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

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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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What is Problem Gambling? My Friends of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Explains and NCADD Shares April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

What is Problem Gambling? My Friends of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Explains and NCADD Shares April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

Now that March was yesterday ending “Problem Gambling Awareness Month and the beginning of April which is Alcohol Awareness Month. I thought I would share two informative articles that share what some of the warning signs of Alcoholism and Problem Gambling are. I help advocate both because toward the end of my addiction to gambling, I began to abuse alcohol as gambling just wasn’t working as my ‘escapism’ and using to cope with life and old past pain from my childhood.

Those of us that end up becoming addicted to something usually have roots and underlying issues as to “WHY” we began using that has still hurtful and unprocessed like my own childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Not always from a negative problem that we may turn to addictions.

It could be from overindulged or wealth and a child growing up with no parental mentoring or guidance and feel entitled. Either way, gambling, alcohol or even drugs that may have been recreational can become an addiction for many, many reasons.

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When the Fun Stops – By Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

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Just as some people can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is possible for a person to become obsessed with an uncontrollable urge to gamble. For the problem gambler, making a bet is not just about having fun or winning money. Gambling becomes an emotional response to change the way they feel. 

 

Some problem gamblers may gamble to relieve boredom or avoid feelings of anxiousness or stress. Others may gamble to ‘numb out’ when feeling helpless, guilty, or depressed. As they continue to gamble, they become more and more emotionally and mentally dependent on gambling, with less and less control.

The impact of this addiction is much greater than the obvious financial losses that can result from repeated gambling. The long-term result is a steady deterioration of the mental and physical health of both the gambler and their family.

Surprisingly, problem gamblers are often the last ones to realize what is happening to them in spite of mounting negative consequences and increasing emotional impact. They may attribute their difficulties to a mere financial problem or believe they are just not being ‘smart’ enough when they gamble. The fantasy that one more big win will solve the financial problems and return everything to normal drives them on to gamble even harder.

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KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS

 

Most people who gamble do so with no harmful effects. They set limits and stick to them. However, for a small percentage of the population, gambling can become more than a game, and lead to serious consequences for both the gambler and their family.

Here are some of the warning signs:

For the Gambler:

  • Gambling to escape worry or trouble
  • Gambling to get money to solve financial difficulties
  • Unable to stop playing regardless of winning or losing
  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone
  • Losing time from work due to gambling
  • Borrowing money to pay gambling debts
  • Neglecting family because of gambling
  • Lying about time and money spent gambling

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For the Family:

 

  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Reduced involvement in social/group activities outside the home
  • Emotional distress, anger, depression
  • Lack of communication among family members
  • Items of value lost or missing
  • Family members working overtime or taking a second job to make ends meet
  • One member (gambler) noticeably absent from or disinterested in normal family activities

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If your gambling is no longer fun, don’t wait for the problem to get worse… Get Help Now or call the 24-hour Problem Gamblers Helpline.

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Facts About Alcohol

  • 2.8 million worldwide deaths caused by alcohol annually.
  • 3rd Alcohol addiction is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
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  • 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use in the U.S., while 40% of all hospital beds in the United States are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.

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Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States – By NCADD.

17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence.

Alcohol addiction can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications. It also damages a person’s emotional and mental health, financial stability, career, family, friends, and community. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.

17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence along with several million more who engage in risky binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance and can cause severe health consequences, even if it’s only used for a short period of time. In the United States, many people begin using alcohol at a very young age. 66.6 million people from age 12 to 17 report binge drinking. That’s 1 in 4 young people, many of whom also report using other substances or trying other high-risk behaviors.

Engaging in binge drinking can lead to problems with alcohol. The problem can be exacerbated by a home environment where heavy drinking or alcohol use is considered “normal.” A family history of alcohol problems is the single major factor that can predict alcohol addiction, which is one type of substance use disorder. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcohol addiction or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has severely misused alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder can develop in anyone who is predisposed to it. The condition cannot be predicted by what kind of alcohol the person drinks, how long they have been drinking, or even how much they drink. However, early alcohol use, binge drinking, and a family history of problems with alcohol are all linked to future health issues.

Cutting back on drinking, eliminating alcohol completely, and avoiding any form of alcohol are all ways to reduce health risks. Substance use disorder affects the person who drinks: it also affects the entire social system around them, from their co-workers to their children. A healthier individual helps create a healthier family, community, and country.

Alcohol addiction and alcohol misuse can affect all aspects of a person’s life.  Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, can damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends, and community.

Over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments, and social problems, including but not limited to:

  • Dementia, stroke, and neuropathy
  • Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, violence including child maltreatment, fights, and homicide.
  • Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
  • Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and esophagus
  • Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
    Alcohol addiction

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If you are questioning your alcohol use – take our self-quiz and see where alcohol might be a problem for you. Or learn more about drugs.

 

Facing Addiction with NCADD), Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcohol addiction by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcohol addiction, and recovery. Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use!

Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery.  It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.

With this year’s theme — “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” — the month of April will be filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. Local Facing Addiction with NCADD Affiliates as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations will sponsor a host of activities that create awareness and encourage individuals and families to get help for alcohol-related problems.

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I will be advocating out loud on April 10th, 2019 at 4 PM at The Phoenix, AZ State Capitol Event for and supporting BIG JIM’S WALK FOUNDATION AND His Biking Around America 4 Addiction Awareness along with many other recovery friends!

It will be in the Capitol Lawn and Rose Garden area with many Special Guest Speakers. So come out and Rally for Addiction Awareness in Phoenix!

~Catherine Lyon, Author/Advocate

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Stay Safe Tonight …Stay Sober, Clean, and Bet Free on New Year’s Eve! Tips To Help as I’ve Been There – Done That …

Happy Almost New Year Recovery Friends and Visitors! Welcome, that You Found ME!

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I wanted to round out my being on Holiday Watch and Blogging all through the HOLIDAYS which includes through New Year’s EVE! Look, those of us maintaining recovery NEED to FEEL and know ….WE ARE NOT Missing Out on all the partying or waking up on another New Year’s Day strung out, hungover, our financially broke!

We know we are WORTH and DESERVE Much better Then THAT … But many feel left out or feel they are missing out. Not the case at all. We always need to make sure and take a look back at the WORST of our addicted days and holidays to know we have come along way from those “diseased” hauntings. That was the disease of ADDICTION Running our lives, made our lives unmanageable and took right over …

Not Anymore… And those who have longer-time maintaining recovery know this as TRUTH. We have done and continue to do the work necessary to keep our recovery intact and especially around the holidays. We then “Pay It Forward” and pass on that Wisdom and recovery lessons learned to those who are New and may just be starting Recovery. You are not alone and there are many caring and supportive people willing and ready to be of HELP and SHARE HOPE like me! ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon

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4 Quick Tips for Staying Sober and Avoiding FOMO on New Year’s Eve

By Kelly Fitzgerald Junco ~ The Fix Magazine 

“FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out—took enough away from me in my addiction. I spent countless nights wishing I hadn’t gone out or drunk as much as I did. In sobriety, I’ve never regretted not going to the party.”

If there is one thing that describes my addiction, it was the yearning for connection. Ironic, isn’t it? The thing I spent the most time striving for is the thing that I ultimately couldn’t get, even from the substances that I thought were helping me find it.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be popular. In 5th grade, I remember the girls who were considered “cool” inviting people to their “boy-girl” party. I patiently waited for an invitation that never came. Then in middle school, my peers started getting boyfriends and girlfriends and slow dancing at school dances, but I was never included. I did everything I could to make it seem like I should be included in these exclusive pastimes, but I never felt like I succeeded… until I started drinking.

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Woman next to holiday decorations, alone and avoiding FOMO Fear Of Missing Out

(A new year should symbolize growth, bettering yourself, or beginning again. Don’t let FOMO take that away from you.)

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Taking shots, chugging beer, puke, and rally; these dangerous drinking habits are what ultimately gave me the street cred I needed to become part of the in-crowd. Boys finally found me cool and desirable and girls wanted to be friends with me. This theme followed my entire drinking career. I evolved from a scared child with a couple of friends to an outgoing woman with more friend groups than you could count. Keeping up with my new reputation was exhausting, but it’s how I lived throughout my entire time at college.

When I first heard about FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out — something in me clicked and I realized this was the feeling I always got when I couldn’t stand not being at the party. FOMO was what motivated me to drink every night from Wednesday through Sunday during college. I needed to be at every outing and party because if I wasn’t, I risked my popular, cool-girl reputation. I risked not seeing the drama or hearing the gossip. Just like the acronym-dubbed phenomenon, I was fearful I’d miss something, and I couldn’t let that happen.

Now that I’m sober, I’ve realized that so many of us former drinkers had an intimate relationship with FOMO. It’s often what drove our drinking. It can also be what drives our return to use, or our obsession with still going to the places and parties we frequented while we were in active addiction. The holidays can be an especially daunting time for FOMO. In particular, New Year’s Eve is known for lavish and booze-filled celebrations. If you’re sober and worried about FOMO creeping in this NYE, here are some tips to help you play it safe.

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HAVE A PLAN READY:

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1. Plan something new and different. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to make plans in sobriety. Instead of the same old drunken ball-drop open-bar nightclub or wine-infested awkward house party, you get to decide what your New Year’s plans are and they don’t have to include any of those things. You get to plan something fun, new, and exciting. You could travel to a new place, visit a zoo, volunteer at a homeless shelter, watch fireworks, or host your own alcohol-free party. The point is, the decision is yours and your plans don’t have to be anything like they were during your drinking years. Plan something new and different to look forward to. You could even invite your friends and family to your non-alcohol-centered event and avoid FOMO altogether.

2. Read up on the concept of romanticizing. Yes, I’m telling you to Google “romanticize.” This is something we occasionally do about our drinking when we’re sober. We often remember the best and more fun parts of our drinking, but not the times it made us feel horrible or our worst hangovers. I’ve also heard these rose-colored memories referred to as “euphoric recall.” It’s good to have an awareness about this extremely common tactic of our mind. Remember the truth! Just because other people are out there binge drinking or going to events with alcohol doesn’t mean you have to. Just because you used to have fun at these types of events doesn’t mean you will in sobriety. Just because society tries to tell us we need alcohol to have fun does not make it true! Trust yourself. Don’t romanticize any substances you’ve tried hard to leave behind.

3. Give yourself a pep talk. You are one smart person. You know that FOMO is a concept that begins and ends in your mind. It’s a feeling just like any other that will come and then go. If you’re struggling with drinking, I can tell you there is nothing fun to go back to. Drinking again won’t make your NYE any more memorable or special. In reality, you’re unlikely to remember most (or all) of it. You live differently now and it’s time to accept that NYE will be different and that can be a blessing.

If you’re staying sober and debating going to a New Year event where the alcohol might overwhelm you, I’m here to tell you that you will not die if you don’t go to this event. Missing one event won’t change your life or the world. You can always get the lowdown from your friends who do go. I promise there’s nothing at that party that’s so wonderful it will make up for how you’ll feel if you end up drinking.

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4. Imagine the future. In the scheme of the entire world, NYE is just one holiday on one day of the year. Of course, it marks the end of 365 days of your life and that’s special, but there are so many other beautiful ways to celebrate a transition of this magnitude. You could make lists and read books and write in your journal and perform a moon ritual! You could go to a yoga retreat or a sober meet-up. It’s not your fault that society has tricked us into believing New Year’s Eve is a drinking holiday where we need to have a champagne toast at midnight. But it is your responsibility to carve out a new path for yourself on NYEs to come. Imagine your future: would you be happy to give up all your hard-earned sobriety for one night? For one party? For one New Year?

A new year should symbolize growth, bettering yourself, or beginning again. Don’t let FOMO take that away from you.

FOMO took enough away from me in my addiction. I spent countless nights wishing I hadn’t gone out or drunk as much as I did. In sobriety, I’ve never regretted not going to the party. Every time I think I’m going to miss out on something, I never do. I end up doing something better or more satisfying with my time. I end up missing situations, people, and places that aren’t good for me anyway. I miss out on drama, gossip, and drinking.

This NEW YEAR’S EVE, ditch the FOMO and make sure you aren’t missing out on Sobriety.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR RECOVERY FRIENDS!!

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” Special Guest Author: Alek M. Revitalizing Your Marriage After Addiction.

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Revitalizing your marriage or relationship is an important and sometimes scary process. When recovering from gambling addiction, the other partner feels that the gambling was the only thing the other person cared about, like if it had been a “love affair.” That is why this topic and article by Alek M. is so important in any recovery from any type of addiction….

Addiction can be one of the most trying experiences that an individual will face in their life, and recovery is a road that certainly isn’t easy. However, it is through the most challenging times in life that we are able to grow, as people, and emerge as a stronger version of yourself. This is what recovery is all about, as becoming a new and better you is a key part of lasting recovery that is sustainable.

However, during the course of addiction and recovery, the person undergoing these events is not the only person who will be tested. If an addict is married or in a long-term romantic relationship, then their partner is certainly going to go through a trying time, as well. However, having been through this journey together makes it all the more important to take crucial steps after recovery. Here are some tips on revitalizing your marriage after addiction…

Avoid starting new relationships in recovery


First of all, it’s important to note that is highly advisable to not start any new romantic relationships right after recovery, or in recovery, for that matter. A romantic relationship has the potential to distract you from what you should be focusing on in recovery, especially in the crucial early month, as staying sober is key. Relationships also have the potential to cause stress, which can be triggering for someone who just got through recovery. As a matter of fact, many aspects of an early relationship can have an unpredictable effect on someone who is probably still getting cravings. For this reason, it’s best just to avoid all of this, for the time being.
Here’s a good article if you’d like to read more about this situation.

Be honest, no matter what

When you are fresh out of recovery, your relationship needs to continue with a theme of honesty, or it simply won’t work. No matter what, it’s important for both you and your partner to be honest with each other about everything, especially what you are thinking about the situation. Make sure you both tell each other how you are feeling, every single day, and truly be honest about those feelings. If you are having cravings, or even if you suffer a relapse, these are among the most important times to be honest, as they can make the difference in your path to recovery.

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Clearly, communicate your needs

Remember that your partner will have their own specific needs during this time, and be considerate of those needs. However, it’s also important to be clear about what you need during this time of recovery, as your support system is a vital element to a lasting recovery. This means that each person in the relationship needs to have a clear line of communication with the other, so that they can say how they are truly feeling, without judgment.

Take this time to learn how to be better versions of yourself

At this time, remember that you are in a period of rebuilding who you are, and that you and your partner will be in a period of rebuilding your own relationship. While this will definitely be difficult, at times, it should be viewed as an opportunity to better yourselves and strengthen the bond between you two. Besides, if you can both support each other through the difficult time of recovery, then you will find that you have a stronger relationship on the other side.

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Find projects around the home to work on together

After getting out of recovery, you and your partner need to find new ways to bond so that you can make sure that you both still know each other, even after this life-changing experience. While getting out and going on adventures, like hiking, can be a great way to do this, it is also very important to try to find ways to enjoy being home with each other.


One particular way to do this is to find projects around your home that you can work on together. Look for something you both would love to see in your home.
Should you get new marble countertops? Should you build a treehouse? Just find something that you can both work together to improve your lives. Building new memories together, especially memories with tangible evidence all around you starts to replace negative experiences that you’ve both been through before.

Having a project is also a great tool to aid in recovery since it gives you a positive focus!

I Enjoy Each Year Supporting “Gambling Awareness Month” Along With My Friends At “The National Council on Problem Gambling!”

Hello Gambling Recovery Friends and New Visitors,

 

It is that time of year again for me to help CELEBRATE, EDUCATE, INFORM, and ADVOCATE alongside my friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling to share and raise awareness about problem and addicted gambling!

Being in recovery from addicted gambling myself for over 8 yrs now, these fine people have helped many afflicted by problem or addicted gambling, and have helped many, many families too. So I join them each year, and share in Raising Awareness of this devastating problem and addiction . . . .

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Here is a more about this wonderful campaign and how you can learn more about them on their wonderful website right here: http://www.ncpgambling.org/

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

As you know, problem gambling is a public health issue affecting relationships, families, businesses and communities. During the month of March, we work especially hard to raise awareness about problem gambling. The goal of this campaign is to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and promote the availability of help and hope both locally and nationally.

NCPG encourages all stakeholders to Have the Conversation. Most adults gamble or know someone who gambles, and therefore could benefit from basic knowledge of problem gambling as well as programs to prevent gambling addiction. We believe that many who suffer in silence do so because they don’t know why they developed a problem, what gambling addiction is, or where to get help. PGAM helps answer these questions and provides information on what to do next.

So I ask you to go visit and learn how you can get help for those who may have a gambling problem. There is help, and they can recover! I know, I WAS an addicted compulsive gambler for many years. And my addiction did start out as being a problem gambler. There are many factors and can be underlying issues as to why a person turns to gambling addiction in the first place, and even though man programs say we can recover without knowing why we turned to problem or addicted gambling, there is help to know the why’s. It was some of what I had to process along with my gambling treatment.

Many of my friends who visit my recovery blog know some of my story of my past, but let me tell a little of what Gambling Addiction took from me. It took anything that was good and of value in my life! It even almost took my life twice from 2 failed suicide attempts, which to me is more valuable than money! It also took anything I could pawn, borrow, or yes, even steal. All that got me was a criminal record, jail, and more. It took good jobs I was fired from, devastated me and my husband financially, and it even almost took my 25 year marriage. And this is just the tip of the iceberg . . . .
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Now, those who don’t understand addictions, or may not have been ‘touched’ by them, or know a loved one who has?
The number one misconception about gambling addiction, and many other addictions is people think it’s “just our poor life choices we make”, . . . but that couldn’t be farther from the TRUTH. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I think I will become an addicted gambler today and destroy my life!”

Yes, life is to all of us what we choose to do, and the choices we make, but those are not MY CHOICES, they are the diseased choices I made being entangled in a deep gambling addiction. It’s an illness, and a disease like any other addiction, and not like any other addiction. Parents, did you know currently it’s the addiction with the Highest Suicide Rate? And now reaching our High School Teens & College Young Adults? Did you know many colleges & universities are now offering free problem gambling information and help to students through their Mental Health Services and Health Department?

That is where my good friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling can help! They help others understand about this destructive problem. I know. I visited their site all the time when I was in early and through my recovery for extra support and information. And it is why I help celebrate and share to raise awareness of all they do to help others with problem gambling! Why? Because problem gambling is hurting many people who don’t even gamble. It is hurting those around the person who is a problem gambler, it’s impacting our communities with the ever-expanding casinos popping up everywhere throughout our country, and it is also State Lotteries services and more ways to gamble in all our local communities! Where will it stop?

So lets work together to share hope, share info, and raise awareness about this problem. Together we can change and save lives! Please share your support by re-blogging this on your Recovery Blog Today!
Thank You! And Thanks to my good friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling too!
http://www.ncpgambling.org

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ My Story of Addicted Gambling & Recovery
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A

Media Release of a Major Article by Columbia University & The Dept. of Public Health & Epidemiology…

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends, Seekers, and New Visitors!

 

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#RecoveryMonth #Inspiration

Many of us recovering addicted compulsive gamblers have felt when we were active in our addiction, that we were broken and failed at this thing called life. The paths we had taken with gambling addiction made us feel it was a test. And yes, it did break me and many other addicted gamblers, but I’m no longer broken thanks to having wonderful support by many in my recovery. Support has been an important part of my journey. Two places I have always looked to is ‘The National Council on Problem Gambling’, http://ncpgambling.org  and  ‘The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin’,  http://www.samhsa.gov … Because I have been through one, and still battle daily challenges with the mental side of things.

These two websites have a wealth of information on all types of  addictions and mental health services, they  raise awareness, inform and help educate the public as well as help the afflicted. So I always celebrate
September ~ National Recovery Month, and this year is our 25th Year of Celebrating!

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I’m very honored to be a part of National Recovery Month ~ Our 25th Year.  At least almost 8 years worth for my own recovery from addicted compulsive gambling and alcohol abuse.

So in honor of this, I have a special guest blog post for this wonderful occasion! It is an article I’ve been waiting for from a new friend of mine, Elaine Meyer, of  Columbia University, Dept. of Epidemiology. It is a major article on gambling and how it affects our populations and our communities we live in.

Now your most likely wondering what that is? It is the science that studies the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and informs policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.

Elaine and I talked a few months ago about gambling addiction, as she was doing research to write an article about problem gambling, and I have to tell you it truly is one of the best, in-depth, fantastic articles I have read in all my years in recovery. I was surprised to read that she shared information of my personal experiences from gambling addiction in the article we had talked about. I just have to share it with my recovery readers and friends here on my blog. I’d like to thank Elaine Meyer for also sharing my book of my story of what I had been through with gambling addiction. Maybe together we can reach more people who suffer from this cunning addiction, and help save lives.
And again, it really is the best in-depth, well-rounded article I have read. I know all who come visit and read it will agree!
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AUTHOR BIO

Elaine Meyer

Elaine Meyer has worked as a journalist covering education and legal news. She graduated in 2009 with an M.S. from Columbia School of Journalism and is currently the associate director of communications for Columbia’s Department of Epidemiology, where she carries out the department’s mission of translating public health science to the larger public. Follow her @emeyer5.

About The 2×2 Project ~ Health Beyond the Headlines: http://the2x2project.org/gambling-public-health/

The 2×2 project aims to inform the health conversation through timely and effective communication of emerging public health science. Epidemiology, the science of public health, cannot and should not be limited to the scientists and practitioners with access to the scientific literature. Our goal through the2x2project is to engage a broader audience—including thought leaders and policy makers from outside the discipline—to help translate scientific findings into practice.

The2x2project is sponsored by the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Gambling with America’s Health?

The public health costs of legal gambling

By Elaine Meyer

Published September 19, 2014

Publicly, Scott Stevens, a chief operating officer of a company in Steubenville, Ohio, was a well-regarded member of his community. A married father of three, he was active in his local Catholic church, involved with high school sports teams, and helped develop parks in the area. Privately, Stevens was addicted to gambling. First exposed to slot machines at a trade show in Las Vegas in 2007, Stevens became a regular slot player at the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, & Resort, about 30 minutes away in Chester, West Virginia. By 2010, he had embezzled $7 million from his employer to gamble, and when they found out, he lost his job. Stevens continued to gamble secretly for the next 10 months, going to Mountaineer nearly every day, drawing money from his family’s savings, his 401(k), and his children’s college fund.

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On August 13, 2012, that money ran out. In a suicide note to his wife, he wrote: “I know you don’t believe it, but I love you so much. I have hurt you so much. Our family only has a chance if I’m not around to bring us down any further.” That evening, Stevens asked his 13-year-old daughter to bring him his hunting bag from the attic. He drove to a local park he had helped develop and called 9-1-1. When the sheriffs arrived, he shot himself.

“This is one of the biggest public health issues in America today that no one has been paying attention to.”

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“If it can happen to a guy as smart as he was, then it can happen to anybody,” said Indianapolis attorney Terry Noffsinger in a talk last November at Harvard Law School. Noffsinger, with other attorneys, is representing Stevens’ widow Stacy in a lawsuit filed last month against Mountaineer Casino, its parent company MTR Gaming Group, and slot machine maker International Game Technology, alleging they are liable for her husband’s suicide. The suit accuses both the casino and the slot designer of using predatory and deceptive tactics to profit from people with gambling problems, like Scott Stevens.

“Mountaineer Casino knew, or should have known, that the condition of disordered gambling, especially slot machine addiction, is associated with severe adverse health and other consequences for individuals and their families. Not only are gambling addicts like Scott Stevens liable to literally gamble away everything they own and end up in crippling debt, but also to become suicidal at far higher rates than the general population and even the population of persons addicted to substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol,” the suit states.
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Vegas-Style Slot Machines Debut In Florida
Vegas-style slot machines debut November 2006 at Florida’s Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images …
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Although the suit’s success is not assured—the few other cases in this area have not succeeded—it is part of a growing movement of activists, academics, lawyers, and former gambling addicts who are trying to spotlight the health, economic, and social costs of legal gambling. This group believes the gambling industry preys upon vulnerable people, including low-income individuals, youth, and problem gamblers and that gambling availability is linked to larger societal problems like crime and economic inequality.

For its part, the gambling industry points to a record of funding research into gambling addiction and trying to educate the public about problem gambling. They maintain that they offer a fun activity that most people can do without serious consequences. The opening of new gambling venues shows no signs of slowing down, despite the planned closing of four casinos in Atlantic City and financial problems for casinos in other states. Last fall, New Yorker’s approved the building of up to seven casinos. Many other states are in various stages of building casinos. Some in the gambling industry are trying to legalize online gambling, which is currently allowed in only three states, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

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A debate over the social and health costs of legal gambling has largely been sidelined even as availability has expanded dramatically in the last 25 years. This is not because of a lack of merit, say experts and activists, but because of the political power of the gambling industry. They allege that the industry has employed tactics in the same spirit as those of tobacco companies, which for many years misled consumers about the addictive properties of cigarettes and advertised to young people and other vulnerable consumers.

According to Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, a Washington DC-based nonprofit, “This is one of the biggest public health issues in America today that no one has been paying attention to.”

A few experts predict that as stories of gambling addiction become more common, suits like that of Stacy Stevens will increase and could even succeed, as tobacco lawsuits did. “Ultimately gambling will be linked to the increase in social costs, gambling will be linked to the problems it creates, just like smoking was ultimately linked to cancer,” says Dr. Earl Grinols, a professor of economics at Baylor University. “It can take a while.”

Addictive Properties:

In the world of gambling, the most addictive property is electronic video gambling machines, often slots, which bring in 70 to 85 percent of the revenue for casinos. In some states, electronic video terminals are even available in other venues, like restaurants and bars. The machines do not typically have warning labels or cut offs for heavy users. Casinos  aggressively market to frequent patrons, giving them complimentary flights, hotels, and other perks. Meanwhile, the success of state voluntary exclusion programs where problem gamblers sign up to ban themselves from casinos is unclear.

Today’s slots are not the old lever-operated “one-armed bandits” but video game-like terminals that keep users playing by deliberate design, according to Dr. Natasha Dow Schüll, an associate professor in the program of science, technology, and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas. “The particular addictiveness of modern slots has to do with the solitary, continuous, rapid wagering they enable. It is possible to complete a game every three to four seconds, with no delay between one game and the next. Some machine gamblers become so caught up in the rhythm of play that it dampens their awareness of space, time and monetary value,” writes Dr. Schüll in a New York Times commentary.
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“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” recovering gambling addict Kitty Martz told the Oregonian. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

The idea that gambling lends itself to addiction like drugs or alcohol has taken some time to be acknowledged. Until the 2013 publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistics Manual, or DSM-5, problem gambling was classified as an “impulse control disorder” in the same category as pyromania and kleptomania, even though most clinicians who treated problem gamblers recognized it as an addiction, says Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

These gamblers exhibit many of the same problems as other addicts. “Everything you see with substance abuse you can make an analogy to gambling problems,” Dr. Martins says, citing family strife, financial hardship, and struggles with depression or anxiety.

“Give your dreams a chance”

To gamble legally 40 years ago, one had to travel to Nevada, go to a racetrack, or live in one of the handful of states that offered lotteries. In most towns, the closest one came to a betting game was playing charitable Bingo at church. Video slot machines had not yet come to market.

For most Americans today, a casino is just a car ride away. There are about 1,400 of them in 39 states, and 43 states sponsor lotteries with games that are recognizable even to non-gamblers, like Mega Millions, Powerball, Pick 10, and instant scratch off tickets. In advertising to citizens, states use slogans like, “Hey you never know,” “Give your dreams a chance,” and “Believe in something bigger.” Hawaii and Utah are the only states that offer no forms of legal gambling.

“Gambling addiction is often considered a small cost, one brought upon by the individual unwise gambler”.

Casinos represent a substantial part of the nation’s economy and enjoy support from members of both political parties. In 2012, the industry took in $37 billion in gross revenue, employed 332,075 people, paid $13 billion in wages, and contributed $8.6 billion in taxes, according to the American Gaming Association. Many casinos are not just places to play blackjack and slots but to eat or take in live music and comedy acts.


Casinos represent a substantial part of the nation’s economy and enjoy support from members of both political parties. In 2012, the industry took in $37 billion in gross revenue, employed 332,075 people, paid $13 billion in wages, and contributed $8.6 billion in taxes, according to the American Gaming Association. Many casinos are not just places to play blackjack and slots but to eat or take in live music and comedy acts.

In this environment, gambling addiction is often considered a small cost, one brought upon by the individual unwise gambler. “They think that it’s an easy painless way to raise revenue but they don’t see the other side of it,”  says Arnie Wexler. Wexler quit gambling over 45 years ago after a nearly three-decade addiction and has since served as executive director of New Jersey’s Council on Compulsive Gambling. He also runs counseling services for compulsive gamblers with his wife, Sheila.
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Watch a video of Arnie Wexler speaking about burnout of slot machine addicts on "60 Minutes"
“Watch a video of Arnie Wexler speaking about burnout of slot machine addicts on “60 Minutes”
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According to a conservative interpretation of the available research by the National Center for Problem Gambling, 1.1 percent or 3.4 million Americans have a pathological gambling disorder and 2 percent or 6.2 million engage in problem gambling, a less severe form of gambling addiction. (The term problem gambling is often used to refer to both problem and pathological gambling.) Internationally, prevalence is as low as .5 percent of the population in Denmark and the Netherlands and as high as 7.6 percent in Hong Kong, according to a 2012 review for the province of Ontario. Though problem gamblers are a minority of visitors to casinos, their spending accounts for anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of the revenues, according to several studies summed up in a paper by the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on family and social issues.

Betting on Science:

Neuroscientists have found commonalities between the brains of gambling and drug addicted people, like increased impulsivity and lower levels of activity in a region of the brain’s reward system, which leads people to seek bigger and potentially dangerous thrills. But it is not clear from this research when or how someone becomes addicted to gambling.

Compared to other nations, there has been relatively little epidemiologic research on rates of problem gambling in the U.S. The existing studies find that problem gambling increases with proximity to casinos. The federal government’s 1999 National Gambling Impact Study found that areas within 50 miles of a casino had twice as high a rate of problem gambling as those within 250 miles. The presence of a casino within 10 miles of a survey respondent’s home was positively related to problem or pathological gambling, according to a 2004 study by the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

Addictions published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

“If I were the gambling industry, I would want to fund people who had the disease point-of-view…because [they are] putting the source of problem gambling between the ears of the gambler.”

Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“Basically what we’ve learned is that as with many other kinds of environmental exposures, there typically is an increase in the prevalence rate of problem gambling in the wake of major introductions of new forms of gambling, whether it’s lotteries back in the 1980s and 1990s or casinos in the 1990s and 2000s,” says Dr. Rachel Volberg, a research associate professor at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a researcher for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Dr. Volberg has found that rates of problem gambling began increasing during the most rapid expansion of gambling opportunities in North America and in Australia.

Yet she says problem gambling rates seem to level off after a while. A study by the Research Institute on Addictions that has not been published yet found that rates of problem gambling did not continue to rise between 2010-2012 despite greater opportunity to gamble. Principal investigator Dr. John Welte, senior research scientist in psychology at the University of Buffalo, says it is not clear why, but he says it could be a result of the economic crisis.

The National Center for Responsible Gambling, or NCRG, is the charitable arm of the gambling industry’s trade association, called the American Gaming Association. NCRG cites a few studies that it says show problem gambling has not risen since the 1970s. After a casino moves in, problem gambling may become more widespread initially, but after a while, people “adapt”—they become more aware of the risks, seek treatment, or simply lose interest, says Christine Reilly, the senior research director of NCRG. This is called an “adaption effect.”

But prevalence studies do not tell the full story, says Dr. Stephen Q. Shafer, the chairman of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York. “One of the fallacies is that, let’s say you assume that your prevalence statistics are absolutely correct and you show that the prevalence of pathological gambling has not risen. It was, say, five years ago 1.1 percent. Last year it was 1.2 percent. What that forgets is that the prevalence is a pool out of which people move and into which people come, and looking at prevalence compared to time one and time two, you have to account for the people who have recovered, died, moved away.” For instance, a prevalence study conducted in 2008 would have counted Scott Stevens, but one in 2013 would not have.

For this reason, there need to be studies that use more rigorous epidemiologic methods, says Dr. Shafer, who is also a retired clinical professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons and the Mailman School. He has pushed to get New York State to commission such a study, but the state’s health department, the legislature, and the gambling commission have shown no interest.

Individual Disease or Public Health Problem?

Funding for gambling addiction research in the U.S. is about one-twentieth of funding in Australia and Canada, where gambling availability has also risen significantly in the past several decades, according to Dr. Volberg. Within the National Institutes of Health, there is an institute for research on alcohol disorders and an institute for research on drug addiction, but no institute for general addiction. Investigators who study problem gambling typically have to propose to look at it in conjunction with drug or alcohol use in order to win grants.

“Gambling availability has other public health ramifications beyond addiction. It may exacerbate economic inequality, which has a strong relationship to health”.

The NCRG is the only private funder of gambling addiction research in the country. According to Reilly, they fund research by top scientists at universities like Caltech, Duke, and Stanford, which are published in peer-reviewed journals. “We are funding some of the best people in the country, people who will lead us and force the issue at a national level,” says Reilly.

The majority of the NCRG’s funding goes to research based on a “disease model”—which investigates what goes on in the brains of individuals addicted to gambling—rather than the public health model, which looks at how availability affects population rates of problem gambling and potential social costs.

Both the disease model and the public health model “have points of truth, and they’re not mutually exclusive,” says Dr. Welte. But he adds, “If I were the gambling industry, I would want to fund people who had the disease point-of-view…because [they are] putting the source of problem gambling between the ears of the gambler.”

According to Reilly, the disease model is more practical because it can lead to treatments and that it is less prone to the flaws of survey research. “To me it seems kind of silly to spend time and money on an issue that is extremely difficult to research, because you can’t count on people’s memory,” she says.
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Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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But it is not in the gambling industry’s interest to have good research conducted on the social and economic costs of casinos and other forms of gambling, says Dr. Grinols. He points out that the federal government’s 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission recommended a moratorium on further gambling expansion until more research could be done on the economic and social costs and benefits. “No research of the type and focus hoped for by the Commission has been forthcoming since. That’s because the gambling industry has done what it could to question these studies and has not itself funded such studies,” says Dr. Grinols.

“The whole conclusion of the Commission has been ignored and in fact thwarted by the failure of money to be available for good research.” Dr. John Warren Kindt, a business administration professor at University of Illinois whose research looks at the social and economic costs of gambling, calls what NCRG funds “pabulum research designed not to hurt the gambling industry and to misdirect the debate.” In response to such criticisms, Reilly is adamant that the NCRG has a totally independent review board, which she says mimics the structure of the National Institute of Health and does not interfere in the work of its researchers.

As for self-reporting, there are ways to validate responses. Dr. Robert Williams, a professor of addiction counseling at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada, has compared what respondents report they spend on gambling to actual gambling revenue. He says the more reliable studies are those in which the total of the revenue reported by participants is closer to the total revenue made by the gaming industry. Dr. Williams points out that self-reporting may also underrepresented problem gamblers, who would be more likely to have their phone disconnected.

Growing the Economy or Exacerbating Inequality?

Gambling availability has other public health ramifications beyond addiction. It may exacerbate economic inequality, which has a strong relationship to health. It levies regressive taxes which take a larger share of income from lower than from upper income Americans. If taxes on gambling revenues substitute tax increases on income—which are progressive—the tax structure in a state becomes even more regressive. And those who spend money on certain forms of gambling are more likely to be low-income.

There is “a strong positive relationship” between state lottery sales and the poverty rates, according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology by economists at Cornell University that looked at data over 10 years. The most typical lottery player is a black, male, high school dropout making less than $10,000 a year, according to a 1999 report to the National Gambling Impact Study commission. Problem gambling is significantly worse in economically disadvantaged areas according to two studies from 2013, one by Dr. Welte and his colleagues and another by Dr. Martins and her colleagues. And the presence of a casino is associated with rises in bankruptcy filings, according to a 2005 study from Creighton University.
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gambling-lotto-tickets4

While casinos may bring new jobs when they open, most are low-paying service work. The national median wage in the gambling industry is $10.76 per hour. While better than some service jobs, it is less than the $16.87 hourly median wage for all industries, according to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And rather than boosting a local economy, casinos often draw business away from other food and entertainment venues. Many casinos are losing patrons to newer competition in neighboring states, straining state budgets and threatening local economies.

When casinos lose money or fail, the repercussions are significant. Delaware is spending hundreds of millions to keep struggling casinos afloat. In Atlantic City, several casinos plan to close by the end of the month, including the Revel, a two-year-old, $2.4 billion casino, entertainment, and conference center that was supposed to buoy the city’s flagging economy. The closures leave thousands of jobless people in a city that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at over 15 percent as of April 2014, a violent crime rate six times the rest of New Jersey, and 29 percent of its population in poverty—a 7 percent increase since 1974, two years before New Jersey voters legalized gambling

Although these statistics do not prove that the city’s gambling economy caused its problems, they do call into question claims by politicians and developers that casinos are an engine for economic growth. Nevertheless, some New Jersey politicians and business leaders are now talking about opening a new casino—or four—at the Meadowland Sport Complex in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Tribal lands that have casinos have seen improvement in jobs and county-level mortality rates, according to a 2002 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Yet these communities still see more bankruptcy, violent crime, and auto thefts and larceny after a casino opens.

Legal gambling is also linked to social problems like rises in crime and risky behavior in youth. Counties where casinos have opened have seen rises in the number of rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies, and auto thefts, compared with counties without casinos, according to a study by economists Dr. Grinols and Dr. David B. Mustard, which looked at county FBI data from 1977 to 1996.
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Rio Las Vegas
Photo credit: Dennis Redfield
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Because children are now growing up in an environment where gambling is so widely advertised and available, they could be especially vulnerable. Youth are at greater risk for problem gambling than adults, according to a 2007 study from Canada. Two percent or about 750,000 teens ages 14 to 21 described gambling with three or more negative consequences in a national survey by Dr. Welte and colleagues in 2008. Another 11 percent gambled twice or more per week, which is considered frequent. Teen boys who gamble are more likely to become fathers before age 20, especially those who problem gamble, according to a study by Dr. Martins. African-American teens who are problem gamblers are more likely to have sex and get arrested at a younger age than those who don’t gamble. Teens who had depressive symptoms early in adolescence are more likely to have gambling problems later in adolescence, according to another Martins study from 2011.

A Pervasive Gambling Culture

Former U.S. Representative Robert Steele has observed the casino economy at work in southeastern Connecticut, the district he represented from 1970-75, which in the early nineties became home to both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos.

“The casinos created a “pervasive gambling culture.” He adds: “the people in southeastern Connecticut were in no way ready for the casinos.”

“They became almost instant successes and the two biggest casinos in the world,” says Steele, who has written a novel, The Curse, which is inspired by the story of the two casinos and the tribes behind them. With Atlantic City as their only competition in the Northeast United States, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun drew about 60 percent of their customers from out of state and created 20,000 jobs.

But soon came problems no one seems to have anticipated. Drunk driving arrests in nearby Norwich more than doubled, and annual calls to the local police department went up fourfold, according to Steele. There was a sharp spike in the number of people who sought treatment for gambling addiction. The rate of embezzlement increased 400 percent, according to a report from the state. Steele’s own tax collector went to prison in 2001 for embezzling money from the town to gamble.

Much of the promised employment was in low-paying service jobs, sometimes part-time and often filled by non-English speaking workers who came from outside the area. This influx put pressure on local housing and social services. The local school system gained 400 children who collectively spoke 31 different primary languages, requiring them to create an “English for speakers of other languages” program. Teachers observed value changes in their students, says Steele. “[They] say, ‘we try to teach the kids the way to succeed in life is through hard work. Then the casino culture comes in and says, ‘you hit it big, you hit the lottery. You hit the payoff.’”

Today, revenue from Connecticut’s casinos is down 35 percent since its high point of 2007. Ultimately, says Steele, who used to have a property abutting Foxwoods, the casinos created a “pervasive gambling culture.” He adds: “the people in southeastern Connecticut were in no way ready for the casinos.”

“When everybody knows everybody, a good part of the people you know are going to be affected—even if not directly—through broken homes, bankruptcy, the whole gamut,” says Dawley.

Citizen Action:

Unions and community members hold a rally on April 20, 2013, demanding that the planned Caesars in Baltimore's Inner Harbor address economic and environmental concerns of residents. (photo: United Workers)
Unions and community members hold a rally on April 20, 2013, demanding that a planned Caesars Casino in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor address economic and environmental concerns of residents. (photo: United Workers) …

In Massachusetts, citizens are campaigning to repeal a deal that allows for MGM Resorts to build the Lago Resort and Casino in the economically depressed town of Springfield. “We see this as very much a perpetuation of income inequality, and the implications that income inequality has on public health —that people stay in poverty basically, stay under-compensated. It’s the transfer of wealth from people who don’t have money to people who have abundant resources,” says Steven Abdow, a senior staff member of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. “This would be intentionally bring[ing] in a product that destroys lives.”

Abdow is working on a campaign to oppose the building of an $800 million casino by MGM Resorts International. Once viewed as a way to revive the city’s dwindled fortunes, the casino’s fate is now in jeopardy. In June, a judge ruled in favor of ballot measure that would allow the citizens of Massachusetts to repeal a 2011 law that authorized casinos in the state.

Tyre, New York, is a town of less than 1,000 people 270 miles northwest of New York City. The town’s website boasts of a community that “strives to maintain its rural flavor,” welcoming visitors to stop by and visit the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the Erie Canal. Last December, residents learned that a Rochester-based real estate company called Wilmorite was bidding to open a casino on agricultural land, across from an Amish farm.

“I grew up my whole life in this area. A casino certainly is not what you anticipate showing up on your doorstep,” says Jim Dawley, a resident whose property borders the proposed spot.

Dawley and his wife, who own and run a small manufacturing company, and two friends formed an organization called Casino Free Tyre to oppose Wilmorite’s plans. “When everybody knows everybody, a good portion of the people you know are going to be affected—even if not directly—through broken homes, bankruptcy, the whole gamut,” says Dawley.

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Google Earth aerial view of potential Lago Resort and Casino site in Tyre, New York
Google Earth aerial view of potential Lago Resort and Casino site in Tyre, New York
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gambling-tyre-protest2
Protesters opposing the Lago Resort and Casino (Photo: Casino Free Tyre) …
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Over 200 residents have signed a petition against the casino, but members of the town board are supportive of Wilmorite, which is promising multi-million dollar revenues. The Dawleys are not letting up, even though they are new to activism. “This is so far outside of my normal realm, it’s unbelievable. I have a little  Over 200 residents have signed a petition against the casino, but members of the town board are supportive of Wilmorite, which is promising multi-million dollar manufacturing business out in the woods. I’ve been involved in our church and things like that but as far as any political-rooted opposition, this is our first time.”

Following in the Footsteps of Cigarettes?

In the court case over the Massachusetts casino deal, an organization called the Public Health Advocacy Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief that made a public health argument against the gambling industry. “Legalized casino gambling causes devastating effects on the public’s health, including not only the gambler but also their families, neighbors, communities and others with whom they interact,” the brief says. Electronic gambling machines “are designed to addict their customers in a way that is similar to how the tobacco industry formulates its cigarettes to be addictive by manipulating their nicotine levels and other ingredients.”

“Mirroring the tobacco industry’s strategy of creating scientific doubt where none truly exists, the casino industry has co-opted and corrupted scholarship on the effects of gambling through the use of front groups that funnel money to beholden scientists who are able to sanitize its origin,” the brief continues.

“The commercialization of a dangerous product that threatens both individual and public health has been called an ‘industrial epidemic,’” the brief continues, citing a 2007 paper published in the journal Addiction by Drs. René I. Jahiel and Thomas F. Babor. This is an epidemic “driven at least in part by corporations and their allies who promote a product that is also a disease agent.”

The brief argues that the citizens of Massachusetts have an interest in regulating gambling the way they have regulated cigarettes.

Given the power of the gambling industry and the dependence of states on gambling revenues, winning legal damages and regulating availability may presently seem like a pipe dream in the U.S. However, other countries employ harm reduction strategies in casinos to intervene on potential problem gambling, according to a 2011 report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In Holland, computers identify anyone who visits a casino more than 15 times a month as having a gambling problem. In the United Kingdom, casinos have to display the odds of winning on slot machines. And in Australia, there are limits on playing speeds and betting amounts.

The underlying principle behind this is articulated by Dr. Williams: “If provincial governments are going to make gambling available to their citizens, then concerted efforts are needed to prevent problem gambling, to effectively treat gambling addiction, and to minimize the amount of gambling revenue that comes from problem gamblers.”

Little Help Available:

“People with gambling problems tend to elicit little sympathy. They are seen typically as exercising bad judgment when it is known that the “house always wins.” They have often hurt people they are closest to, both financially and emotionally”.
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*Here is my section & Contribution to this Fantastic Article written by, Elaine Meyer*

While casinos may bring new jobs when they open, most are low-paying service work. The national median wage in the gambling industry is $10.76 per hour. While better than some service jobs, it is less than the $16.87 hourly median wage for all industries, according to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And rather than boosting a local economy, casinos often draw business away from other food and entertainment venues. Many casinos are losing patrons to newer competition in neighboring states, straining state budgets and threatening local economies.

When casinos lose money or fail, the repercussions are significant. Delaware is spending hundreds of millions to keep struggling casinos afloat. In Atlantic City, several casinos plan to close by the end of the month, including the Revel, a two-year-old, $2.4 billion casino, entertainment, and conference center that was supposed to buoy the city’s flagging economy. The closures leave thousands of jobless people in a city that already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at over 15 percent as of April 2014, a violent crime rate six times the rest of New Jersey, and 29 percent of its population in poverty—a 7 percent increase since 1974, two years before New Jersey voters legalized gambling.
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“You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds”, says Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon”

Former gambling addicts readily admit to their flaws. But, like most people, they typically started gambling because it was available, entertaining, and provided a potential if unlikely monetary reward. However, unlike most people who gamble, they became “hooked.” That’s how Catherine Townsend-Lyon speaks of her gambling addiction. She began playing video lottery terminals at delis and restaurants near her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, sometime after they were introduced in the 1990’s.

She became obsessed with a game called ‘Flush Fever’ and soon began playing before and after work and during her lunch hour. She lied to her husband about her whereabouts and started secretly gambling their mortgage payments. She stole from the collection company she worked for and sometimes wore bladder control underwear so she wouldn’t have to get up to use the restroom while playing. When she lost money, she played to win it back, and when she won, she played to win more. In an extreme moment, she skipped the funeral of a close friend to drive 40 miles to an Indian casino so she could win enough money to prevent her home from being foreclosed. Instead, she lost everything. She drove home in tears and tried to slit her wrists.
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A video lottery machine sponsored by the state of Oregon (photo: Curtis Perry)
So. Oregon State Lottery Video Poker/Slot style machines…
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“It’s like a battle you have with yourself with the triggers and the urges and the obsessiveness. You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds. It’s exhausting. It’s never-ending,” says Townsend-Lyon, who, after seeking treatment several times, has managed to stay away from gambling for the last seven and-a-half years.

Now an Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon says she turned to gambling at a difficult time in her life. With her husband frequently traveling for work, she found herself bored and looking for a way to fill the time. She had undiagnosed bipolar II disorder and had been sexually abused when she was younger but had not been raised to know to seek therapy.

“I wasn’t a drug person or an alcoholic or anything like that, although I did drink more when I gambled. And because I was gambling, that was my coping skill. That’s what I was using to escape it, those feelings. I couldn’t stuff them away anymore. I would just use gambling to escape, not feel, zone out, you know what I mean?” she says.
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Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) 
Addicted to Dimes (Confessions…Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Paperback $9.90 

She published a book last year about her former life, called Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat). What troubles her is how easy it is for people in her position to gamble. She didn’t have to fly to Nevada or even drive to a casino in state. The video poker and slot machines she played, which are sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery, are allowed at bars, restaurants, and delis. It makes it more difficult to even stay in recovery with so much accessibility.

“[I]f these machines weren’t in the bars, delis, and Oregon Lottery retail shops, then I would not be gambling.”

“It’s that simple for me,” says a 33-year-old man quoted in a recent series on the state lottery by the Oregonian. He estimates he has lost $15,000 over 12 years from gambling. “That may sound like an excuse, but ‘out of sight is out of mind”.
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Photo credit: Erik Wilson
In Oregon, video lottery terminals are allowed in bars, restaurants, and other establishments that sell food or drink. (Photo: Erik Wilson) …
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For people who are trying to recover from gambling addiction, it can be difficult to find help. Calls per month to the National Problem Gambling hotline are over two-and-a-half times what they were 14 years ago, from 9,642 in 2000 to 24,475 in 2013, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Yet funding for treatment centers, hotlines, and programs to prevent gambling addiction is minimal, says Dr. Martins. Funding for substance abuse treatment is about 281 times greater at $17 billion than public funding for problem gambling, at $60.6 million, although substance use disorders are only 3.6 times more common than gambling disorders, according to a 2013 survey by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and Problem Gambling Solutions. Just a little over half of the 50 U.S. states have someone whose full-time job is to administer problem gambling services, according to the same survey. By comparison, there are 113 lottery employees in Iowa and approximately 80 in Rhode Island. In several states legislators have cut gambling treatment funding or seen declines as a result of decreases in gambling revenue, which sometimes funds such programs, according to a Wall Street Journal report from 2011.

Gamblers’ Anonymous, a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics’ Anonymous, is the most widely available and used treatment in the U.S. Members admit they are powerless over their gambling addiction and embark on changing their character through group meetings and the support of a “sponsor” or older mentor in the group. Little research exists on the efficacy of Gamblers’ Anonymous. A study from 1988 found that only 7.5 percent of members had abstained after one-year, and nearly a quarter of members did not go to a second meeting. However, those who regularly attend Gamblers’ Anonymous say they benefit significantly.

As with any kind of addiction, there is no pill for treating problem gambling. Medication and therapy may be used with varying success to treat a related psychiatric illness like depression or bipolar disorder. Moreover, a small number of problem gamblers seek treatment.

For these reasons, a public health approach, which would favor limiting the “exposure” of gambling to prevent addiction from occurring in the first place, is compelling. It is the same as the argument to tighten access to prescription opioids in order to prevent people from becoming hooked.

A Disease of Society?

At a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in New York in August, about 65 people, mostly men, are celebrating one member’s five-year anniversary of abstaining from gambling. He gets to choose the topic for the night, and he picks “starting over.” Other members stand up to say that adhering to the Gamblers’ Anonymous program has fundamentally changed them. They have gone from being selfish and unable to make mature decisions to being better spouses, parents, friends, and members of society. They talk about small triumphs, their families, jobs, illness, and making amends with the people they hurt and stole from during their addiction.

“People adapt to their dislocation by finding the best substitutes for a sustaining social and spiritual life that they can, and addiction serves this function all too well.”

“I think it was known to pretty much everyone in this room that I was an asshole. And I think I have become a decent member of society,” says a man in his early 30s who has been abstinent for 10 years.
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Problem drinkers and problem gamblers...
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Another man echoes this sentiment. “I was anything but a good citizen,” he says. He has been abstinent for over 22 years, but like many others in this room, attends meetings on the Gamblers Anonymous principle that former addicts are always in recovery. “It’s not just starting over, we still have to own our past. We have to settle up with people as best we can.” When his mom passed away, he says he was grateful that he could access his emotions—not something he could have done in his gambling days.

“I can say without a doubt, gambling has ruined my life,” says another member. He has gone to Gamblers’ Anonymous for eight years but has had relapses, and it has been 201 days since he last bet. “Abstinence is for real this time.”

Compulsive gambling is often viewed as an addiction to money, but Gamblers’ Anonymous believes it is an emotional rather than financial disease. The addicted person “wants to escape into the dream world of gambling” and “finds he or she is emotionally comfortable only when ‘in action.’” But it doesn’t end up being much comfort, say formerly addicted gamblers who speak of how lonely their life was then.

Dr. Bruce K. Alexander, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, believes the loneliness experienced by those with gambling and other addictions has a strong social dimension. In his book, The Globalization of Addiction: A Study of the Poverty of the Spirit, he says: “A free-market society is magnificently productive, but it subjects people to irresistible pressures towards individualism and competition, tearing rich and poor alike from the close social and spiritual ties that normally constitute human life. People adapt to their dislocation by finding the best substitutes for a sustaining social and spiritual life that they can, and addiction serves this function all too well,” he says.

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A woman plays slots at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A woman plays slots at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images) …
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Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling believes that our nation’s dependence on gambling reveals a deeper civic problem. “What we incentivize as a government shapes the national character,”  he says. “We look at the greatest generation, we encouraged people to buy savings bonds, in the Great Depression. After World War II, we had the highest savings rate in modern American history because the government encouraged Americans to save. Today, half of Americans don’t own any assets.”

Terry Noffsinger, the lawyer for Stacy Stevens, admits that it has not been easy to make the legal public health case against gambling. Neither of the two cases he has represented has won in court, and one even provoked the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to threaten to sanction him for filing a frivolous claim. But he says the tide is turning. He has a conference call with a group of lawyers across the country about once a month to discuss the issue. Last November a group of Harvard Law students published a white paper making the case for legal action “to protect problem gamblers from the predatory behavior of casinos, including legislative reforms, tort litigation, regulations, and public policies.”

A couple of well-known trial attorneys have joined him on the Stevens suit, including Sharon Eubanks, who was lead counsel on the U.S. case that ended in a judgment in 2006 that the nation’s big tobacco companies fraudulently covered up the health risks of smoking and marketed to children. The Stevens case also makes product liability claims that the slot machines from which casinos draw so much revenue are intentionally designed, manufactured, and distributed to hurt people. Such claims have never been tried before.

“This is a blockbuster case. There are other cases that are starting to come out of the woodwork. The courts are ready to look more favorably upon addicted gamblers,” says Dr. Kindt of University of Illinois. Dr. Kindt published several academic articles in the early 2000s outlining the legal justification for mega-lawsuits against the gambling industry, similar to those which states, individuals, and classes of people filed against Big Tobacco.
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Les has been the National Director of the SPG Foundation since it was formed in 2008. During this time, he has spoken and written extensively about how government sponsorship of casinos and lotteries produces unfairness and inequality in America. He has testified before Congress, he has appeared on national television and radio including 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, National Public Radio and The BBC.  He has been interviewed by national newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and The Los Angeles Times. He has also spoken before dozens of business organizations, college audiences and faith groups across the nation. – See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/about-us/staff/#sthash.TprRtNpY.dpuf

– See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/about-us/staff/#sthash.TprRtNpY.dpuf

In his Harvard talk, Noffsinger said he has had 100 or more people call him for help, many suicidal, nearly all of whom he has had to decline to represent. One of the calls came several years ago from a Boeing employee in Seattle who begged him for legal assistance. She had lost all of her money gambling, sold all of her furniture, and was ready to end it all. When Noffsinger told her he couldn’t represent her, she said she had nothing left to live for. Alarmed, he referred her to a lawyer friend in Seattle who found her counseling. About a year ago, she called Noffsinger and thanked him for saving her life.

“Somebody needs to do something…it may not be me.” Noffsinger told the Harvard students. “It’s going to be an uphill battle, but at the top there’s going to be a great big flag to wave.”

Edited by Barbara Aaron and Dana March and written by: EALINE MEYER of Columbia University …
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Elaine Meyer

Breaking today: Columbia School of Public Health publishes major story on impacts of casinos and lotteries, and addicted and problem gambling”
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My Closing Thoughts:

So my hope is all who come by will take the time to read this article. IT IS TIME to do something about the expansion of Casinos and State Lottery. It’s why I advocate for those of us in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling, and abuse of alcohol when gambling. Many of us in recovery are now seeing a high trend of addicted folks coming in the “rooms” of Gamblers Anonymous, and Alcohol Anonymous with dual addictions and dual diagnosis like myself with after effects of some mental & emotional problems from directly from our addictions. Like I told Elaine, “I have no ill will toward those who can gamble normally, I and many others in recovery can not, and the public needs to know we are OUT here.

 

For me, the years of gambling depleted much of my “Pleasure & Reward”, the dopamine made by my brain, so one of my psych meds is just for that disorder. I now also suffer Agoraphobia with panic, and that too is an after effect from my years of addicted gambling. My bipolar with depression I had never been diagnosed until my first suicide attempt as Elaine mentioned in the article, and I’d been suffering most likely from late childhood. But the gambling addiction brought those symptoms to the surface. And again, Elaine’s article was really well rounded, as she looked at many factors and issues around problem & addicted gambling.

Maybe her next future article can be about the medical & mental health affects on our population from problem & addicted gambling disease.

Much Happiness & Blessings All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Who Doesn’t Love Ozzy Osbourne Prince Of Darkness? But Knighthood? Lets Keep His Recovery Real”…

Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, and New Visitors,

 

Ok, so is it just me, or are we becoming so stigmatized about addiction being an everyday part of our society that we think it’s OK for a known drug addict and alcohol abuser who has struggled with addiction and recovery 35+  years, now become a KNIGHT?

 

Does England have any rules or guidelines to this thing called Knighthood? Does the Queen of England really know the personal history that comes with a Rock Star like Ozzy Osbourne? Here is what the definition of an honor like this is based on,  “Chivalry” and the man has to have the qualities of that as a “Code Of Honor” and more! Which are these for any man or woman to be Knighted: Chivalry is a code (religious, moral and ethical) that knights have to follow. The combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, esp courage, honour, justice, and a readiness to help the weak, courteous behaviour, esp towards women. The code of chivalry emphasized bravery, military skill, generosity in victory, piety, and courtesy toward women.

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©AP / Ozzy Osbourne
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Now look, don’t get me wrong, I do think he “Invented Heavy Metal’ as we know it. He was and is a prolific song writer and singer, but you have to take in the whole of a man if he is going to become a knight right? One would think so…
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I too grew up with his music, especially in the 80’s, and did see him in concert. And I to struggled with gambling and alcohol addiction, but mine was not as long as his. Yes, we all deserve a second chance in our life in recovery, but it is what you do with that second chance given.
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But as a person in recovery, we can not ignore all the carnage that came with his past and not so past struggle with drugs and alcohol.  When he went back in the studio, and then back on tour with ‘Black Sabbath’ just 18 or so months ago, he had admitted he fell off the wagon again. His wife Sharon, and his grown children were all devastated. His wife Sharon so much so, that she was quoted in many articles saying that she wanted him to back into rehab, made him leave the home they share, and not come back until he was clean and sober. Even divorce was slug around, but that didn’t happen.

So 21,000 fans have signed a petition for his Knighthood:
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* Here is  how Ozzy see’s his Knighthood Petition*
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The 65-year-old rocker is delighted by an online campaign to have him recognised in Queen Elizabeth’s honours list, and thinks it would be ”pretty cool” for his wife Sharon to be given the title ‘Lady’.

He said: ”I’ve heard about that campaign. Getting knighted? I can’t imagine anything better. And my wife would become a Lady, which would be pretty cool.

”But I’m not gonna get upset if it doesn’t happen. I never thought I’d get further than [hometown] Aston.”

The Black Sabbath frontman also admitted he is surprised his career has lasted so long as he only imagined he would be successful for a ”couple of years”.

He added in an interview with Time Out magazine: ”I don’t [look back], but I guess I should a bit more. Because I know when I had my first successful album with Sabbath I thought, ‘Oh this is great, this will last a couple of years. I’ll just get drunk every night and have a few chicks in my room.’

”And here I am, 45 years down the road and I’m doing better than ever. I haven’t always been on top of the world, there have been bad times as well, but you don’t just give up at the first sign of choppy waters, you carry on rowing.”
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So, that is how Ozzy see’s it as becoming a Knight. Even he has a hint of doubt about it! He is saying he is not perfect, and I myself understand that, but again, I think you need to see the person as a Role Model. Here is a bit about the Petition…
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Honours and Appointments Secretariat – Cabinet Office (U.K.) David Spooner