I Am a Childhood Sexual Trauma and Abuse Survivor Maintaining Recovery From Addiction …Helpful Guest Article and by Kristance Harlow 04/22/19.

I Am a Childhood Sexual Trauma and Abuse Survivor Maintaining Recovery From Addiction …Helpful Guest Article and by Kristance Harlow 04/22/19.

Are the 12 Steps Safe for Trauma Survivors?

“When the 4th and 5th steps are done without support for the symptoms of PTSD, they have the potential to retraumatize.

Trauma is a current buzzword in the mental health world, and for good reason. Untreated trauma has measurable lasting physiological and psychological effects, which makes it a public health emergency of pandemic proportions.

Trauma is an event or continuous circumstance that subjectively threatens a person’s life, bodily integrity, or sanity, and overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, intrusive thoughts about the trauma, hypervigilance, and avoidance of triggers which remind you of the event. Substance use disorders (SUD) are frequently co-morbid (co-occurring) with PTSD.

Many people with PTSD self-medicate with mind-altering substances to alleviate symptoms but getting high or drunk only works for so long. Substance use disorders often evolve from using substances as a maladaptive coping tool.

There are many physiological correlations between psychological trauma and SUD. For example, there are similarities in gray matter reduction for both the person with PTSD and the person with an alcohol use disorder. Although the neural mechanisms of addiction in PTSD patients are not fully understood, research has found that in the prefrontal cortex, dopamine receptors may be involved in both conditions.

Memories related to fear and reward are both processed with the help of these specific receptors. It could be that the processing of traumatic memories affects the dopamine receptors, making them more sensitive to reward-triggering substances.

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Sometimes, people with a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD find their way to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs are widespread, free, and require no commitment, which makes them more accessible than other types of treatment.

AA’s worldwide membership and lasting existence have caused the program to be of interest to researchers for decades. Previous research has found positive correlations between an AA participation and abstinence. There is less research on how 12-step programs interact with trauma recovery.

Studies on relapse factors have found that common predecessors to relapse in adults include anger, depression, and stress, among others. Recalling traumatic experiences, for someone with PTSD, can cause intense physiological and psychological reactions characterized by these same feelings: anxiety (stress), depression, anger, and frustration. It’s a combination that puts people with both trauma and addiction at a higher risk of relapsing.

Guilt, Shame, and AA

There are two sets of steps in 12-step programs that involve memory recall and direct involvement with others: Steps 4 and 5 and Steps 8 and 9.

Step 4 says: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” That step is followed up by sharing that inventory in Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Later, Step 8 says: “Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” To deal with that list, Step 9 directs people: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

The gist with these steps is that they look at both the resentment/anger the person feels towards others (which always involves taking responsibility for a part or all of the event that caused the resentment and anger), and also the “harms” the person caused others. But there is no direct guidance on how to ensure a realistic and safe assessment of past events is made.

The AA book presents this step as if someone with a substance use disorder has the tendency to blame others. People with PTSD are wracked with self-blame, and it is self-blame and shame which fuels many people’s addictions, but shame is not explicitly addressed in the steps.

Guilt is very commonly experienced by people with PTSD. Survivor guilt can be a bit of a misnomer; PTSD develops from situations that are subjectively experienced as traumatic, but these circumstances don’t have to involve death (although they certainly can and do for many people). Simply surviving can feel like something the person is not worthy of. They may feel guilt when they don’t stay in pain and anxiety.

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“Shame is also common in trauma survivors, especially in people who have been sexually assaulted.”

Trauma survivors must restore a positive sense of self to find healing. Judith Herman, the author of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terrorexplains that “the survivor needs the assistance of others in her struggle to overcome her shame and to arrive at a fair assessment of her conduct.”

It becomes important, as the trauma reveals itself, to see it clearly for what it was so the person can integrate those experiences into their individual life stories.

AA literature is very focused on decreasing ego and on disrupting the selfishness of the person with the addiction. This is not necessarily a helpful baseline for traumatized folks; it can be harshly critical. The feeling of being judged can deepen the rift between the survivor and others.

Herman writes, “Realistic judgments diminish the feelings of humiliation and guilt. By contrast, either harsh criticism or ignorant, blind acceptance greatly compounds the survivor’s self-blame and isolation.”

The primary text of Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) suggests alcoholics review their past sexual life when creating a life inventory in Step 4. For the overall inventory, the book suggests that the reader completely disregard “the wrongs others had done” and to look only at “our own mistakes.”

Even in situations where a person caused harm to the reader, the reader should “disregard the other person involved entirely” and find “where were we to blame?” These suggestions can be dangerous for survivors of intimate partner violence or child abuse who have been told that they were to blame for the abuse they suffered.

The book further details what to ask yourself when making an inventory of your sexual conduct:

“Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead?” It is worrisome that a sex inventory is taken to find out how “we acted selfishly” when one-third of women and one-sixth of men have been sexually assaulted or raped.

An estimated half of women who experience a sexual assault will develop PTSD. One study found that 80 percent of women with SUD who seek inpatient treatment have been physically or sexually assaulted and nearly 70 percent of men have experienced either physical or sexual abuse.

How the 12 Steps Can Harm People with PTSD

Because remembering past traumas makes the brain’s reward center more receptive to the effects of drugs, Steps 4 and 5 need to be approached with extreme caution for people who have experienced trauma.

Ideally, these steps jumpstart healing; but when they are done without support for the symptoms of PTSD, they have the potential to retraumatize. As the person shares their trauma with someone else, hopefully, the listener is compassionate and willing to point out where things were not the addict’s fault—at all.

A child survivor of molestation had no agency in the assault, and it is unconscionable to tell that child, now grown, that they need to determine where they were at fault. It is not possible to “disregard the other person involved entirely” when an event only occurred because of the other person. Sometimes we need to recognize this fact and say to ourselves (or hear from someone else): “You had no part in this, you were a victim at that time.”

In Steps 8 and 9 we are to list and resolve harms done to others. If step 4 and 5 didn’t properly address where our fault doesn’t lie, we may be inclined to list abuses and harm done to us as wrongs we did. It says not to make amends if it will cause harm to others, but we need an additional specification not to make amends if it will cause harm to ourselves.

If you owe an abusive ex-partner money, are you supposed to pay them back if you’ve cut off all contact? These are issues that require careful consideration. Sharing both lists with a compassionate person has the potential to help survivors recover. Sharing both lists with someone who is too harsh in their suggestions and assessments has the potential to push those in recovery back into active addiction.
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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (1)
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The care of a loving, compassionate, and knowledgeable supporter, like a sponsor, can help sort out these dangerous triggers. Since such a large percentage of people in 12-step programs have experienced trauma, sponsors should be able to provide trauma-informed care; otherwise, going through the steps may end up retraumatizing their sponsees and leaving them vulnerable to relapse.

Yet, there are no qualifications for sponsorship and no way for someone new to the program to be aware of these potential pitfalls. There are so many variabilities to the 12 steps and how they are implemented.

The way in which someone interprets the language of the steps can change how people understand themselves and their history. Trauma-focused recovery can be lost in the mix and deserves more explicit attention.

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Kristance Harlow is a freelance writer and mental illness advocate. She fights stigma and writes about uncomfortable experiences. She lives in a foreign land with her husband and rescue pups.

Find Kristance on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn, or her blog.

 

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April Is Alcohol Awareness Month and This Guest Article Has Some Good Points! “A Dear John Letter” …

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month and This Guest Article Has Some Good Points! “A Dear John Letter” …

WELCOME, ALL Recovery Friends and New One Visitors!

One thing I enjoy maintaining recovery is doing research and reading. One of my favorite MAGS I subscribe to is called “The Fix Magazine” as they have some fantastic recovery writers and articles that just make sense and open view of choices of recovery paths. My feelings are, as long as you pick a path and recovery journey that works for YOU?

Then what you choose is your business, and that’s IT. Not all treatment and recovery programs come in “one size fits all,” so how you want to work a program, and there are MANY OPTIONS, that gets you BET FREE, CLEAN, and SOBER is the most crucial issue.

This article in this month’s The Fix actually caught my attention because there has been for a long time, some battles lines drawn on those who just choose to do a 12-Step recovery program and that’s all.

Well, my gambling addiction was terrible that I needed anything and everything to gain my life back and break free from the “Cycle.” See, the cycle is the same from one addiction to the next. Also the habits and behaviors we learn deep in our addictions. Look, when you are sick, broken, and hopeless?

It just may take more than one program or option to help you maintain your recovery. I’m not at all bashing AA, NA, GA, or 12-step programs. I’m merely sharing so everyone has insights into what works for some, may not work for you or me. AND? I felt exactly like the same as she does of AA and me of GA.  (Gamblers Anonymous).

~Catherine

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Dear AA, We Need to Talk  ~ By Dee Young 04/16/19

“You weren’t straight up so now we’re on the rocks.”

Dear Alcoholics Anonymous,

I’m leaving you. I’ve had enough after 31 years and that’s not even counting the 2 before that. Oy, those were rocky. You sounded way too Christian with just a spritz of Buddhism thrown in for a twist. We’d be nothing but a sour mix because I’m a devout Jewish atheist.

“Trust me,” you cooed. “Alcohol is cunning and baffling. I can help.” But when you strongly suggested I pray on my knees, I lost it.

I screamed, “Jews don’t pray on their knees!”

You weren’t alarmed but you asked that same old tired question. “How can you be an atheist and a Jew?”

Before I could explain culture versus religion to you with my secular “bagel Jew” crack, you cooed at me:

“That doesn’t matter. Anything can be a higher power—a chair or a doorknob. Just as long as you know you’re not it.”

With an eye-roll, “A doorknob? What’re you, high? That makes no sense.”

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Unfazed, you kept trying to lure me in. “You’ll see the hoop you have to jump through is wider than you think.”

But, oy vey, the goddamn god stuff left me feeling shaken so I split. Then when alcohol stopped working altogether, I ran back. I dreamed about you warming me up like a stiff scotch used to. But instead of giving me euphoria, you said I needed to admit I was powerless over alcohol. If I surrendered this time, you said I could pour my sadness into you. I was lost and you were gentle, so when you told me to close my eyes, I did.

You asked, “Can you think of anything that’s more powerful than you?”

“Yes,” I said. “Rain. No matter how much I screamed at the sky, it wouldn’t stop raining.”

Your face lit up. “You got it!”

I beamed. “Oh! And the ocean, too,” I said. “Waves will keep crashing no matter what I do.”

“Right. You’re powerless over alcohol and I can restore you to sanity.”

Hands on hips, I yelled, “I’m not insane!” But I was still shaken, not stirred.

“You can use G.O.D. as in Group of Drunks,” you reminded me, then led me to a dark church basement where you said I’d feel welcome. But the pathetic coffee left me craving something stronger; I wanted to be under the influence till I was over the limit. Yet, still attracted to the liquor-free confidence there, I decided on the GOD acronym. Until the speaker cracked a book open and read Step 11.

You smarmy liar! And I was vulnerable, trying to quit getting lit.
You gaslit me:

“To certain newcomers and to those one-time agnostics who still cling to the A.A. group as their higher power” …

Still desperate and confused, I kept going because people were nice to me. At a lunchtime meeting, the speaker talked about her fifth step. It sounded so much like confession I got excited and whirled my head around scanning the room for communion wine. Those early meetings taught me to pray—for a liquid lunch.

You said it was a spiritual program so I had to accept the idea of a higher power. That nearly crushed me. You really didn’t understand that some people know there isn’t any GOD. I’d held out hope that you were going to unveil yourself as top shelf stuff but most of the time, you seemed like Mad Dog. Especially when you said stupid shit like, “Your best thinking got you here.”

I wanted to be with you in the rooms, but most of the time I was dragging my ass around. But now I’m sick of feeling trapped. I hate your smoke and mirrors trickery. Your demand for rigorous honesty can cramp my style. When we almost broke up and I wanted to bolt, I cheated on you with meetings for atheists. The problem was there were so few of them and they were just as dogmatic.

I can hear your disdain when you call me one of those “unfortunates” who can’t get the program because I’m constitutionally incapable of being honest. Now that’s grandiose. I’m sick of your self-righteous finger wagging at me, saying you’re not judgmental but then labeling me the belligerent one if I challenge anything you say. But come on, the idea of a looming spirit in place of intoxicating spirits is ridiculous.

Okay, I admit I’m grateful that you always took me back. You’ve been patient and kind and most of all, you stuck by me. But damn it, I’m sick of being barked at for doing things that aren’t suggested. So I’m at a crossroads. The fear of leaving is a biggie. You and all of our friends will pull away from me if I leave you. The pressure to stay feels a lot like the bar pressure to do one more shot.

If I went that route, at least I could take breaks from feeling everything so acutely while also stuffing down any critical words about you. Whenever I express frustration about how hypocritical you can be, I get looked at with pity: “Poor Dee. She’s taking her will back. Let’s pray for her. It only works if you work it.”

I wince at that crap. I refuse to wear a cone of shame if I save a seat, or gossip, or don’t feel like stacking the chairs some days. A lot of people think it’s healthy to fear to slip but I no longer want to fear anything. Peer pressure reminds me of junior high.

“Please quit telling me if I’m upset it’s because I’m obstinate, immature, and willful.”

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Uh oh. But what if you’re right? If I leave, would I regress? I never want to be the sorry sot I was before we met. Those stakes are too high. I was afraid to give up alcohol and drugs because I “knew” I needed them. Then you proved me wrong. If I storm out, does that make me a brat who won’t take my medicine?

You’ve always been a good listener and who else would love me in spite of my god rants? Maybe I am at the right party now. Though I long for the schnockered nights, I ain’t in my twenties anymore. I don’t even know if I could still stay up till four in the morning, much less hit the after-hours until the Tequila Sunrises. Yearning for wild nights of yore could be euphoric recall — rosy as a maraschino on top.

Maybe staying together is fine after all. We’ve talked so many times about my expectations and you’re right—it’s stupid to blame you for being imperfect. I mean, look at me.

G.O.D. can stand for good orderly direction, with Buddhism’s tangy flavor: a god within. Now that I’m thinking things through, I suppose a frothy soy milkshake could satiate me more than White Russians ever could. And, seriously, who wants a shit-faced higher power within anyway? No marriage is 100 percent bliss; perhaps I just caught a 31-year itch. My mind easily wanders back to booty calls with sexy bar pickups. Libidos on fire. At weak moments I ache to go back there. Then I snap out of it.

Truth is, I love Netflix nights chillin’ with decaf chai latte from Starbucks. You’ve been there for me time after time. So, let’s hold up the paper cup. Cheers, AA. I’m not going anywhere.

What’ll it be tonight? Barfly or Leaving Las Vegas?”

College Students …Don’t Get Drawn Into Online Gambling as Student Debt is Bad Enough. Tips-How to Delete Student Debt.

College Students …Don’t Get Drawn Into Online Gambling as Student Debt is Bad Enough. Tips-How to Delete Student Debt.

 

I am keenly aware how much of a “Game Changer” the laws passing in many states in America “Legalizing Online Sports Betting” IS …Let’s face it, college students love supporting their school’s teams in any form of sports and with “March Madness” in full swing, students may be more willing to give it a try. BUT? Many can be more leaning to, and it can become a problem for them. Hence,
MARCH is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Now, I am not saying students WILL become addicted to online sports betting, but the possibility is always there. That would be devastating to these students as many already when leaving college are swimming in Student Debt!

If you are a student, and you feel the need to gamble or bet on sports? Please do it responsibly, and my Guest Article is here to help share some tips and advice on helping YOU get of Student/College Debt.

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Helping College Student Get Out of Debt 


You’ve made it. You’ve passed all your final exams, lined up a few potential job opportunities, and are ready to get that degree in your hands. Maybe you had hopes that all those
anxieties you felt before you started your first semester of college would be gone after four years of schooling. But graduating brings on a whole new set of challenges. Finding a job in your field of study, finding affordable housing, and of course, paying off the loans that have been building up over time.


More than 40 million Americans have some form of student loan debt, with almost 6 million of those borrows owing more than $50,000. These numbers aren’t meant to scare you, but more to show you that you’re not alone in this. This kind of debt can take a mental toll as much as a financial toll. Maybe you have a plan in place to keep your student loan payments in check, but what about those that don’t? After all, it’s difficult enough to get through a grueling college experience, let alone prepare a foolproof plan to pay back your loans in a timely manner.

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What’s the First Step?


There are a few rather simple ways to help manage your student loans, and you may even find a few tips out there on how to stop paying your student loans altogether. However you decide to pay off your debt, whether you choose to enroll in income-driven repayments, pursue a career in public service, or receive loan forgiveness; the first step to managing debt is understanding it.


Understanding what type of loans you currently have to pay back will give you a better idea of how to pick the right repayment options. There are two types of student loans:

  • Federal Loans
  • Private Loans

Federal loans have protections from lenders, where private loans do not. It’s likely that you filed for federal student loans at some point during your time in college. Since private loans are not backed by the federal government, they are far more risky and expensive than federal loans. For that reason, they’re not nearly as popular.


Regardless of which type of loan you have, make sure to check out the National Student Loan Data System to view a complete listing of all your federal loans. If you’re not seeing some of them on there, they’re likely private loans. Begin by viewing your current credit reports, and make note of both the lender contact information and balances of each private loan. Both of these things will be necessary for the future.

Pick a Repayment Method


Repayments can be both daunting and downright confusing. Take the time to fully understand the pros and cons of each method of repayment. There will be trade-offs between each option, but here is a general overview of each:

  1. Standard Repayment

For loans that aren’t consolidated, you can choose to repay in a standard method. All this means is that your payments will be the same over a ten year period. Depending on your balance, these monthly payments may be high, but the quicker you pay off your loan the less you’ll be paying in interest.

  1. Income-Driven Repayment

If your debt is relatively higher than your current income, you may want to take advantage of the income-driven repayment plan. Your monthly payments will be established by the percentage of your current income. This means if you don’t earn a lot at the moment, your loan payments will be significantly lower.

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Although there are clear advantages to this type of repayment plan, there are a few significant drawbacks. You’ll be required to verify your income annually, and because the payments are lower, interest charges will be considerably higher.

Get Your Loans Forgiven

There is a federal program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness that forgives student debt remaining after 10 years of qualifying payments for those in nonprofit, government, or public service jobs. There are even more loan forgiveness programs and options for those working in the military, those in teaching positions, or those in medicine.

Most Importantly

Don’t ignore the debt! Ignoring your debt can lead to some serious consequences. Not making payments at all can lead to your loan defaulting. If that happens, the loan balance as a total will become due, wrecking your credit score. You may even have your wages and tax refunds garnished by the government. If you know you’re in danger of defaulting, talk honestly with your lenders. There may be a way to keep this from happening.

Don’t panic! So many people before you have had trouble making payments on their loans due to unemployment, health issues, or those general unexpected financial challenges. Remember, options for managing your loans exist. There are legal and legitimate ways to postpone your payments for a short period of time.

If you’re experiencing a temporary hardship, try deferment or forbearance. Some or all of the loan’s interest may still accumulate even if your payments are postponed. If it’s at all possible, make interest-only payments. Begin today with using these tips and wipe out your student debt!

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Gambling Recovery Ramblings and I’ll Be On a New Radio Show! Rise Above Radio With Mac Mullings on KOKC.

Welcome Recovery Friends and New Friends! 

I am so excited to announce as part of my advocacy and in honor of March being Problem Gambling Awareness Month, I will be the guest speaker this Saturday, March 16th, at 3 PM CT on-air and Live on FB from KOCK Radio 95.3 FM and 1520 AM and will be a Live FB Event so come follow on https://www.facebook.com/RiseAboveKOKC/


And Mac is part of the SoberWorx Radio Family as well! So I hope you will tune in or come to Mac’s FB Live to take a listen! Here is why MAC began Rise Above Radio and what they are about.

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Rise Above Radio 1-6-18 Hour 1

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Rise Above Radio with Mac Mullings

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WELCOME TO RISE ABOVE RADIO

WHO IS MAC MULLINGS – THE SURVIVAL DRINKER?

“Addiction is the only disease that will try to convince you that you don’t have one.”

My drinking career didn’t start out the way it ended. It never does. The social drinker turns into the survival drinker.

Life isn’t happening according to our plan so we pour something on the rocks to escape reality.

FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN


We are priming the machine for a slow suicide mission. The more challenges I faced the stiffer the drinks.

My relationship with alcohol was a sign of spiritual bankruptcy.

“God loves you” was followed by an asterisk in my mind.

“God loves all his children except for you, Mac” the enemy would whisper to me. Leading me to believe that the greatest moments I would experience had passed.

Life began to feel empty. Empty like that last bottle I swore I wouldn’t drink.

The enemy thought I was breaking down but God knew I was breaking through.

RISE & RECOVERY

The idea for ‘Rise Above Radio Show’ came to me about this time last year. I was just over 90 days sober and God was planting the seed.

I’m pretty good at rushing things so with this I prayed for patience and direction.

Sometimes we have to shut up and listen. Be still. “God never talks to me!!”.

Do you ask him to? Are you ready enough to receive it?

RISE ABOVE IS GOD’s SHOW

Rise Above is God’s show, not mine. I believe in it and the need for it.

We must make a ministry out of what was misery. I don’t honor recovery by keeping it to myself and not encouraging others.

God is doing some amazing things with it and I like to say that we are just getting started.

The birthmark of a believer is a bulls-eye on it’s back and the enemy has his sights on it for sure.

Some don’t see the message of ‘Rise Above’ and it’s fair to say that given the opportunity they would rather replace it with a paid program to collect a paycheck.

MY PROMISE

One of the beautiful things about recovery is that I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t have to occupy my time with negativity.

One foot in front of the other and let God handle it. I’m not truly sober if I go about it any other way.

I have received many encouraging comments and it is very much appreciated.

I will stay true to the mission, I promise.

If you haven’t had the chance to listen, check out all our previous shows on the Rise Above Facebook page (give it a follow) and join us Saturdays from 2pm-4pm CT on KOKC Radio.
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Mac Mullings – Creator-Host/Rise Above Radio
Program Director/95.3 FM & 1520am KOKC
Co-host/The Ride w- Mac & Chad

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

“This show is changing lives, mine included. You don’t have to be an addict to be touched.  I grew up with an addict, and didn’t truly understand addiction or how to forgive until I listened to Mac.”

“Addiction was never an issue I had to deal with. I thought addicts were weak and lacking in character.  Then God brought Mac, along with several other people across my path and into my life, and I learned just how wrong my original assumptions were.

Rise Above is truly doing the Lord’s Work, raising awareness about addiction and its treatment, and opening the eyes of people like me, who would arrogantly look down upon those who are struggling
.”

“Thank God for ‘Rise Above Radio and Mac!’ What they’re doing for the community is truly amazing! Addiction is such an epidemic in our country today.

We need more pioneers like this in the world of recovery. We are seeing life’s saved and families changed because of ‘Rise Above and Mac’ getting the word out that Recovery is possible and there is hope!”

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So I hope you will join me and listen in as I shine a spotlight on a Silent and Dangerous Addiction! I will be sharing my Testimony and Shatter Stigma about this underground addiction that “Requires No Substance!”

WHY did I say yes to being on Mac’s show? Well, I want to share my story and to share current facts, stats, and some misconceptions about gambling addiction. To share with him that we just had a “tick up” in our worldwide population that now, 2.6% around the world are problem gamblers from only 1% prior. And this tells me with the expansions of gambling venues like legal online Sports Betting in several states, Indian casinos, and States Lottery offerings, this number is going to continue to grow.

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I think we all know that using gambling like I did to ‘escape or numb out from life’ and for all the wrong reasons is happening more and more and it IS having a negative impact in our communities and on families. It is reaching our high school and college-age kids too with again, now legal online Sports betting in some States and out of the 17+million problem gamblers in the USA?

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Parents? HALF this number is your high schoolers and young college adults!. It is also having a significant negative impact on our Retired Senior folks too. Look, I think we are all smart enough to know that gambling profits are not being made from those who are a “once in a while” Bingo players or gamblers. The profits from all venues and options of gambling are being from the people who are frequent, addicted and problem gamblers.

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So, anytime I get an invite on a platform like “Rise Above Radio” and like my monthly column called “QUIT To WIN” in ‘Keys To Recovery Newspaper’ a  free recovery publication, it helps me feel empowered to be able to share my experiences of how gambling addiction devastated my life and my husbands, share my strengths maintaining recovery and what works for me, and have platforms to share HOPE to those looking or reach out to RECOVER OUT LOUD . . .

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 ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon  



March Is Problem Gambling Awareness So Let’s Have a GamTalk! It Is a Great Resource . . .

Those of us who maintain recovery from the cunning disease and addiction of gambling know our stories can be helpful and powerful tools to show Recovery is Possible from this illness and others are NOT ALONE. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you feel you have a gambling problem.

One place for exceptional resources and be with other “like-minded” individuals recovering or even having a struggle to maintain theirs my friends of GAMTALK!
Founded by Dr. Woods, GamTalk has great tools and resources to help you Recover.

Since March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, I wanted to share Stories of those who have shared their VOICES and Addiction/Recovery on GamTalk so everyone can know there are many out here including myself trying to stay BET Free.  That gambling caused us much pain, financial devastation, and can be a challenge to maintain recovery at times.

Unless we begin “THE CONVERSATION” about this disease, others will still stay within the STIGMA and not reach out for the HOPE and the HELP that is out here and ready to help those looking to get their LIVES BACK! I sure did and it’s time for you to as well . . .

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GamTalk

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WHAT and WHO IS
GAMTALK:

Dr. Wood is the founder and manager of GAMTALK

“I have been investigating gambling problems for the last 18 years. I don’t have all the answers, but I will do my best to tell you what is currently understood. I focus on problem gambling prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery related issues. Through GAMTALK I will discuss the benefits of online support and to explain how Gamtalk helps thousands of people every year to discuss their gambling issues as part of a supportive online community.”


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SHARED STORIES of HOPE:

Arnie, A Long-Timer Maintaining Recovery From Gambling:

I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler who placed my last bet April 10,1968.

I started gambling at about age 7 or 8 as a kid in Brooklyn, NY. It started with flipping baseball cards, pitching pennies, shooting marbles and playing pinball machines. That kind of gambling continued until about age 14. At that point, I started to bet on sporting events with a bookmaker and I got into the stock market.

As a young kid, growing up, I always felt that everyone was better than me. The only time I felt okay about myself was after I had a win, whether it was marbles or baseball cards or pennies. Then at 14, I went to the racetrack for the first time (that was Memorial Day, 1951 Roosevelt Raceway). At that time in my life, I was making $.50 an hour after school, working about 15-20 hours a week. That night at Roosevelt Raceway I had my first big win and walked out of the track with $54. Looking back today, I think it was that night that changed my life. Even though it was only $54, it was about 5 weeks salary to me at that time. That night gave me the belief that I could be a winner from gambling and eventually become a millionaire. I can still recall that high feeling walking out of the racetrack that night.

By 17, I was already stealing to support my gambling. It started with stealing comic books to play cards with from the local candy store. Before long it was stealing money from my family to pay for gambling. By then I was taking the bus to the racetrack, a few nights a week on a regular basis. In those days they closed the track in the winter months, in New York so on weekends, I would take the bus or the train to Maryland to gamble. I was betting sporting events and horses with the bookmaker on a daily basis. In those days each sport had its own season. I remember calling the bookmaker one day and the only thing that was available to gamble on was hockey. I had never seen a hockey game but bet on it anyway. It wasn’t until months later when I did see my first hockey game, that I realized that hockey was played on ice.

Somewhere between age 17 and 20 I went to the racetrack one night and won $6000. Wow! Another big win. It was the equivalent of 2 years salary. This reinforced my belief that I could be a winner at gambling.

By my early 20’s I was betting big amounts on lots of games that I didn’t really know much about and probably couldn’t name more than a handful of players who played in these events. In some of the college games I bet on, I couldn’t name one player or even tell you where the college was located, but I needed to be in action. By then I was a regular at the old Madison Square Garden, every week.

I was watching and betting on college and professional basketball on a regular basis. At this point in my life, I was working full time in a shipping department in the garment center and every Tuesday when we got paid there was a regular crap game out in the hallway. Almost every week I would lose my pay in this game. I began stealing supplies and merchandise on a daily basis to pay for my gambling. By then, I had a bank loan and a loan with a finance company loan. I was also borrowing from coworkers.

At 21 I met my future wife. Our first date was to the movies and most of the rest of our dating was at the racetrack. We had a joint checking account saving for our wedding. She would put money in and I wouldn’t. I needed to use my money for gambling. I was still looking for another big win. I thought the perfect place for our honeymoon would be Las Vegas or Puerto Rico since I knew both places had casinos. My wife to be didn’t think that was a good idea.

I guess she understood enough about my gambling already. At 23 we got married and I wanted to stop gambling at that point. I thought that I could. Within a short time, I was already back to gambling. Even though I wanted to stop, I realize today that I couldn’t. I needed to gamble like any drug addict needed to stick that needle in their arm, or any alcoholic needed to have that drink.

Four weeks after we got married I went away to the Army Reserves at Fort Dix, NJ for 6 months. During those 6 months, I gambled every day, fast and furious, from placing bets by phone with the bookmaker to shooting crap and playing cards, every waking minute. When I came home in December of 1961, I owed $4000 and didn’t even have a job.

I got a job, eventually, working in the garment center In the showroom that I worked in there were a few compulsive gamblers who I quickly got friendly with. They became my buddies. We would play cards during the day and go to the racetrack at night and on weekends, together. My wife thought I was at business meetings some of these nights and all of us would lie for each other.

In 1963 my first daughter was born. My wife was in labor for 37 hours. During that period I went to the racetrack twice. When the Doctor finally came out and told me that we had a baby, the only question I really was concerned about was “how much did she weigh”. He told me 7lbs.1 oz. You would think that the concern should have been “how is my wife” or “how is the baby”. The first call I made was to the bookmaker. I bet 71 in the daily double. The next day when I picked up the newspaper, the daily double hit. I was convinced that day that God was sending me a message that I was now going to be a winner.

One year later my boss gave me an option to buy 500 shares of stock in the company for $7500. Within a year that stock was worth $38,000. In those days you could buy a car for $2000 and a house for about $10,000. Within 3 years this money would be gone due to my gambling. By now I was a plant supervisor for a Fortune 500 company. My gambling was already so out of control that I was stealing everything I could to stay in action. I set up a room in the factory that we used for playing cards (all day long). I was starting to do illegal acts (manipulating stocks) in the stock market.

Our home life was deteriorating. Gambling was more important than anything else that was going on at home. I was lying about almost everything and I would come home and pick a fight so I could go out to gamble. Nothing else at that point in my life was more important than gambling; not my family or my job. Gambling came first. At this point even though I was doing illegal acts, I was still borrowing money from only legal sources.

My gambling continued to get progressively worse. I was now a plant manager, supervising 300-400 people. My boss worked in New York, and I was in a factory in New Jersey. Most of the time he didn’t know what I was doing. Besides stealing and borrowing money from coworkers, I now had 3 bank loans and 3 loans to finance companies; I owed a loan shark an amount of money equal to one year’s salary. I was involved with 3 bookmakers, both working for them and betting with them. I directed a lot of people who gambled in my company, to my bookmaker and got a piece of the action.

I even got involved in a numbers operation. Between this and stealing, I was supporting my gambling. There were times I would bet 40 or 50 games on a weekend, and believe I could win them all. One weekend, just before I hit my bottom, I called a bookmaker and took a shot by betting a round robin which amounted to about 2 years annual salary. At that moment if I lost that bet, there was no way I could pay it. Things were getting so bad, I remember calling a bookmaker one day and being told that if I didn’t bring him the money I owed him he would not take my bet for that night. I went home and sold our car to a neighbor.

By now, I wasn’t going home to pick a fight with my wife. I was doing it over the phone so I wouldn’t waste the trip home. Most of the time I was out gambling, but when I was home we were constantly fighting. We had sex very rarely. When I won I was so high I didn’t need it and if I lost I didn’t want it. But there were times we had sex and my wife would say to me “do you hear a radio”. Of course, I would tell her she was crazy, but I had a radio on under the pillow so I could listen to a game. We were trying to have another child, but couldn’t. My wife came to me with the idea of adoption. I didn’t like that idea especially when I was told it would cost money. I needed that money for gambling.

After 3 months of her bothering me, I finally went along with the idea of adoption, as I thought she would be so busy with the 2 kids that she would leave me alone. I borrowed the money we needed from my boss and relatives. On the day we were bringing our son home on a plane, it was the 7th game of the 1967 World Series. My wife was busy looking at this beautiful new baby. I had no interest in him. I had a large bet on the game. The pilot was announcing the score every 15 minutes, or so. I was so upset that we were on this plane. I wished and prayed that the plane would get to the ground so that I could see or hear every minute of this game.

In the next few months, the bottom fell out of my world even though I still had my job and still looked okay. There were no track marks on my arm, I wasn’t smelling from my gambling. No one could really tell what was going on. I would come home from gambling and see my wife crying all the time, depressed, sick. Our daughter was 4 years old and I don’t remember her walking or talking. I either wasn’t home or when I was my head was consumed with the gambling. At that point in my life, I owed 32 people, 3 years annual salary. I had a life insurance policy and constantly thought about killing myself and leaving my wife and 2 kids that money.

I would do anything to keep gambling. As long as I could get my hands on some more money to stay in action, I still thought that the big win was just around the corner. I was trying to find out where I could get drugs to sell and looking around at gas stations to rob. I was asking people about making counterfeit money. I was running out of options. My boss came to me one day and told me that a detective was following me and he had a report on my gambling. He knew I was betting more money than I earned and he was sure that I was stealing from the company and that if he found out he would have me arrested.

Three hours later I was stealing from the company again. I needed to go to the racetrack that night. On February 2, 1968, my wife was having a miscarriage and I was taking her to the hospital. I was wishing and praying all the way that she would die. I thought that would solve all my problems (I wouldn’t have to tell her how bad things were). That morning I called my mother to watch my kids, I called my boss and told him I couldn’t come to work because my wife was in the hospital.

That afternoon I went to the racetrack. After the track, I went to see how my wife was. When I got to the hospital the doctor told me that my wife was in shock and had almost died. I was so deep into my addiction that I really didn’t care about her, the 2 kids or myself. The only important thing was making a bet.

“I thought that I was the only one living the way I was living and doing the things that I was doing.”

I found out that I was not alone and that I could stop gambling with the help of other people. I had hope for the first time. It’s been almost 38 years since I last gambled. Today I have everything I dreamed about getting from gambling and then some.

I have a wonderful family that is still intact and even have been blessed with 4 grandchildren who I love very much. In the last 20 years, I have been able to devote my working life to helping others who have this problem and educating people on the disease of Compulsive Gambling. This has been a dream come true.
~Arnie

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GamTalk
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Please give GAMTALK a visit and read more Stories of Hope and know you are not alone and we can recover from the cunning disease of Gambling and recovery is Possible and it WORKS.

~Catherine

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One Amazing Resource Is My Friends “Know The Odds” Who Raise Awareness and Share Resources Like I Do For Problem Gambling and Addiction.

PROBLEM GAMBLING AFTER THE BIG GAME POSTED ON 

The Big Game is behind us.  As a loved one to someone struggling with problem gambling, how do you feel?  How has your family been affected by gambling during this time of year? This game may have intensified the negative consequences of a loved one’s gambling.   There are things you can do to reduce the effects felt from gambling after the big game.

The Big Game Can Be A Trigger

From the end of January up until the big game, the media covered the upcoming game, the players, and facts about the stadium where the game was played.  There was so much media specific to the game on news outlets, in articles, and advertisements.  People struggling with problem gambling may feel inundated with chatter about the big game.

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They may have felt triggered to make a bet, increase their current betting, or get involved in additional gambling activities like daily fantasy sports.  Now, after the game, the media will continue talking about what happened.  For anyone negatively affected by problem gambling, this game may feel endless.

Consequences of Problem Gambling

As a loved one of someone struggling with problem gambling, you may notice some increasing consequences from gambling.

  • Preoccupation with the outcome of the game. This could result in being absentminded and forgetful about important daily routines or upcoming events with loved ones.  This could also be due to anger about losses and looking to win money back.
  • Tension in relationships. This could result in an increase in isolation and avoidance by the person struggling with problem gambling.
  • Irritability. People may be struggling with healthy habits, such as regular sleep, healthy eating choices, and regular exercise causing an increase in irritability.

Take Action to Reduce the Effects

  1. Focus on mutual non-gambling hobbies and interests. Spend more time on things that are not gambling related.  This can help subside some of the after-effects from the big game.  Focus on things that aren’t related to the game and avoid questions about it. Whether or not the person struggling is in recovery for problem gambling or not, a focus on loved ones can help everyone repair relationships, together.
  2. Learn more about problem gambling.  Whether you’re reading eBooks on problem gambling, watching educational videos, or finding articles online, knowledge is power.  Learn all you can about problem gambling, warning signs and possible consequences so you can support your loved ones, including the one struggling.
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  3. Know that it’s okay if you need help and that you are not alone. Help is available because people want to support people and families struggling with problem gambling.  If you’re unsure where to start on your search for help, the answer is your local Problem Gambling Resource Center.  Whether you’re just looking for information or need to make an appointment to talk to someone, your local Problem Gambling Resource Center staff can help.


Please Visit my friends from Know The ODDS   A Not-for-Profit Org. dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and disordered gambling. You can Connect with them too on Twitter and where we met! And on their Official Facebook Page …

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ENDURE …By My Dear Friend, Brittany as She Describes 12 Years Maintaining Recovery Eloquently For The Both of Us.

AND? If you have not visited Brittany’s amazing recovery site at “Discovering Beautiful: Life After Childhood Trauma“?

Then please give her a visit …

I am proud to have her my guest article post share today!

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Image result for images quotes about endure from addiction

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ENDURE

“Twelve years into my recovery from addiction, I am comfortable describing myself as a chronic over-indulger who has had to spend a lot of time reevaluating my relationship with consumption.”

 

Coffee?

Yes, love it. Often, I have one too many cups but not as many as I used to.

Doublemint Gum?

Enjoy chewing it, but not just one stick. I must barrel through the ENTIRE pack in one day.

Oh’, those cupcakes my kids made last night?

Soon they’ll be history. Gone.

But in early recovery, none of those things mattered.

The problem that I had with over-indulging got lost in the excitement that I wasn’t dead, and it didn’t really make a difference whether I had three or thirty-three cups of coffee.

Priorities.

As I accumulated sober days my recovery shifted from fixating on lengths of sober time to a more direct focus on personal growth; digging deeper into my habits and coping mechanisms, and gaining insight into how I function and why.

Nothing about this journey has been easy or instantaneous.

The only whimsy involved in this whole process has been the Grace that carried me from death to life when I was exhausted and hopeless.

The way I view my shortcomings has changed. This over indulgent glitch I seem to carry is quite possibly a DNA marker, (sarcasm not science) but I no longer feel trapped by it.

And THAT is the beauty of recovery.

I can accept that this might be woven into my fabric, but fabric can be manipulated and changed into something different.

My limitations can’t stand against choosing to learn or being open to evolving and certainly can’t win against applying God’s truth to my life.

The power that I have within me is found in God who strengthens me to overcome temptation, who has shown me how to look at self-control as a gift that can be developed and strengthened.

Here is a Bible verse I want to share with you guys.

When it comes to the topic of temptation, it is a classic, widely known piece of scripture often referenced to help people who are struggling, and one that I have recently researched and read, re-read and torn apart.

Stay with me:

1 Corinthians 10:13.

(Good News Translation)
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

(Holman Christian Standard Bible)
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, he will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

(New Living Translation)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

(Translations are taken from BibleHub.com)

YOU GUYS.

Listen look at this: 

en·dure//verb

  1. suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently. synonyms: undergo, go through, live through, experience, meet, encounter; More
  2. remain in existence; last. synonyms: last, live, live on, go on, hold on, abide, continue, persist, remain, stay, survive;

I only shared a few translations of this verse, but every one of them ends the same way.

When we are tempted we will be able to GET THROUGH it.
It doesn’t say escape, avoid, magically skip over, or be saved from.

We will be able to make it through. We can endure. 
Using the synonyms listed for endure-
We will be able to persist.
We will be able to survive.
To live through.
To go on, continue.
To suffer patiently.

So you see, sometimes to endure is to simply go on, and other times it will be to suffer patiently, but we endure nonetheless.

None of those things promise us easy.
But the one thing they offer is hope that we will be able to make it.

If we believe what God tells us, we can be certain that we will be given what we need to succumb to temptation.

We might make it through looking like a mess. be holding on tight, disheveled, tired, sweaty, and terrified, but WE WILL MAKE IT THROUGH.

We can endure each wave that comes our way and each time, it will get easier to have faith and to see that we are capable, with God, to get through the things that could have killed us. Or for me, the cupcake cravings that haunt me at night. Whichever.

So today, please remember:

It will come. The urges. The mind wandering. The Temptations.

But WE CAN get through it.

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I am a sober person of 12 years, in long-term recovery from shame and perpetual escape. I kicked my inner-victim out on its ass and have been healing from the damaging effects of childhood trauma and self-destruction ever since. I’m a believer in the kind of Truth that can set a person free, but only because I have experienced it for myself.

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Pick up a copy of her amazing book too!  Cat

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Now available on Amazon.

 


This book is for all of the adult children who feel misunderstood and unseen. I wanted to give a voice to the marginalized; to the adult children who grew up drowning in severe dysfunction. Generational cycles and patterns can be broken. We can heal from our wounds. We can move forward from the damage caused by mentally ill parents, drug addicted parents, and from neglect and abuse. My hope is to encourage others to not feel ashamed of their experiences and to step away from thinking that they are inherently damaged or too far gone. It’s never too late for God to change your life.