Looking Inside A Man’s Life Within A Memoir. There Is More Beyond The NFL and Fame…

Looking Inside A Man’s Life Within A Memoir. There Is More Beyond The NFL and Fame…

We come to an age and place in our lives and seems we want to look back and take stock of what we have accomplished, especially when living recovery. Did we meet those early goals in life we set for ourselves?

How do I share what God has taught me? Do I have any regrets even though my path strayed? Would I change anything? What will can I leave behind in this world of my legacy for those still living and forthcoming in recovery?”

Many of these questions can be answered in book form. Though many of us may not feel comfortable writing a memoir of one’s life.  It seems when you are a person who has LIVED many LIVES within one? I feel you need to write about it. And that is what Vance Johnson has chosen to do. And after much research on my end to learn who he is? He has had an amazing life thus far that was screaming to be written about! Lol. My own opinion of course. The rest was God’s intervention.

So how did I become part of this project? Well, it started while I was still a columnist and reached out to him to see if he’d like to be featured at In Recovery Magazine.
Vance then was kind enough to reach out to me through social media and asked if I would be interested in writing a book with him. We met on LinkedIn and when I got the message from him there, I had to actually read a few times to see if it was real! LOL. Yes, I will admit I was a wee bit star struck for about 5 seconds! So, we talked by phone a few times and BAM! We are now writing his Memoir together.

Since this is my first full-length book writing project,  I think I gave him a pretty good deal on the cost of his project…Lol! Not only is he getting a writing buddy, but like he had when he played in the NFL having “his people” watching over him, he has ME now as his literary publicist and built-in book promoter too, not just a co-writer! Lol. So we have begun our writing journey and it has been awesome. So who is Vance Johnson? And why would readers want to read his memoir? WOW! TOO MANY reasons to list my friends! But let me tell you a little about the VANCE Johnson I know…

 


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One place Vance works for that keeps him pretty busy is at “Futures of Palm Beach”.
They offer exceptional addiction treatment and have a wide variety of programs. He is a Community Outreach Coordinator at Futures.  This is where Vance went for treatment and helped to reclaim his life back from addiction. Yes, sometimes our life path may have a direction many do not walk down. Vance, however, is living proof and is one of God’s Miracles, like I am who are beating addiction. Heavenly Lessons needing to be learned on our journey. Here is more of what he does for Futures:

 

Prior to joining Futures, Mr. Johnson was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 1985 NFL draft as a wide receiver from the University of Arizona. Mr. Johnson played his entire NFL career for the Denver Broncos from 1985 to 1995 and assisted the Broncos on three consecutive trips to the Super Bowl. Throughout his college career, Vance was also a world-class long jumper. In 1982 he won the NCAA championship and won the gold medal at the Junior Pan American games. In 1984 he just missed making the Olympic track team, finishing fourth and becoming the alternate in the long jump at the 1984 United States Olympic trials in Los Angeles.

Now celebrating over three years of sobriety, Vance offers hope to the struggling addict and their families by sharing his own journey from addiction through treatment and the strength of his faith. Mr. Johnson advocates for athletes seeking addiction treatment help and speaks at prisons, schools and other public and private forums.”

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As Vance and I continue to write together, we look forward to any and ALL feedback from all our friends, readers, writers, and ALL Denver Bronco Fans for your help in telling us what you’d like to read in his new book. We want to give a “little something” for everyone to read in his memoir. Have a favorite football game you’d like to know the back story to? Or perhaps a player rivalry you want to know about? Or you want to know about his recovery? Leave all the questions in my comments and I will make sure we look and answer each one!

We just thought it would be awesome to bring everyone along with us on this journey from beginning to THE END.

 VANCE INSPIRES ~ FEEL HIS PASSION, HIS HONESTY, His Faith! THIS IS The Vance I Know…

 

I MADE IT!  HAVE YOU? #Recovery #Faith

Connect With Vance and Catherine on Social Media!

The Vance Project  ~  Vance Inspires

His Website Vance Inspires ~ Driven By HOPE  ~ He offers Sober Coaching, Professional Presentations, Speaking, Awareness and more!
He Inspires on ~ YouTube

Follow Me on FaceBook  ~  Writing Tweets  ~  Recovery Tweets
My Recovery Blog ~ “Recovery Starts Here!”
My Book/Memoir Now Available on Amazon ~  “Addicted to Dimes, Confessions”
Let’s Connect on GoodReads Too!

Does Your Spouse Have A Gambling Problem? Guest Post By Elements Behavioral Health Center.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,


Today I have a special guest post by the fine folks of “Elements Behavioral Health Centers” with many center locations. They offer unique programs in different settings and offer programs in addiction and mental health. Why is this important? Like myself, we are seeing more people coming into recovery that also have mental health challenges.

And sometimes, these challenges can be part of the root to our addiction. They also have a gambling addiction treatment program as well. So if you know someone who needs help and they may be dually diagnosed? Please visit Elements Health as you will be in good hands. You can call for locations at 1-888-350-2457…

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How to Help Depressed Loved One 2

Confirming Your Suspicions: How to Know For Sure if Your Spouse Has a Gambling Problem

You’ve known for some time now that something is wrong, but you just can’t seem to find the courage to confront your spouse on the issue. What you do know is that he or she has been distant lately, and that, along with a few other signs, means that there’s a problem that needs dealing with. Sure, it could be anything. And you probably want to dismiss what you’re feeling, that gnawing suspicion that your spouse just might have a gambling problem.

How do you know for sure if it’s gambling? Here’s how to get a handle on the issue and confirm your suspicions.

Step Back and Try to Remain Objective

Before we go into the signs that experts say indicate an existing or growing problem with gambling, it’s important that you approach the situation with some sense of objectivity. This will no doubt be quite difficult to do. You’re caught up in what’s going on since you and your spouse live together. It would be unrealistic to think that you wouldn’t be affected by the type of behavior and negative consequences that come from problem gambling.

Still, you have to maintain impartiality if you’re going to be able to look at the situation and recognize the common signs. Otherwise, you’ll be falling into the trap of denial and dismissing what are to others obvious red flags. In any case, even though it’s tough to do, you really need to step back and try to remain objective.

What is Problem Gambling?

In order to look at what may be going on with your spouse relative to problem gambling, it’s necessary to define what problem gambling is. Problem gambling, compulsive or pathological gambling, are terms that are used to describe a behavior disorder that has a tendency to become progressively worse over time – unless it is treated.

There are specific diagnostic criteria for assessing problem gambling as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. For the purpose of this article, we will be concentrating on the terms problem gambling and problem gambler. Their terms are meant to describe an individual whose gambling causes emotional, financial, psychological, marital, legal, or other difficulties for themselves and for those who live with and care about them.

It is important to make this distinction here because most experts generally view problem gambling as somewhat less serious than either compulsive or pathological gambling. But that doesn’t mean that problem gambling isn’t cause for worry. Problem gambling may lead to compulsive and then pathological gambling.

And, since problem gambling doesn’t exist in a vacuum, other addictive behaviors are commonly seen in a problem gambler. These may be a contributing factor or could arise out of the gambling behavior and include problems with drug abuse, alcohol, and/or addictive sex.

Types of Problem Gamblers

You may have not have heard the terms action gambler and escape gambler before but these are the two broad types of problem gamblers.

Action gamblers are typically men. They may have begun gambling when they were teenagers. Skill games are their preferred form of gambling, so they gravitate toward sports betting, poker, craps, dog racing and horse racing. What drives them is the belief that they are smarter than the system, and that they can consistently beat the odds and win.

Escape gamblers, on the other hand, generally drift into gambling a bit later in life. As the name implies, these gamblers get into the habit as a way of escaping their problems. Loneliness, depression, bad marriage, too much stress are some of the problems they’re trying to escape. Escape gamblers are typically women, but men can become escape gamblers as well. In any case, escape gamblers prefer a form of gambling that induces a hypnotic state of mind. These games include lottery, bingo, video poker and the slots.

Right off the bat, you may have some idea of whether or not your spouse falls into one of these categories of a problem gambler. If your spouse has always bet on football, frequently goes to the track, and has done so for most of his life, you’re already in the right ballpark to suspect that there may be a problem with gambling.

There is some research that suggests that people who grew up in families where gambling was prevalent tend to be more likely to gamble themselves. If the gambler in the family considered gambling as a way to solve problems, financial or otherwise, this attitude may be passed on to the children. In addition, people with a history of depression, hyperactivity, and mood swings may be more likely to gamble.

While there still needs to be much more research done in another area, children raised in families where the father is absent, whose parents are workaholics, are abusive, or where money is used to show either love or anger, may be more likely to develop into problem gamblers.

Problem Gambling Stages

Problem gambling progresses in stages. Some addiction experts separate it into three, four, five or more stages. We’ll simplify it into three stages.

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First, there is the winning stage. This is the period during which an individual discovers gambling, finds it exciting, intoxicating, a highly social and entertaining activity, and begins to see it as an escape from worry, stress, family or loneliness. The gambler may experience a few wins and begins to shower loved ones with gifts. He or she still has control over gambling at this point, meaning there is still money and the gambler isn’t resorting to extraordinary means to fund gambling. Life is good for the gambler in the winning stage. It will likely be the last time that this will exist.

The losing stage comes next. How quickly winning turns to losing varies – it could be extremely fast. No longer experiencing the consistent wins, the gambler becomes more preoccupied with gambling. They experience a need to make bigger bets, to bet more often. Money becomes an issue. All this begins to take an emotional toll on the gambler. Then, as losing continues, the gambler begins to “chase” the losses by making progressively bigger and more frequent bets even as he feels mounting guilt and shame over his actions.

It’s during the losing stage that credit cards get maxed out, insurance policies cashed in, items pawned or personal property sold, savings robbed, and retirement funds exhausted. Heavy borrowing becomes commonplace. The gambler starts missing work and lies to his or her family about gambling. A string of phony stories and lame excuses are offered to family and friends when the gambler gets jammed up and needs cash. What they’re looking for is a bailout in the vain attempt to recoup their losses.

The family begins to suspect – here’s where you come in – that there’s something really wrong. Creditors may start harassing the family demanding payment for past-due bills. Your mortgage may be past-due or perhaps one of the family cars is repossessed. The utility companies may even shut off services due to non-payment of bills.

Addiction experts say that it’s during the losing stage that many problem gamblers start calling gambling hotlines. If they recognize that their problem has reached a critical stage, they may be amenable to getting help. Unfortunately, many don’t stop gambling and progress to the next stage.

The final stage of problem gambling is called the desperation stage. As debts mount, his or her health shows signs that the stress is eating away. Insomnia is a frequent occurrence. Relationships deteriorate with the spouse, loved ones, close friends, and even co-workers or even worse they lose their job. Financial problems reach critical proportions. Eviction, foreclosure, and bankruptcy may occur.

The problem gambler has reached the end of the line. Feeling hopeless, powerless, depressed, filled with guilt, shame, and remorse, the problem gambler in the desperation stage may switch to escape gambler games for the purely hypnotic effect – anything to escape the intolerable reality his life has become. Some problem gamblers leave their family at this point, preferring to run away rather than face what they’ve done. Others attempt suicide. Still, others make the decision to finally get help.

What happens if the problem gambler continues in this desperate stage? Here’s where a fourth stage comes in. It’s known as the hopeless stage. Depression is common and suicide is often the only option the problem gambler sees at this point.

But let’s not think about the desperation stage right now. At this point, let’s look at some specific signs to confirm your suspicions and know for sure if your spouse has a problem with gambling.

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

Since you live with your spouse or partner whom you believe to be gambling, be on the lookout for these warning signs.

  • Looking over the monthly statements for checking and savings accounts, you see withdrawals that you had no knowledge of.
  • Checks start bouncing and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees add up.
  • Credit denial letters start arriving in the mail.
  • Items around the house start to disappear.
  • A flurry of collection notices arrive in the mail and creditors start calling demanding payment for past-due bills.
  • The bill for your spouse’s cell phone for calls and/or texts starts ratcheting up.
  • Your spouse is always secretive about money.
  • Despite having a job, your spouse always seems to be short of cash.
  • Your spouse may have taken over the bill paying, but you notice that only the minimum amount is being paid on bills.
  • Your loved one may become involved in very high-risk investing or starts frequently trading.
  • Despite the bills going unpaid, you discover your spouse has an unexpected and large amount of cash.
  • You notice that your wallet or purse is depleted of cash that you know was there, or your child says that money disappeared from his piggy bank.
  • Friends start asking when your spouse will pay back loans, or you find that there’s an increasing amount of payday or other unexpected loans that your spouse has taken out.

Problem gamblers also start experiencing difficulties at work that you may become aware of.

  • Missing work, arriving at work late and leaving early are typical signs of mounting problems with gambling.
  • Using sick days to get off work to gamble is another telltale sign.
  • Your spouse starts taking extended lunch periods or long breaks.
  • Your spouse’s boss comes down on him or her for failure to finish projects or tasks at all or on time.
  • Your spouse uses the company telephones for non-work related calls.
  • Co-workers report that your spouse is making calls related to gambling while at work.
  • Co-workers also may tell you that your spouse has asked to borrow money from them and takes an extreme interest in office pools, particularly sports pools.
  • Your spouse gets a reprimand for using office computers to gamble.
  • Cash advances on the company credit card used for gambling purposes, stealing or embezzling funds at work, and asking for frequent advances on a paycheck are other warning signs.

What You Can Do

Adding up all the warning signs, do you have your suspicions confirmed that your spouse has a problem with gambling? If the answer is yes, you have enough evidence to confront your spouse and ask that he or she get help for the problem. But is that a good move on your part at this point? What should you do, and in what sequence?

As the other partner in the marriage, you have a vested interest in keeping the union together. What happens to the family is very much dependent on the healthy relationship that the two of you share. When your spouse develops a problem with gambling, unless it’s treated, it could spiral from its current stage into an ever-increasing downward plunge.

Gambling addiction experts caution that encouraging your loved one to get treatment for a gambling problem may meet with a number of different reactions. First is denial. Your spouse will tell you anything he or she thinks you will believe in order to get you off the subject of gambling. There’s no problem. I’m not gambling. I can handle it. Stay out of my business. Everything will work out fine. These are just some of the statements you may hear. Of course, they’re probably lies. So you need to be diligent and persistent about trying to encourage your spouse to get treatment.

It won’t be easy. But you definitely don’t want the situation to get any worse than it already is. What you can do to help ease your own mind is learn all you can about how to deal with a spouse or loved one with a gambling problem. Look into a possible intervention with the help of professionals like Elements.

Consider joining Gam-Anon, the 12-step organization affiliated with Gamblers Anonymous. Gam-Anon is for the family and close friends of a gambler. Its sole purpose is to help assist you with the problems you face in your life due to your spouse’s gambling problem. It’s that simple, and that complex.

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable yet in actually going to a Gam-Anon meeting. Or, perhaps you’re afraid that your spouse will not take kindly to your attending. But you can go online and get answers to a great many questions you have, as well as find online and telephone support groups that can help you come to some reasonable way of dealing with your situation. No, it isn’t counseling, but it is support from others who are in the same position as you. These people know what it’s like to have a loved one consumed by gambling problems or addiction. They’ve learned how to cope, continue to encourage their spouse or loved ones to get help to overcome their addiction and, failing that, to mutually support each other so that life can go on.

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Gam-Anon meetings are safe places to bring up your current situation. No one will judge you. It is anonymous, so you don’t have to worry about others knowing who you are. You can laugh with others, cry, talk about what’s bothering you, ask for suggestions, and listen to the stories of others. This is a community of support – and it’s something that you need very much in learning how to cope with living with a problem gambler.

For now, just go online and check out the website. Look at the questions and answers. Download and print out or keep on a flash drive some of the Gam-Anon resources and publications. Check into some rehab facilities that treat gambling addiction or your States Lottery as they also have set aside money for treatment services and programs when others become addicted. 

Talk with a trusted friend, another family member, your minister or doctor. But do definitely seek some help for yourself. If you’ve confirmed your suspicions and are sure your spouse has a gambling problem, you can’t force him or her to do anything. But you can help yourself and be in a position to encourage your spouse to get treatment.

Bottom line: Reach out and get help for you. This may be the most important thing that you can do right now.
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“Presented by Gambling Recovery Starts Here!  ~  Catherine Townsend-Lyon”

How to Help a Loved One When They’re Depressed by Alek S.

How to Help a Loved One When They’re Depressed by Alek S.

Hello and Welcome Friends and New Visitors,

Many of my regular friends here know I am living with mental health challenges along with maintaining my recovery from addiction. Many suffer in a variety of ways and depression seems to be a popular disorder affecting more than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

Persistent depressive disorder, as I have, or PDD, (formerly called dysthymia) is a form of depression that usually continues for at least two years or longer according to “The Anxiety and Depression Association of America” Alek has written a great article for us to help those we know who suffer from depression. I hope it helps friends…
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“How to Help a Loved One When They’re Depressed”

It is incredibly difficult to watch someone you love go through depression. Depression is a disease that doesn’t operate within the normal bounds of reason. The chemical imbalances in the brain of a person who suffers from depression put them into a different mode of existence, where little things might seem like the end of the world, or it might be difficult to get excited about the big things, at all. Indeed there’s a reason that depression can be so closely linked to substance abuse. According to some studies, as many as half of the people with depression may also struggle with a substance abuse or addiction disorder at some point in their lives.

However, this doesn’t mean that a depressed person has to be resigned to living a life of sadness and repressed emotions. By using effective coping skills and learning to manage their mind, people all over the world live fulfilling lives, despite the effects of depression. Here are some key things that you can do to help a loved one who struggles with depression…


Don’t use shame to fight depression:

Shame is a tool that is too often utilized when it comes to our intercourse with mental illness. What makes this a real shame is that it doesn’t really work. You can’t shame someone into getting over the way that depression makes them feel. Phrases like “just be happy” don’t do anything to actually mitigate the effects of depression, which are caused by real and tangible chemical imbalances in the brain, and instead, work to make your loved one feel like they are understood, not more alienated. As you can imagine, this doesn’t work towards improving healthy habits that are able to help them cope with depression.

How to Help Depressed Loved One 3


Small acts of kindness go a long way:

We don’t need a big sweeping gesture that shows the people we love that we are willing to help in their struggle with depression. Instead, it’s important to remember that little acts of kindness can build up to make a person feel respected and appreciated. Don’t only offer these kind gestures towards your loved one, but encourage them to do the same for other people.
There are studies that show that small acts of kindness actually are able to increase the happiness of the person who carries them out.

Encourage professional help:

It can be hard for people to determine when depression requires the help of a professional. However, it’s important to realize that someone who is severely depressed will never seek the help of a professional themselves. That’s just the nature of the disease; when you’re in it, you can’t find hope that it will get better. Do whatever you can to urge your loved one to seek help, since you know that there are numerous ways today that we can help to manage the symptoms of depression.

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Don’t undermine their experiences

Even though the overwhelming feelings of a person with depression may be caused by the actual chemical effects of depression, rather than external factors, it is still important to understand that those feelings are still real, whether they are rational or not. Depression can be a part of a person’s existence, and even though it is important to learn coping skills to deal with the weight that depression can be on a person’s shoulders, it is also important to not undermine these experiences. Instead, just listen or give them their space. You don’t need to fix everything at every moment.

 

Encourage healthy habits

Because depression has to do with brain chemistry, it is very beneficial for a person with depression to be engaging in healthy behavior that improves brain balance, such as dieting, exercising, or eliminating the toxins in their body. This can be difficult since depression, by its very nature, can get in the way of doing important life things, including just eating at all. What you can do, as a person who loves them is encourage the healthy habits that are going to make them feel better, in the long run. While depression can undermine the desire to do such things, be persistent and know that it will help them.

Don’t expect quick fixes

If you are looking for a quick fix to get rid of the effects of depression, then you should probably hang up the cape right now and save yourself the time. Combatting depression takes time and is a battle of a bunch of little things, rather than any one big thing that gets rid of the entire problem.

Just be there

Sometimes, you don’t have to actually do anything. Feeling like you have to constantly be “fixing” this person because of their depression is just going to have the opposite effect that you want. Sometimes, just being there and not doing anything counterproductive is going to mean the world to them.

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“Presented by Recovery Starts Here!  ~ Author, Catherine Lyon” 


“I Welcome Guest & His Article Author, Stephen Kavalkovich ~ Love, Loss, Addiction…”

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and New Ones…

I have thankfully have not lost a child to addiction, any type of addiction, but I have met and know many parents who have when you are out advocating addiction and recovery. I can tell you it is heartbreaking and hits you right in the gut to know a child was taken by the addiction epidemic raging in our country.

Of course, any child lost in any way is hard, but when it is due to addiction, it seems harder as you feel and take on guilt that somehow you could have as a parent prevented it. So, when I was visiting my friend Stephen’s blog; Tales From The Broadside and read this post I am sharing with you today, I just knew it DID need to be shared…

 

 

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SURVIVORS: THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

 
“The Butterfly Effect states that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the Earth can create a tidal wave on the other. Today, I got to see the most marvelous, living example of this and cannot get moments rest until I share it with you. When loving people are able to take monumental, personal tragedy and rise up, a tsunami begins.”

My experience on the journey of personal recovery and transformation has placed people in my life that I would not have had the privilege and honor of meeting had we not gone through similar tremendous loss and heartbreak. I will start with Adam. I never personally knew him, but sadly he left this world far too soon when he lost the battle with addiction. However, when he departed, his family was left with a choice. They could take the weight of grief and let it destroy them, or they could take the pieces of their broken hearts and build an empire.

His mother, Gail, with the help of her son Patrick, began to go about the heavy task of offering a ladder of hope out of the hole that others had found themselves in. She is the only woman I know who will answer her phone and bring complete strangers to a shelter, detox, rehab, or wherever she can at any time of day or night. Since Adam passed a few years ago, she and her family have helped countless souls find a solid foundation with which to build a life of remarkable joy and freedom free from the grips of addiction.

 

I was one of the recipients of her assistance when I had nowhere to turn. As tragic as it was to lose her son, his loss became a chance for myself and hundreds of others. Had she crawled into a hole of despair, there is a good chance I would not be here today to share her story, be a father to my own children, and be here to serve others in the same way she helped me.  It takes one butterfly to start a slight breeze and in turn cause a hurricane that can’t be stopped.

Now, I will tell you about another man I never knew but wish I had the chance to meet. His name was King. He also succumbed to his demons not too long ago, and like Adam left a loving family with a giant hole. His two sisters, Sue and Anne, began a crusade, King’s Crusade, almost immediately after his death.

After meeting them today, I know that as devastating as it was to lose him, their purpose was designed by God through their brother. Sue and Anne have a peace about them that I couldn’t possibly describe to you. They are warm, loving, and open about their struggle. I explained to Sue that although it hurts tremendously, their cross to bear is this movement because they are the only ones who could do it without effort.

To paraphrase from Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory,” “You don’t ask a fish how it swims or a bird how it flies.” They do it because they were born to do it. Since King passed, they too started flapping their wings and today was the beginning of a Butterfly Effect that is going create a storm. Though I never knew him, the sisters’ example made me feels as if I had. They began planting seeds in our community by planning an expo to address the addiction epidemic everywhere. Today it happened and that was just the start. We may never actually know how many were helped by today’s event, but I know how many wouldn’t have been had it not ever occurred. Zero.

I don’t try to understand why God does what He does. Nor do I know why some people die from the same affliction that others survive from. However, recent events have given me the insight to know that none of this happens by mistake. I know that King, Adam, and all of the other lost loved ones would’ve wanted it this way. I met many folks who have buried their children in recent months today, and they are the true heroes. I thanked another man named Steve today for getting up, suiting up, and showing up. He buried his son Max recently, and he too has decided to build a bridge instead of burning one down.

I am eternally grateful to have experienced the Butterfly Effect today, and cannot wait to see what comes next. If the message of hope shared today helps one person break free from the bondage of addiction, then the senseless wreckage that addiction leaves in its wake will not be in vain…

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About The Guest Author:

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I am a man who was given the gift of many experiences in life. For most of my adult life, I was a 911 Paramedic. I have seen tragedy and suffering first hand for many years. Little was I aware that I was the one who needed the saving. Through seeking peace within by using all things external, I wound up dead and ruined in every way.

My goal is simple, to use my experience to connect and give you a voice. I have expertise in Emergency Medical Care, First Responder and Addiction/Substance abuse issues, Recovery Coaching, Intervention, Leadership, and Spiritual Studies. I am available to serve your coaching, professional speaking, and journalistic needs.

 

 

“Presented By “Recovery Starts Here!” ~ Author, Catherine Lyon”

Gambling Addiction is NOT a Poor Person’s Addiction. Meet Melinda L., An RN…

imageedit_1_6172885164 Courtesy of InRecovery Magazine

“My name is Melinda and I saved lives for a living.”

I was an ICU nurse and a nursing supervisor at a hospital where I had been employed for 27 years. I had earned respect, accolades and a good degree of success in my career. There are people alive today because of actions I took and decisions I made, often in a split second, to save their lives. With all of this success, I could not for the life of me stop gambling or think I could stop any more than changing the tides of the ocean.

Believe me, I tried.  In the local bookstore, I found rows and rows of books on alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating, overspending, over-sexing, over this, over that. There were entire sections dedicated to the innocent enablers who unwillingly allowed the “overs” to continue their destructive behavior. There were no manuals for the hapless gambler.

I would sit in my car, slam the steering wheel, lower my head and sob. My gas gauge was on empty, and that familiar nauseating feeling of disgust and terror would return. Then, as always, I would form a momentary sense of resolution and regurgitate the lines of an old sermon filled with rallying cries: “I can’t do this anymore . . . this is not me . . . I’m not a caged animal on a treadmill . . . I am better than this!” Each time I spoke these words, I had the feeling that this time I would stop gambling.

Less than 24 hours later, my car was back in the casino parking lot. It was as if I had no control; I realize now that I didn’t. This continued for close to five years until my life came crashing down. Due to choices I’d made to feed my addiction, I lost my job of 27 years, damaged relationships with friends and family, forfeited an insane amount of money and nearly lost my life. I also lost perhaps the most precious thing of all; time. Time I can never get back wasted in front of slot machines.

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Slot machines were designed with one goal: to make an addict out of everyone. The longer a person plays, the more money they lose, until it is all gone. In the midst of my gambling addiction, my sensible way of thinking about money all but vanished. I would drive an extra four miles to save $2 on paper towels, and yet drop $500 in a slot machine. I kept 50 cents in the console of my car for enough gas to get home. It was often the only money I had left at the end of a day of gambling.

One time when I was so engrossed in my machine, I failed to hear a man’s call for help when his mother passed out. I had performed several Good Samaritan acts in public, but I had a good thing going that particular Sunday afternoon; I was winning. That should have been the time I faced reality, but it wasn’t. I had two more years of self-destruction, convoluted thinking, and unhinged behavior ahead of me.  I was just as impaired by gambling as a bar patron who has had too much to drink. After about eight drinks, a bartender would no doubt cut them off; after all, they might hurt themselves, or worse, kill someone. When a patron’s judgment is impaired, the responsible thing would be to cut them off.

No such limits exist at the casino. Every time I went gambling, it was as though I was walking into the Cheers bar. The greeters knew my name when I usually gambled and the machine I liked; I’m sure they were also aware of how often I lost. No one ever came over and suggested, “Take a break, go home, take care of your kids.” There were no safety nets in place; just a few signs with a number to call if you thought you had a gambling problem.

I hit rock bottom and stopped gambling on April 29, 2012. My hard work was just beginning. My life was in shambles. I had no job, no money and no direction. Nursing was all I had ever known and loved, and I had jeopardized my license. There is a reason why gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicide of any addiction. One in five addicts attempt suicide, and many succeed. There is only so much cocaine, heroin or alcohol you can put into your body before ending up in a morgue. Gambling has no such constraints; when it gets bad, suicide seems to be the only answer.

Fortunately, I knew I had to live. I had to be a mother to my children.

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As I slowly emerged from a cloud of profound shame and despair, I began going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings and reached out to organizations I had avoided in the past. One of those organizations was a nonprofit in Washington, DC, called Stop Predatory Gambling. Their mission is to stop the injustice and inequality created by government-sponsored gambling. I became their official National Victim’s Advocate, a voice for those who remain silent and in the shadows due to social stigma and discrimination. I began speaking all over the country and joined in the fight against gambling expansion. The underlying message was simple: Gambling addiction is a beast that destroys families and individuals; it is fundamentally wrong for our government to prey upon the vulnerable to fill their coffers. My goal was to bring advocacy, raise awareness and reform for this highly misunderstood addiction.

“I once had a one-on-one conversation with a senator from Illinois. “You don’t look like a gambler,” he said. “What do you think one looks like?” I replied. “We look like who we are: your neighbor, sister, father, spiritual leader, co-worker. The slot machine didn’t look back at me and say, ‘Gee, you are a bit too put together, I’m not going to make you an addict.”

Gambling operates on the Pareto Principle: 90% of profits come from 10% of the gamblers. These are not your casual weekend night-on-the-town gamblers, they are the most vulnerable: the elderly, poor, women and minorities. “Casino Cafes” located every few miles in strip malls with cutesy names like Stella’s and Dolly’s are blatantly predatory to women. Many states and municipalities view gambling as an economic panacea, yet they miss the hidden costs: child neglect, crime and ultimately the need for state assistance. Gambling addiction tears families apart and ruins lives.

Gambling addiction is now recognized as a disease and may be covered by insurance and have benefits that cover treatment. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the number of gambling addicts is rising at an alarming rate. In Illinois alone, there are nearly 12,000 people on the voluntary self-exclusion list – just an estimated 10% of the state’s problem gamblers.  Gambling nearly killed me, and I never saw it coming.  Things need to change. We have far to go before the problem of compulsive gambling is resolved.

Change begins when even one addicted gambler finds recovery.

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Melynda Litchfield has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, working in ICU, nursing administration and now home care. She is the National Victim’s Advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling, mans the GA hotline twice a week and speaks on the predatory effects of gambling and the nature of the gambling industry. Melynda is the proud mother of three children and is active in community organizations, including her church council.
www.stoppredatorygambling.org

**I have known and worked with Melinda and Les Bernal Founder of Stop Predatory Gambling about the expansion and impact of the growing offerings of gambling sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery and when I lived in Oregon until late 2013. Please visit there website by the link above and see how gambling has a negative impact on your State and Community today…

Catherine Lyon

“Fighting Compulsive Gambling One NY Times Article and One Life at a Time.”

30retiring1-master768Photo Courtesy Deanna Alejandra Dent for The New York Times.

 “Author and Advocate, Marilyn Lancelot, 86, said that after being a compulsive gambler for seven years, she was arrested at age 61 for embezzling $350,000 from her job and served nearly a year in prison.”

And an amazing woman she is. And I have been blessed and honored to know her for over 5-years now and she is my sponsor while I am living temporarily here in Arizona. She has helped so many women and men too into recovery from the deadliest and hush, hush addictions around. Yes, I am talking about Gambling Addiction. Currently, IS the #1 addiction claiming lives by the hands of Suicides…

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New York Times – “Fighting Compulsive Gambling Among Women”
by:   APRIL 28, 2017.

 

Blinking lights, the clicking sound of coins, and perks like free or inexpensive food, drinks, and casino bus trips are enticing many older women to gamble.

For some people, that seductive environment can be extremely dangerous.

“Casinos are trained to make you feel welcome, while you lose your life,” said Sandra Adell, 70, a literature professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who recounted her experiences as a compulsive gambler in the book “Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen.” In an interview, Professor Adell said that advertisements aimed at older adults often show smiling people, dressed up and looking glamorous, “to create an illusion that plays to people’s weaknesses.”

“What the industry is doing,” she continued, “the way it markets and keeps casinos filled with elderly people, is morally reprehensible.”

Hard numbers are difficult to find, but Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said that gambling addiction among older women near or in retirement appears to be increasing in scope and severity, with a devastating impact on personal finances.

Marilyn Lancelot, 86, of Sun City, Ariz., for example, said that after being a compulsive gambler for seven years, she was arrested at age 61 for embezzling $350,000 from her job and served nearly a year in prison. “I really thought I’d win the big one deep down in my heart,” she said in an interview. “Every gambler says that.” Ms. Lancelot has described her experiences in the book “Gripped by Gambling.”

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Many experts say that men are often “action” gamblers, who favor blackjack and poker, while women tend to be “escape” gamblers, drawn to games based on luck, like slot machines and lottery tickets. Women often begin gambling later in life than men, sometimes after a major life event, like the death of a spouse or when they become empty nesters.

Women are less likely to develop gambling problems than men, Mr. Whyte said, but “telescoping, the rapid development of problems, is especially pronounced in senior women.” It may seem surprising to some people that women have severe gambling problems, he said. “Grandma is not seen as someone who embezzles money and is taken off to jail,” he said, yet it happens.

Many women lose significant amounts of money and jeopardize their futures. “Once they tap into retirement savings, it’s incredibly hard — if they are ever able — to rebuild those savings,” Mr. Whyte said.

Stephanie Iacopino, 63, of Toms River, N.J., who works part time in retail sales, said that during years of compulsive gambling, she stole money from family members, friends, and clients in a travel business, and ultimately went to prison in 2010 for embezzling about $18,000 from her church.  She said she served nearly four months at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women near Clinton, N.J., followed by 22 months in New Jersey’s Intensive Supervision Program, which, the state says, is “more onerous” than traditional probation. “We don’t have a nest egg,” said Ms. Iacopino, who is married. “We live paycheck to paycheck.” But she said that while she is struggling financially, she is happy to be recovering from her addiction.

Some women have medical issues associated with gambling, Mr. Whyte said, like bladder problems aggravated by not getting up from slot machines to go to the bathroom. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that among older people, some medications may lead to compulsive behavior, including gambling addiction. Decreased cognitive functioning can also interfere with the ability to make sound decisions, he added.

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There is a strong connection between gambling and substance abuse. “If you are a problem gambler, you are four times more likely to have a problem with alcohol at some point in your life,” he said. “At a minimum, the rate of problem gambling among people with substance-use disorders is four to five times that found in the general population.” (The council operates a national 24/7 help line for problem gamblers and their families.)

Patricia A. Healy, clinical director of Healy Counseling Associates, in Toms River, N.J., which specializes in addiction counseling, said problem gambling among the elderly “is a hot issue and under-noticed in this country.”

“Gambling is the stepchild of the addiction world,” she said. “You can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you can’t observe it,” unless you see someone in action.

For certain people, she said, there is an adrenaline rush and “suddenly they’re in the chase. Sadly for some, it’s a death spiral.” Bus trips to casinos are sometimes arranged to coincide with the arrival of pension and Social Security checks, she said, and cases of retirees who cash in their I.R.A.s and pensions, or mortgage or ultimately lose their houses are not uncommon. “There is a tremendous amount of shame.”

Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said some older people gamble with money intended for medication and find themselves in desperate straits. Some who become suicidal may “drive out in traffic and get killed so families can collect insurance,” she said.

Sam Skolnik, author of “High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America’s Gambling Addiction,” said the aftereffects of pathological gambling include social costs that range from loss of productivity at work, domestic crime, suicide and harm to families from rising indebtedness, home foreclosure, and bankruptcy. “When the elderly gamble, they are often harmed in a more permanent way, sadly,” he said.

“There’s no question the industry knows that they lose more money than they should.”

 

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Sara Slane, senior vice president for public affairs at the American Gaming Association, which represents casinos, said in an email statement, “While problem gambling has not increased along with the increase in casinos, the industry and the A.G.A. continue to increase their investment and commitment to responsible gaming programs.” She cited research in The Journal of Gambling Studies that compared telephone surveys conducted in 1999 and 2000 with those from 2011 to 2013 and found that rates of problem gambling remained stable overall and actually declined among women.

Rachel Volberg, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, who studies gambling, said the state of knowledge about the issue in the United States is still inadequate. “There’s not much support for gambling research in the U.S.,” she said.

It wasn’t until 1980 that pathological gambling was designated as a mental health issue in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, she said: “It’s a relatively young disorder as far as having recognition.”

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Ms. Lancelot, of Arizona, who is now retired, said she left prison with nothing but eventually recovered financially. As a felon, getting a job and an apartment was difficult, but she borrowed three months’ rent from her brother, offered to pay the landlord in advance and found work as a secretary with the Arizona state government. Within 10 years, she said, she had two homes, a new car and checking accounts. “I want older people to know that it’s not the end of the world,” she said.

Ms. Pryor, of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said older adults can protect themselves from potential gambling problems in retirement by seeking help in managing their finances — and in planning how to spend their time — long before they stop working. “What people need to realize,” she said, “is, they may win a little, but ultimately, the house always wins.”

 

What Every Parent Should Know about Pain Meds ~ Our Guest Article.

What Every Parent Should Know about Pain Meds ~ Our Guest Article.

We as parents already know about the raging drug epidemic happening in our communities, so let’s make sure we start “at home” to make all medications in the safe and put away from your kids, teens, and young adults. Yes, parents, it needs to start with you…

Guest Article By Christine H.

Deaths caused by prescription pain medication overdose are skyrocketing. Between 2000 and 2015, most areas in North America saw opioid deaths quadruple. It’s at a point where it’s being called a public health crisis. But however bad a situation regarding addiction is… it’s always hard to imagine that it has anything to do with us or our family.

The truth is that opioid addiction is something that affects people at every age, from every walk of life. It’s easy to hide, so for the most part, people who find out that their children are struggling with opioid addiction are completely floored and surprised. Because these pain medications are often originally prescribed by a doctor, it’s hard to know where the line is between use and abuse.

So, in the name of prevention and education, here are some important facts that every parent should know about the opioid epidemic.

1: Opioids are some of the most addictive substances we know of

Opiates and opioids are substances derived from the poppy plant, like opium of historical significance, or morphine that we use in hospitals today. Opioids are used to treat pain, and they’re often prescribed for sports injuries, recovery from surgery, and chronic pain conditions.

Some of the most commonly prescribed opiates are OxyContin®, Percocet®, Codeine, Demerol®, and Methadone®. One of the things that make opiates so addictive is that the body quickly builds a tolerance to them, which means that you’ll need more and more of the substance in order to get the same effects. Following closely on the heels of tolerance is dependence, where someone’s body actually needs the substance in order to simply feel normal. At this point, it’s really hard to distinguish when someone needs pain management, and when they’re addicted. For this reason, opiates need to be closely monitored by a doctor to ensure that the medication is doing what it needs to do without being abused.

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2: The most common street opioid is heroin?

In our minds, there’s a big leap between using more pills than the doctor prescribed, and going out to purchase a street drug like heroin. However, once addiction takes control and someone’s supply of prescription pain medications is cut off, it’s not uncommon for people to turn to a different, accessible form of the substance. Often, this can get really scary because the dosage of street heroin isn’t as carefully monitored (of course) and it can be very easy for someone to mismanage it.


However, it’s important to remember that as scary as this transition is,
prescription opioids can be just as dangerous. In fact, in Utah, twice as many people die from prescription opioids as from heroin.

3: Addiction isn’t the end

If you think that someone you love is at risk of opioid addiction, it can be hard to deal with. It’s difficult to know how to confront and handle the problem effectively. This is real and scary. However, addiction is not the end. If you worry that someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, learn to recognize the signs, and work to remove the stigma. Let them know that you care and they’re not alone, and encourage them to seek professional treatment.

In addition to professional treatment for addiction, an important resource is Naloxone. If someone is taking opioids, they could be at risk of an overdose. Naloxone is a safe medication that counters the effects of an overdose long enough for professional help to arrive. Educate yourself about it, and if you live in an area where laymen can safely purchase and carry it, then have a kit on hand.

 

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What Can You Do?

  • Talk honestly with your children about substance abuse, including alcohol, drugs, and prescription medication. And start the conversation early! As this article states, some state drug education programs are starting as early as Kindergarten because forewarned students are forearmed. Educate yourself about addiction, and open up the conversation to understand your child’s concerns and questions. Avoid using scare tactics and exaggerations. Numerous studies have found that the most effective drug education is in honest conversation, not in facts and figures, or even dramatically terrifying stories.

  • There are alternative pain treatment methods. Neither you nor your children have to take opioids. If your doctor prescribes them for someone in your family, talk to them about it and ask for alternative treatment. According to the CDC, safer options are available, and often, they can be more effective in managing pain. Be savvy about any medications that your family is taking. Read the labels and understand the side effects and risks.

  • Keep all of your medications in a safe place, in child-proof containers. Monitor them closely, and don’t share medications with family members that they’re not prescribed for. For example, never use grandma’s old Lortab® in order to treat one of your kid’s toothaches, however severe.

  • Speaking of old Lortab®, always safely dispose of medication when you don’t need it anymore or it expires. Pain medication isn’t like antibiotics; you don’t need to take the whole prescribed amount. Take leftover medication to any pharmacy, and they can take care of it for you.

  • Remember that even when you take opioids as prescribed, there are still dangers. Be alert to the possible problems, and don’t dismiss concerns as they crop up.

Article was written by Author, Christine H.