escape it, those feelings. I couldn’t stuff them away anymore. I would just use gambling to escape, not feel, zone out, you know what I mean?”
she said.

She published a book in 2013 about her former life, called Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) “A Liar and Cheat” is what gambling addiction, this cunning disease turned me into.”  What troubles her is how easy it is for people in her position to gamble. She didn’t have to fly to Nevada or even drive to an Indian casino in her state. The video poker and slot machines she played, which are sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery, are allowed at bars, restaurants, and delis.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)
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“[I]f these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me,” says a 33-year-old man quoted in a recent series on the state lottery by the Oregonian. He estimates he has lost $15,000 over 12 years from gambling. “That may sound like an excuse, but ‘out of sight is out of mind.’”

For people who are trying to recover from gambling addiction, it can be difficult to find help. Calls per month to the National Problem Gambling hotline are over two-and-a-half times what they were 14 years ago, from 9,642 in 2000 to 24,475 in 2013, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Yet funding for treatment centers, hotlines, and programs to prevent gambling addiction is minimal, says Martins. Funding for substance abuse treatment is about 281 times greater at $17 billion then public funding for problem gambling, at $60.6 million, although substance use disorders are only 3.6 times more common than gambling disorders, according to a 2013 survey by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and Problem Gambling Solutions.

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I urge everyone who visits to take some time and go read the full article written by Elaine R Meyer as the ‘Costs to Health Care from Legal Gambling’ on Pacific Standard Magazine as it will surprise you. Yes, it a bit long but well worth it!  You will read how drug and alcohol funding for treatment is far ahead of gambling addiction treatment and even options available for gambling treatment and resources.

Again, I am aiming to change this by advocacy, writing, and sharing my own recovery from this cunning addiction … ~Advocate/Writer/Author, Catherine Lyon

 

 

 

 

An Important Message and Op-Ed Letter and Submission – Our Nation needs Treatment. By My Friend and Advocate Ken Abraham.

Ken Abraham, CEO at “Get A Pardon” & Founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE. He resides in Dover, Delaware.

Ken Abraham

Ken currently advocates and educating for much-needed change to fix our criminal justice system, former trial lawyer Ken Abraham is a veteran of over 500 jury trials and more than 200 non-jury trials. He lost 2. Highlights of his legal career include trying the first case in the state under the new death penalty law (1976); and representing the first defendant in the state to be tried under a mandatory minimum sentencing law. He is unusually well prepared to do what he does!

After 10 years practicing law, Ken moved to Florida and went into business. He now heads CCJ and says, The dysfunction of the system affects everyone. People are being harmed by our “criminal justice system” every day. Apathy? It’s inexcusable. Get INVOLVED!”

Our Nation needs Treatment 

 

 

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Our nation is plagued by several unsolved major systemic problems. Some are in the spotlight, like the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. But three recent front-page stories, about the slayings of Molly Tibbett and the rape and murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena, the female golfer slain in broad daylight.

Who cannot the remember of the Las Vegas mass shooting by Stephen Craig Paddock (we still do not know the motive of this deranged mind) …I assume a problem gambler that just reminds me of the huge problem we do not talk about: America’s neglect of addictions and our mentally ill. We now know that the mass shooter in the Rite-Aid distribution center had been diagnosed with a mental illness, and all of the aforementioned murderers were mentally ill.


We need federal and state governments to step up and acknowledge this huge plague, and DO something about it. The primary purpose of government is to protect its citizens, yet people are dying every day due to government in-actions. There are dozens of articles on my website full of facts about this problem. Some are: depending on which study you read (nobody knows the actual number).

But between 35% and 55% of all violent crimes – rapes and murders – are committed by people with one or more diagnosed mental illness. Mental Health “treatment” in our prisons is a total joke and shameful, virtually nonexistent. At least 45%, and perhaps 60% of all inmates have one or more mental illness (again, the exact number is unknown).

And … our neglect of the mentally ill is costing us more than $444 Billion annually! That is an astonishing amount of money, but far worse are the societal and personal costs of our inattention to mental illness: the pain and suffering, the anguish, the loss now reaching our youth!

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Accurate statistics regarding our homeless Americans are even more elusive than the data on inmates. Best estimates are that about 3 million to 3.5 million homeless people inhabit America. I can find NO reliable study on how many may have or suffer mental illness, but based on my extensive experience with such people, at DIMH and on the streets, I would say that at least 30 % have one or more serious mental illnesses.

How many of them could become possibly working, tax-paying citizens, if they had adequate health and mental care? A million, I can safely say. Many addicts have mental illness, most often depression, by far the most widespread undiagnosed mental health illness in America. Many politicians and others finally now see that they need treatment, not prison, yet we lack the resources they need. We must call upon everyone involved – legislators, social workers, police, prison officials, victims, prosecutors, and public defenders – to “raise a ruckus” and get governments’ attention on this issue.

We need proper training for police and for prison workers, effective non-custodial treatment programs, aftercare, and more. Until they do “raise a ruckus”, more people will die from the inaction, just as surely as people are dying in the streets every day due to our failed “war on drugs”.

 

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Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of “Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, DE

 

    Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE

               MAKE it a great day!  ~  Ken Abraham

 

                   www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net

              Founder, Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, (CCJ)

 

           430 Kings Hwy., Suite 414, Dover, DE 19901

      Founder, “Adopt a Prisoner” Church Reentry Program,

          And founder of no more organizations this decade! 

                               1-302-423-4067

                                 

 

 

 

 

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Warrior Advocates, and New Visitors,

I am so happy and blessed that Amy agreed to let me reshare her article which comes by way of The Fix Magazine. She is an amazing “in your face –let it hang out” writer and blogger for them. The Fix share news about addiction and recovery from drugs and alcohol and is one of the top resource magazines around!

I happen to have signed up for there newsletter a while back and seen Amy’s article. Being dual-diagnosed myself and still have bouts of depression at times, I felt this article of hers really needed to be shared with all my friends here.

It is very informative and I just love Amy’s views on a variety of issues and her writing style! I hope you enjoy reading it and learn some from it as I did! Don’t forget to grab of copy of her book (link listed in her bio) if you have not read it.

It is truly a great read and her life memoirs are “one of kind!”  ~Cat 

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 ~ Courtesy of The Fix Magazine
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Mature Woman Depression Looking Away
((The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

 

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments.

I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

I’ve suffered from symptoms of depression since I was 19, so it’s an old, old friend. What really annoys me was that some (dare I say many?) people think at five and a half years of sobriety, you shouldn’t feel depressed. What I kept hearing from AA fundamentalists was:

“It’s your untreated alcoholism.”

“Listen to these tapes about prayer and meditation.”

“You’re not connected enough to your Higher Power.”

“You’re not going to enough meetings.”

“You need to do more service.”

Thankfully my sponsor, who has a foot in the medical world, did not say something along those lines.  One of my big problems with AA is that it looks at every mental problem through the paradigm of your “alcoholism.” If you’re suffering, you should look to the program for relief.

Nobody would tell you to “drive around newcomers!” more if you had diabetes or kidney failure, but if you’re feeling down, that’s what you’re told to do. As it turns out, AA is not completely off the mark: “Addiction is a not a spiritually caused malady but a chemically based malady with spiritual symptoms,” addictionologist and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Wetsman told me.

“When some people start working a 12-step program, they perceive a spiritual event but their midbrain is experiencing an anatomical event. When they’re working a program, they’re no longer isolated and they no longer feel ‘less than,’ so their dopamine receptor density goes back up [and they experience contentment],” he explained. But what if your program hasn’t changed or feels sufficient and you still feel depressed?

What if you’re working your ass off in your steps and helping others and you still feel like shit?
“Well, low dopamine tone experienced as low mood can be brought on by fear and low self-esteem (the untreated spiritual malady part of alcoholism/addiction) but it can also be brought on by biochemical issues,” Wetsman added.

Huh?

So was I experiencing the chemical part of my “addiction” or was I having a depressive episode? Perhaps my whole life I’d been confusing the two. Of course, all I wanted, like a typical addict, was a pill to fix it. But as I’ve done the medication merry-go-round (and around and around) with mild to moderate success, I was hesitant to start messing with meds again. I didn’t have a terrific psychiatrist, and SSRI’s can really screw with my epilepsy. And Wetsman was talking about dopamine here, not serotonin. Hmmm…

Dr. Wetsman has some interesting stuff about brain chemistry and addiction on his vlog. He mentions something called “dopamine tone” which is a combination of how much dopamine your VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) releases, how many dopamine receptors you have on your NA (Nucleus Accumbens), and how long your dopamine is there and available to those receptors.

Stress can cause you to have fewer dopamine receptors and fewer receptors equal lower dopamine tone. He’d explained to me in previous conversations how almost all of the people with addiction he’d treated had what he described as “low dopamine tone.”

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When you have low dopamine tone, you don’t care about anything, have no motivation, can’t feel pleasure, can’t connect to others. In addition, low dopamine tone can affect how much serotonin is being released in the cortex. Low midbrain dopamine tone can lead to low serotonin which means, in addition to not giving a shit about anything, you also have no sense of well-being. Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

Dr. Wetsman has a very convincing but still somewhat controversial theory that addiction is completely a brain disease and that using drugs is the result, not the cause. I really suggest you get his book, Questions and Answers on Addiction.

It’s 90 pages — you could read half of it on the john and half of it while waiting at the carwash. It explains in detail why most of us addicts felt weird and off before we picked up and why we finally felt normal when we used. Again, it’s all about dopamine, and it’s fucking fascinating. No joke.

In his vlog, he explains that dopamine production requires folic acid which you can get from green leafy veggies (which I admittedly don’t eat enough of) but it also requires an enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) to convert folate into l-methyl folate. Certain people have a mutation in the gene that makes MTHFR, so they can’t turn folate into l-methyl folate as effectively, and those people are kind of fucked no matter how many kale smoothies they drink.

But it’s not hopeless. If people with this genetic mutation take a supplement of l-methyl folate, their brain can make enough dopamine naturally. Of course, once you have enough dopamine, you’ve got to make sure you release enough (but there’s medication for that) and that you have enough receptors and that it sits in the receptors long enough (and there are meds for that too).

So this all got me wondering if maybe my MTHFR enzyme was wonky or completely AWOL. Dr. Wetsman urged me to find a good psychiatrist (since I’m on Prozac and two epileptic medications) or a local addictionologist in addition to taking a genetic test for this mutation. In his experience, patients who had a strong reaction to taking the l-methyl folate supplement were frequently also on SSRIs. They either felt much better right away or really really shitty. But if they felt even shittier (because the higher serotonin levels work on a receptor on the VTA which then lowers dopamine), he would just lower their SSRI or sometimes even titrate them off it completely. And voila. Success.

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It’s all very complicated, and this whole brain reward system is a feedback loop and interconnected with all kinds of stuff like Gaba and Enkephalins (the brain’s opioids) and Glutamate. But you guys don’t need me for a neuroscience lesson so I’m trying to keep it simple. The basics: how do you know if you have too little dopamine?

You have urges to use whatever you can to spike your dopamine: sex, food, gambling, drugs, smoking, and so on. What about too much dopamine? OCD, tics, stuttering, mental obsession and eventually psychosis. Too little serotonin? Anxiety and the symptoms of too high dopamine tone. Too much serotonin? The same thing as too little dopamine tone. Everything is intricately connected, not to mention confusing as all hell.

Being broke and lazy and having had decades of shitty psychiatrists, I decided to go rogue on this whole mission (not recommended). I mean I used to shoot stuff into my arm that some stranger would hand me through the window of their 87 Honda Accord so why be uber careful now? This l-methyl folate supplement didn’t require a prescription anymore anyway. What did I have to lose? I did, however, run it by my sponsor whose response was: “I’m no doctor, honey, but it sounds benign. Go ahead.”

I ordered a bottle. A few days later I heard the UPS guy drop the packet into my mail slot. I got out of bed, tore open the envelope and popped one of these bad boys. A few hours later I started to feel that dark cloud lift a little. Gotta be a placebo effect, right? The next day I felt even better. And the next day better still. I didn’t feel high or manic. I just felt “normal.” Whoa. It’s been weeks now and the change has been noticeable to friends and family.

Normal. That’s all I ever really wanted to feel. And the first time I felt normal was when I tried methamphetamine at 24. It did what I wanted all those anti-depressants to do. It made me feel like I knew other people felt: not starting every day already 20 feet underwater. I found out later that my mother and uncle were also addicted to amphetamines which further corroborates my belief that there is some genetic anomaly in my inherited reward system.

When I emailed Dr. Wetsman to tell him how miraculously better I felt, his first response was “Great. I’m glad. The key thing is to take the energy and put it into recovery. People go two ways when they feel amazingly better. One: ‘Oh, this is all I ever needed. I can stop all this recovery stuff.’ Or two: ‘Wow, I feel better. Who can I help?’ Helping others in recovery will actually increase your dopamine receptors and make this last. Not helping people will lead to shame, lowered dopamine receptors and it stops being so great.”

So no, I’m not going to stop going to meetings or doing my steps or working with my sponsor and sponsees. Being part of a group, feeling included and accepted, even those things can create more dopamine receptors. But sadly I’m still an addict at heart and I want all the dopamine and dopamine receptors I can get. However, I also know that enough dopamine alone isn’t going to keep me from being a selfish asshole…

But maybe, just maybe, having sufficient dopamine tone and working a program will.

 

 

Amy Dresner

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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up.

She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, Addiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books.  Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.

 

 

“Addiction Does Not Discriminate.” The Higher You Climb, The Harder You Will Fall From ‘Grace.’ Memories From a Former NFL Pro Athlete…

“Addiction Does Not Discriminate.” The Higher You Climb, The Harder You Will Fall From ‘Grace.’ Memories From a Former NFL Pro Athlete…

Most of us regular folks can not begin to imagine incredible opportunities to come into our lives like those who play professional sports. And writing with Vance, it has been a fantastic journey thus far to be privy to all those memories and those shared by him and in his voice within the pages of his book and a new memoir.

Just like myself, I loved dancing way back in the day, lol and did compete loads as I was pretty good at it but never got to the level of a professional freestyle dancer. And that was ok. I knew what it took, all the grueling hours of practice and being creative enough to come up with “the next new move” to help stand out from everyone else competing.

Not that I didn’t want to put in the work, I sure did, but you ultimately want to get on a dance tour for a singer or band, and I was one not cut out for all the days and month of being on the road or flying here and there.

Vance had those attributes and the ability and the fire to make it to the NFL. He had the drive and conviction since that little boy throwing a football around with his father. He worked hard as he grew up to make those dreams of his become blessings. And those blessings can become for good or can become a “fall from grace” if you are not careful. Even with the best intentions and Christian upbringing.

Fast forward to today. While writing this book with a high profile person, I have had some fear and the reality of “am I doing a professional job with such a writing project?” Co-writing with a man that had such a fantastic pro football career and not knowing a “lick” about the game, lol, to be able to do justice to his past life, career, and his legacy.”

I am hoping so. Lucky for me, Vance is BIG on sharing his feeling on his Facebook page  about whatever is on his mind and touching his “heart.” He is like me and shares it all for his family, friends, and fans on his Facebook page so I can first, KNOW WHERE the heck he is, and second, know what he is feeling or thinking about addiction and his recovery journey.

The past few weeks he has touched on many relevant topics as he travels around the country advocating and speaking his truth and his testimony of why he is still living and breathing after addiction tore this ballplayers life to the brink of death. So here is his voice and he thoughts on why he does what he loves doing today!

Happy National Recovery Month. ~Catherine

 

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Many of you (my fans of football) remember this day, 1986 Championship game against the Cleveland Browns. I’m at the top of the photo, with one goal… help our team go 99.5 yards, then score a Touchdown to WIN the AFC title. The reason I’m posting this picture? Because it reminds me of another photo. Me in a coma after using & drinking myself nearly to death.

Just like many of you, struggling with an addiction to alcohol, pills, drugs, porn, gambling, whatever that hole you’ve dug yourselves into, and feeling as there is no way out. You are on the 99.5-yard line, and one step back, you die, game over. At this point in the game, no one believes that you can pull it off. No one believes after all this time, seeing no progress that you will pull off a miracle. Odds are they are right, so what are you going to do, give up?

Or are you going to get in the huddle, rehab, and make a play, and another one, and another one, aka 1 day at a time. Are you going to listen to the quarterback, therapist, and believe they know the path to victory if you will just have faith. It’s time to trust that there is a way out of this hell-hole you are in and that it takes a team to win this game. There will be bumps, setbacks, 3rd and long, maybe even 4th and long, but you can’t punt because if you do? YOU DIE…

 

“I thank God that Ihad already experienced this play in my life before, except this time it was life & death.

There was a death, the old me because what he believed was a lie. My game plan was to surrender to what I believed was right in my eyes, and the evidence was my history. It’s not about me anymore, Jesus take the wheel.

Thanks to amazing counselors, mentors, pastors, parents, John Elway, TREATMENT and a new way of thinking. “


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“I’m Owning My Sobriety, are you ready to make that play and own yours?”

Visit Today and I’ll help you WIN! ~www.vanceinspires.com  

 

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Another Post from Vance that touched my HEART:
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I spoke to 4th & 5th graders at Sand Creek Elementary School today. I opened up about not only an amazing life of fun, sports, friends, dreams, Super Bowl Rings, and the Denver Broncos, but I also talked about the tuff times, bullying, being shy, being around addiction and mommy and daddy not always getting along…

I talked about domestic violence and how it affected me. It got real quiet in the room of about 150 students. I also asked for a raise of hands if they knew anyone who suffered from drug, alcohol use or domestic violence…130 kids raised their hands.  😦  😦

After I shared I hugged the kids, and they thanked me for talking to them. In fact, 150 of them told me they believed in God, so I shared who they were in Jesus, and to remember that when they grew up. Walking out full of thanks and hugs, this 9-year-old beautiful little boy said: “what you talked about is happening in my home” we walked away together for some private time.

We cried as I prayed that the Spirit of God would fill him. I said: “I’m your uncle Vance now, and whenever you need me I will be there.” I gave a card to his teacher and principal and asked if they would contact mom about our new relationship.

 

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This is that beautiful young man (above) as I didn’t want to show his beautiful face for obvious reasons.

I hope your listening moms & dads, your kids are 💕❤️LOVED

OWN Your Sobriety and Stop Domestic Abuse