Recovery Month Featured Guest Article. “A Gambling Story.” By Charles Watson.

Recovery Month Featured Guest Article. “A Gambling Story.” By Charles Watson.


Will call her “Jenny.”

Jenny is a thirty-eight-year-old who shared her gambling addiction story with my friend Charles Watson who is a content writer for addiction/recovery and health-related issues. Jenny let us share some of her feelings and struggles with addicted gambling as part of an interview with Charles. To keep her bit anonymous, I’m using the first name only. Here is what he learned from his talk with Jenny. As we know those of us maintaining recovery, sharing our stories can be a powerful tool to help others and share hope…

“My Gambling Addiction Story”

I never wanted to admit that I was addicted to gambling until I went home late one evening and found my 10-year-old son quietly sitting outside our apartment. Next to them was a bag full of toys and some school stuff.

The moment I saw him, I knew what was going on. Still, I waited until my son blurted it out, “uncle told us to leave, mom.” Yes, we were being evicted. I know I was five months behind our rent and that we only managed to stay longer since the landlord pitied my son. Then again, this fact didn’t stop me from falling deeper and deeper into my gambling habit.

On my way to work, I’d pass by the casino, try my luck at one of the machines there, as if it’s a part of my daily morning routine. For me, that was how I should jumpstart my day. After work, I’d pass by the casino again, and no matter how full or empty the casino parking lot would look like, I always had a reason to go inside. If the parking lot was full, I’d talk myself right inside thinking that the machines will be paying out now. If the parking lot was empty, then I’d think that the slots will pay out again this time. That’s how bad it has gotten! My thinking was even addicted and going entirely in the wrong direction.

My Backstory

I came from a struggling family. I had eight other siblings, my mother worked as a preschool teacher while my father prided himself in being a professional drunk. We could barely make ends meet because my father would always steal my mother’s money for alcohol. My siblings and I ended up working odd jobs to support ourselves. Cash was hard to find for us back then.

Luckily, I got a scholarship for college and with blood, sweat, and tears I was able to graduate. Since I was at the top of my class, I attracted a firm and was hired as a PR and Advertising Consultant in one of the biggest PR firms in the city right after graduation. Even though I was new, my firm was confident to let me handle large accounts.

Having drive and determination and a “DON’T- take-No-for-an-answer” attitude, I was promoted after a year. I was just 24 at the time I landed the account that turned my career around. I was doing really great and for the first time ever, I felt like I could do anything, and finally, money was now effortless to find making life much easier. I was at the peak of my career when I met Josh, the father of my child.

I knew him to be a well-mannered gentleman who came from a good family. He presented himself as somebody who is successful in his career and is financially stable. I felt secure having Josh in my life. This is the same reason that prompted me to move in with him, even before we were married. In 2007, I gave birth to our first child. Since I feel like I needed to spend more time with our newborn, I decided to quit my job.

I gathered all my savings and invested it in a business Josh was planning to start. In short, I gave Josh all my money. A week after I gave him the money, he talked to me again, now asking me to give him more. He said he needed more investors for his business. So, I borrowed money from friends and from the people I worked with in the past. I gave him a total of $50,000…

“After getting all the money from me, Josh just disappeared.”


How my gambling problem started

I was furious. I couldn’t accept the fact that Josh left me and for a younger woman. I cried buckets and buckets of tears day after day. I overdosed on sleeping pills and alcohol in attempts to escape from my problems. I also met a few friends who invited me to the casino to ‘supposedly’ unwind and rest from my worries and stress. When I told my new-found friends that I don’t have money for the casino, they told me to pawn anything valuable I have. So, heeding their advice, I pawned the diamond ring Josh gave me as a gift for our anniversary. Off we went to the casino!

When I saw the colorful lights and festive atmosphere of the casino, I was ecstatic. After a very long time, I finally broke away from my misery. That day, the casino became my savior, my refuge, and my escape. I tried playing with the slot machine and voila! For my fourth try, I won big! Whew! I felt like my life was slowly getting back on the right track that night. That night ended with me bagging another big win before we left! I was hooked!

The next day, I spoke to my old boss and asked him to take me back. I felt if I went back I would win big again. Then, I got my old job back, but it was very different this time. My motivation to work was to have money to spend at the casino. My thinking sure changed after those couple big wins. Every time I received my paycheck, I would immediately go to the casino and into the arms of my slot machines. I would always think about the fun, dream world, and seemingly happy casino atmosphere. It was something that I could not get over. And just how fast I got hooked!


Acknowledging The problem and Doing Something About It

I never acknowledged it as a problem until I saw my son crying because he was starving. We had nothing in the fridge. No water, no electricity, as well. I realized I was no longer buying groceries and I was not paying our bills. All I was thinking was the casino! After spending another night at the casino, I went home to an eviction notice. We had nowhere to live. I only had five dollars in my wallet. How would we survive? I decided to stay with my mom and dad. I shared my gambling problem with my mother, and she asked me to speak to her friend who is a counselor.

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We made my first appointment and after, I was happy to find a counselor who was empathetic and supportive of my decision to break away from my gambling habit. I still see her every week. Even though I’m still struggling, I can say that I’m doing the right thing and on the right track. It’s ironic how we only decide to do something about a problem once everything else in our lives is a mess. My experience was genuinely becoming unmanageable.

I’m still thinking about the casino and the rush and high I get every time I go there. But then again, when I look at my son, I know there is more to life than my need to temporarily escape from my problems and issues. I have work to do in learning the proper tools and skills to keep me from gambling as I now know I have a problem with it.

In closing, I’m trying to stay on the right track — for myself and give a better life to my son.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Guest Blogger: Charles Watson. Brand: Sunshine Behavioral Health


Charles L. Watson is a freelance writer. Although he holds no medical or psychological degree, his content writing specialties include both addiction, recovery, and health-related topics. You can read more of his content for Sunshine Behavior Health. He would like to thank “Jenny” for her time and honesty with regards to her story above. While the story itself is heartbreaking, let us remember that gambling itself is an addiction and recovery from this disease is possible.  Charles can be reached on Twitter.

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Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.

It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of  “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
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You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews.  I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.

Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.

And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.

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And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”

And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”

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Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.

Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.

Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)

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“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Christopher Kennedy and his cousin John F Kennedy Jr, in Hyannisport MA

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“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.

With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.

In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”

Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.

“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.

Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.  “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.

His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
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“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”

After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”

He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.

He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.

“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”

He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.

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In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia: 

In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. FoundationSpecial Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.

Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.

The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.

~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~

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National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

“I am a woman maintaining recovery from addictions and I am dually diagnosed with mental and emotional health challenges. My gambling addiction is what finally brought out my mental health symptoms to the point of trying suicide…TWICE.”

And I have not talked about it much. That comes from stigma. I don’t really want a label attached to me even though stigma is still prevalent among those recovering from addiction, but mental illness still has a long way to go. Of course, we have to have a name for the many forms of mental illnesses, but many times those who suffer become targets and ridiculed. That comes from NO Understanding and Lack of Empathy.

Just my own feelings. It is why I advocate, I try to help educate and inform the public that we who have mental illness are no different from others. We may just have a few more challenges than those who don’t have mental health issues. There has been an alarming rise of those recovering from addictions being diagnosed with some form of mental and emotional problem.

According to this article by my helpful friends of The National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Recovery Village. I treat my mental health just as my medical health. I am well managed, take my meds properly, and don’t use alcohol. I always keep my appointments and live life. I don’t let my challenges hold me back from what I enjoy doing! I do however need to be open and comfortable doing so. Here is a new attempt…Lol. I do hope all who visit find this article informative.  ~Catherine

Mental Illness and Addiction: America’s Struggle to Accept the Connection
Article By Staff at The Recovery Village.

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The United States is knee deep in a polarizing discussion on mental health and the best ways to help people struggling. Another topic Americans continue to wrestle with is how to address drug and alcohol addiction. But is there a relationship between the two issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the United States suffer from mental illness each year. Additionally, 20.2 million people in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder and a little more than half of them also have a mental health disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder.

Despite the prevalence of both mental illness and substance use disorder, a cause-and-effect relationship between the two is not universally accepted by many people in the United States.

The Recovery Village, a leader in substance use disorder treatment and mental health, recently conducted a survey that uncovered an overlap between mental health and addiction among the respondents’ answers. This information could help more people accept that there is a link between the two, and acknowledge them as equally important illnesses, helping create a culture that promotes healing and treatment instead of criticism and blame.

What Is Mental Illness?

First, it’s important to define mental illness. Medical experts summarize the disease as any disorder or disorders that cause a person to experience an altered mood, thinking pattern or behavior. According to Medline Plus, mental health disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders or personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia

From the survey conducted by The Recovery Village, approximately 62 percent of people said they either currently suffer or have suffered from a mental illness in the past. The most common mental health disorder that survey respondents said they suffered from was depression (78.46 percent), with anxiety disorders (70.73 percent) a close second. Mood disorders (37 percent) followed, and multiple respondents included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a write-in answer.

Respondents were allowed to submit multiple answers, as many people suffer from more than one mental illness. The number of respondents who suffer from a mental illness is not the only evidence of the issue’s significance. Nearly 63 percent of survey respondents said they know at least one family member who suffers from a mental health disorder and 54.25 percent said they know a friend who suffers from this disease. Few people surveyed — only 57 out of 400 — said they don’t know anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, a reason to believe that this issue either directly or indirectly affects a large majority of Americans.

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Connecting Mental Illness and Addiction

Many people suffering from a mental health disorder resort to drugs or alcohol as a dangerous form of self-medication. Additionally, many doctors prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to patients with a mental illness, and these drugs can be addictive. While some people misuse substances as a response to mental illness, others developmental health concerns after prolonged drug or alcohol addiction. For example, people who misuse cocaine or other stimulant drugs might experience long-term behavioral changes, including depression or anxiety, as the body functions alter permanently due to the substance’s effects.

How many people suffer from co-occurring disorders? A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 7.9 million adults in 2016 suffered from substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Rates were highest among adults between the ages of 26 and 49. The Journal of the American Medical Association found information that links the two diseases:

  • Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health disorders are also affected by substance misuse
  • Around 37 percent of people addicted to alcohol and 53 percent of people addicted to drugs suffer from at least one mental illness

America Still Behind on Accepting the Connection

The survey conducted by The Recovery Village shows an even stronger connection between co-occurring disorders. There is a large overlap between the number of people who have been affected by each disease. Of the 343 people who said they know someone who suffers from a mental health disorder, 303 people (88 percent) said they know at least one person who also has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. However, since some people could know multiple people, one with each illness, this information might be open to interpretation.

The survey respondents’ first-hand knowledge and experiences with these two illnesses provide even better evidence of the relationship between mental health disorders and addictions. Around 39 percent of the people surveyed said they have struggled or currently struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction, and nearly 35 percent said that they have struggled with both an addiction and mental health disorder.

Out of the 156 people who admitted to struggling with addiction, around 89 percent said they also suffered from, or still struggle with, a mental illness. Yet not as many drew a definitive connection between the two. Only 59 percent of respondents said they believe there is a relationship between mental health disorders and addiction. While that is a majority, the respondents’ beliefs about the potential connection are not reflective of their personal experiences.

Destigmatizing Mental Illness and Addiction

As the United States continues to discuss ways to make mental health treatment more accessible, the conversation of removing the negative stigma remains on the frontlines of discourse. However, a similar negative view of addiction continues to fester in the country, creating a more difficult landscape for people to accept and find treatment for their disorders.

Claire Rudy Foster, a contributor to Huffington Post who is in recovery from addiction, summarized the public’s perception toward substance use disorder: “Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal.

Maybe I am morally infirm as well.” The negative perception about addiction that exists in the United States can often become a roadblock toward lifelong recovery. If people suffering from substance use disorder do not have support from their peers, the healing process becomes more challenging.

Many medical professionals stress that a link exists between mental illness and substance use disorder. Additionally, the survey responses show that a majority of people who have suffered or are suffering from one of these disorders have also experienced the other. Yet only a little more than half of Americans are certain that a connection exists, potentially allowing the negative stigma surrounding addiction to fester within the country.

Increasing awareness and understanding can help create a more positive environment for people seeking recovery from substance use disorders. For those who have an addiction to a harmful substance and also suffer from a mental illness, there are many resources and hotlines available.

Seeking and receiving help from medical experts can make a big difference toward finding peace and living with either or both illnesses.
~The Recovery Village

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September Is National Recovery Month

Mental illness is a growing epidemic in the United States. The disease has affected the mood, thinking, and behavior of millions of people across the country. However, many Americans remain unaware of the widespread existence of mental health problems, and some of those with psychological issues avoid lifesaving treatment.

To reduce mental illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created National Recovery Month. Every September, the organization helps people host events designed to educate the masses about mental illness… So Please Visit and be Educated addiction.

 

American Fix is Now Released and Should Be Read By Anyone or Any Family “Touched” By Opioid Addiction. By Ryan Hampton of The Voices Project.

“A Personal Message From Ryan Hampton, Author of American Fix ~

 

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I woke up this morning with so much gratitude for all of you. Thank you for everything you are doing in your communities to help put an end to the addiction crisis. Together, we are stronger. And together, we can turn the tide on this public health crisis.

We began this journey together and we will continue to fight to be heard. It is my hope that American Fix brings to light the solutions We NEED NOW to stop overdose deaths, expand access to life-saving recovery resources, and inspire more Americans to live their recovery out loud and with pride.

We can’t do this alone. We need every single person to step up to the plate. I’ll continue to do my part — it’s my hope that after writing American Fix more Americans join our cause and realize there is something everybody can be doing.

I wanted to share a review that Forbes published about our book. It lays out why I wrote it, what I hope to accomplish, and what some of the longer-term goals are coming out of this project.

Thank you for being a part of this emerging movement. We’re just getting started.

With gratitude, Ryan

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Courtesy of “ The Action Network andRyan Hampton”

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‘American Fix’ And The Path Out Of The Opioid Epidemic

By Tori Utley, Forbes, 8/28/18

Five years ago, Ryan Hampton stood face to face with former President Obama at a fundraiser in Coral Gables, Florida. He had established a career, network, and reputation, guaranteeing a bright future in politics. But despite his skills and professional tenacity, he was facing a struggle of his own. In that same moment shaking hands with the former president, he was deep in the grips of opioid addiction.


Fast forward to today.

Hampton has been in recovery for more than three years and has become one of the foremost voices leading the recovery movement, working with Facing Addiction and advocates, entrepreneurs and people in recovery across the country.

Last year, Hampton announced the Voices Project, an initiative to encourage people nationwide to stand up, speak up, and share their story as a person in recovery. But a year later, Hampton says sharing stories is not enough.

“We’ve gotten people to share their stories because that’s the most important part,” Hampton says. “But now, it’s about what you do after you share your story. This is what’s going to move our movement forward.”

From Advocate to Author
Today, Hampton released his first bookAmerican Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis — And How To End It, just days before International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, 2018

Hampton describes his journey from advocate to author the way most entrepreneurs describe their inventions — he was simply solving his own problem. After showing up at a bookstore last year trying to find a resource that offered a comprehensive overview of the opioid epidemic and recovery movement, he couldn’t find one.


So he wrote it himself.

Hampton describes American Fix as a manual of sorts, hoping to inspire clear, focused action in the lives of recovery advocates and people in recovery across the country. Actions are what the movement needs, according to Hampton and other leaders in the recovery movement.

They know that mobilizing the recovery constituency of more than 45 million people is the only way out of the opioid epidemic at hand — an epidemic that claims as many as 116 lives per day to overdose.


The Road Ahead

It’s saving lives that continue to be the foremost goal of the recovery movement. According to Hampton, reforming the treatment industry and protesting the practices of Big Pharma are among the list of top concerns for advocates today.

“We know addiction is a chronic health disorder, yet we still treat it with an acute response,” Hampton says. “If you make it past five years sober, you have an 85% chance of sustaining recovery. So why aren’t we treating substance use disorder the same way we treat other chronic health disorders?”

According to Hampton, insurance providers won’t pay for long-term treatment, which is among the reasons why lobbying and political advocacy are so important.

“The Mental Health Parity Act was passed by President Bush in 2008, but today, 10 years later, we still have no enforcement on these laws,” Hampton says. “Insurance providers are getting away with murder, and we need to hold them accountable. But change requires good policy, and good policy requires policymakers that are educated on this issue. ”


A Growing Social Movement

With much to do, Hampton and other leaders are counting on the recovery constituency—45 million strong, made up of people in recovery and their families and friends. Hampton describes this as the “largest tent out of any social movement in modern-day history.”

“Recovery is truly trans-political in nature,” he says. “We’re a large constituency and growing. We’re men, women, people of color and we’re from all political backgrounds because addiction doesn’t discriminate.”

In American Fix, Hampton discloses at his next initiative—registering 1 million recovery voters in all 50 states by 2020. To do this, he’s teaming up with When We All Vote, a non-profit initiative led by Michelle Obama. Drawing upon the momentum of the Voices Project, Hampton is confident in one thing: when the recovery community shows up to vote, it will require policymakers to act on their behalf.

But creating a new constituency of consequence is going to take more than an announcement, Hampton says. A goal this lofty—and important—requires partnerships, corporate philanthropy, and innovative ideas.

From co-organizing a march outside of Purdue Pharma earlier this month to announcingRecovery Fest, the nation’s first sober music festival hosted in partnership with Macklemore and the Above the Noise Foundation, it’s clear Hampton is already getting to work to do just that.

The reason is clear: For Hampton, and the millions affected by the opioid epidemic across the country, the fight is a personal one.

“The day I spoke with President Obama in 2012, I didn’t think I was going to live. It was clear to everybody else in that room that I had a problem and that there was something going on with me. But people didn’t bring it up. I was treated with silence and embarrassment,” Hampton says.

“Today, I don’t think it would have played out exactly the same way it did then. I hope that now, people would have asked me how I was doing. This work is about making sure that if I need help again, if I have a recurrence or a slip, that there are resources there for me, too. I’m fighting for my friends, but I’m also fighting for me.”

With that, there should be no argument.

No matter which seat you sit at around the table fighting against the opioid crisis, it’s personal. Behind the recovery, the movement is families, communities, and struggling human beings searching for hope. And as Hampton reminds us, “Addiction does not discriminate,” even if you’ve shaken hands with the president.

“American Fix is my attempt to bring recovery into the light. This is not just our [the recovery community’s] agenda—this should be our country’s agenda.”

“Nearly every American knows someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic or has been affected themselves.”

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Soon to release late Aug 2018 ~ Ryan Hampton

AVAILABLE AT THESE RETAILERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


GET YOUR COPY OF AMERICAN FIX TODAY AT ANY LOCAL BARNES AND NOBLE, INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER, OR BY GOING ONLINE HERE

You can view and share the original Forbes article, as published, by visiting their site here.

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I hope you will take to visit Ryan at “The Voices Project” and share your story, your voice! Together we can make a difference and saves lives from Opioid Addiction! 

God Bless,
Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

Tips for Building a Support System During Recovery By Christine H. My Recovery Guest.

Tips for Building a Support System During Recovery By Christine H. My Recovery Guest.

“Addiction has an interesting effect on our interpersonal relationships. Even after we’ve gone through the process of becoming sober and repairing our lives after addiction, the scars of addiction can continue to impact the most important relationships in our lives.”

This is especially problematic considering how essential relationships are for ongoing recovery. In fact, some researchers have gone so far as to claim that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, but connection. Sociologically, addiction can have a powerful impact on isolation, and feel “cast out.”

Addiction can make it hard to integrate back into normal life: getting a job, going on dates, making new friends, and being yourself with close friends and family. However, it is possible, and the benefits of building up your support network of friends and family are absolutely worth the investment that you put into it.

A support network doesn’t just empower your recovery after addiction, it also brings you moments and experiences that help you know that recovery (and life itself!) is worthwhile. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

1: Friends who have also experienced addiction are invaluable… as long as they’re as dedicated to recovery as you are.


Often, the new friends that we make during recovery are individuals who have been through something similar to us. They might be friends that you make in group therapy, a support group, or in residential rehab. They might even be people that you just happen to connect with spontaneously when you learn about your commonalities.

However, it’s important to remember to protect your sobriety carefully. Maintaining friendships with people who are currently involved in addiction, without any attempts to change, can be damaging to your own wellbeing. Tread carefully, and trust the advice of professionals and sober friends who have helped you in your own recovery process.

2: Do what you can to build family relationships wherever possible.

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Family relationships are complicated. However, they’re also the best resources when you really need help. The family knows you best, and they’ve taken care of you in the past, and vice versa. That being said, sometimes those of us who have experienced addiction in our lives are more likely to have some family relationships that contribute to underlying causes of addiction, instead of healing them.
It’s important to utilize professional resources, in this case, to repair family systems when possible. Having an experienced third party looking at your family dynamics can help you to identify harmful patterns and communicate effectively, instead of falling into familiar, unfruitful arguments.


Besides utilizing professional help to repair family relationships, there are two things that you can do whenever possible in order to further support family connections. First, recognize when you’re responsible for something being difficult or hard for another person to bear, and apologize appropriately.

Second, express gratitude more often for the things that family members do for you. Many of these things will be small, and others will be large. No matter the size, show appreciation for those people closest to you that you’re otherwise likely to take for granted.

3: Some things need professional help.

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If you’re leaning on your friends for weekly intensive, introspective discussions to support your ongoing recovery, it can be a lot for them to handle. First of all, your friend might not have the experience and education they need to really be helpful.

Second of all, a little help from a friend might turn into a lot very quickly. Make sure that you utilize professional resources where appropriate, including group and individual therapy, sobriety coaches, and sponsors (which aren’t professional, per say, but are still specialized.)

4: Make new friends too.

It’s important to recognize that during this period, you might be rather needy. Don’t rely on just one person to provide all that you need, or you could burn them out fast. After addiction, it’s easy to withdraw and only rely on a few trusted individuals who understand the whole story and have shown themselves to be supportive of you. And you don’t need to get into codependent relationships.

However, being active supports a sober lifestyle, and you will probably need different friends for different purposes. Go out and meet new people. They don’t all need to know your whole life story; some will simply be acquaintances. But acquaintances who encourage you to go out, be active, and do things that you love are also invaluable.

5: Give as much as you get.

I mentioned gratitude towards family members above; it’s important to infuse gratitude in all of your interactions with other people. When we recognize all the ways that others help us, it motivates us to help them, too. No friendship is a one-way street, and you’re never the only person out there who needs a helping hand. Acknowledge that most of the people around you are also going through something hard, although their challenges might look different from yours.

Find opportunities to be a true friend to them, just as they are to you.

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Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

I have been busy buzzing around some of my recovery sites and online mags I enjoy reading, including the ones I receive news by email. TWO interesting articles I read this past week were “Note Worthy” of re-shares by SoberRecovery as the articles are not only interesting but very informative about two topics that many of my recovery friends and parents who visit me want to know more about.

FIRST: Why do some people become an addict and others don’t?

SECOND: Do we ever give up on helping an addict?

So, here are two articles I found that share some insights and answers to these questions with some amazing advice. Even those of us maintaining recovery always need to learn more and read all that we can to be able to be aware and gain knowledge about all addictions. Learning can powerful and helpful tools for maintaining recovery …
Catherine 🙂

 

Why Do Some People Become Addicts and Others Don’t?

Courtesy of SoberRecovery  Mag, Staff

 

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There are many factors that can point towards a future addiction problem, but all in all, the nature of addiction is a mystery. Science may have a set of markers indicating future addictive patterns, but there is really no formula. Nor is there a set way to avoid addiction if these markers appear in a person.

Some people are born into families with long histories of addiction, but they will not use drugs or alcohol until much later in life. However, the behavior patterns of an addict may be present and noticeable from an early age.

Even more, not all addicts will drink alcohol or use drugs, further adding to the mystery of addiction.

Spotting Addictive Traits

Genetic traits may point to addictive behaviors in the future, but not everyone in an “addictive” gene pool will become an addict, and some addicts may have no family history of the disease. Those predisposed may work to control addiction by not participating in drinking or drug behaviors. They may show other personality traits similar to an addict’s, just not the use of addictive substances. They are also likely to become emotionally attached to the personality traits of an addict.

Some science focuses on early childhood patterns of behavior that may indicate addictive traits. These are most often characterized as risk-taking behaviors, a need for attention that goes beyond a normal level and sometimes early childhood trauma.

 

  • Risk-taking behaviors: These traits may be recognized in young children who are more active than their peers. They tend to repeatedly do things that place them in danger of being harmed. Very seldom do they know why they take these risks or why they are punished for behaviors that are not the norm.
  • Need for attention: This pattern may combine with risky behaviors. Some children will do things primarily because their need for attention is so great that they look at negative attention (punishment) as better than no attention. Many of them may develop this chronic need as a result of early childhood abandonment or abuse.
  • Early childhood trauma: A pattern of seeking safety can be developed around trauma. When children are exposed to a traumatic event(s), they may begin to seek a safe place. If none is available, they will learn to protect themselves in inappropriate ways. This can become addictive if food, gambling, drugs or sex become their tools for feeling safe. They can use these tools to dull their emotional pain. Since these tools offer only short-term relief and no resolution to the situation, addiction may ensue. 

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Some of these tendencies may be learned when children are raised in an environment that focuses on escape from all emotional development. This means that the family is not emotionally present for one another. There is no process for feelings that come up in the course of day-to-day living. No one is speaking about their feelings of pain, anger, sadness or grief.

This is a socially-imposed condition that has existed for many years. When parents do not teach children to talk about their feelings, there is no structure for healthy emotional venting. As we learn more about the importance of expressing feelings, this can change.

In a home where mom and dad are not emotionally connected to feelings, children learn to avoid those feelings that are termed “negative”.  These feelings become problems as they go unexpressed. As time goes on, pain becomes trauma, anger becomes rage and sadness or grief becomes depression.

Finding relief for these emotions can become addictive. If alcohol or drugs bring a feeling of relief, the addict will return again and again to this solution, which then becomes a problem.

Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events in later life can also bring a person into addictive patterns. A person may have genetic traits that are channeled in positive ways, such as careers, education and attaining financial success, but a single event or crisis may tip the scales and patterns that were controlled in the past can start to become a problem.

  • Example 1: This may look like a young man who comes from a high-risk environment, but gets an education, develops a successful career, has a family and looks like a normal, healthy citizen. During this period, he may drink socially, even heavily at times, but is able to function and maintain a relatively good picture of success. Relationships are strained, but the family keeps up a good face, despite functional breaks such as poor health and other symptoms of addiction. At a later age in life, the children may leave home or another big change occurs; or the man may retire and find that what kept him going is removed. The fabric of the structure is under stress. One or more of the family may begin to practice addiction.
  • Example 2: A young man or woman may have relatively normal upbringing and behaviors when young. They may be involved in a traumatic event, such as a terrible accident or military combat. This can then leave them without coping skills to overcome the emotional impact of the event. They may turn for relief to drugs and alcohol. If this becomes a pattern, an addiction may become manifest for this person. Tendencies may have been present for many years that suddenly expose themselves to the person and those around them.

Seeing the Signs

Recognizing traits and patterns of behavior is the first step out of denial. Getting help at this point can look like this:

  • Learning new coping skills for stress, anger, and emotional regulation
  • Learning healthy relationship tools
  • Beginning a conversation with loved ones who are showing signs of addictive personality traits
  • Opening your mind to new options for dealing with life
  • Becoming willing to change what isn’t working for you

There are therapies and treatment available for everyone involved in addiction. When a family system has been impacted by addiction and behaviors leading to addiction, everyone needs to learn how to be supportive of changes needed to break the patterns. Everyone may need to learn new skills and how to communicate and support each other in healthier ways.

Opening the door to recognizing a problem is only the first step. Change must occur to break the patterns of behavior and poor thinking that create and support an addiction.

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When to Stop Trying to Save an Addict


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If you have a loved one suffering from gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the following heartbreaking scenarios:

  • Staying up late worrying about whether or not they’ll get home safely tonight
  • Waiting anxiously in the hospital waiting room for the doctor to break the good news that they’re going to pull through an overdose
  • Hearing the guilt-inducing demands for more money or variations of the “if you love me, you’ll let me be” comment?
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There are countless other painful day-to-day experiences one encounters when living with or loving a drug addict. Most of the time, you’re scared for them, you want to help them and you want them to change their ways but you don’t know how to get them to do so. And because you love them, you don’t want to increase the already-growing distance between the two of you—so you end up covering their tracks. Time and time again.

You give them the five more dollars that they’re begging for; you clean up the vomit in the bathroom from the night before; you tuck them into bed to sleep off an episode; you sign them out of the hospital early because they’re miserable and begging you to let them out. When does it ever stop?

 

The Conundrum

First of all, it is important to know that nobody is blaming you. Addiction is complicated and painful and we often believe that we can love those around us into sobriety. However, sadly, that is never the case. As difficult as it is to hear, behaviors, like giving your friend that measly five dollars or signing your son out of the hospital for early release, are actually enabling your loved one to continue down his or her self-destructive path. The addicted part of their brain remembers that they can always get money from Mom with guilt-tripping tactics or that they can always rely on their best friend to pick them up no matter what hour of the night.

As part of the disease, an addict will go to any means to get what they crave—even at the emotional expense of those they love. Although they often will exhibit guilt and sorrow for their behaviors the next morning, once the cravings kick in, they’ll be doing everything all over again. Addiction is a vicious cycle and drugs will continue to fuel that one-track thinking pattern of doing whatever is necessary to get that next high.
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It may be one of the toughest things you’ll ever have to do, but friends and families of addicts need to let go of the notion that they can save their loved one in order for there to be any chance at real change. By doing so, you can begin to explore your personal limits and define your boundaries.

Time to Pull Away

As much as it hurts, sometimes pulling away from the addict’s vicious cycle may call for ultimatums. This can include ending a romantic relationship, cutting off the addict financially, forcing him or her to move out of the house, or taking away their child custody rights, just to name a few.

By simply telling the individual to “stop doing drugs” or that “things need to change soon,” you’re just giving the addict either too broad an obstacle to conquer or too much wiggle room in which they can find ways to manipulate the situation (which they’re very good at doing). Therefore, the key is to be specific and unclenching with your boundaries. By implementing exact, time-sensitive consequences for their repeated bad behavior, the addict will then be forced to make a choice.
It is also important to keep in made that this choice is for your loved one to make alone and, as frustrating as it to watch, they may not want to choose recovery—even with all your inflicted consequences. He or she may need more time for the reality of the consequences to sink in before they take any action towards sobriety and, ultimately, it is only he or she who can decide to get out of the dark pit that has swallowed him or her up.

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Finally, in the midst of caring for your loved one, remember that you are also responsible for taking care of yourself. You can’t allow your loved one to fuel their addiction at the expense of depriving you of all your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Your health is of equal importance and by doing what is best for you—even if that includes walking away from the toxic situation—you are coincidentally also doing the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking professional support, please visit SoberRecovery and their directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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Guest Recovery Article – Making Amends Within Our Recovery and How It Is Done.

Guest Recovery Article – Making Amends Within Our Recovery and How It Is Done.

When it’s time for an addict maintaining recovery to make amends to those loved ones they have caused pain and may have hurt from the wreckage of our addiction, where does one begin? What if you can not remember all those who may have been hurt? I ask this because if we are high, drunk, or zoned out, we may not recall everyone we may have touched within our “selfishness” and is a part of the disease of addiction.

I know I couldn’t remember everyone I may have owed money to when I was thick into my gambling addiction. Our choices made within the sickness of pills or fog and haze of alcohol, many addicts don’t recall and those left in pain may not understand this really can happen. I’m a firm believer that our past should not dictate our future.

So how to begin the process of “amends.” When we have done the hard work needed within recovery and we have completed the “inner work” of self and are ready to move on to apologize to those we offended, which includes criminally, how to get started?

This featured article is shared by the fine folks of Betty Ford – Hazelden Org, can help all of us who have come to this fork in the road within our recovery journey. Making amends is an important part of our work and has to be done right …
Catherine

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“Making Amends is More Than an Apology” ~ By John MacDougall, D.Min. ~ Restoring justice as much as possible.

Addiction creates moral wreckage. People who become addicted to alcohol or other drugs might lie, cheat, or steal in order to get and use their drug of choice. Often what’s left behind is a trail of shattered relationships.

In this situation, apologies won’t do. Alcoholics Anonymous calls for making amends instead. These are mentioned specifically in several of The Twelve Steps, including:

  • Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Carrying out these two steps is a delicate process that calls for guidance from a sponsor or counselor. In an interview, John MacDougall, D.Min., a Dan Anderson Renewal Center presenter, answered questions about making amends.

How do amends differ from apologies?

An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged—or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can’t do it directly.

Say, for example, that I borrowed 20 dollars from you and never paid you back. If I go up to you and say, “Gee, I’m sorry I borrowed your 20 dollars and spent it on drugs,” that would be an apology. Making amends is giving your money back to you.

Why does Step Nine suggest that people avoid direct amends in certain cases?

For instance, you don’t run home and say to your spouse, “Gee honey, I had a wonderful time in addiction treatment. I learned all about rigorous honesty, so I want to apologize to you for an affair I had five years ago.” That’s clearing your conscience at the expense of someone else who’s going to feel terrible. In this case, your amend can be an indirect one. Stop having affairs and bring your heart, your energy, and your attention back home where it belongs.

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Are direct amends simply impossible at times?

Yes. Say, for example, that someone gets drunk, drives, and kills somebody in a traffic accident. You can’t go back and “unkill” the person who died. Instead, you can fill out an organ donor card. This is an indirect amend that can give life back to someone in the future. Remember that with crimes such as drunk driving, people might need to go to court and take a punishment. That’s part of making amends as well.

You’ve mentioned direct and indirect amends. Are there other kinds?

Sometimes people talk about “living” amends. This simply means that we live differently. Amends are about a genuine change in our behavior instead of the patchwork of an apology. We take on a whole new way of life. We stop accumulating fresh insults to our selves and others.

What are the benefits of making amends?

If we’ve continually harmed people and haven’t made any effort toward amends, then we’ve got a lot of people, places, and things to avoid. Large areas of life become closed off to us. When you’re willing to make amends, those areas open up again. You don’t have to avoid people anymore. This is true not only for people in recovery but for all of us.

The book of AA mentions the promises of recovery. They come right after the explanation of Step Nine. “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” it says, “we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”

That’s what happens when we bring justice back into our lives by making amends.



John MacDougall, Dan Anderson Renewal Center presenter

John MacDougall is the spiritual care coordinator at The Retreat in Wayzata, Minnesota. He was previously at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation for 20 years and is the author of  Being Sober and Becoming Happy.