In a New Year … No More Suffering In Silence. Stats of Problem Gambling, Suicide, and Mental Health.

In a New Year … No More Suffering In Silence. Stats of Problem Gambling, Suicide, and Mental Health.

Welcome Recovery Friends …

Our Guest Article Today is courtesy of the fine folks of Southern Region Problem Gambling Conference and The National Council on Problem Gambling … They both put on conferences about Problem Gambling that are informative for many State Councils like Georgia, North Carolina, and all over the US to spread information and awareness about the negative impacts problem gambling has in all our States and Communities …

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Suffering in Silence: Suicide and Problem Gambling

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“With high profile deaths such as Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the issue of suicide and the stigma surrounding mental health have remained the center of many conversations throughout the United States and abroad. A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that from 1999-2016, suicide rates have steadily increased throughout the United States.

In the states like Florida, suicide rates have risen approximately six to eighteen percent (6-18%).

How does this affect the field of problem gambling?”

 


Prevalence of Suicide Among Problem Gamblers

Problem gambling, known as the “Hidden Addiction,” gets its nickname due to the fact that many symptoms do not present themselves physically as is the case in substance addictions. This means that many individuals suffering from Gambling Disorder often do so alone, potentially increasing feelings of isolation and depleting self-worth.

According to the FCCG’s Annual HelpLine report, twenty-six percent (26%) of 888-ADMIT-IT callers reported having suicidal ideation. Additionally, sixty-six percent (66%) of callers reported having depression, and seventy-two percent (72%) revealed they are struggling with anxiety. It is important to continue to recognize this population of problem gamblers and increase efforts of prevention and treatment.

Although we are unable to pinpoint the exact reason for such a strong connection between suicidal ideation and Gambling Disorder, it is possible that finances play a role. Research indicates that historically, suicide rates have been higher during economic downturns.

What Can We Do?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of suicide victims are not diagnosed with some form of mental illness or disorder until after their death. It is believed that approximately ninety percent (90%) of individuals who take their own lives were living with an undiagnosed mental illness, illustrating the need to destigmatize mental health in the United States. Continuing to have conversations with friends and family regarding mental health is the first step to ensure fewer people suffer in silence but don’t stop there.

( To interject here, this happened to me after my first failed suicide attempt in 2002. While in the addiction and mental health crisis center, and once I became stable, both my primary doctor and the centers’ psychiatrist and after a full evaluation, I was suffering from severe depression, high mania, and anxiety, and PTSD and went undiagnosed until my gambling addiction brought the symptoms to the surface through my addiction. I was using gambling to escape the trauma and sexual abuse I went through as a little girl and had tried to stuff it away for years.)

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (2)

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“Currently and just had a rise from 1% and now 2.6% of our population are problem gamblers.”

Gambling can be found everywhere from physical casinos to a multitude of online websites and apps. It is easier than ever to gamble in the privacy of home or on the go with a smartphone. It’s easy to place bets with PayPal, credit cards, bitcoin, or money-transfer apps. All of this ease has led to an increase in gambling addiction across the world.

Problem gambling can become a compulsive behavior and gambling can be emotionally addictive. Addictions to behaviors (as opposed to addictive substances) are known as “process addictions,” and, just like substance addictions, they require supportive treatment. Specialty rehab programs and support groups are available for people who struggle with gambling addiction. If you or someone you love struggles with gambling behavior, you are not alone. One look at the statistics behind gambling addiction reveals that this problem is prevalent…

The North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help and The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that approximately 2.6% of the U.S. population has some type of gambling issue. That adds up to nearly 10 million people in the United States who struggle with a gambling habit. This issue adds up to approximately 6 billion dollars each year, which impacts the U.S. economy and citizens.

Gambling costs American taxpayers. Public funding for problem gambling went up to $73 million in 2016, but despite those costs, gambling remains regulated by each state and is not federally regulated. Ten states (and the District of Columbia) do not offer any publicly funded gambling assistance. These funding discrepancies mean that public treatment services can vary widely from state-to-state, and the level of care in publicly funded programs also varies greatly.

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The U.S. federal government has largely left gambling regulations up to each state, which means that gambling may be illegal where you live, or it may be advertised on every street corner, as it is in places like Las Vegas, Nevada. The result is a patchwork of awareness campaigns and treatment programs that vary widely in their responsiveness.

States that discourage or prohibit gambling tend to not offer awareness campaigns, and as a result, people who gamble through their phones or computers may be missing information about the dangers of gambling. Awareness of the problem is key to making changes for the better.

Gambling doesn’t only devastate individuals; it is a family issue. Because this particular problem directly impacts family and personal finances, family members who have gambling problems often hide their issue and feel a great deal of shame and secrecy. In severe cases, the problem may go undetected until finances become a major issue. Gambling can destroy relationships, but it is possible to rebuild trust and rebuild finances. No gambling problem has to be permanent.

Integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders offers specialized treatment for problem gamblers. A co-occurring disorder happens when someone suffers from more than one problem, such as gambling and anxiety, or gambling and depression … Help is available.

Please Visit or Call Today …

NATIONAL PROBLEM GAMBLING HELPLINE

1-800-522-4700

The National Council on Problem Gambling operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700). The network is a single national access point to local resources for those seeking help for a gambling problem. The network consists of 28 call centers which provide resources and referrals for all 50 states, Canada and the US Virgin Islands.  Help is available 24/7 and is 100% confidential.

The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network also includes text and chat services. These features enable those who are gambling online or on their mobile phone to access help the same way they play. One call, text or chat will get you to problem gambling help anywhere in the U.S. 24/7/365.

Help is also available via an online peer support forum at www.gamtalk.org.


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Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

 

Growing Delight in Disorder

“One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding.”

 

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As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God’s abundant grace experienced in a generous community.

I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have been blessed to be one of God’s instruments of healing, through my book, this blog, phone and video consults, speaking engagements and my podcast. My ministry has grown from a manuscript in a junk drawer to a message spreading across the globe.

My mission here at Delight in Disorder is to foster hope in the lives of those with troubled minds and cultivate compassion within the faith community for those with mental illness. To carry out this mission, I need your help. Your prayers. Your stories. Your encouragement. Your financial support.

 

Why Do You Need Financial Support?

I want to be clear your financial gifts are to grow this mission, not increase my personal lifestyle. God has blessed me with income streams to put food on the table, have a roof over my head, and meet my daily needs. Monies contributed will go to expand the outreach of Delight in Disorder.

Build community among those engaged in advocacy and mental health ministry. Produce and distribute more written content to nourish the spiritual lives of wounded souls. Promote faith and mental wellness online and through other avenues. Provide for direct outreach through workshops and conferences on healing and wholeness. These are just some of the needs I envision to grow this ministry God has laid on my heart and, I hope, yours.

How Much Will It Cost?

To become a patron, you can contribute as little as $1/month or as much as God leads you to give. Again, I want to stress this should not come at the expense of your own needs, your family’s needs, or the needs of your local faith community. Instead, prayerfully consider how much you value this mission and give out of desire, not of obligation.

What Do I Get Out of It?

While it is true there are spiritual rewards whenever we give for kingdom work, I also want my patrons to receive practical benefits. These range depending on giving tiers (with each successive tier including perks of lower tiers):

  1. $1 or more a month — Covenental Clinician: Join private FB community to discuss issues of faith and mental health.
  2. $15 or more a month — Biblical Behavioralist: Receive personally inscribed Delight in Disorder for self or as a gift.
  3. $40 or more a month — Theological Therapist: Participate in a quarterly webinar on mental health ministry.
  4. $50 or more a month — Freudian for Faith: Receive monthly devotional journal (via snail mail!).
  5. $100 or more a month — Apostle for Affirmation: Video dialogue with me about a mental health matter.
  6. $200 or more a month — Manic Depressive Missionary — I will speak at a venue near you.

 

What Is My Best First Step?

The best way to get a taste of this new mission incentive is by becoming a mission partner at the $1/month Covenental Clinician tier. My private Facebook page will launch on November 1. It will be a place where you will find a wide variety of resources. Things like — personal stories from persons like me with mental health diagnoses; news about legislation impacting those with mental illness; discussions about the best way to offer Christ-like compassion for those with troubled minds.

My goal is to have 50 Covenental Clinicians by the launch date of November 1.  As a faithful reader of my blog, I hope you will become one of my founding partners.

I hope you are as excited as I am about this new mission venture. For more information and to pledge your support, go to MY SUPPORT PAGE.

Become a Patron Today and Help Tony Grow Through Faith His Mission at “Delight in Disorder Today.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37.4)

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Who Is Tony Robers?

 

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From Ministry to Madness

In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a church in Northeast PA. One Sunday, I delivered a sermon in which I shared these words:

Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. As we listen to our bodies and minds and seek out care, we gain insight more abundant lives.

The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would end, and that I would spend the rest of my life in and out of psychiatric hospitals.

By the grace of God and with much help from many others, I served another dozen years of fruitful ministry, was married for twenty-three years and have progressed in treatment to enjoy “maintenance remission.”

From Madness to Mission

As one who has benefited from both faith and mental health treatment, I have Good News to share. And it is this — with Christ’s saving grace, the hellish impact of mental illness will be bearable.

God is with us even in the darkest valleys of despair. We have an essential purpose, to extend fellowship with others who struggle, and to fight the stigma that often leads to dangerous silence.

Many people with mental illness are angry at God, at believers, and at faith communities. People within churches struggle to reconcile medical advances about brain chemistry with Biblical truth.

I have lived in both worlds. I wrestle daily with my dual identity as a Christian who has a serious mental illness and have a hopeful word to say to both.

My mission at Delight in Disorder is to bridge the vast gap between faith and mental illness — fostering faith among those with disorders and diagnoses and promoting compassion within the faith community.

Can we partner together?

Won’t you join me on this mission? There are several ways you can help:

  1. Financially give at any level.
  2. Share this page with someone you know.
  3. Respond with your stories of faith / mental illness.

And lastly: pray for those impacted by mental illness. When we do these things, we reclaim our godly mission in the madness of the world.

 

I Thank “Facing Addiction With NCADD” For Asking Me To Share My Voice and Story Last Year as “Not All Addiction is Substance Use”…

“Recovery Flashback to June2017 ~ SHARING My Story With Facing Addiction”

Not All Addiction is Substance Use

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“Living in recovery with mental health issues can be a tough journey, as I have learned. I am a loud advocate for gambling addiction and mental health. Many people don’t understand that gambling is a real addiction, just as dangerous as drugs and alcohol. Today, suicide claims the lives of more people with a gambling addiction than any other kind of dependency.

I myself have attempted it twice.”

 
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Catherine Townsend-Lyons 1

 

My recovery journey re-started in 2006.  I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt, then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay.  The problem wasn’t that I gambled again; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks.  I thought I didn’t need them and that I could be normal like everyone else around me.  That didn’t work out too well for me.

I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone.

What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the court process, and paid steep consequences for my poor choice.

“My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances.”

I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to more work. After my problems emerged, I worked with an addictions expert for a year as I went through the legal mess I created.

After this second suicide attempt, I learned I did not have a full plan.  I also learned that God, my Higher Power, had bigger plans for me.  My purpose is helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction.  After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and began working with the expert, I got my mental health under control.  I also began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who choose to live in recovery.  The people who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

Being a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges, obtaining recovery is a wee bit more work.  The addicted thinking habits I’d relied on in the past needed more correcting.  Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down the cycle of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise in recovery.

I was given a fantastic recurrence prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t revert back into gambling, this book has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.

Another tool that helped was journaling every day.  I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling.  My journals helped in writing my memoir, which is now a published book.  Writing my story and experiences was a very healing process for me.  I shared about my gambling addiction and alcohol use; my past childhood trauma, abuse, and sexual trauma; and what it is like living with mental illness.

By doing this, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental health.  I want to be a voice for those who feel they do not have one.  I also want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how one can become addicted. It truly is a silent addiction!

It is time to have a discussion about gambling addiction.  I want to inform and educate people, and I raise awareness of the effects it has on our communities and families’ lives. The expansion of casinos and for-profit state lotteries is making gambling more accessible today and is now touching our youth.

Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Gambling Addiction is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide as 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try.  The best advice I can give?  When starting off in recovery, learn about this addiction.  Work with a specialist or recovery expert to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.

Also, a reliable recovery needs to encompass the mind, body, spirit, and finances. There are many ways to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12 Step meetings, and whatever works for you. Try anything and everything you can find. Sticking with only one option may not be enough for success and longevity in recovery and being “bet free.” I learned this the hard way.

I have reached over 10 years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol. Now, my mission and God-given purpose are to reach out to others and share my story. I hope that one more life isn’t taken by suicide due to gambling addiction, alcohol addiction, or mental health issues.

No more suffering. I am loud, proud, and Facing Addiction!

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Warrior Advocates, and New Visitors,

I am so happy and blessed that Amy agreed to let me reshare her article which comes by way of The Fix Magazine. She is an amazing “in your face –let it hang out” writer and blogger for them. The Fix share news about addiction and recovery from drugs and alcohol and is one of the top resource magazines around!

I happen to have signed up for there newsletter a while back and seen Amy’s article. Being dual-diagnosed myself and still have bouts of depression at times, I felt this article of hers really needed to be shared with all my friends here.

It is very informative and I just love Amy’s views on a variety of issues and her writing style! I hope you enjoy reading it and learn some from it as I did! Don’t forget to grab of copy of her book (link listed in her bio) if you have not read it.

It is truly a great read and her life memoirs are “one of kind!”  ~Cat 

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 ~ Courtesy of The Fix Magazine
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Mature Woman Depression Looking Away
((The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

 

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments.

I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

I’ve suffered from symptoms of depression since I was 19, so it’s an old, old friend. What really annoys me was that some (dare I say many?) people think at five and a half years of sobriety, you shouldn’t feel depressed. What I kept hearing from AA fundamentalists was:

“It’s your untreated alcoholism.”

“Listen to these tapes about prayer and meditation.”

“You’re not connected enough to your Higher Power.”

“You’re not going to enough meetings.”

“You need to do more service.”

Thankfully my sponsor, who has a foot in the medical world, did not say something along those lines.  One of my big problems with AA is that it looks at every mental problem through the paradigm of your “alcoholism.” If you’re suffering, you should look to the program for relief.

Nobody would tell you to “drive around newcomers!” more if you had diabetes or kidney failure, but if you’re feeling down, that’s what you’re told to do. As it turns out, AA is not completely off the mark: “Addiction is a not a spiritually caused malady but a chemically based malady with spiritual symptoms,” addictionologist and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Wetsman told me.

“When some people start working a 12-step program, they perceive a spiritual event but their midbrain is experiencing an anatomical event. When they’re working a program, they’re no longer isolated and they no longer feel ‘less than,’ so their dopamine receptor density goes back up [and they experience contentment],” he explained. But what if your program hasn’t changed or feels sufficient and you still feel depressed?

What if you’re working your ass off in your steps and helping others and you still feel like shit?
“Well, low dopamine tone experienced as low mood can be brought on by fear and low self-esteem (the untreated spiritual malady part of alcoholism/addiction) but it can also be brought on by biochemical issues,” Wetsman added.

Huh?

So was I experiencing the chemical part of my “addiction” or was I having a depressive episode? Perhaps my whole life I’d been confusing the two. Of course, all I wanted, like a typical addict, was a pill to fix it. But as I’ve done the medication merry-go-round (and around and around) with mild to moderate success, I was hesitant to start messing with meds again. I didn’t have a terrific psychiatrist, and SSRI’s can really screw with my epilepsy. And Wetsman was talking about dopamine here, not serotonin. Hmmm…

Dr. Wetsman has some interesting stuff about brain chemistry and addiction on his vlog. He mentions something called “dopamine tone” which is a combination of how much dopamine your VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) releases, how many dopamine receptors you have on your NA (Nucleus Accumbens), and how long your dopamine is there and available to those receptors.

Stress can cause you to have fewer dopamine receptors and fewer receptors equal lower dopamine tone. He’d explained to me in previous conversations how almost all of the people with addiction he’d treated had what he described as “low dopamine tone.”

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When you have low dopamine tone, you don’t care about anything, have no motivation, can’t feel pleasure, can’t connect to others. In addition, low dopamine tone can affect how much serotonin is being released in the cortex. Low midbrain dopamine tone can lead to low serotonin which means, in addition to not giving a shit about anything, you also have no sense of well-being. Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

Dr. Wetsman has a very convincing but still somewhat controversial theory that addiction is completely a brain disease and that using drugs is the result, not the cause. I really suggest you get his book, Questions and Answers on Addiction.

It’s 90 pages — you could read half of it on the john and half of it while waiting at the carwash. It explains in detail why most of us addicts felt weird and off before we picked up and why we finally felt normal when we used. Again, it’s all about dopamine, and it’s fucking fascinating. No joke.

In his vlog, he explains that dopamine production requires folic acid which you can get from green leafy veggies (which I admittedly don’t eat enough of) but it also requires an enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) to convert folate into l-methyl folate. Certain people have a mutation in the gene that makes MTHFR, so they can’t turn folate into l-methyl folate as effectively, and those people are kind of fucked no matter how many kale smoothies they drink.

But it’s not hopeless. If people with this genetic mutation take a supplement of l-methyl folate, their brain can make enough dopamine naturally. Of course, once you have enough dopamine, you’ve got to make sure you release enough (but there’s medication for that) and that you have enough receptors and that it sits in the receptors long enough (and there are meds for that too).

So this all got me wondering if maybe my MTHFR enzyme was wonky or completely AWOL. Dr. Wetsman urged me to find a good psychiatrist (since I’m on Prozac and two epileptic medications) or a local addictionologist in addition to taking a genetic test for this mutation. In his experience, patients who had a strong reaction to taking the l-methyl folate supplement were frequently also on SSRIs. They either felt much better right away or really really shitty. But if they felt even shittier (because the higher serotonin levels work on a receptor on the VTA which then lowers dopamine), he would just lower their SSRI or sometimes even titrate them off it completely. And voila. Success.

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It’s all very complicated, and this whole brain reward system is a feedback loop and interconnected with all kinds of stuff like Gaba and Enkephalins (the brain’s opioids) and Glutamate. But you guys don’t need me for a neuroscience lesson so I’m trying to keep it simple. The basics: how do you know if you have too little dopamine?

You have urges to use whatever you can to spike your dopamine: sex, food, gambling, drugs, smoking, and so on. What about too much dopamine? OCD, tics, stuttering, mental obsession and eventually psychosis. Too little serotonin? Anxiety and the symptoms of too high dopamine tone. Too much serotonin? The same thing as too little dopamine tone. Everything is intricately connected, not to mention confusing as all hell.

Being broke and lazy and having had decades of shitty psychiatrists, I decided to go rogue on this whole mission (not recommended). I mean I used to shoot stuff into my arm that some stranger would hand me through the window of their 87 Honda Accord so why be uber careful now? This l-methyl folate supplement didn’t require a prescription anymore anyway. What did I have to lose? I did, however, run it by my sponsor whose response was: “I’m no doctor, honey, but it sounds benign. Go ahead.”

I ordered a bottle. A few days later I heard the UPS guy drop the packet into my mail slot. I got out of bed, tore open the envelope and popped one of these bad boys. A few hours later I started to feel that dark cloud lift a little. Gotta be a placebo effect, right? The next day I felt even better. And the next day better still. I didn’t feel high or manic. I just felt “normal.” Whoa. It’s been weeks now and the change has been noticeable to friends and family.

Normal. That’s all I ever really wanted to feel. And the first time I felt normal was when I tried methamphetamine at 24. It did what I wanted all those anti-depressants to do. It made me feel like I knew other people felt: not starting every day already 20 feet underwater. I found out later that my mother and uncle were also addicted to amphetamines which further corroborates my belief that there is some genetic anomaly in my inherited reward system.

When I emailed Dr. Wetsman to tell him how miraculously better I felt, his first response was “Great. I’m glad. The key thing is to take the energy and put it into recovery. People go two ways when they feel amazingly better. One: ‘Oh, this is all I ever needed. I can stop all this recovery stuff.’ Or two: ‘Wow, I feel better. Who can I help?’ Helping others in recovery will actually increase your dopamine receptors and make this last. Not helping people will lead to shame, lowered dopamine receptors and it stops being so great.”

So no, I’m not going to stop going to meetings or doing my steps or working with my sponsor and sponsees. Being part of a group, feeling included and accepted, even those things can create more dopamine receptors. But sadly I’m still an addict at heart and I want all the dopamine and dopamine receptors I can get. However, I also know that enough dopamine alone isn’t going to keep me from being a selfish asshole…

But maybe, just maybe, having sufficient dopamine tone and working a program will.

 

 

Amy Dresner

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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 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, Addiction.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.

 

 

Making “Amends” In Recovery. People We Have Hurt May Not Be Receptive To This Process. Even For Pro Athletes. Our Writing Continues To Evolve …

Making “Amends” In Recovery. People We Have Hurt May Not Be Receptive To This Process. Even For Pro Athletes. Our Writing Continues To Evolve …

Welcome Readers, Fans, Recovery Friends, and Visitors!

 

This week as Vance and I continue to write his memoir, GOD has shed the light on and about “the amends process” regarding Vance’s recovery and my own. It has also brought back some frustrations of my own past “amends” with some of my family members that, let’s just say, didn’t go very well. I sum this up by sharing my own father still has not spoken to me for almost 13-years. Even after trying everything to make amends.
An opportunity arose while I was on Facebook. One of Vance’s adult children happened to message me while I was doing my book and author shares there. As we began a message conversation, and then after speaking with Vance at length about it and revealing his child’s real feelings about how Vance has hurt everyone, it seems the proper time to address the amends process within recovery and be transparent.

 

His adult child and all his children need to be acknowledged and feelings validated about his father and the damages that were done by Vance when he was in “self” and in the worst of his addictions. I can tell you while writing Vance’s Memoir, he and I both agreed it will be about truth, honesty, and he has nothing to HIDE …


We are both “in the know” about his past, how he tried many times, even on the Oprah show he tried to make amends to some of those who he hurt in his past. The show was a “train wreck” and never should have happened as Vance was in NO shape nor in recovery at that time back in 1996. As it was taped in 2011 …And can be seen on Youtube still today. If we are not transparent in sharing all areas of Vance’s life, how do we then start to shatter stigma? How does the family begin to heal? That is why we are sharing. It is also important to share how addiction can be generational, someone needs to stop it, how it shatters relationships with family. Hopefully by sharing it may help others who may be going through this themselves and for all involved.

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Vance Johnson Reflects on His Past

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There was a time in my life when addiction hadn’t taken over. I had only been hurt once in a relationship. Pressures and anxieties of life didn’t have a firm grip on me. Until I began my NFL career …

My identity wasn’t on what I grew up around, but rather in Fame, Recognition, and Achievements. Entitlement started giving birth. Cars, money, toys stimulated my emptiness. Sex had no boundaries. Friendships were what you made of them … if it hurts when I found out you slept with the girl I slept with, without telling me, we aren’t friends anymore.

Religion was going to Church, sometimes. Jesus died so I could repent of my fleshly desires, and was only human after all.  Being good meant honoring mom & dad. Lastly, the Bible was whatever the Pastor preached on Sunday. OH, and “giving” to the Church so he could do whatever he wanted to do with my money, God would appreciate that. 10% was a little too much, I’ve got taxes, a vacation coming up, or bills. Who is the Holy Spirit?

All lies and ADDICTION, I was Satan’s child, a “ believer” living in Hell. Living in the flesh believing I was “BLESSED” because I was fast, successful, rich and famous.

THANK GOD FOR GRACE AND MERCY.  Please let your children know, “There’s a way that seems right to a man, that leads to “Death”!! So repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, pick up your Cross, and follow him, Daily!!!

Own Your Sobriety
www.vanceinspires.com
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So, when is making amends enough to those you have hurt? Amends to family members, ex’s, broken relationships, and to your children who may not want anything to with you be it from no understanding be enough? We as recovering addicts are aware of how much damage and wreckage we had caused, but there IS much “inner-work” done within our recovery before we even attempt to make “Amends.”

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What is “making amends?” ~ Answers are Courtesy of “ Hazelden – Betty Ford Org.”

“Making Amends in Your Steps to Recovery. Restoring justice as much as possible. Addiction creates moral wreckage. People who become addicted to alcohol, gambling, or other drugs might lie, cheat, or steal in order to get and use their drug of choice. Often what’s left behind is a trail of shattered relationships.”

 

“There is actually a huge difference between making amends with someone and merely giving them an apology. While a sincere apology is a crucial part of making amends, an apology alone is simply not enough to undo the irreversible pain and heartache that one’s addiction (or actions during addiction) may have caused. It needs action, but only if the party hurt is willing and open to it.


How do you make amends? ~ Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

  1. Take an objective view of what happened. …
  2. Face your mixed feelings. …
  3. Stand in the other person’s shoes. …
  4. Write down the reasons why you need to make amends. …
  5. Make amends with a clear heart. …
  6. Decide what it will take to make up for the damage that was done. 

     

Sharing how one of his children still feels today because it is important to share so others can learn just how “the family and children” become affected by the disease of Addictions …

 

 

“Hate The Addiction Not The Addict”

 

The Feelings of One:

FB Q: “Has my dad shared with you all the past hurt he has caused to his children, is it in the book?

 

I answered and then we began an hour-long conversation and I shared little so the adult child could vent and share with me the real feelings and about amends with father… I then even asked if they have talked yet?

The Sharing Begins:

“I did call him and honestly, it was exactly what I was expecting. Maybe you and I can touch base after he shares his side of the story.”

 

(I told the child I knew all of Vance’s side of his past and all his amends attempts to all of his children, ex-wives, and family and offered a phone call to talk, put to no avail.)

 

“I have a lot to say in regards to my relationship with him and it will probably take some time to share all of it with you. I know he’s made mistakes because everyone does.. but there’s a difference between making a mistake and making a poor choice. I’m happy he’s found the light within himself.. but even after my Vaughn died in a motorcycle accident, he was still the same person he’s always been.

 

I see people praise him on his Facebook wall for overcoming addiction and all of that crap. What these people don’t know is how his decisions have impacted his children over the course of the last 30 years or so. Social Media and popularity will only make him feel “better” for a short period of time. As far as I know, he has made little effort to make things better between him and his biological children.

 

Facebook “likes” and “shares” will never make up for the unpaid child support or empty promises he made when I was younger. To be honest, my Mom did an amazing job shielding me from the damage he could have inflicted on me as I was a young boy. I wish I could say the same for my brothers and sisters. I’m not even sure if any of them would communicate with him if he reached out because of how bad he hurt them … 


And the fact that he’s trying to rejuvenate his career and popularity by claiming he’s a changed man is bogus.  Isn’t the first step of recovery recognizing your addictions and the damage you’ve done? Well, in my opinion, it’s going to take a lot more than an “I’m sorry for what I did …

 

And? Unfortunately, based on the decisions that he’s made in the past, he’s gone far beyond the point of no return. I think surrendering himself to a religious figure made it easier on him to live with the terrible decisions he’s made as a man and a father, a direct result of his decision making and not recognizing the damage he was doing along the way and not addressing the issue at the root cause.”


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WOW!!! Pretty Darn Sad …

Yes, there is more to this but I think you get the understanding right?

FIRST: I Will Say Again as Vance and I did almost a year ago when we began his book, the DOOR WAS open to all who wanted to either talk with me or Vance and share their feelings with Vance, and it is MEANT for everyone

Doesn’t have to be in his Memoir, as we were hoping it would help bring them all together, a little closer, and everyone involved begin to BEGIN HEAL, and they can make the decision to have a relationship with Vance or Not.

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SECOND: Reading these feeling of Vance’s adult child several times, I hear and felt his hurt and anger and did validate this person’s feelings about being correct on how our past choices as addicts can cause hurt, pain and damage to the family, relationships, and the children. But addiction can also be generational. WHERE do you think we learn some of the poor habits and behaviors of addiction? If it happens and goes on in your home with children present?  Then 97% most likely they are going to do the same as thinking it is normal because it is going on in their home.

You can have two spouses come together, one is Godly while they other is abusive and drunk, gambling, cheating and so on, they are fights and arguments in front of the kids? Of course, you can have a child grow up and do the same because they think it is a normal part of the household. Part of our work within recovery is to address these root causes and underlying issues that we used to FUEL OUR ADDICTIONS. Addicts can come from a place of hurt and pain just like those who were hurt by the addict’s addictions before we even approach the Amends Process.

THIRD: I hear a lot of resentment and anger in this adult child’s feelings. But, how can a recovering addict make an amends and show action if the people who are hurt are holding on to 30-years of anger and resentments, won’t even to talk or communicate or give the person a chance to make a proper amends? From the above comments like, “he’s gone far beyond the point of no return.” So in closing, all I can say is when you have attempted and have made some amends to those you have hurt within your “addicted days” … Remeber addicts, “Our Past Does Not Define Who We Are Maintaining Recovery.”

Some people, sadly, even family may not have the ability to have empathy, understand the recovery life-long process, and rather keep holding on to the Anger and Resentments of the past. If they are not willing to find it in their hearts to at least “Forgive” even if no relationship can be fixed or connected. Then it’s “Time to Let Go and Let God.”

The fact remains many may not be receptive to you at all. They would rather wallow in anger and hold on to resentments no matter how many years go by or how many times you try.

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“We Come To Believe In A Power Greater Than Our Selves To Restore Us”

Could it be possible it is time for those not accepting of us or our amends need to look within their hearts, take their personal inventory as to why they are not willing to be more open to healing and forgiveness? All we can do is keep our side of the street clean and pray for them that they come to a place of love.

We have the choice to turn it to GOD and move forward as we are “A Work In Progress.”

Colossians 3:13 ~ “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” AMEN … 

Addiction+Depression= SUICIDE? Let’s Be Informed and Educated To Stop Suicides …Call 1-800-273-8255

I happened to receive an email a while ago form ‘Facing Addiction.’ The email was about if I wanted to write and share some of my story of being a person who lives dually diagnosed, meaning I maintain recovery from gambling and alcohol addictions and live with mental health challenges.

I was very honored to do so. Today, Facing Addiction  says; “Every 4 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from an overdose or alcohol-related cause – the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day with no survivors.”

  • 22 million Americans are suffering — 23 million more are in recovery 1 in 3 households are directly impacted.

Since we have had several high profile celebrities recently choose suicide over life, I thought I would share some of what I wrote for Facing Addiciton with you this month in our column in hopes of sharing my voice to shatter stigma around these critical topics that are touching and claiming too many lives.

See, suicide is only a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Depression, anxiety, bipolar or any other mental health issue should never have to end with SUICIDE … Make the call if you have any thought of suicide – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 24/7 Everyday – 1-800-273-8255.

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“My recovery journey restarted in 2006. I woke up in a hospital as the result of my second failed suicide attempt and then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for another 14-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well.”


I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had already worked through all of our savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, they person pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the courts and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I’m still paying today. My point?

You have to do the work in all areas of maintaining your recovery, including your finances. I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to do more work, so I did with a gambling addiction specialist. After my problems occurred, I worked with a specialist for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others.

After this second suicide attempt and crisis, as my first was where I spent my 40th Birthday after my first suicide attempt, I spent another 14-days in a Mental Health/Addcition crisis center. This time, I learned I had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After my release from the crisis center I started working with a gambling specialist and got my mental health under control; I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live dually diagnosed. Those of us who have a mental illness also have a huge hurdle in our path, STIGMA.

Since I am a dual-diagnosed person who maintains recovery and has mental health challenges, it can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The old habits, behaviors and diseased thinking needed correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down “the cycle of the addiction,” and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t relapse into gambling, this workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan beforehand as these life events will come.

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(Courtesy of Getty)

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Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more and see my growth from my journaling. I used my journals in writing my current published book as well. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing and letting go process for me. I learned to be vigilent in managing my medications I need to stay stable.

It can be both scary and tough sharing about my gambling addiction with alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. But the open doors and blessings I could never dreamed happening since I do advocate, and loudly. Never thought I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the amazing blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By writing my book, using my recovery blog and sharing them with the world, I hope it shatters stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, mental health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors wh feel alond and voiceless. I have chosen not to be anonymous as I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how quickly one can become addicted.

It indeed is a real disease and illness, and even more complicated when you are dually diagnosed with mental illness along with it! I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives. 1 in every 5 attempt suicide from this addiction. And the above stats for mental illness is no better.

“A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person’s life. Suicide doesn’t discriminate as it is true that most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder.”   ~MHA – Mental Health America

 

The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. The best advice I can give? When starting early recovery, learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to determine the cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.

Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and GA – 12-step meetings for support. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. I learned this the hard way but have found a way to make it 11+years maintaining my recovery.

I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others, to advocate about mental illness, and speak about childhood sexual adbuse! Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we could weather any storm together. I know “sharing” my experiences and our recovery with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover.

Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen, hear, and take action. You are not alone.

The time is now to start the conversation about these topics and shine a bright light on ALL of THESE ISSUES. It is beyond the TIME to start the conversation, it is NOW the time to HAVE the conversation to Shatter Stigma around Mental Illness, Gambling Addiction, Depression, Bipolar, Mania, Alcoholism, SUICIDE.
You Get The Message,
RIGHT?

Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

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Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Most of my recovery friends, readers, and regular visitors know I enjoy finding many amazing websites about recovery from addiction and mental health. I vowed this year to write and share more openly about my mental health challenges. So when I recently visited one of my resource websites on mental health, my friends of National Alliance on Mental Health  ~NAMI …I read a new article I wanted to share.

Because when I got to reading the part of the guests” experiences with panic attacks, anxiety and such, it brought up those old feelings I got when I was in therapy and looking back to then and connecting the dots to my own problems as a child and early teens with symptoms, especially after my abuse and sexual trauma that happened. I was able to see that I had many mental health issues even back then but was never diagnosed until my gambling addiction took hold of me in adulthood.

The gambling I used to ‘escape and numb out’ those old hauntings which brought out the symptoms I was suffering again now. When I attempted my first suicide and placed in a crisis center for several weeks was when I was finally diagnosed. I went years without knowing what “that” was, and why I felt severely depressed on and off and PTSD, mild mania and anxiety. I was a mess!

Thanks to therapy and medications I am manged and have learned to treat my mental health just like any other disease like diabetes or heart disease. And that rings true for maintaining my recovery from addictions.

And why it is important to heal all areas of Emotional, Body, Spirit and our Mental Well-being … Catherine

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You Can’t Plan For Mental Illness ~ Courtesy of Allie Quinn | May. 23, 2018 

 
My 5-year plan after finishing high school was simple: graduate from college in four years, then begin graduate school directly following graduation. It was easy for me to imagine a 5-year plan at 18 years old when my toughest challenge at that point had been taming my frizzy hair.

My first two years of college were very successful. I made close friends, was hired by my college as a writing tutor and connected with teachers and administrators in the school district I wanted to eventually work in. I was right on track with my 5-year plan.

During my third year of college, however, the mass shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I felt a very deep connection to the event and in the following months, I noticed that I was on high-alert in public areas. I worried for my safety.

A few months later, I learned about the Boston Marathon bombing when I was in my college’s library. I immediately looked at the entrance to the library and wondered where I would hide if a shooter came through the door. A habit of making “escape plans” in my head became uncontrollable. I created them for any public place, and I avoided walking in open spaces and going out at night. Each night, I dreamt that I was trying to escape from a mass shooting; even in my sleep, I couldn’t shake this overwhelming fear.

Looking back, I can see the warning signs that I needed help. I didn’t tell anyone about the thoughts and feelings I was having because I didn’t want people to think I was “unstable.” Admitting to myself or to others that something was wrong could jeopardize my 5-year plan. I told myself that all college students felt this kind of stress and that I’d feel better when the semester ended.

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My junior year ended, but instead of feeling better, I felt significantly worse. I experienced severe panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety that made it impossible for me to drive, work or stay home alone. After I sought treatment with a therapist and psychiatrist, they recommended I check myself into a psychiatric hospital, so doctors could balance my medication, and I could learn skills to help manage my anxiety. I would be hospitalized five times, spending nearly three months in the hospital. My worst day was when I had to withdraw from my senior year. It felt like years of hard work just slipped away.

I questioned: Why didn’t I seek help sooner?


After my last hospitalization, I immediately re-enrolled in classes. I didn’t give myself the chance to heal because I wanted so badly to get back on track with my 5-year plan. Because I wasn’t working on my mental health, I struggled through two classes, and I wasn’t enjoying school like I did before.

One day, I finally accepted that if I kept putting my education before my mental health, I could risk having another breakdown. I decided to take medical leave from school; I needed to focus on my mental health and regain my strength and confidence. For the next two years, I attended therapy, worked with my psychiatrist, adopted a psychiatric service dog, discovered skills to help me cope and practiced self-care. Eventually, I felt like myself again.

So, I began college again last year. This time, I felt ready. I will be graduating this December with a B.S. in Community and Human Services. The deadline for my 5-year plan has long passed, and my life has not gone as I planned, but I am happy, healthy and have a mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Battling mental illness and maintaining mental health is an ongoing part of my life, but the struggles I faced have put me on the path I’m meant to be on.

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Nami National Alliance on Mental Illness
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For example, I recently became a young adult speaker for NAMI Ending the Silence. I travel to high schools to share my journey with mental illness and talk to students about mental health and stigma.

The experience has been life-changing. For years, my goal has been to help people, and through NAMI Ending the Silence and blogging, I am making a difference. I believe that talking openly about mental health issues will end stigma and lead to more effective treatment for mental illness.

Please, if you’re experiencing symptoms or warning signs of a mental illness, seek help as soon as possible. Your mental health is farmore important than your 5-year plan. I’ve learned that college can wait—treating mental illness cannot.
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Allie Quinn is a mental health blogger, public speaker, and young adult presenter with NAMI’s Ending the Silence. She works to educate people about the realities of living with a mental illness and raises awareness about the use of psychiatric service dogs. Allie’s mental health blog is Redefine Mental Health

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