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

imageedit_1_6172885164 Courtesy of InRecovery.com

“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. 

To Parents: Turn Your Addiction Journey into a Parenting Asset. Guest Article.

Hello Recovery Friends and Visitors,

My weekend guest article is by a special friend of mine, Christine H. and is for ALL PARENTS. When addiction happens to become part of our life journey, we need to remember that it does affect all the people around us, even our children.

So we need to make sure when coming into recovery? We need to include our children as they to may need help and begin to heal. For you as a parent and for children, it can be a learning and teachable lesson for all…

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Turn Your Addiction Journey into a Parenting Asset ~ By Christine H.

We’re all aware that our actions have an affect on those around us, but sometimes we don’t really realize the magnitude of that impact. This is especially applicable to our children. Especially in their early years, they learn everything they know from us. Like a sponge, they absorb our actions, attitude, and behaviors and adopt them as their own. Because of this, we may not realize that our own personal challenges are also reflected in our children’s lives, in one form or another.

None of this is meant to make parents feel guilty, or feel sure that they have ruined their children’s lives because that’s just ridiculous. However, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone in your struggles. They affect the people around you. And to tell the truth, that’s not always a bad thing!

Your children may project your issues onto themselves


Because a child has a difficult time interpreting what causes any sporadic behaviors due to your addiction, it’s highly possible that they’ll project these issues onto themselves, and blame themselves for certain behaviors or sorrows of yours. They could very easily think that there is some action that they’re making that is causing you to be upset.

It’s possible that they’ll draw imaginary connections between your actions and their own, assuming that you’re upset because they forgot to clean their room, or because they asked you for something you didn’t want to give them. They’ll begin to assume that these issues are caused by them, and without anyone to reassure them that they are not at fault, they can start carrying psychological burdens that are unnecessary.

 

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Family therapy can help you troubleshoot


That’s why family counseling can be especially helpful when a family is confronting challenges associated with addiction. In a safe place, your child can be clear and honest about their concerns, and you can address them with the love and assurance that you want to.

Even if you feel like your child has a healthy life and good habits, it will be helpful for them to seek help and therapy for your addiction. It could be because they need emotional support, to validate the way that they’re feeling and that the addiction isn’t their fault. Or it could be helpful to instill good habits in them while they’re still impressionable, so they’re able to function well as adults.

Concerns about genetic addiction patterns


Many studies explore the relationship between addiction and genetics. Despite thorough research, the reason that addiction tends to echo down through generations isn’t perfectly clear. That being said, it seems that there’s a mix of environmental issues that perpetuate the cycle, as well as strict biological factors that are passed from parent to child.

Counseling and working to build a healthy lifestyle for your family in the future can help you overcome environmental issues that contribute to addiction. And when it comes to the biological factors, just remember this: forewarned is forearmed. The more you understand about your own journey through addiction, the more you can help your child set healthy patterns in their own life that can protect them from repeating a harmful cycle.

 

Turning your journey into a positive thing for your children


Have you ever thought about the ways that your journey through addiction recovery can benefit your children? Most of us think that it’s a handicap, but in fact, it can be turned into an asset. Group or individual therapy that most of us participate in through addiction recovery can equip you with special tools. It allows you to communicate more effectively with people around you, to identify triggers, adjust behavior, and transform negative patterns of thinking. What a great legacy to pass on to your children!

There’s one more reason that your history can be turned into an asset for your family. Did you know that studies of school-sponsored drug education have found that scare tactics and stats have almost no impact? The only thing that really helps is something quite rare: honest conversations and testimonials from people who have experienced addiction themselves.


Parenting is never easy, and 
parenting when you also struggle with addiction is a colossal feat. However, most parents eventually learn that they’re exactly the parents that their child needed. You are uniquely equipped to help your child navigate their own journey through life, and your experience with addiction is part of your parenting arsenal… 

Christine H.  

Addiction In General and Gambling Addiction: “Just The Facts and Truth.”

My Guest Article Is By: By Chris Hedges of Truthdig ~ A Nation of the Walking Dead.

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Opioids and experiences that simulate the deadening effects of narcotics are mechanisms to keep us submissive and depoliticized. Desperate citizens in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel “Brave New World” ingested the pleasure drug soma to check out of reality. Our own versions of soma allow tens of millions of Americans to retreat daily into addictive mousetraps that generate a self-induced autism.

The United States consumes 80 percent of opioids used worldwide, and more than 33,000 died in this country in 2015 from opioid overdoses. There are 300 million prescriptions written and $24 billion spent annually in the U.S. for painkillers. Americans supplement this mostly legal addiction with over $100 billion a year in illicit marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. And nearly 14 million U.S. adults, one in every 13, regularly abuse alcohol.

But these monetary figures are far less than what we spend on gambling. Americans in 2013 lost $119 billion gambling, with an additional $70 billion—or $300 for every adult in the country—spent on lottery tickets.

Federal and state governments, reliant on tax revenues from legal gambling and on lottery ticket sales, will do nothing to halt the expansion of the industry or the economic and psychological toll it exacts on those in financial distress. State-run lottery games had sales of $73.9 billion in 2015, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. This revenue is vital to budgets beset by declining incomes, deindustrialization and austerity.

“State lotteries provided more revenue than state corporate income taxes in 11 of the 43 states where they were legal, including Delaware, Rhode Island, and South Dakota,” Derek Thompson wrote in The Atlantic. “The poorest third of households buy half of all lotto tickets,” he noted. Gambling is a stealth tax on poor people hoping to beat the nearly impossible odds. Governmental income from gambling is an effort to make up for the taxes the rich and corporations no longer pay.

Slot machines and other electronic gambling devices are engineered to draw us into an Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole. They, like our personal computers and hand-held devices, cater to the longing to flee from the oppressive world of dead-end jobs, crippling debt and social stagnation and a dysfunctional political system.

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We frantically keep pulling levers until we are addicted and finally entranced by our compulsion to achieve fleeting, intermittent and adrenaline-driven rewards. Much like what happens to people using slot machines, the pigeons or rats in Skinner’s experiments that did not know when they would get a reward, or how much they would get, became the most heavily addicted to operating the levers or pedals. Indeed, Skinner used slot machines as a metaphor for his experiments.

The engineers of America’s gambling industry are as skillful at forming addiction as the country’s top five opioid producers—Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Insys Therapeutics, Mylan, and Depomed. There are 460 commercial casinos, 486 tribal casinos, 350 card rooms, 55 racetracks and hundreds of thousands of gaming devices, many located in convenience stores, gas stations, bars, airports and even supermarkets.

The rush of anticipation, available in 20-second bursts, over hours, days, weeks and months create an addictive psychological “zone” that the industry calls “continuous gaming productivity.” Heart rates and blood pressure rise. Time, space, the value of money and human relationships hypnotically dissolve. A state of extreme social isolation occurs.

 

Gambling addicts, like many addicts, are often driven to crime, bankruptcy, and eventual imprisonment. Many lose everything—their marriages, their families, their jobs, their emotional health and sometimes their lives. Gambling addicts have the highest rate of suicide attempts among addicts of any kind—1 in 5, or 20 percent—according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Donald Trump is in large part a product of gambling culture. His career has not been about making products but about selling intangible and fleeting experiences. He preys on the desperate by offering them escapist fantasies. This world is about glitter, noise, and hype—Trump called the Trump Taj Mahal, his now-closed casino, “the eighth wonder of the world.” The more money you spent, the greater your “value,” the more you were pampered, given free hotel rooms and gifts, handed passes to special “clubs” with lavish buffets. Scantily clad hostesses hovered around you serving complimentary drinks.

If you spent big, you were invited to exclusive parties attended by supermodels and famous athletes. Decorated chips—some featuring a photo of Donald Trump—turned cash into a species of Monopoly money. But in the end, when you were broke when there was no more money in your bank account and your credit cards were maxed out, you were thrown back, in even greater financial distress, into the dreary universe you tried to obliterate.

Roger Caillois, the French sociologist, wrote that the pathologies of a culture are captured in the games the culture venerates. Old forms of gambling such as blackjack and poker allowed the gambler to take risks, make decisions and even, in his or her mind, achieve a kind of individualism or heroism at the gambling table. They provided a way, it can be argued, assert an alternative identity for a brief moment (escapism). But the newer form, machine gambling, is an erasure of the self. Slot machines, which produce 85 percent of the PROFITS at casinos, are, as the sociologist Henry Lesieur wrote, an “addiction delivery device.”

They are “electronic morphine,” and hearing more and more described as “the crack cocaine of gambling.” They are not about risk or about making decisions, but about creating somnambulism, putting a player into a trancelike state that can last for hours. It is a pathway, one sociologist points out, to becoming the walking dead. This yearning for a state of nonbeing is what Sigmund Freud called “the death instinct.” It is the overpowering drive by a depressed and traumatized person to seek pleasure in a self-destructive activity that ultimately kills the organism…

Please Visit Truthdig – There Is Much More To This Article.

Image result for images of gambling addiction the same as crack“Gambling Addiction is the Addiction #1 In Claiming Lives By Suicide”

Why is gambling addiction with slot machines considered as the highest form of addiction with gambling?

  • Psychologists have specifically designed these devices in order to attract people.
  • The new formats of multi-line electronic slot machines contain colors as well as graphics that are very stimulating and compelling to the eye.
  • Music is very stimulating as well with a strong suggestion that penetrates subliminally.
  • With the emerge of bonus rounds there is a great deal of rush involved even if there are many loses occurring.
  • The play has a speed that allows your adrenaline to pump faster.
  • With the jackpots, there can be huge winnings, but they happen so rarely just for the sake to keep people gambling.
  • Slot machines can induce hypnosis inside your brain that is hard to resist.
  • There are no skills involved in the play, making this gambling accessible to everyone.
  • Many ATMs are placed in the vicinity of slot machines for obvious reasons.
  • A lot of slot machines use from 1 to 5 cents to make gamblers think they do not spend too much money on their already outlined gambling addiction.

 

IF YOU or someone you care about has a problem with gambling? Please visit my good friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling as they have help by each STATE. National Helpline1-800-522-4700

WWW.NCPGAMBLING.ORG/CHAT

Click the icon below to chat with a helpline specialist. If you would like to call the helpline specialist, dial 1-800-522-4700 and if you would like to text the helpline specialist, text 1-800-522-4700. NCPG also supports GamTalk, a
Messaging

 
Author & Recovery Freelance Writer,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon  🙂

 

 

 

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction?

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction?

Addiction is one of the most prominent healthcare problems of our time. Since 1999, the rise in substance abuse in the United States and around the entire world has proven difficult to combat. Despite the awareness that we have of addiction, nowadays, there is still nothing that can prepare you for the shock of finding that someone whom you love is currently addicted to an illicit substance.

 

Supporting an addict is no easy task, and it is something that not everyone has the endurance to go through. Not only does addiction have a profound effect on addicts, but it can drain the life out of the people around them. Regardless, most people want to do what they can to help their loved ones conquer addiction and live a fulfilling life. To help in that endeavor, here are some tips on what to do when a loved one suffers from addiction…

 

Get them help

 

Addiction isn’t something that you can talk away. A single conversation isn’t going to rid it from your loved one or your lives. Addiction is a deeply rooted psychological problem and a behavioral disease. As such, it is something that necessitates professional help.

Addiction treatment centers are full of people who have devoted their lives to helping addicts get on the path towards recovery, and are trained in techniques that help empower addicts to gain control in their lives. First and foremost, getting your loved one into treatment should always be a primary goal. For more information about how to do that, check out this informative article here.

 

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Educate yourself on addiction

 

In the famous book Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the eponymous Chinese general states that you need to know your enemy, inside and out. As such, in order to best help your loved one combat addiction, you need to know what you are both facing, when it comes to addiction. One reason that addiction education is so important is the misconception that addiction is a personality flaw that someone can merely stop doing. Addiction is a behavioral disease that affects a person on a mental and physical level. Educating yourself on things that can make addiction worse, or lessen its effects, is essential to help your loved one get through this fight.

 

Don’t alienate them

 

If you truly want to help your loved one overcome addiction, then you need to realize that you are both partners in this fight. One common mistake that people make is believing that you can shame an addict into changing their actions, and that this will coerce them into foregoing addiction. However, shame usually has the adverse effect on an addict, and will only serve to alienate them from the very people who want to help them. Typically, when they feel like there is nowhere to go, this is the environment in which addiction thrives. Don’t alienate the people you love with these sorts of tactics.

 

Set limits for yourself

 

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As stated above, you don’t want to alienate a loved one when they are struggling with addiction. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own boundaries and limits that need to be respected. Because addiction is a behavioral disease, there is often an association with other types of behavior, such as lying or stealing. The truth is that nobody can continuously take deceptive behavior without feeling overwhelmed. Be upfront with your loved one about what your limits are, and don’t be afraid to uphold an ultimatum if it is what you need to stay sane, no matter how much it hurts.

 

Interventions may be necessary

 

This may seem like an enormous cliche, but interventions work. At the end of the day, if your loved one continues their addictive behavior without getting help, then it is unlikely that it will ever stop. During times like these, they need something direct to let them know that their behaviors are hurting themselves and the people around them. An intervention is a clear and obvious way for family and friends to be honest and tell everyone how they truly feel. Although interventions can be frightening, and it will almost certainly be awkward, they are necessary to save the lives of the people who we love.

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By Guest-Alek S.

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


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

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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

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

Now, back to the beginnings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

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

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

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

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