Gambling Addiction and Recovery Around The Web… Quit to WIN!

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“Do you or know someone who has a problem with GAMBLING? Is it slowly taking them away from family and friends? DID YOU KNOW THERE IS HELP?”


Many of my friends and visitors know I have been here Advocating about Problem Gambling and Gambling Addiction Recovery for for over 4 years now. Never do I get tired when someone reaches out or emails me seeking information or help for a loved one from this cunning addiction. The only regret I HAVE is feeling I have not helped many more I know are out there suffering and who are sucked into THIS Insane Cycle of this Deadly Addiction. 

And through my years of advocacy work, I have had the honor to many fantastic people in various forms and areas of helping others recover. So I wanted to share a little today from them and let the public know that there IS MUCH HELP and Resources for those who are afflicted with this disease. AND? That IT IS Possible to Recover! If I can make it 10 1/2 years away from “A BET” then I know others can too! Having support and encouragement from family and others is important when we surrender from our addiction and start to reclaim our lives. I’m here to do just THAT!


A Message From My Friends of Know The Odds 

THE HIDDEN ADDICTION

You can smell cigarette smoke in the air and on the clothes of people who frequently smoke. You can smell alcohol on the breath of individuals who frequently drink. Problem gambling doesn’t exhibit these tell-tale signs, and at first, it can be easy to hide. But this addiction can have serious, life-altering consequences.

It can seem as innocent as wasting a few hours on a gaming website, or as serious as a high-stakes poker game. For those affected by problem gambling, both can lead to devastation as bets are placed and debt accrues.

Gambling happens all around us, whether we see it or not. It can happen from the couch, in our schools, our workplaces, restaurants, community centers, casinos and many other locations. Individuals struggling with a gambling disorder have many options to place bets unnoticed, from gambling online from their desks at work to routine visits to the grocery store to purchase scratch-offs.

Often, gambling goes on for months – or longer – before unpaid bills and financial issues surface, indicating a problem to family and loved ones. Friends and family members often struggle with guilt because they did not prevent, notice or stop the addiction before its consequences add up.

Problem gambling affects millions of people – men and women, old and young, employed and unemployed, and people of all ethnicities. In our ebook, “The Hidden Addiction,” we explain why the problem gambling of so many individuals goes unnoticed and discuss many of the demographic segments who suffer in silence. Women, seniors, children, adolescents and armed service members are often overlooked for being at-risk for gambling addiction, but the numbers tell a different story. We explore some of the reasons that individuals develop a gambling addiction, and how they can seek help and recovery.

 

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Now A Message From The Addiction Blog

Trying To Stop Gambling? There Are Many Paths To Recovery!

Help for problem gambling comes in many forms. These can include:

  • Self-help methods
  • Step-based programs like Gambler’s Anonymous
  • Professional counseling including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.

In fact, you might need to try a variety of methods to determine which works best for you. If you’re looking to connect with a trained counselor, you can call the NY HOPELINE at 1-877-8-HOPENY or you can visit the KnowTheOdds Support Directory to find help in your local area.

In the meantime, it can be expected that some days your recovery may seem easy, and other days the urge to gamble will seem irresistible. There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help avoid gambling situations and provide you with healthy alternatives for spending your time and money and for reacting in times of both stress and celebration. Some tips for getting started and actively quitting gambling follow.

6 Tips To Begin A Recovery From Gambling


1.
 Write a goal statement.

Consider why you decided to quit gambling. Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you want to learn how to effectively deal with your emotions, instead of using gambling to escape? Be specific with your goal statement so that you know when you are on the right track to success. When you are writing your goal statement, think about the things you would lose if you continue to gamble, and also the benefits you will gain from quitting. When you are feeling the urge to return to gambling, revisit your goal statement in order to remember why you decided to stop gambling in the first place.

2. Identify your triggers.

Think back to the times you gambled, and ask yourself, “Why/when did I gamble?” Did you gamble in times of stress, or in times of celebration? Was it when you were bored, or when you needed money? Understanding the reasons for your gambling will help you to identify ways to cope with those situations before you encounter them in your recovery.

3. Talk to your friends and family.

Recovery is a time of healing. A time to repair the relationships that have been damaged or lost during your addiction. Talking to your family about your addiction and recovery can be difficult, but it is essential to have a strong system of support throughout your recovery. So, what do you say to your family members? Some topics might include gambling disorder as a disease and explaining to them what you need from them (support, not to enable, etc.). It’s important to remember, if your gambling disorder has damaged relationships, it will take work and time to repair those bonds. Your friends and family may not be ready to talk immediately. Just like you need to spend time and work on your recovery, so do your friends and family.

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4. Take financial responsibility.

Gambling disorder can take a toll on a number of areas in your life (relationships, physical and mental health, employment), but we would be remiss to remember one of the obvious consequences: damage to your financial situation. Your first step is to assess your finances by listing all of the debts you owe and all of your income. After you have a good picture of where you stand, you can start to create a budget for yourself. Dealing with finances is often especially difficult for those in recovery from a gambling disorder.

Your friends and family members might be able to help you stay on track, but remember, the most important thing to your recovery and finances, is that you keep yourself from spending any more money on any form of gambling. A resource you might want to take a look at with your family/friends, is “Personal Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers“.

5. Steer clear of other addictions.

According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) of pathological gamblers:

  • 73.2% had an alcohol use disorder
  • 38.1% had a drug use disorder
  • 60.4% had a nicotine dependence

It is crucial that during your recovery from gambling disorder, you deal with any other addictions you have experienced in the past, and you stay clear of any behaviors and/or substances that have the potential to become addictive.

6. Reach out for support.

The road to recovery for gambling disorder is a long, tough road, and you need to prepared to make the best decisions for yourself and your recovery. You’ve made the first, and most important, by committing not to gamble. Your next step is to assess your recovery and to decide what’s best for you.

For More Information On Quitting Gambling

Help is available every step of the way. Visit Know The Odds for facts about gambling disorder, tips to overcome addiction, and contact information for organizations across New York State who can help you overcome your gambling addiction.  As always, the NYS HOPEline is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for support and referral services: 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-866-846-7369).

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                   The Addiction Blog

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Rebuilding Family Relationships in Recovery
By Christine Hill

Addiction recovery can be a trying experience that will test a person’s willpower, but it it is also an incredibly fulfilling experience that builds us up as people. During addiction, many people have lost so much, whether it be their jobs, children, or family. Addiction thrives on the alienation that is created when these ties are severed. An important part of addiction recovery is rebuilding these bridges and regaining the connectedness that makes us whole. However, this isn’t always easy. Addiction frequently leads people to do things that hurt the people they love, and this can make it a tricky experience to build these relationships back up. However, it is certainly possible if you take the lessons of recovery seriously. Here are some tips on how to rebuild family relationships in recovery…

 

Ask for forgiveness and Amends

 

Addiction is a behavioral disease that operates by cutting you off from those who care about you. This alienation is what has allowed addiction to thrive and claim the lives of so many people in this generation. However, while addiction is a behavioral disease that is often out of an addict’s control, the actions that they take because of that addiction still hurt and affect their family, and this isn’t something that can just be simply forgotten. Just because an addict is in recovery and doing well, it doesn’t always mitigate what has happened. Always ask for forgiveness with the utmost sincerity, but don’t assume that they will always offer it, immediately.

 

Demonstrate real change
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Usually, addiction is a disease that operates in cycles. Before getting a professionals help that can assist in reaching lasting recovery, many addicts have tried to get better on their own to no avail. During this time, family members may have felt hurt by the constant push and pull of actions that were taken and promises that were broken. Because of this, it’s important to show how this time is different. Before worrying too much about repairing these relationships, focus on rebuilding yourself and making the changes that you need to make, so that you can demonstrate that this change is real and lasting.

 

Take family therapy

 

Most addiction treatment centers have a family therapy program. This is usually one of the most powerful programs that rehabs and treatment providers have to offer. Being able to speak honestly and openly with your family members, and have them speak openly and honestly to you in a setting that is devoid of judgment and mediated by a trained counselor, enables the possibility of communication that might have otherwise never happened. Talk to your family about joining you in the family therapy program, and make the most of the experiences that you have there. Here is an informative article about what to expect from family therapy.

 

Understand if they need time

 

People get hurt in the throes of addiction. That is the nature of how it operates. Pain and harm are the defaults that addiction goes back to. Because of this, some family members may need time to get over what has happened. This isn’t because they don’t love you, but because they need to protect themselves against the possibility of another heartbreak. Understand that this time is important, and focus on doing right by you. Eventually, this bridge will mend itself, and you may find that the relationship can grow even stronger than it once was.

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Listen and show empathy

 

When communicating with your family members, always take the time to listen to how they feel. Trying to get out from under the hold of addiction is a confusing experience, but they are also dealing with a great deal of confusion. Sometimes, families blame themselves for another family member getting caught up in addiction. Allow them to work through these feelings. It is unproductive to only talk about yourself and your feelings without taking the time to understand how your actions have affected them. This may hurt and be a difficult process, but it is an important one, nonetheless. Family therapy is a great setting to explore this process, but it’s important to keep it up in all your interactions.

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About The Author:

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

Gambling Addiction is NOT a Poor Person’s Addiction. Meet Melinda L., An RN…

imageedit_1_6172885164 Courtesy of InRecovery Magazine

“My name is Melinda and I saved lives for a living.”

I was an ICU nurse and a nursing supervisor at a hospital where I had been employed for 27 years. I had earned respect, accolades and a good degree of success in my career. There are people alive today because of actions I took and decisions I made, often in a split second, to save their lives. With all of this success, I could not for the life of me stop gambling or think I could stop any more than changing the tides of the ocean.

Believe me, I tried.  In the local bookstore, I found rows and rows of books on alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating, overspending, over-sexing, over this, over that. There were entire sections dedicated to the innocent enablers who unwillingly allowed the “overs” to continue their destructive behavior. There were no manuals for the hapless gambler.

I would sit in my car, slam the steering wheel, lower my head and sob. My gas gauge was on empty, and that familiar nauseating feeling of disgust and terror would return. Then, as always, I would form a momentary sense of resolution and regurgitate the lines of an old sermon filled with rallying cries: “I can’t do this anymore . . . this is not me . . . I’m not a caged animal on a treadmill . . . I am better than this!” Each time I spoke these words, I had the feeling that this time I would stop gambling.

Less than 24 hours later, my car was back in the casino parking lot. It was as if I had no control; I realize now that I didn’t. This continued for close to five years until my life came crashing down. Due to choices I’d made to feed my addiction, I lost my job of 27 years, damaged relationships with friends and family, forfeited an insane amount of money and nearly lost my life. I also lost perhaps the most precious thing of all; time. Time I can never get back wasted in front of slot machines.

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Slot machines were designed with one goal: to make an addict out of everyone. The longer a person plays, the more money they lose, until it is all gone. In the midst of my gambling addiction, my sensible way of thinking about money all but vanished. I would drive an extra four miles to save $2 on paper towels, and yet drop $500 in a slot machine. I kept 50 cents in the console of my car for enough gas to get home. It was often the only money I had left at the end of a day of gambling.

One time when I was so engrossed in my machine, I failed to hear a man’s call for help when his mother passed out. I had performed several Good Samaritan acts in public, but I had a good thing going that particular Sunday afternoon; I was winning. That should have been the time I faced reality, but it wasn’t. I had two more years of self-destruction, convoluted thinking, and unhinged behavior ahead of me.  I was just as impaired by gambling as a bar patron who has had too much to drink. After about eight drinks, a bartender would no doubt cut them off; after all, they might hurt themselves, or worse, kill someone. When a patron’s judgment is impaired, the responsible thing would be to cut them off.

No such limits exist at the casino. Every time I went gambling, it was as though I was walking into the Cheers bar. The greeters knew my name when I usually gambled and the machine I liked; I’m sure they were also aware of how often I lost. No one ever came over and suggested, “Take a break, go home, take care of your kids.” There were no safety nets in place; just a few signs with a number to call if you thought you had a gambling problem.

I hit rock bottom and stopped gambling on April 29, 2012. My hard work was just beginning. My life was in shambles. I had no job, no money and no direction. Nursing was all I had ever known and loved, and I had jeopardized my license. There is a reason why gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicide of any addiction. One in five addicts attempt suicide, and many succeed. There is only so much cocaine, heroin or alcohol you can put into your body before ending up in a morgue. Gambling has no such constraints; when it gets bad, suicide seems to be the only answer.

Fortunately, I knew I had to live. I had to be a mother to my children.

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As I slowly emerged from a cloud of profound shame and despair, I began going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings and reached out to organizations I had avoided in the past. One of those organizations was a nonprofit in Washington, DC, called Stop Predatory Gambling. Their mission is to stop the injustice and inequality created by government-sponsored gambling. I became their official National Victim’s Advocate, a voice for those who remain silent and in the shadows due to social stigma and discrimination. I began speaking all over the country and joined in the fight against gambling expansion. The underlying message was simple: Gambling addiction is a beast that destroys families and individuals; it is fundamentally wrong for our government to prey upon the vulnerable to fill their coffers. My goal was to bring advocacy, raise awareness and reform for this highly misunderstood addiction.

“I once had a one-on-one conversation with a senator from Illinois. “You don’t look like a gambler,” he said. “What do you think one looks like?” I replied. “We look like who we are: your neighbor, sister, father, spiritual leader, co-worker. The slot machine didn’t look back at me and say, ‘Gee, you are a bit too put together, I’m not going to make you an addict.”

Gambling operates on the Pareto Principle: 90% of profits come from 10% of the gamblers. These are not your casual weekend night-on-the-town gamblers, they are the most vulnerable: the elderly, poor, women and minorities. “Casino Cafes” located every few miles in strip malls with cutesy names like Stella’s and Dolly’s are blatantly predatory to women. Many states and municipalities view gambling as an economic panacea, yet they miss the hidden costs: child neglect, crime and ultimately the need for state assistance. Gambling addiction tears families apart and ruins lives.

Gambling addiction is now recognized as a disease and may be covered by insurance and have benefits that cover treatment. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the number of gambling addicts is rising at an alarming rate. In Illinois alone, there are nearly 12,000 people on the voluntary self-exclusion list – just an estimated 10% of the state’s problem gamblers.  Gambling nearly killed me, and I never saw it coming.  Things need to change. We have far to go before the problem of compulsive gambling is resolved.

Change begins when even one addicted gambler finds recovery.

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Melynda Litchfield has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, working in ICU, nursing administration and now home care. She is the National Victim’s Advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling, mans the GA hotline twice a week and speaks on the predatory effects of gambling and the nature of the gambling industry. Melynda is the proud mother of three children and is active in community organizations, including her church council.
www.stoppredatorygambling.org

**I have known and worked with Melinda and Les Bernal Founder of Stop Predatory Gambling about the expansion and impact of the growing offerings of gambling sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery and when I lived in Oregon until late 2013. Please visit there website by the link above and see how gambling has a negative impact on your State and Community today…

Catherine Lyon

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

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I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

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One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

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Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

“This One is for The Ladies of Recovery” . . .

Female group is doing yoga exercises in a fitness club

Female group is doing yoga exercises in a fitness club


I  welcome all here to my recovery blog & journey!
I have been graced by another featured article by a wonderful recovery writer, Alyssa Craig. I enjoy having her on my blog. She is an exceptional writer that has her pulse on the heart of writing about recovery way better than I.

I’m always happy to share recovery writers and authors anytime here on my blog. You can send me requests anytime to my Email at: LyonMedia@aol.com  and when I have openings, I’d be happy to featured yours.

 

    What Women in Recovery Really Need
  Author: Alyssa Craig

For a long time, individuals in addiction recovery received the same treatment regardless of gender. Studies and programs were eventually developed to fit the needs of men and while women also benefited from these programs, there were certainly missing pieces to their own treatment. Gender specific addiction recovery treatment now helps to address problems women uniquely face in order to give them the best chance of a successful recovery. It is important to understand these benefits and what women require in recovery when deciding between treatment options.

The reasons abuse begins varies between women and men. Women are greatly influenced by the relationships they have with others. This means if they have a family member or a significant other participating in the addictive behavior, they are more likely to begin use.  As mentioned here, women are also more likely to self-medicate when faced with emotional and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and PTSD following trauma (both current or earlier). Women are also more likely than men to become addicted, and the introduction of addictive substances and behaviors puts them in quick danger of dependence.
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Once women do enter a recovery program, addressing these initial struggles can best be done when surrounded by others facing the same problems. It has been found, for both genders, individuals in recovery are more likely to engage in open communication in group therapy sessions when they are only with their own gender. For women, this can be especially important, because many women in recovery have a history of trauma, making the removal of men an important part of the recovery equation.

Betsy Firth, a clinical psychologist at an addiction recovery center says, “Women tend to be hyper-focused on external issues while in treatment, the number one being focused on men and how they view the women, how they can get their attention/approval. Removing the men from the mix allows the women to focus inward on what they need for their recovery. At the same time, many women have been in abusive or violent relationships and can get easily triggered by exposure to men while we are asking them to be open and vulnerable.”

Allowing women to attend recovery solely with other women allows them to feel safe from harmful situations they may have faced and find healing, without facing potential triggers. As women have a greater chance of relapse than men, it is of the utmost importance to put them in a position where they will be more likely to succeed. It is recommended when an individual (male or female) leaves recovery, they avoid forming new romantic relationships for at least one year. This gives the individual, especially a woman, the chance to recover without the pressures described by Firth.

 

Women who suffer from emotional or mental disorders, as described above, also have the need to overcome personal barriers of shame, address the stigma of addiction, and acknowledge fears they may be experiencing – such as loss of child custody, loss of employment, or an inability to fulfill their responsibilities. Relapse is much more likely when a woman has not developed sufficient coping mechanisms for these struggles and other issues such as lack of self-worth. Attending a gender specific treatment center ensures these issues specific to women are addressed and the women leave with the coping skills and support they need.

Because women do put so much weight on their relationships, a treatment center should encourage the removal of toxic associations and help each woman surround herself with a positive support system. In addition to the support given both during treatment and in after-care, a woman needs to have family and friends who will be supportive of the changes she is making. Often continuing to attend group meetings provided in after-care helps to provide some of this support, as each woman can continue to receive support from peers who can truly empathize.

Gender specific treatment has proven to be very successful for those women who participate in it. Drugabuse.gov reported in December 2014 that women are more likely to be employed 12 months after treatment admission if they attended a gender specific treatment center. With the focus on addressing triggers and the initial reasons for use, along with providing the support system women need to rely on, gender specific recovery is a top choice for women striving for recovery.

 


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 Lets Celebrate ALL Women In Recovery!

God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of “Addicted To Dimes”. . .
*Article Courtesy of Author, Alyssa Craig*

A Special Blog Share To Raise Awareness Of Autism. Meet My BFF DeBorah Palmer & Her Wonderful Brother Stephen Palmer.

Hello Friends, Readers, and Visitors,

It is not often that a good friend makes the ‘New York Time,’  but when they do? It sure is worth sharing! And my BFF, DeBorah Palmer and her sweet brother Stephen Palmer made the New York Times this month. The Times did a wonderful article on them both to hopefully raise awareness of autism which Stephen was diagnosed with, and how there seems to never be enough time for DeBorah, who takes such good care of Stephen, as she works and tries to care for him, so Stephen lives a fun,  fulfilling life.  And I know that can be a challenge at times. I battle with a few mental health issues myself, and my loving husband is such a help to me. So I know it can be difficult for the family members.
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But I don’t think I can recall a time ever that DeBorah has had any complaints about making sure Stephen lives a well-rounded life with autism. That girl is always on the go, and making sure Stephen has many wonderful life experiences. That takes a very special and caring person, which my friend DeBorah is and more! So let me share this wonderful article with all of you.
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And, if you get some time, please take a visit to Deborah’s blog. http://dancingpalmtrees.wordpress.com  She shares some so many amazing stories of her life, and shares many important articles from other blogs as well. Just wanted to say: “Congrats DeBorah & Stephen” for a fantastic article. Sometimes life can be challenging. “Keep The Faith” .. .. ..

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Happy Reading Friends!


{Stephen Palmer at his home in Queens. Mr. Palmer “lights up” when he sees his sister, said Iya Thomas, a supervisor at the Queens Center for Progress, which runs his group home. Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times}.

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Every workday morning, DeBorah Palmer pulls on her navy blazer and starts her rounds. She is a security guard who patrols the galleries of a Manhattan museum and assists the visitors streaming through its doors. But as she points the sightseers to this exhibit or that one, an urgent question inevitably pops into her mind: How is Stevie?

She means Stevie, who loves Iron Man, plain M&Ms and Popeye’s fried chicken. Stevie, who has a sweet inside basketball shot and a passion for dinosaurs. Stevie, who is a 54-year-old man with autism who cannot read a book or cross a street on his own.

Stevie Palmer is her beloved brother, her closest relative. He is intellectually disabled and counts on her to oversee his care at his group home in Queens. It is her personal mission to ensure that he has everything he needs. Finding a way to do that — while holding onto a $16-an-hour job that offers little in the way of flexibility — is her biggest challenge.

“He’s my No. 1 priority,” said Ms. Palmer, who is 56, single and stressed. “Sometimes I feel guilty. I think to myself, ‘Am I doing enough?’ I think I could be doing better.”

Can My Past Childhood Trauma Cause Mental Health Problems? Or is it, “Tag Your It!”

Hello Recovery Friends, and Welcome New Friends,

 

 

I was wondering over the weekend if my mental health issue’s could be caused by a genetic predisposition, or was my childhood trauma and abuse the main cause? The trauma of being sexually abused as a little girl. So I started doing some research, and of course some crazy thinking of my own, and started journaling more about what I could remember, as far back as I could of my childhood.

Thought I would write a little about what I came up with. Being therapy again for problems with PTSD again, I have uncovered a few things of my own. Some are memories of my past, and some is information I came across to get a few more answers as to why, because out of all of my siblings, I’m the only one that suffers from mental illness and disorders. And how confusing it is at times when my psychiatrist says that many conditions I suffer are “just labels.”

WHAT?

Now that just confuses the hell out me! She tells me that doctors use labels to help explain what my mental conditions, but I tell her, “what about the symptoms?” When I “get labeled,” I go look up what the disorder or condition they tell me I am suffering from, and BINGO! They description fits exactly to my symptoms. So what am I to call them?
I get very frustrated at this. So here is a little piece I came across from a medial journal that explains if mental health is generic.

“Scientists have long recognized that many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. Symptoms can overlap and so distinguishing among these 5 major psychiatric syndromes can be difficult. Their shared symptoms suggest they may also share similarities at the biological level. In fact, recent studies have turned up limited evidence of shared genetic risk factors, such as for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, and depression and bipolar disorder.”

Now later in life, I found out my mother was having trouble with depression. So I wonder if I just happened to be the lucky one to have it passed on to me. I don’t know if either of my two sisters, or my one brother has any mental health problems because we all have not spoken to one another since my mothers passing in summer of 2003.
Yes, it is very sad to write that. Even my father has not spoken to me since 2004. Have no clue why, but I have forgiven and moved on in my life. Like we say in recovery, “we have no control over people, places, and things.”

So back to memories. I’m not saying that my childhood was all bad. There were many wonderful family memories, but some would get over looked due to alcohol abuse, or family drama of sort. Maybe I was more hyper sensitive to words my parents used to describe me at times. But after going through sex abuse, I do feel that made me more prone to look at everyone around me differently as I got older. In JR. High School my dad would see me hanging with my girlfriends outside the school, and he would call me a hooker or pill popper just because a few of my friends smoked. Or he didn’t like the way they were dressed, so he said they dress like hookers, and so did I. He had no idea how hurtful that was.

To judge your daughter by the clothes I was wearing? So I did anything I could to be out of the house. I hated being home. I would isolate in my bedroom a lot. Feeling sad and depressed a lot. But then my parents would turn around and let me go on a date at 14? OK, now I’m confused. My mom would constantly tell me I never tell her the truth about anything. That I would never amount to nothing when she got mad at me. When we were a bit younger, she would tell us kids that if we didn’t do what we were told, she would have my father drop us off at juvenile hall and leave us there.
Who threatens their kids that way? For me? I took the things she said to heart I suppose.
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I never felt like I could talk to my parents about anything going on in my life due to the nasty verbal abuse, which continued into my late teens and 20’s. And this did follow me into adulthood with my father. We have always had a strained relationship.  I feel my mother caused this, as she made us kids afraid of my father. That he would be the one to beat us with a belt, buckle and all if she could not get through to us kids. We where not ‘hellish’ kids either. Well, in the last year of high school my brother did give them a little run for their money until he went into the Army. LOL.
This is one area I tell many parents about, to please talk to your kids. They only want to be heard. They want validation and unconditional love from their parents. They want to know they have a voice. You can still tell them, ‘no,’  of what ever they are asking for, but at least they feel they have been heard.

I do feel from being sexually abused, had a lot of bearing on the way I viewed things and others in life. Other people, men, relationships. And not getting that unconditional love from my parents, I spent years trying to prove my worth to them, and trying to find that love in many bad relationships. So my conclusion is NO, I don’t think mental health problems are directly genetic, or passed down from your parents. I feel the environment you grow up in can play a large roll. I remember from a young age, I had to be on the go, or moving all the time. I guess they call it high anxiety, or mild mania. Even just riding in the car, I would have to rock back and forth in my seat. I felt nervous and anxious all the time. Even to this day I have to shake my foot to fall asleep. So later in life when I was first diagnosed with bipolar ll disorder with severe depression & anxiety, I thought, how can you be depressed and have anxiety at the same time?

Well you can. I would find this out later in live when I got tangled into a severe gambling addiction with alcohol abuse at times. The gambling was the ‘excitement and movement’ I was using to feel ‘pleasure and reward’ in my life. I also was feeling entitlement to do the destructive things I was doing with gambling. Even today, one of my med’s I take is because I depleted this from my brain chemicals is what I was told from my psychiatrist. Being in a constant state of  impulsiveness and obsession, and on edge all the time with my gambling addiction. But I also used it as a form of escape and running from my past pain of my abuse and childhood haunts. As far as my treatment, I needed more than just cognitive behavior therapy and treatment. I had to get through all the crap I was stuffing away for years from my past as well.

And that is now where I am today. I have been in recovery now from gambling addiction 8 1/2 years. And yes, I did have many relapse’s along the way until I got a foot hold on long-term recovery. What I deal with most today is my mental/emotional health. It still is not where I did like it to be. I have and have challenges with depression with pain, agoraphobia with panic disorder, PTSD has reared its ugly head again, and adult attention deficit disorder. I’m still working through a behavioral center, and with a psychiatrist, and therapist. Two of my medications have just been increased. I take each day as it comes. And I try my best to not let all of this stop me from doing the things I love. The agoraphobia is the hardest to deal with right now. It makes me feel so isolated. Like watching life go past your window without YOU in it. But I’m working it.  I refuse to give up. I know there are many who have it even worse than I.

So I share what I am going through, so those who may not have ever had to deal with mental illness can see what it is like for those who do suffer. We need to change the Stigma and how people view others who do have mental and emotional illness. We need to continue to talk about it. I plan I doing so for a long time. . . .

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Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author and Advocate