First Thing In Gambling Recovery? Have Another Manage Your MONEY …Guest Shares by Gambling Counsellor Sam.

First Thing In Gambling Recovery? Have Another Manage Your MONEY …Guest Shares by Gambling Counsellor Sam.

“Yes, I enjoy much fun with a ‘Dash of HUMOR’ these days while maintaining and managing my recovery journey, hence, the  featured post Photo of me holding a coffee can of money while speaking at Big Jim’s Ride Around America this past April 2019 at the Arizona State Capitol with many  of my recovery friends sharing Awareness and Hope from all Addictions” …

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But Why IS My Above Photo So Important?

WELL, There was a time I was NOT TRUSTED WITH MONEY AT ALL while deep within my gambling addiction. And gaining trust back is very important as it was a big part of my recovery work those years ago when first entering treatment and starting my journey. As starting treatment and counseling, the first thing I had to do is give up all control managing our money, bill paying, the bank accounts, and all the ATM, Debit, and Creditcards. All of that went to my husband to handle in 2002.

And, NO, I did not LIKE IT. Especially when my early career and still at that time I had worked in the banking field and then a debt collection company for three years right before my first suicide attempt and entered treatment then November of 2002. I hurt like hell to not have any control or money … PERIOD.

But I had to do it or I am sure I would still be active with problem and addicted gambling today. It’s the first thing that should be done and care of and taken away from the gambler entering treatment. It is also one main way for the spouse or partner of an addicted gambler to SAFEGUARD themselves and the finances.

That is why I wanted to share a few posts by my dear friend ‘Counsellor Sam’ as he does a lot of counseling with gamblers and their family about this topic and many others. He has a few articles on his site that you may find informative and helpful around being picked to handle a recovering gambler’s money and finances.

We had met through our blogs and social media and I can tell you he is very knowledgable in many areas of gambling recovery.  So without any more delays, here are a couple of shares from Gambling Counsellor Sam about being asked to help handle “The Money”…

BOTH OUR BLOGS ARE THE BEST FOR Education and Recovery from Problem Gambling…   ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon

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YOU’VE BEEN ASKED TO MANAGE SOMEONE’S MONEY: NOW WHAT?
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If a friend has reached out to ask you to help them manage their money, you may be confused about why and don’t quite know what to do. Asking a trusted friend or family member for help to handle money is a common strategy that many people use to stop or reduce their gambling.

It’s important for you to know that helping someone manage their finances can provide wonderful support and peace of mind for them if they are affected by problem gambling, but it can also add an extra dimension of difficulty to your relationship.
What do you need to consider before saying “yes, I will help you manage your money”?

  • First: If the person has any debts, consider whether a financial counselor be consulted.
  • Next: Discuss how long you each expect you will have to manage the money. How will you both know that you are no longer needed and that your friend or relative is able to manage alone? Be as specific as possible about what signs and indicators will make it clear that it is time for them to manage their finances on their own.
  • Make sure you talk about what their specific goals are in relation to gambling. Are they planning to slow their gambling or stop altogether?
  • Make sure you have a talk about what they hope to achieve. Agree on what will happen if they are not taking the steps you have agreed upon to achieve these goals.
  • Write down any agreements you make so the plan is completely clear to you both.
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    And Lastly:
  • Have times scheduled for regular reviews of the plan so that you can discuss how it is working for both you and the recovering person …

Helping someone manage their money can contribute greatly to breaking the cycle of gambling.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (1)

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I DON’T WANT TO MANAGE THEIR MONEY ANYMORE. HOW DO I TELL THEM?
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Many people find it useful to have someone temporarily manage their money while they are trying to change their gambling habits. When it works, this is a fantastic strategy, but there can be times when this approach harms more than it helps.

Whether you’re helping out a partner, friend or relative, controlling access to their money might be stressful for you and cause strain in your relationship — especially if they continue to gamble or repeatedly break the agreement you have with them.

It might come to the point where you can no longer help them manage their money.

So be prepared for the possibility that they will react negatively. You can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome by planning your conversation with them.

Here are some tips:
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  • Time it wisely: Are they a morning or evening person? Where do your best conversations with them happen? Consider past conversations you’ve had with them at different times and situations and think about how well they have gone. It’s best to raise the topic at a time when they are calm and not in the heat of an ongoing argument.
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  • Define your limits clearly:  Let the person know exactly why you are no longer able to help manage their money. Be specific and explain why you feel it would be best if they sought help with their money from someone else. Refer to the agreement you made with them when you first agreed to help them. Call Gambling Help, who can refer them to a Financial Counsellor.
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  • Remind them you are still there for them: It can also be helpful to let them know what types of continuing support you are able to provide. Let them know you still care and want to be there for them in other ways.……

Deciding to stop managing your friend or loved one’s money can be a difficult decision and stir up uncomfortable emotions. If you want to have a conversation about whether this is the right decision for you and your friend or loved one.

NEED more support to approach this conversation? It’s Free, Confidential, and Professional counselors are available 24/7 on 1-800-858-858 … 

SAM WHO?
LEARN ALL About Counsellor Sam by a visit to his helpful blog “About Counsellor Sam” and begin your recovery from problem gambling today!

~Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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The Time is Now to Hold Big Pharma Accountable! Do Not Let Purdue Pharma Get Away With MURDER …File Today!

The Time is Now to Hold Big Pharma Accountable! Do Not Let Purdue Pharma Get Away With MURDER …File Today!

A very important message from Ryan Hampton as I and many advocates support all he has accomplished against PURDUE the maker of Opioid drugs causing overdoses and those becoming ADDICTED…

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Dear Friends,

It has been a long time coming but there is now a legal team of experts fighting for victims and people impacted by the opioid crisis and Purdue Pharma.

This morning, I filed a claim with the legal team against Purdue Pharma–which declared bankruptcy on Sunday night. I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. Any money recovered under my personal claim against Purdue, I am dedicating 100% to support solutions in prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services in my community.

To file a claim against Purdue in the bankruptcy, visit opioidrights.com.
Time is of the essence.

Why it’s important that every single person impacted by the harm of Purdue’s products files a claim

In 1996, Purdue received an FDA approval for OxyContin, an extended-release form of oxycodone that the company claimed was safer than others and had a low risk of addiction. OxyContin, however, had a high risk of addiction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of 700,000 Americans who died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, almost 400,000 died after overdosing on prescription and illicit opioid drugs. During the one year period from Jan. 2, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2017, 64,070 people died from opioid overdoses.

In addition to OxyContin, Purdue manufactured MS Contin, Dilaudid/Dilaudid HP, Butrans, Hysingla ER, and Targiniq ER, all of which are also at the epicenter of the crisis.

Purdue and Big Pharma are alleged to have helped to drive the opioid epidemic by engaging in aggressive and potentially misleading marketing campaigns.

Purdue purportedly mounted an especially aggressive marketing campaign for OxyContin, holding dozens of national pain conferences that were attended by more than 5,000 pharmacists, doctors, and nurses to spur them to prescribe OxyContin for non-cancer pain.

The marketing efforts seem to have worked. The number of prescriptions for OxyContin to treat non-cancer pain grew from 670,000 in 1997 to 6.2 million in 2002. By 2020, the U.S. market for opioid medications is expected to reach $18.4 billion.

On September 15, 2019, Purdue filed for bankruptcy.

In the near future, the legal team anticipates that a federal bankruptcy court handling the matter will set a deadline within which claims can be filed by victims and those alleging injury or death from Purdue products. Claims not filed within the applicable bar date may be lost forever.

What does filing a claim mean?


Filing a claim means you will be represented as a victim of Purdue’s actions during the bankruptcy proceedings and will have legal representation in the process.

About the legal team fighting for victims of the opioid crisis

Andrews & Thornton, ASK LLP, Fennemore Craig PC, and Goodnow McKay PLLC, have significant experience with tort, mass tort, and wrongful death matters. In addition, Anne Andrews, the managing partner of Andrews & Thornton, has considerable experience navigating bankruptcies involving complicated pharmaceutical claims.

She served on official committees in TwinLab and N.V.E., both dietary supplement companies responsible for causing serious injuries to consumers, and as the Chair of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in New England Compounding Pharmacy, a company responsible for distributing compounded steroid injections that caused fungal meningitis.

She also participated in bankruptcy proceedings on behalf of tort creditors in Chemtura (which sold a chemical in flavored popcorn causing severe lung injury), Metabolife and MuscleTech (also dietary supplement companies causing users severe injuries like a heart attack or stroke), and Dow Corning (which marketed faulty breast implants).

Most recently she has served on the Tort Claimants’ Committee in PG&E, a bankruptcy involving tens of thousands of people losing their homes or lives due to PG&E’s electrical equipment. Significantly, she currently serves as the Chair of Creditor’s Committee for the bankruptcy of Insys, the first opioid seller to declare bankruptcy.

Please file your claim TODAY. The process is simple.
Go to: opioidrights.com.


Thank you for all you do. ~Ryan Hampton

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Please file your claim TODAY. I have and urge you -all my Recovery Advocates and Recovery Friends to do the same! ~Advocate Catherine Lyon


Let The Legal Team Fight for Victims…

The opioid epidemic has ravaged the country, leading to countless deaths and injuries. With news breaking about Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin and other deadly opioids, filing for bankruptcy, our group of law firms has come together to represent individuals who have been injured and the families of those who have lost their lives because of opioids. For cases, we accept there are no out-of-pocket costs, and we only get paid if we recover money for you.*

Call now or visit HERE: YOUR RIGHTS! AND fill out the form for a free case evaluation.

Purdue Needs To Be Held Accountable For The Opioid Epidemic!

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Please also visit Ryan’s New Website too! Recovery Advocate Project

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Nothing Is Wrong With You If a 12-Step Program Does Not Work For You. It’s Why We Have “Choices Of What Works For Us”… Power To Choose

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“Those of us recovering know there is nothing wrong with you if for some reason a 12-Step program or meetings that are not enough to help you recover from any ADDICTION from Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, any addictions.”

And there has been a lot of “Debate” about this for a long time by many groups and die-hard 12-steppers in my 12-years of maintaining recovery and I been to many AA and GA, Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

 

Especially when I had a negative experience a few times in a GA meeting where a few long-timers got in an actual “Shouting Match” in front of attendees, as some just happen to be newcomers! Very wrong to DO and THAT was not following the by-laws of how a 12-step meeting should be … So when I came across this new article in one of my favorite Recovery Magazines called The Fix and this  article about “There is nothing wrong with YOU if AA, and I’ll include NA and GA, 12-step program doesn’t WORK for you.”

Look, it’s OK to choose the recovery path YOU WANT and WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. And even though I had a BAD experience with my Gamblers Anonymous meeting? I still went back and used it as a form of SUPPORT and to be like-minded recovering gamblers, BUT? Knew it wasn’t going to BE the only help and treatment option I needed for my addictions to gambling and alcohol abuse. Here is what The Fix Article says about a 12-step program and if it works or not works for you …  ~Catherine Lyon

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There is hope

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There’s Nothing Wrong With You If AA Doesn’t Work

By Olivia Pennelle 

“It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone.”

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I spoke to a friend, Damien, last week. He was devastated at losing someone close to him to an alcohol disorder. What is particularly harrowing about this person’s passing is that it might have been prevented. Damien’s friend was repeatedly pushed toward Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), even though it clearly wasn’t the right fit for him. Just like many others, instead of being supported by peers and professionals and given alternative options, this friend was left feeling that the problem was him.

“It’s really frustrating to see friends die because the default treatment option doesn’t work for them,” Damien says. “We are losing far too many people with substance use disorder who find 12-step incompatible with their life experiences and belief systems.”

He goes on to say, “It’s not because they aren’t willing. It’s not because they can’t ‘get it.’ It’s because, for many people, treating addiction requires more than hope, spirituality, and fellowship. And yet, the only option most are presented with is founded on those three pillars. If the recommended treatment for bacterial infections had the same success rate as the 12 steps, then antibiotics would not be our go-to treatment plan for staph infections.”

My overarching message is: There is nothing wrong with you if AA doesn’t work. It isn’t that you’re incapable of being honest with yourself, or that you’re not working a “program” well enough. You are not too broken, or too far gone. You simply haven’t found the right pathway for you.

These kinds of beliefs stem from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which states: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” [emphasis added]

During my five years of attending countless AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, I have heard many members criticize those who come in and out of the rooms but return to using in between, categorizing them as unwilling, or incapable of being honest.“They just need to surrender to the program and work it like their life depends on it,” was the kind of statement I heard over and over again.

I threw myself into the program because there were no other options for me in the northwest of England. I was so desperate to find something that would help me that I believed anything members said, even if there was no evidence to back it up.

I did a fair amount of perpetuating these myths too. I was instructed to ignore my instincts and critical mind (because that was my “disease talking”), and do what I was told. Giving away my free will to a person in the sky or a church basement seemed weird, but I went with it for several years. After all, it had worked for many other members.

With a period of sobriety under my belt, I couldn’t ignore my inner doubts any longer. They became louder. It was as though, even after years in recovery, I suddenly woke up. And I started to slowly unpack all the myths I’d been told.

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REVIVE DETOX  – Shares: 

“I think you’ll agree with us when we say:

Times have changed and not all addiction cases should be treated the same way.

Traditional 12 Step Programs are based on a relationship with a higher power, an external higher power.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Medications should be combined with behavioral counseling for a “whole patient” approach, known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).” and is an effective treatment for addiction.

Personality, personal values, history, underlying conditions, and other factors dictate what type of recovery program works best for an individual.

We empower clients to invest in their own recovery which aids each individual in taking responsibility for their behaviors and breeds self-reliance.”

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In particular, I tried to unpack “it works if you work it.” There is substantial evidence that shows there’s no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to recovery. If this program were suitable for everyone with substance use disorders, its success rate would be much higher. The fact is that success rates of 12-step programs vary wildly, from as low as 5 to 8 percent, with dropout rates from 69 to 86 percent … to as high as 42 percent after four years.

I should point out that these dropout rates are a reflection of the attrition rates of addiction treatment generally. This underscores the point that the way we treat addiction isn’t appropriate for everyone and we need to get better at personalizing care based on individual circumstances.

When I moved to the U.S., it was like my world opened up. I saw that despite what I’d been told in AA — that it was the only method for successful recovery — there was actually an open landscape of diverse recovery pathways.

A leading study shows that tens of millions of Americans have successfully resolved an alcohol or drug problem through a variety of traditional and nontraditional methods. That means:

  • 9 percent recovered with “assisted pathway use” that consisted of mutual-aid groups (45.1 percent), treatment (27.6 percent), and emerging recovery support services (21.8 percent). 95.8 percent of those who used mutual-aid groups attended 12-step mutual aid meetings.
  • Just under half of those who did not report using an assisted pathway recovered without the use of formal treatment and recovery supports.
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I’m aware that an ideal model of treatment, individualized based on the person’s particular medical and psychological needs, is not always available to most people. Not all of us have the luxury of therapeutic treatment from a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is another reason mutual-aid groups are the most accessible form of recovery pathway — they’re free!

We’re fortunate in the U.S. to have plenty of other support groups that are not all based on religion, and some have a solid evidence-based program.

They include Refuge RecoveryLifeRing Secular RecoverySMART RecoveryModeration ManagementWellbriety — among many others listed here — and they have been shown to be equally as successful as 12-step groups.

study comparing 12-step groups to alternative mutual aid groups found that LifeRing, SMART, and Women for Sobriety were just as effective as 12-step groups. Study author Dr. Sarah Zemore and her team reported that “findings for high levels of participation, satisfaction, and cohesion among members of the mutual help alternatives suggest promise for these groups in addressing addiction problems.”

Despite my reporting about AA’s success rate and some of the myths perpetuated by the fellowship, I’m not here to bash AA. I’m here to shine a light on the false statement that it is the only successful way. There are many others.

For those AA does work for, I respect your path. We just need to have a clearer picture of what recovery looks like so when someone is suffering, instead of saying they are the problem, we can be better informed to direct them to what may be a more suitable pathway.

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After all, we all have the same goal: Recovery! ~Cat Lyon, Advocate

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“Find Your Own Path To Recovery” ~ By Mike of ‘OWN SOBRIETY’ Who Is My Special Recovery Guest …

“Find Your Own Path To Recovery” ~ By Mike of ‘OWN SOBRIETY’ Who Is My Special Recovery Guest …

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As I was deep within my gambling addiction 12+years ago, toward the end and 9 months before I entered treatment, I began to abuse alcohol as obviously my gambling addiction wasn’t “doing it” for me any longer. Not only did that make me more Stupid with Money and gambling but it made me spin more and more out of control and toward my first and not the last suicide attempt.

It is why I have educated myself about many addictions and not just advocate gambling addiction recovery. We know it is not about the “preferred addiction” that is the problem when we become addicts of any kind, it’s about how to interrupt the “cycle” and the poor habits and behaviors of any addiction, including gambling and alcohol.

Once you lose the “control” over any addiction, you are too far gone as an ADDICT.  More importantly, when you are ready to enter and maintain long-term recovery and reclaim your life back, as Mike shares in this guest article and to “Find Your Own Path To Recovery!”

Make sure you visit Mike and check out his website for more personal and informative articles and posts and his amazing “SOBER FRIENDS CLUB.”

~Advocate, Catherine Lyon

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When you first enter into recovery from substance abuse or addictive behavior, everyone will tell you how you should do it.  In the beginning, you should listen to them.  Do anything other than what you were doing in active addiction.  But, as time rolls on, you need to find your own path in recovery.  Through self-evaluation, research, and trial, you can find a path that is suitable for you.

Early in your recovery, I believe that it is important to listen to the advice of others who have been in your shoes or who are professionals in the field.  I started my most recent, and hopefully last journey to recovery in a medical detox facility.  I ended up being in there for eight days and it was during that time that I promised myself that I would do anything and everything that I could do to make this time work.  That meant listening to everything that I was told to do and taking advantage of every resource provided to me.

I literally made recovery my full-time job.  I wasn’t working at the time, I was too sick, and I wasn’t tied down in a relationship.  I had a place to stay at my parent’s house and took full advantage of the opportunity to just get better.  I’m a pretty energetic and self-motivated person so I put that strength to work for me in fully immersing myself in my recovery.  I knew a couple of things from my past attempts at recovery – that I could put together a few months of recovery and that I couldn’t do it by myself.  What that meant to me at the time was that I needed to go to AA meetings, which I didn’t like but was willing to do.  Through self-evaluation, research of my own, and trial, I eventually found what is now my own personal path.

The key here is that I did what I was told while doing my own evaluation and research at the same time.  The treatment center that I detoxed at offered me an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and recommended that I see a therapist along with going to AA or Celebrate Recovery meetings.  So, I took advantage of the IOP program and made an appointment with a therapist.  I completed the seven-week, 21 session IOP in conjunction with going to AA meetings and therapy.

During this time, I took it upon myself to begin researching addiction and the different treatment options available.  I searched the internet and connected with online support groups.  I found the book This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and read it in its entirety.  I discovered a support group that I had never heard of before called SMART Recovery which used self-empowering tools based in REBT and CBT therapies.  This jived with what I called “the intellectual approach” to recovery that is outlined in This Naked Mind and complemented what I was learning from my therapist.  I soon realized that there wasn’t a single path to recovery and that I could do what worked best for me as long as I was willing to put in the work and was honest with myself.

Self-evaluation is the hard part of this process. 
In early recovery, most of us aren’t equipped to be completely honest with ourselves and to look at ourselves objectively.  It took time in counseling to start trusting myself and having the confidence to say, “This isn’t going to work for me long-term.”  I knew that being required to go to AA meetings on a regular basis to stay sober wasn’t going to work for me.  The biggest motivator for my recovery was to address my anxiety and tremors that had become so severe that I could barely accomplish basic tasks like cooking or going out in public.  I am very introverted and the thought of having to go too rigid meetings was a big obstacle for me.

When I attended AA meetings at the beginning of my recovery, I would go with others I had met in detox and IOP and was mostly quiet.  The ability to do SMART Recovery meetings online and the less rigid structure and feel of the meetings were a game-changer for me.  When I read This Naked Mind, it spoke to me on every level.  I knew there was something to this self-empowering approach to recovery that I could get behind and eventually, with the help of my therapist, had the courage to stand up and say I’m going to do my recovery differently.  I know how I am and what is going to work best for me.  It took a little time to get there and figure it all out, but by staying true to myself I gave myself a chance at a happy, healthy, long-term recovery.

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Maybe AA is the path for you. 

Maybe you just want to add a little variety to your recovery.  Whatever the case, find where you stand and what you know you will actually do.  If you have a problem with a part of recovery, tell someone.  If you know what you are doing isn’t going to work, find a different way.  Just because it isn’t the popular method doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.  Take it upon yourself to discover yourself.  Hit the internet and start finding out what other paths are available and what others are doing.

” Read books.  Ask questions.  Make connections.  Be curious.” 

Get excited about the opportunity to find yourself and improve yourself that recovery provides.  If it is boring or counter-intuitive to you, it probably won’t work long-term.  Get your legs under yourself a bit and then have the courage to do what is best for you.  You will find that there are tons of ways to practice recovery.  There are a lot of programs and paths out there.  Google things, ask questions in online groups, go to the bookstore.  Gain knowledge and find your own beliefs.  It’s 2019, we have minds of our own and a plethora of ways to find information and do research.  Take advantage of it.

Finally, try different things.  Go to a SMART Recovery meeting or a Refuge Recovery meeting.  Try therapists and see if you click with one.  If your treatment center offers programs, try them.  Keep trying new things to find what works for you and what doesn’t.  Eliminate excuses.  Keep a hold on the things that do work and let go of the rest.  It is your recovery and your life, you are entitled to think for yourself and be a bit selfish.  I promote mostly non-12-step approaches, but I did try them.  I have attended AA, NA, and 90 meetings in 90 days.  I have read a lot of the Big Book.  I have lived in a halfway house.  I have had a sponsor.  Those things weren’t comfortable for me so I kept on searching and trying other things.

The trial part of this process was the fun part for me.  I get excited about finding myself and improving myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always feel motivated to act but I do force myself to try.  If you take nothing else away from my message, just take the excitement of the journey.  Do you want a better life?  Do you want to achieve your goals and dreams?  Recovery enables you to accomplish all of that.  Find what gets you excited and pursue that relentlessly.  It all starts with getting yourself healthy and living a better life conducive to your goals.

Recovery is a vital part of achieving what you want to do.  If you can’t get excited about recovery on its own, then view it as a part of the larger goal you want to achieve.  Without recovery from your substance abuse or addictive behavior, do you have a shot at achieving that dream?  Incorporate your recovery into your excitement for achieving something bigger.
Have you found your own path to recovery?  What has worked for you and what hasn’t in your recovery?  What methods do you use?  Comment below or send me a message via social media to let me know how you are owning sobriety.  And as always, please like, comment, and share if you find this post useful or relevant to you.  I always appreciate your support Cat!

Love Y’all,
~Mike

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About OWN Sobriety and MIKE

OWN Sobriety is a blog and resource site, launched in August 2018, that is dedicated to a modern and holistic approach to recovery from addiction.  OWN Sobriety promotes understanding and exploration of ALL recovery programs.  It’s about finding the tools that work for each individual and making your recovery your own.

“Hi, I’m Mike.  A 35-year-old guy from someplace in a weirdly shaped state (it’s Indiana).  I used to drink lots of alcohol and pop benzos to deal with life.  Then, it became a problem.  So, I did it for a few more years just to be sure it was, in fact, a problem.   Now, I don’t.  This site is my platform for sharing my story, my journey, my thoughts and whatever other little quirks that spill out along the way.”

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OWN Sobriety

 

My Author Interview By Terry of Author Shout. All About What I do and All About My Passions of Helping Others…

My Author Interview By Terry of Author Shout. All About What I do and All About My Passions of Helping Others…

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It’s not every day I happen to get invited for an Author Interview. I’m a wee bit shy since I do battle agoraphobia and I get a little nervous doing interviews. But since I have had so many new blog friends come to visit and follow along on both my recovery and my book blog, I thought I would take up the offer from Terry who owns Author Shout which is an amazing large reader site as Terry connects authors and readers together so readers can find many awesome new books.

The interview has been updated as my journey all began with one little book I published and grew from there! I hope all my new friends and followers will enjoy learning about “All The Hats I Wear” on my recovery and literary journey! And if you didn’t know?

My at-home business is promoting many fine authors and their books and can be seen on my other WordPress Book Blog of “Cat Lyon’s Reading & Writing Den” and home of “Lyon Media Services”…
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Catherine Townsend-Lyon is a Best-Selling Author of The Kodel Publishing Group with her shocking debut memoir titled; “Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.”

Catherine’s Memoir is both an in-depth and raw look as she takes readers on a journey of many important topics that ‘touched’ her life, starting as a little girl into adulthood. Not a book on how to recover but an in-depth look of how events in one’s life, or past trauma and abuse, or even the ways of parental discipline can be some of the underlying factors to why some people may turn to an addiction later in adulthood as form of escape, numb hurt feelings, or just trying to cope with everyday life when not emotionally strong and haunting memories of it come calling…

She had taken a dark path, trying to elude that past childhood pain and traumatic events. She began using gambling as a coping skill and escapism into a “dream world” to forget, if only for a few hours the haunting memories of her childhood sexual abuse, parental verbal and physical abuse, and lived with undiagnosed mental/emotional illness for years. Shaping the “perfect storm, she became addicted to gambling with alcohol abuse right before entering treatment. So, something like gambling to be for fun and entertainment became her worst nightmare and almost took her life, twice!

Now maintaining recovery nearly thirteen years, Catherine has become well known in the addiction/recovery communities and is a loud advocate of gambling addiction, mental health, and why the expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lottery offerings needs to stop across America. Catherine’s featured in many mainstream media and recovery publications like Columbia University’s Media Release through the 2×2 Project “Gambling with America’s Health. Also was interviewed for “NAUTILUS & Time Magazine online article in September 2016.

She is a former writer and columnist for “In Recovery Magazine’s-The Author’s Cafe”  and after it’s sale was hired as a freelance writer and columnist for Keys To Recovery newspaper. She is also an “Expert Gambling Recovery Blogger” for “Addictionland”   of Founder/Author, Cate Stevens along with other recovery experts like the late Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Tommy Rosen, and Arnie Wexler. She recently handled all the media and social media manager for “Big Jim’s Bike Ride Around America” until Jim Downs was forced off the ride due to serious medical issues after 4 months of biking over 5,000+ miles.

Catherine, aka., CAT lives just outside Phoenix, Arizona and So. Oregon. She is married to her husband for 29-years. She is a ‘Cat Lover’ and has three, Ms. Princess, Mr. Boots, and Simon-Peter. She has no choice but to be an avid reader for her business, but she loves cooking, gardening, swimming, and rafting. She owns and runs an online marketing business called: “Lyon Book & Social Media Promotions.
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“Best Day EVER Meeting This Former NFL Pro ‘Randy Grimes’ of the Tampa Buccaneers now Recovery Advocate. #NFLCares Program

>>>>>

Author Interview With Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Q. What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.

Why did you write and disclose personal family experiences? Were you afraid of backlash or judgment from family and others?

A.  I feel that is what writing a memoir is all about. Since my book is about my life of many topics including gambling addiction and recovery and not a book of HOW to RECOVER, I wanted readers to have an inside view of how our family life growing up can later become some of the reason some may turn to addiction in the first place.

I, nor many people do not grow up in an “angelic” family dynamic. Some grow up in a dysfunctional or abusive situation. That was my experience, and later became added “fuel” to my gambling addiction. I wanted to “set the back story” so to speak so readers had an understanding of how many of us turn to addictions instead of knowing there are places we can get help like counseling or therapy when your “past comes back later in life haunting you.”

As far as any backlash, my family needs to understand this memoir is not about them, it about how I was affected by how I was raised and disciplined. I was also sexually abused as a little girl, and I stuffed that away for years without my parents knowing until adulthood. You will have to read my book to learn how all that turned out. So, you have to brave enough to share the good, the bad, and all the ugly if you are going to write a memoir without the worry of backlash. I am trying to help others through my book. For me, that is what I focused on and help others know they are not alone if this happened to them.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

A. Not really. My first book came very easy to me. And believe or not I hand wrote the memoir in 6 spiral notebooks. At that time, I was not writing a book, I was writing for myself to heal and to see all that gambling addiction and alcohol abuse had taken from my life. The book part and becoming published happened a year later as “divine intervention” I say.

I then was invited to be part of a compilation book which published in December of 2017 titled “Ten The Hard Way.” And I have been working on my next book for a long while and will be about HOW to begin recovery and what to expect. The only weird thing? I love writing when it’s raining. But I am not an outline or draft type of writer. I just let the words flow out of me onto paper. More of a freelancer.

Q. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

A. I can thankfully say no to this question. One of the best pieces of advice I had received from another writer was, “write what you know.”

Unfortunately, I know much about gambling addiction, recovery, mental health challenges, and childhood trauma. All these topics have ‘touched’ my life and I advocate about passionately …

Q.  What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?

A.  I would have to pass on what was told to me in the above answer “write what you know or I feel what you are passionate about.” If you love animals? Write an animal children’s book. If you have an open imagination? Write a thriller or mystery. An action or adventure story.

I am a writer and author “by accident,” Lol. So I feel funny giving other aspiring authors advice. I am a book promoter/marketer for many fine authors of all genres as well, so one piece of advice I can give to first-time authors?

Your book takes many hours, days, and months to promote. Book sales and book reviews will not happen overnight, so don’t give up or get discouraged. KEEP Writing and Promoting your books!


Q.  What are your current/future projects?

A.  I do have a couple of projects on am working on. My second book is almost complete and will be a follow up to my memoir and a helpful resource for starting recovery from gambling addiction on how to make their first year in recovery.

Another I have been working along time will be a stab at fiction! It is about a woman who is being chased by her “addiction demons” in recovery and takes a Lighthouse Keepers job on the North Oregon coast looking to start life over and for some solitude and serenity in her life. But her past comes calling! The rest you’ll have to read if I ever get it done! Lol.

Q.  Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

A.  I actually added in my current book with the reasons “how and why” I came to start writing in the first place. It was about the suicide of a woman at a hotel and casino 41 miles North of my home in So. Oregon. I read about in our local newspaper. Reading it lit a fire in me to see all that my gambling addiction took from me. But, no spoilers here. LOL. You need to read my book titled; ‘Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,’ which is now listed here on Author Shout, and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.

Again, I write what I know ….Lol.
Balance is a challenge for me to fit my own writing time in as I promote for other authors. It is why it has taken me two years to get my next books done and published. So except for the compilation book, I am still a “one book wonder” at this point. Again, I sure do write a lot for several recovery publications and my own blogs.

Q.  What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?

A.  I think we all know indie and self-published authors are changing the landscape of the “traditional” way authors get published these days. You no longer have to look to or be with a big publishing house anymore. Now, that is not to say they’re most likely are some self-published or indie books that may not be very appealing. (No offense to authors). As I have read a few myself and the authors are not writers, LOL.

However, there are awesome writers and authors producing some fantastic works and it is refreshing to see that all authors can now be noticed and praised for work well done! That is part of the change with being able to self-publish. I have promoted authors that were picked up and offered publishing contracts. So the traditional publishing houses are finding many good writers and authors. That is a great thing.

Q.  Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

A.  My current book was picked up by a publishing firm in So. Oregon where I used to live. But my publisher is a smaller independent publisher. I did, however, receive an awesome offer when it came to my royalty share. the Kodel Group are more like a “self-publish” helper. I had an editor and designer for my current book already, so they just did my format, typesetting, and upload through Amazon’s KDP Direct Publishing of my paperback and for my e-book.

Going this route was a more inexpensive way to publish. Nowadays most publishers won’t do any book promoting for authors unless you buy a publishing package, except they may send out a press release about the new book, so authors Beware …Be ready to set a budget to promote your books on your own. I do all my own book promoting throughout social media and PR releases through several PR services. Authors can promote for free at many book sites. There are many low-cost options to gain exposure, sales, and reviews. Just like doing advertising on “Author Shout” and others like awesomegang.com or bookgoodies.net …

Q.  Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?

A.  No. The only change or difference that I made was to my book cover. I have two different covers that are the same, but my e-book cover has different colors. I wanted my e-book cover to have more vibrant Las Vegas catching colors. That was about the only change.

Q.  What opportunities have been presented to as an author you in sharing those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)

A.  Being a person of long-term recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol for almost 13- years now, publishing my book was my way of helping others with the problems as I had and was the only way I knew how to help others. By sharing my story in many ways like media, radio, and podcasts shares to others HOPE that they can recover from this cunning and devastating illness.

Many blessings and doors have opened for me to share my voice and writing and to have a platform to help inform, educate, and raise awareness of addicted and problem gambling. I want those who have never been touched by this addiction have more understanding and empathy for those who suffer. The opportunities that have come from people seeing and reading my book are have been many!

Being a former recovery columnist for a premier magazine called; “In Recovery Magazine.” I did many amazing interviews and articles of many high profile people who share their recovery as well and many have become friends and supporters of mine. I am now a writer for a premiere recovery newspaper out of So. California called; “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” and I am still an expert gambling addiction and recovery blogger “Addictionland” a platform to raise awareness and educate the public about problem gambling. I have a few more, but I am ‘humbled and thankful’ for all the opportunities that have come my way. These offerings help keep me in recovery as well.

Q.  What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?

A.  Now this question is an easy answer! Lol.
Since I market, promote, and advertise books for many authors and my own book for living, authors can hire me for “done for you” set-up of social media places to be and a full-service plan that won’t break the bank here at “Lyon Media & Literary Services.”

I’ve been doing book promoting and marketing a long time and it doesn’t have to be costly. I do research often and keep up on the latest low-cost options and new media places too! I want to be able to help new authors learn ‘how and where’ to promote their books. Many of the sites to place book ads are free or you can do low-cost book ads or book promotions and giveaways.

There is no shortage of authors needing help as they continue to write more books, and why among other reasons why they hire me to promote their books.

My number one valuable tip? Layer your book ads when your book first releases. That way you will find and it will help build your readership through many book promo sites like Awesomegang.com or Bookgoodies.net . . . And Author Shout! Just a couple of my “go-to places.”

Q.  What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?

A.  My current book is a Memoir of my life with many topics discussed throughout which I mentioned above.

Q.  What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?

A.  I carry a spiral notebook or my laptop with me everywhere I go!

Q.  Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?

A.
  Now that I am working on books two and three, I am trying to keep both within 300 to under 500 pages. I also let my editor worry about that! Lol.

Q.  How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?

A.  Yes. My writing has evolved so much since I wrote my first book. I feel the more you write, the better you get. Now that I am writing more as a profession as well, I have taken some webinars and use writing software to make sure I continue to become a more seasoned writer.

I would hope to think writing my book and my recovery blog for my book and where I continue to write my recovery journey in many publications helps others. We just never know who our story will touch or help. I wanted others who still suffer or are stuck in the “cycle” of gambling addiction that ‘Suicide Is Not An Option to Stop Gambling Addiction.’

Again, like the woman I had read about in my local newspaper. And like my own two failed suicide attempts when I was deep in my addiction. Suicide is never the answer.

Q.  Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?

A.  Yes, I do feel a press release is very important and has value. Many first time authors can not afford mainstream advertising or hire a PR firm. So a press release sent out through PR websites is a stellar way to let people and literary media places know about your book and it’s release. I do them for my book promoting clients as some PR websites let you send a couple out for free.

A few I like and use are NPR, WEBPR.com, and NewswireToday.com are some good ones. I get some good results in books sales and book reviews.

Q.  Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are underrated, overrated, or don’t matter at all?

A.  Of course, there is value to book reviews for many reasons. Readers who shop for books, let us say on Amazon, they look and read reviews before they buy a book. I know as I do and I am an avid reader! Amazon emails me when someone reads a review I have placed and tells me it helped them decide to purchase.

Reviews on Amazon also helps your book’s rankings among other books in that genre. My book is still in the Top 100 in Paid Kindle E-books at #83 for Gambling Addiction Books. Rankings and tell us as authors how our books sell and compare to other books sold on Amazon. When a reader takes the time to write a review after they read my memoir, I use that as well if they leave suggestions to improve my craft as a writer.

Q.  What is your biggest fear about having a book published?

A.  This question goes back to how I answered your very First Question. I sat on my manuscript for almost a year because of fear. It is more difficult being afraid of how readers would react to my memoir as it is based on truth and is a real story and facts. I also had some fear about what my family would think even though I have been estranged from them for years. But I decided it wasn’t for or about them. My book was about healing and forgiveness for me and insight for readers.

Q.  What is the intended audience for your book?

A.  People in or reaching out to recover from gambling addiction, awareness of mental health, and those who had been sexually or physically abused, went through childhood trauma. Also for readers who want more understanding about these issues.

Q.  Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?

A.  The Internet has changed not only the landscape of how authors can easily promote their books throughout social media, but the Internet has also changed how people can find information to get help from addiction and recovery support.

As a book promoter as my in-home business, the Internet has allowed me to work from home and make an income as I still have mental health challenges with Agoraphobia, Depression, and Mood Disorder, the internet has changed the way we do many things for school, work, and not just the bookselling and publishing industry.

Q.  What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?

A.  Taking on paid writing jobs has boosted my self-confidence as a writer. That also helped me get the offer to be a columnist at “In Recovery Magazine.” And why I write for several other addiction/recovery publications. For me, it is two-fold. I become a better writer and I have great platforms to showcase my writing while helping others recover.

Q.  What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?

A.  I really can’t answer this directly as my book was written very unconventionally. When I was writing at the time, I wasn’t writing a book. That all happened later on.
I do however recommend using some form of writing aide software which I do use.

Q.  Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?

A.  All of the above. Especially for therapy and a recovery outlet.

Q.  Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?

A.  None. Seriously. I had none as it all poured out and I just kept writing it all in my notebooks!

Q.  Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?

A.
  God created editors for a reason. Lol. My editor was Julie Hall. She works for our local newspaper in Grants Pass, Oregon. She isn’t an editor by profession. But she edits and proofreads for the newspaper. She had taken my six notebooks and performed “magic.” Then she sent the first 50 pages to a publisher friend of hers, and that is how my book made it to being published as Steve from The Kodel Group kept hounding me to publish as to help others!

Q.  What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?

A.  For my recovery and helping others is what inspires me to write. If I can help others by sharing my story and experiences through words? That makes me happy. And what a living legacy to leave behind.

Q.  What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?

A.  Since I do write a lot and for several publications, coming up with new topics to write about can be a challenge. Writing is very freeing to me. I enjoy it and hopefully continue writing and publishing more books to help others and for readers to also enjoy.

Q. Now lastly, If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?

A.  A message of HOPE to others who suffer from addiction of any kind. We can recover no matter how bad or how far addiction has taken you. We all have that tiny sliver of light given by our Higher Power within us to turn our lives around if we want it bad enough. I have learned that recovery is possible and it works if you are willing to work for it. I will be a “work in progress” until my last breath, but the life lessons learned and wisdom gained has been well worth the RIDE!

 

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Books by Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

      Ten the Hard Way: True Stories of Addiction and Recovery (Ten the Hard Way; True

Connect with more from Catherine Townsend-Lyon …

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“Know The Odds” Is Seeing What I Am Seeing Among College Students and Problem Gambling. It’s On The Rise…

“Know The Odds” Is Seeing What I Am Seeing Among College Students and Problem Gambling. It’s On The Rise…

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COLLEGE AND PROBLEM GAMBLING  POSTED ON 

The summer is coming to an end and students are moving on to their next level of education, which maybe college.  Going off to college is an amazing time of growth, learning, and self-exploration.  Learning about all the world may have to offer shows many youths how limitless life can be.  With this feeling of limitlessness, youth may be unaware of problems that may lay ahead, like problem gambling.

Change for Everyone

Heading to college may be a time of excitement.  For parents, it’s a time that they get to see their youth take the next step into adulthood. It may be a time where they get to see their youth spread their wings and explore all the world has to offer. It can be an amazing time of change for everyone.

Anytime there is a change in someone’s life, there is an opportunity for problems.  Youth who are leaving home for college will experience many changes.  They may be living in a new place with new people.  Their school may be in a new community and not even know where the local coffee shop is.  They may be leaving all of their friends and family behind.

Risks of Leaving Home

All of the changes that youth experience has risks because they may be leaving all of their protective factors behind.  A protective factor is a term to include all things that help people live healthier lives. These include positive role models like parents or youth leaders, belonging to positive groups like sports teams or faith-based communities, and living in a community that is safe.

When youth move off to college, they may be leaving most if not all of the things behind that helped, they live wonderful healthy lives.  They’ll need these protective factors as they face a list of new or increased risky obstacles.

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Youth and Gambling

There are a lot of reasons youth may choose to gamble.

Whatever their reasons, there are a number of risk factors that can put youth at increased risk of struggling with problems from gambling.  Youth are at an increased risk if they are male and have other mental health or addiction disorders.  Plus, if they are already risk-takers and keep the company of peers who gamble and struggle with other problem behaviors, they are more likely to have problems with gambling.

Youth who come from families who do not object to youth gambling and may not understand the risks of youth gambling are more at risk.  They are also more at risk if their family has a history of addiction and/or illegal activities.  Finally, a youth’s community’s attitude towards gambling plays a role.  If the community lacks awareness of youth gambling risks and offers opportunities for youth go gamble, youth will see gambling as a risk-free

 

Problems from Gambling

Youth who are at an increased risk, have not been exposed to gambling, or don’t understand how gambling works can easily fall victim to problem gambling.

Problem gambling is defined as any time gambling causes problems in someone’s life.  Some problems that youth may experience from gambling include:

 

  • Missing classes or entire school days
  • A sudden drop in grades
  • Less interest in extracurricular activities
  • Grater interest in money and value of possessions
  • Winning or being right
  • Money is lost or going missing

 

Obviously, none of these problems are good for the success of a student in college.  Therefore, it’s important to take some steps to help youth make healthy choices for themselves. Include problem gambling when you talk and council your college-bound kids about drinking alcohol or drugs. Have them prepared for possible peer pressure.

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What YOU Can Do

As a parent or loved with a college-bound kid going off to college, you can make a difference in their life. There are things you can do to continue to guide youth towards healthier decisions and avoid the problems associated with problem gambling.

Communication:  Keep a strong line of communication open with your youth.  Show them a continued interest in their life and share the great things that are going on at home.  Keeping the lines of communication open and healthy will help keep you aware of their life and allow you to offer guidance when needed.

Education:  Learning more about youth gambling and problem gambling can only raise your awareness to warning signs.  Your knowledge can help you guide your youth as you continue your relationship into their next phase of life.  A great place to start is our e-book The Dangers of Youth Gambling Addiction. This e-book takes this blog post and goes into greater depth of what to look for and what to do.

If needed, get support: There is support available across New York State.  If you believe your youth may be experiencing a gambling problem in New York State, reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center.  Here, you’ll be greeted by a dedicated professional ready to offer you additional information and resources about problem gambling and/or connect you or your youth with a trained clinician.

You are not alone, and they are here to help.

We hope your family enjoys a fantastic transition from home to college. With this transition, remember that there is help for those in need of problems with gambling at NYProblemGamblingHELP.org.

Also from any State? Visit The National Council on Problem Gambling.

OR CALL: The 24 Hour Confidential National Helpline

 

 

Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

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How to Stay Sober Through a Parent’s Illness – By Amy Dresner 08/05/19


I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable.

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I think it was about a year a half ago when my mother became wheelchair-bound and was diagnosed with dementia. The two trips to visit her in Santa Fe were so stressful that my bestie, also a recovering addict, started vaping for the first time and she still hasn’t stopped. We had five days to clear out her apartment, find her a board and care, break her lease, put her stuff in storage, forward her mail, and much more. I cried most of that trip but it all got handled.

My life is different now. My mother can’t hear well and she’s confused. She can’t walk or use the computer anymore. People bathe her. She calls me multiple times a day about the same thing. On top of that, I was suddenly given the “power of attorney and appointed Social Security payee.” I was in charge of all her bills, speaking to her nurse, speaking to her chaplain, and speaking to her social worker.

Role Reversal

If there’s one thing addicts don’t seek out, it’s responsibility. As an only child, I alone had to handle all of it. Sure I was sober but mature? Hardly.

I recently had to sign a form to approve the use of Narcan should my mother overdose on her Oxycontin. When the nursing staff assistant tried to explain opiates and Narcan to me, I stopped her.

“I’m …um…well-versed in Narcan. I’m an ex-junkie.”

I heard her mutter an “Oh” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

I’ve never had children for a sundry of reasons: my genes, my fertility, my financial situation, my shitty relationships. Suddenly I had a child and it was my mother. The role reversal was sudden and jarring and I recall rocking and crying and whimpering, “I don’t want this.” But it was all mine, like it or not.

My relationship with my mother was always difficult. I was resentful for her physical absence during my childhood and her emotional absence always. But suddenly all that resentment melted away. Resentment is a luxury, I realized, and as her caretaker, there was no room for it anymore.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (2)

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Almost 50, with Zero Life Skills

Having spent 30 years of my life mentally ill and struggling with addiction, having to “adult” suddenly felt premature and impossible. It was like coming out of a time warp. I was almost 50 but I had zero life skills: No idea how to pay taxes or when to rotate your tires or how to hold down a “real” job, let alone handle all my mother’s shit. Sure I had other life skills: making a crack bong out of a Mountain Dew bottle or how to hit a rolling vein or manipulating people into taking care of me. But these weren’t so helpful now.

I was a grown woman but I still felt and honestly acted like a child most of the time. I still needed my mom but now she wasn’t available. I’d never felt like she “heard” me and now she really couldn’t hear me. I never felt she “understood” me and now she really couldn’t grasp what I was saying. I hate to use the “t” word but yeah it was triggering.

We had grown closer during this sobriety but now, suddenly, she wasn’t somebody I could bring things to. She became somebody who brought things to me and they were all “emergency” needs: Afrin, salted nuts, Nars concealer. My mother had always been particular, snobby, and demanding. That didn’t change. I quickly accepted all of these things and began to lean much more heavily on my father.

Gutted

Then, about a week ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was gutted. He and I are impossibly close; he is my mentor, my hero, my best friend.

“You can’t go. You’re my person,” I wept pathetically into the phone. Everything good about me comes from him: my humor, my intelligence, my writing ability. And now he’s ill. Really ill. My first reaction and I’m not proud of this at 6.5 years sober, was to kill myself or get loaded. My brain screamed, “GET OUT.”

We all have those things: if “this” happens, I’ll get loaded. My dad’s death was always that: my hold out, my exemption. When I told him that a few years ago he said, “Too fucking bad, Ames. It’s in my will if you get loaded, you get nothing.” Fuck.

It’s all so selfish. Fuck his cancer, I’m hurting and I need to attend to that. Suddenly I was making it about me. I try not to cry on every phone call but am rarely successful. I feel weak and small.

I started to spiral, lumping all the bad on top of each other as we do: I’m single, I’m broke, I’m getting old. My parents are dying. But if I know one thing, it’s that a relapse would kill both of them faster than the diseases they were battling. It just isn’t an option.

Still, every day I have the urge to escape my body, numb the pain, check out. Not because I don’t have a strong program or I’m not connected to my higher power or any of that bullshit, but because I’m an addict and we don’t like feelings and we get high to avoid them. Six and a half years of sobriety doesn’t negate a lifetime of drugs and suicide attempts as my top and most successful coping mechanisms.

But if I’ve finally learned anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what I feel like doing, it matters what I do. I can’t control my feelings or thoughts but I can control my actions.

When I’m Not Crying, I’m Angry

When I’m not crying, I’m angry. I’m so fucking angry. Fuck you, God. God never gives you more than you can handle?! Well, this feels like more than I can handle. And fuck me. Fuck me for having been a complete wreck for most of my adult life.

And then in between the tears and the rage, there’s numbness, where I feel nothing because it’s all just too much. I catch myself just staring into space, zoning out on the multitude of Pyrex dishes at Target. Not lost in thought, lost in nothingness.

I don’t think anything prepares you for the death of your parents. I don’t care how old you are or spiritually fit (insert eye roll). Sure, they’re in their 80’s; it’s bound to happen, it’s part of life, blah, blah, blah.

But you still never think it will happen. And when it does, you are suddenly faced with an aloneness that is inconceivable, an unending void that will never be filled.

I look back now at me mourning a break-up for over two years. What a fucking joke. You can get a new boyfriend. You can’t get a new mother or father.

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I've been through a lot of tough times, more than my fair share and these words are very true.

How I’m Staying Clean

I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable. So how am I staying clean? Well, I started vaping again (judge away, fuckers). I’m talking to my sponsor every single day, I’m talking to my friends, I’m working with my sponsees.

I’m crying. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m trying to be of service to my parents and process my grief elsewhere. I’m calling friends and asking for support. Sure I don’t always answer the phone, but don’t take it personally. Sometimes I’m just too shut down to talk. I sleep and nap …a lot. Depression or escape? Does it really matter? It beats the alternatives.

When I asked other people in recovery how they made it through a parent’s illness and death, almost all of them said the same thing: They didn’t. They drank and used during the whole process to escape the pain and it was the biggest regret of their lives.

Whether the parent had known or not was immaterial. They were haunted by the guilt they felt and if they could do it all over again, they’d stay sober, give their parent the gift of being completely present, and not run from the feelings. I can and will do that, as ungraceful as it might be.

I said to one of my sponsees: “You are about to witness a magic trick. You are about to watch your sponsor go through one of the most painful times ever and not get loaded.” I think I was telling myself as much as her.

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Amy Dresner
is a recovering drug addict and all-around fuck up. She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012.

When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29AlternetAfter Party ChatSalonThe FriskyCosmo LatinaUnbound BoxAddiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books. Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.