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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy National Recovery Month. ~Catherine

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

OWN Your Sobriety and Stop Domestic Abuse 

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.

 

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

As we celebrate National Recovery Month another year, not much has seemed to change regarding addiction. The opioid epidemic and alcoholism rates are still rising, just as more expansion has been rising with more gambling options being legalized like the one for legal online sports betting now in several states.

So how does recovery fit into this as we are losing more and more lives to all addictions every day? Why are we celebrating when it seems all addictions are getting out of control instead of better? I feel our Government needs to step up and take some part of the ownership and accountability of this problem as they don’t seem to be doing enough and just side kicking it to all the individual states in the US to handle it “on there own.”

“This to me and to many in the addiction and recovery arena and to me is just unacceptable” …

My good friend Ryan Hampton from ‘United to Face Addiction’ and ‘The Voices Project’ has worked tirelessly, including on Capitol Hill to get laws changed and put new laws and legislation on the books regarding opioid epidemic and treatment, rehabs, and sober living facilities. To force higher standards that will actually help those looking to recover. We need more longer-term after-care for those who reach out for recovery. Not just paid for and only a 28-day treatment stay. This DOES include gambling addiction and treatment where Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling lays out in this article …

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Is it wrong for the addiction/recovery community, parents, advocates, feel that our Government could be doing more? Is it not right for me if I was still an addict to ask for a longer treatment stay for free and not be in bondage of the Insurance Companies on how I chose to be free from any addiction? We all know most cannot afford addiction treatment is we have NO INSURANCE right? Even the cost alone if YOU HAVE INSURANCE is way too much for what we receive and WHY treatment is cut off by about the 28th to 30 days benchmark.

So how do we change this arena? Many advocates and those who work out in the field know this is an area in desperate need of changing. Lord knows I don’t have the answers but I will continue to advocate loudly for these and many more changes. I tip my hat off to those like Ryan, Les, and even my co-writing partner Vance who travel all over the US, even to our White House to advocate loudly for change.

Change in how addicts get treatment paid for or if they have no insurance, and to shatter Stigma around those who do because STIGMA can prevent addicts to reach out and get help. It’s why I advocate and share a wealth of HOPE … I will close with this FB Post by Vance Johnson who is a recovering addict, former NFL Pro, and what he had to say that hit home for me. I am so blessed to be writing his memoir with me and to have him as a dear friend.  ~Catherine Lyon

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Whatever you misdiagnose, whether illness, relationships, even politics, you miss treating.  This post is deep so stick with me.

Recently I’ve run into a ton backlash and opposition with my 4.5 years being clean.

From family to friends and in between, some are convinced that I’m not clean for the right reasons. Start with Religion… Some think this new walk that I walk in Christ delivering me from the bondage of addiction is “Fake News” and only a reason for my new supposed found fame. I was addicted to fame, and fame made me drink and use drugs.

When I lost that fame and status as a pro-NFL player and after walking away from the game, I drank and drugged myself into a coma. Let’s move to Politics.

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I grew up around democrats, became independent, and decided at one point that only Republicans are true believers in God. I’m not dogging politics, it’s needed…. but what you misdiagnose you miss treating! Whether politics or religion, most of it can be agenda driven and being agenda driven can make you interpret circumstances incorrectly.

In relationships, you may have got information about your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, even your children that sheds a light on them that moves you directly into judgment. All because of your misdiagnoses and believing lies shaped in truth, that’s actually formed by an agenda.

Years of doubt, demonic interpretation has damaged your relationship. Although you see them never walk away from his or her commitment to love you, take care of your children and has never strayed.

Their devotion and walk in Christ echo their lifestyle. Don’t let religious or political prophecy become deluded or distorted by people saying they know what God is thinking.

In the Bible, Paul said lustfully pursue the gifts of the Spirit, especially that you may prophesy. I travel all over the country and share my testimony to thousands. I run into people all over, and the Spirit of God has led me to speak into people’s lives, and pray over them. I share the good news about what Christ has done for me in this new walk. I’ve seen miracles and lives touched while standing boldly redeemed and in conviction to Share Hope.

Thanks for letting go deep here, just wanted to share personal thoughts in this new transparent life I lead, to show myself approved in God’s eye, not man’s eyes… I encourage all of you to recognize what may be the spirit of deception.


You can think it’s a righteous stand while being “fed a lie.” No matter where the lie comes from.


Own your Faith, Own Your Sobriety.  ~Vance Johnson 


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National Overdose Awareness Day. In Remembrance of Those Lost From Drug Overdose. Recovery is Possible.

National Overdose Awareness Day. In Remembrance of Those Lost From Drug Overdose. Recovery is Possible.

Today is a day of awareness, education, and to speak out as many are “FED UP” with the loss of life from drug addiction. It is time to have the conversation about what our President and Government plans to do about this raging epidemic. It needs to be addressed NOW, not later. As the body count rises of loved ones, ones who would never dream of becoming a drug addict. They may have had surgery and within a week or so become addicted to painkillers better known as OPIOIDS.

These are our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. They are living and breathing real humans who may have never tried or used drugs in the past. It is also our kids. Our teens and college young adults. According to the US Drug Overdose .GOV website there have been 72,000.00 estimated in 2017 that was reported. I’m sure unreported cases would make this number higher 2 fold! Visit the site for the full report.

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The U.S. government does not track death rates for every drug. However, the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does collect information on many of the more commonly used drugs. The CDC also has a searchable database, called CDC Wonder.

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Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths, 1999 to 2017             

Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths* – Among the more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017*, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

Total U.S. Drug Deaths

Total U.S. Drug Deaths* – More than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids—a 2-fold increase in a decade. Source: CDC WONDER

* Provisional counts for 2017 are based on data available through 12/17 but are not yet finalized. Counts through 2016 are based on final annual data.*

 

Number of Deaths Involving All Drugs

National Overdose Deaths—

Number of Deaths Involving All Drugs. The figure above is a bar chart showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving all drugs from 2002 to 2016 and provisional 2017 data. The chart is overlayed by a line graph showing the number of deaths of females and males from 2002 to 2016. From 2002 to 2017 there was a 3.1-fold increase in the total number of deaths. (Please visit overdose death rates for the full report.)

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If you know a loved one or family member is suffering from drug addiction, do something NOW to get them help! Don’t let “Insurance” or lack of it to “Dictate” whether or not you receiving help. Look for treatment providers giving out Grants or Scholarships for treatment.

Reach out to advocates who have connections, or check with your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or St. Vincent De Paul organizations for help finding treatment for a loved one. Or even your local churches may have some resources. Just don’t give up looking. If you own a home, do a 1st or 2nd mortgage loan on it. WHY? YOU CAN NOT put a PRICE on saving a LIFE…

A Resources If You Have No Insurance Coverage For Addiction Treatment

How to Find a State-Funded Rehab Center – American Addiction Centers

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/state-funded/

National Helpline | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health …

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Apr 19, 2018 – This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support … If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state 

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How to Get Into Rehab Without Insurance – Rehabs.com

https://luxury.rehabs.com/drug-rehab/rehab-without-insurance/

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FIND AND ATTEND A OVERDOSE EVENT:

South Florida Is!!
Friday, August 31 at 3 PM – 8 PM EDT
Starts in about 2 hours · 90°F Mostly Cloudy

WHERE? Florida Atlantic University  777 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, Florida 33431

DALLAS TEXAS IS! Today starting now till 3PM at Lake Cliff Park!!

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An advocate of Gambling Addiction, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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