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

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

“Now, we all know there is nothing wrong with you if for some reason a 12-Step program or meetings are just not enough to help you recover from any ADDICTION of say, Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, any addictions. And there has been a lot of “Debate” about this for a long time by many groups and die-hard 12-steppers in my 12-years of maintaining recovery and I been to many AA and GA, Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

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

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

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There is hope

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

By Olivia Pennelle 02/03/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIVE DETOX  – Shares: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re fortunate in the U.S. to have plenty of other support groups that are not all based on religion, and some have a solid evidence-based program. They include Refuge RecoveryLifeRing Secular RecoverySMART RecoveryModeration ManagementWellbriety — among many others listed here — and they have been shown to be equally as successful as 12-step groups.

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

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

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

After all, we all have the same goal: recovery.

 

 

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Is The 12-Step Way The Only Way? I don’t Think So. It Is a Solid Part of a Good Recovery Plan, Just Not The Only One.

Is The 12-Step Way The Only Way? I don’t Think So. It Is a Solid Part of a Good Recovery Plan, Just Not The Only One.

“We have a choice on HOW we want to recover. And everyone’s experiences can be different.  It is WHY we have the choice, to begin with! But The 12-Step way shouldn’t be the ONLY WAY to recover from any addiction.”

As we find by this new Guest Featured Article Courtesy of The Fix Magazine! ~ AS I Celebrate my 5-Year WordPress Recovery Blog Anniversary!!

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Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us.

Keep up the good blogging.

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When 12-Step Doesn’t Work…


“In the 12-step program, if you’re not getting better it’s because you can’t or won’t adhere to the simple program, and it is definitely NOT your fault.”

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” –The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

I could write rehab reviews like a New York City socialite could write restaurant reviews, detailed with an extensive variety of experience and a favorite for every season. I was close with all of the staff at one, asked to leave for causing trouble at another, and I visited my preferred choice on two separate occasions, making myself at home and staying a while each time. Although many of the rehabs I took residency with differed greatly, they all seemed to share a fundamental staple regarding treatment: 12-step meetings were the way, and anything else was the highway.

Early in recovery, the meetings were my favorite part of the day. Once discharged from inpatient treatment, I’d hop in my dented up silver Honda and travel 50 plus miles to attend meetings with my former rehab mates. It gave me something to look forward to and was a great way to maintain the mere semblance of a social life, my previous social life having been obliterated.

I loved hearing the speakers tell their heart-wrenching and inspirational stories of overcoming immense adversity and eventually finding their way. I loved thinking to myself, “Wow, you’d never guess they were once an addict,” and hoping one day someone would look at me and think the same. I loved the strong coffee, stale cookies, and smoke breaks; it was like a cozy blanket and comfort food to me. I loved 12-step meetings, but the longer I stayed, the more the love began to feel unrequited.

As time passed, I enviously witnessed my peers collecting their milestone chips. I stoically sang happy birthday to people celebrating one, two, five, sometimes 20 years of sobriety. “Keep coming back, it works if you work it!” I’d smile and clap and secretly resign myself to what appeared to be my only two options: keep relapsing and likely die or go to meetings for the next 20 years. Either way, I’d never be escaping my identity as an addict. It never sat well with me that after 20 years of abstinence from mind-altering substances, people in the program would still be in meetings identifying as addicts.

Time and time again, I’d hear a person share with the group how one desperate, dreary day, they’d dropped to their knees and begged God to remove from them the burden of addiction, and the next day they’d woken up and poof! It worked. After a person hears that so many times, they’re bound to try it themselves. I must have tried it as many times as I heard that same testimony. “Stay until the miracle happens,” they’d say. I stayed. I waited for the miracle. I’d wake up desperate for deliverance, only to find defeat. Why was God removing their burden but leaving me with mine? I was deeply genuine, crying, begging even—so naturally, I grew cynical. The more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that everything I was seeing work so well for my peers, was not at all working for me.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and  Narcotics Anonymous, while technically three distinct programs, they all share the same philosophy and principles. There is no strict delineation between the groups and you’ll often meet people with a breadth of narcotic experience in AA and people who struggle with alcohol use in NA and many are drug users and drinkers with gambling problems or addicted. The steps are the same for all and somewhere within those steps is where all the “magic happens.”

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Before you can attempt the steps, you have to find a sponsor who will show you the way. A sponsor is another person in recovery, typically with an arbitrary minimum number of sober months or years that seems to vary depending on who you ask (but with more time than you). Ideally, they are a mentor, a trusted confidante who will talk you off the wagon’s edge.

They’re someone you tell your deepest darkest secrets to. Literally, your fourth step requires you to write a list of your life’s mistakes, from minor faux pas to your most egregious offenses, and then spill all the dirt to your sponsor. This was the first of many roadblocks I ran into within the program.

I seemed to burn through sponsors like an Uber driver does a tank of gas. My first sponsor and I were unknowingly involved in a 12-step love triangle. Program romances were rampant and newcomers were fresh meat. This is not uncommon and is jokingly referred to as the 13th step. I had a few short-lived sponsors before I found “the one.” She was my perfect match, and then . . . I moved 700 miles away. Although I pleaded with her to continue sponsoring me via Skype, she said it would be best for me to have a sponsor close by.

My next sponsor was someone I felt instantly drawn to and grew very close to. After working through the first three steps, I recorded all of my transgressions, ready for the big reveal. Then casually during an AA group dinner, a mutual friend referenced some seriously confidential information I had shared with only my sponsor, making it apparent our confidentiality agreement had been breached. Although we remained close friends, the trust was damaged beyond repair and my fourth step progress came to a halt.

The good thing about the 12-step program is that other addicts guide you through your recovery. The bad thing about the 12-step program is that other addicts guide you through your recovery. The first time someone struggling with addiction or alcoholism reads The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the similarities are so striking, it’s as though you’re reading your own diary at times.

People who have experienced addiction share the same symptoms, underlying causes, triggers, and lifestyle and The Big Book articulates that in a way that transcends time, age, and gender. There is, however, a glaring difference between someone early in recovery and a seasoned 12-stepper with several years under their belt. This difference was problematic for me.

Newcomers, or people early in recovery, are generally vulnerable and shaky. It is not uncommon for a newcomer to relapse once or even multiple times. One of the main draws of AA and NA is that the program offers a “sober network,” a community of like-minded individuals who have gone through the same thing and can, therefore, teach the newcomers how to treat their disease. The sober network that the 12-step program provides, however, is not purely sober.

One of the first things you’ll hear going into recovery is that you have to cut ties with your using buddies. I agree with that 100 percent; But in AA and NA, you are actively hanging around people who are barely clean, habitually relapsing, or even just there for the court-mandated requirements and not clean at all. For some people in the program, that’s not an issue.

For me, however, it was like these people were a walking billboard: “Potential Using Buddy,” with loud sirens and flashing lights, a temptation I could not seem to ignore despite two years of actively trying. My addict brain was drawn toward other vulnerable people in the meeting. One of the most important developments in my recovery was acknowledging and owning up to my tendency to take advantage of those situations. When I finally put my foot down and said I cannot recover in the company of fellow addicts, I closed one door and opened a new door to a realistic opportunity for recovery.

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During my two-year and some change trial of the 12-step program, I earned hundreds of chips. You’d think that’s a good thing, but it’s not. In your first 30 days, you get a chip each day and then a 30, 60, 90-day, 6-month, and 9-month chip after that, and from then on, they’re earned yearly. In AA and NA, if you’ve acquired a set number of sobriety days and then you relapse, you are required to stand up, announce that you are newly sober again, and take a newcomer chip every day for your first 30 days back—recounting your sober days from scratch. If you keep relapsing before you hit 30 days, that’s an unending requirement of standing up and identifying as a newcomer.

I remember a specific exchange with a program friend that in recollection feels poignant. I was sharing that I hated counting days and my friend said, “Why? It’s an accomplishment.” I replied, “Maybe for you. For me, it’s repeated humiliation and shame.” And it was. I was in the program as a newcomer for so long, I’d still take a newcomer chip the same day that a peer I came into the program with would receive their one-year chip.

After two years of stumbling through the program, I started seeing an addiction therapist. I disclosed my ill-will toward counting days and she responded by simply suggesting that I stop. That’s not allowed, I told her, the rules are strict. She said if I hated counting days, just stop. I was filled with a huge sense of relief.

Convinced I was incurable because of my abject failings with GA, AA, and NA, I began seeing my addiction therapist twice weekly. It was there in therapy that I was able to free myself of some of the constraints the program had placed on my treatment path and explore more fitting options.

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My therapist told me I didn’t need a sponsor, I didn’t have to count days, I didn’t have to recover in the company of other addicts, and it was okay for me to try medication-assisted treatment. In the 12-step program, if you’re not getting better it’s because you can’t or won’t adhere to the simple program, and it is definitely your fault, so this therapist was either a hippie or an angel. Whatever she was, I had hope for the first time.

Now, not to say during my time in the program, I did meet hundreds of people who have successfully recovered. The program can work and I would never suggest otherwise. While it has given life back to tens of thousands of people all over the world for almost a century, it has also left others baffled, frustrated, and defeated.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for addiction and I think suggesting there is is the number one defect of the 12-step program. The program didn’t work for me and that does not make me flawed or a failure. It doesn’t work for many people, and that doesn’t make them incapable of being honest or unwilling to invest in their own recovery. And for those of us who don’t find our solution in the 12 steps, there is a multitude of other options.

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Marriage and Family Therapist Rebecca Deighan stresses the importance of building a network of support, and while that network may be GA, AA, or NA, it doesn’t have to be. It’s more about having a network of people who are supportive and caring, a sense of community. When asked about the 12-step program not working for everyone, Deighan said, “Everybody has a right to self-determination.”

Learning to trust your own instincts and know what is or isn’t working for you is no easy feat for people battling addiction. Having a therapist who encouraged me to trust my own opinions regarding my treatment was incredibly valuable. I can thank almost two years of therapy and medication-assisted treatment for my success in recovery.

There are many options when it comes to recovery: church, yoga and meditation, therapy, exercise, medication-assisted treatment, using self-help books and apps, support groups (12-stepSMARTWomen for SobrietyLifeRing, and others) and more. I recommend trying one or a combination of any of the above.

“Hello, I’m Emily and I’m an addict,” are words that will likely never leave my lips again. I don’t identify as an addict now and I won’t in 20 years.

I chose a recovery path that has left my life as an addict completely in the rear-view mirror, and for me, that’s right where it belongs.

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Emily J. Sullivan

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Emily J. Sullivan is a Los Angeles based writer specializing in addiction, mental health, relationships, and lifestyle. When she’s not chasing around her twin daughters, she’s writing, dancing, geeking out on Game of Thrones with her fiancé and soon-to-be stepson, or shopping for Jimmy Choos on eBay.

 

Gambling Addiction Is Real. Here Are Some Stories to Prove This Disease.

1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)

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THERE IS NO LUCK IN SUICIDE
WHEN IT IS DUE TO
GAMBLING ADDICTION.

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1% of our world population are now
problem gamblers. Also, 16+million problem
gamblers are in just the US alone.
Parents? Half this number are
NOW your High School and
college age children.

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.Gambling affects not only the gambler, the family and friends around the one who becomes addicted.

REAL STORIES And FACTS ABOUT GAMBLING ADDICTION  . . . .

Mary’s Story

“Mary” was a poster child for the warning signs of compulsive gambling. It would have been obvious to anyone that she had a serious problem. But not to Mary. At least not until one day in 2009, as she sat in her car outside a Minnesota casino. A decade before, Mary had discovered gambling could be a “wonderful way to totally escape.” In the years since she had also found it be a path to mental and financial ruin. But on this day, as she stared through her car window at the casino, she could think of only one thing: “I’m sick and tired and of being sick and tired.”

“Emotionally, gambling had become a chore,” Mary says. “I was so scared that I was going to end up doing this for another 20 or 30 years. I was scared that I was going to get fired from my job. I was scared that I was going to end up in jail.” She wanted to stop. But what scared Mary most was that she couldn’t — or that she didn’t know how. “I was on auto-pilot,” she says. “I had no ability to stop. I couldn’t limit the time or the money I was spending on gambling.” It hadn’t always been that way. At first, Mary had a lot of fun playing the slots. “But I quickly discovered I had no control,” she says.

Once she started gambling in the late 1990s, it wasn’t long before Mary was visiting the casino three or four times a week, burning through several hundred dollars each trip. She took cash advances from her credit cards, then couldn’t make the payments. “I went for eight or nine months without gambling, but that was because I didn’t have access to any money,” she says. “Finally, things were better, and I wondered what would happen if I went back to the casino. I found out. Within four days, I had overdrawn my bank account and they closed it out. I was out of control again.”

 
Mary began “borrowing” funds from the company where she was president and chief executive, and because of her position there, she was able to take the money and pay it back without anyone knowing. That worked until she realized she had taken more than she could repay. Even at that point, with the walls closing in on her, Mary says “I didn’t want to admit I was a compulsive gambler. I didn’t want to say it out loud. It’s hard to admit you’re a liar and a cheat and a thief.”

But she did. Instead of getting out of her car and going into the casino, she went to work. And she told her business partner everything that was going on. With the support of her company, she went to a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous and found a sponsor. But she also realized she needed more help than GA would provide. She checked into the Keystone Treatment Center in Canton, S.D., and spent a month there.

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( Call Now If You Need HELP )
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“The people at GA took me under their wing, and they didn’t treat me like a ‘bad person,’ she says. “And the people at Keystone saved my life.”  “I kept thinking I was something special, that my situation was unique,” Mary says. “But I wasn’t, and it wasn’t.”  After leaving Keystone, Mary returned to Minnesota to embark on her aftercare program. One of the first things she did was meet with her company’s board of directors. “I was terrified,” she says. “But they gave me a second chance. These were people I had lied to and had manipulated. They wanted me to prove I was committed — but they gave me a second chance.”

After 18 months in recovery, Mary remains committed. “I’m paying back what I owe, and I go to GA meetings a couple of times a week,” she says. “It’s so important; it’s essential to me to have recovering people in my life.” She’s where she is today, Mary says, because of two reasons. “It’s my higher power, and because of some very kind people who saw good things in me, but knew I needed help.”

“When I first went to GA,” she explains, “I couldn’t believe these people had been compulsive gamblers. I couldn’t understand it because they were happy. Now I know.”

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” A gambling addiction won’t ruin your liver or collapse your veins, but it’s got the highest suicide rate of any addiction. It’s National Suicide Prevention Week, so we ask: How is that possible? ”

                                                 #   #   #                                                  

” The gambler’s isolation is compounded by the lack of resources for treating it. “A problem gambler can find it much harder to get help,” one expert says. “Some don’t even know it’s treatable.”

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Eddie’s Story

Milestone birthdays are often a rite of passage. For “Eddie,” about to turn the legal betting age of 18, this would be no exception.

It was late in the evening on July 16, 2002, and outside the Mystic Lake Casino Eddie and several friends waited anxiously for the clock to strike midnight. Eddie had already watched many of his friends celebrate their eighteenth birthdays at the casino, and he was excited that his day had finally come.

When midnight arrived, Eddie entered the casino, driver’s license in hand. Once inside, he went straight to the blackjack tables. As he placed his first bet on the table – two $1 chips – he immediately felt the excitement. The thrill was instantaneous – and lasting. Eddie played blackjack through the night, not leaving the casino until after sunrise.

“I fell in love when I got there and fell deeper in love with every bet,” says Eddie. “I won $97 that first night and thought I could come back and win $100 every night.” Eddie was a frequent visitor to the casino for the remainder of the summer, only stopping when it was time to leave for college in Chicago. He returned the following summer and became a mainstay at the casino, playing blackjack five days a week. “That second summer I won more money than I’d ever made in my life. I was enjoying myself, and I was making money.” Eddie was enthralled with the casino environment. “I liked the people, the sounds and the holding of chips and cards in my hands. It was an escape and a place where I felt liked.”

 

When Eddie returned to college in the fall of 2003, fresh off a full summer of gambling, he found it difficult to focus. “I started wishing I was gambling and didn’t do well in school.” He dropped out so that he could return to Minnesota and resume gambling. “I thought the way for me to make money was to gamble.” Instead, he began to lose money consistently. “I was financially destroyed,” recalls Eddie, now 27. “I began to write bad checks, lie and steal … I’d do anything I could do to get gambling money.”

Still, he was able to conceal the extent of his gambling. “While everyone knew that I gambled,” says Eddie, “they had no idea how much I bet, how long I spent at the casino, and how often I went.” Eddie would gamble for two days nonstop, go home to sleep, and then return to the casino for another day or two. “I binge gambled very frequently,” says Eddie. Eddie’s behavior eventually became a great concern to family and friends. One day in September 2004, his parents and friends staged an intervention. That same night, he began packing to go to Granite Falls for inpatient treatment at Project Turnabout.

Initially, Eddie was very confused. “The concept of an illness called compulsive gambling – let alone that it was something I had – was something I’d never heard of,” says Eddie as he reflects back on the gradual realization that he had a gambling addiction. “I knew I gambled too much but never thought of it as an illness.”

“I kept trying to convince myself that I was not a compulsive gambler even though I had all the symptoms. Eventually, though, I began to gradually accept that gambling was causing so many of the problems in my life.” If Eddie’s time in therapy at Granite Falls helped convince him that he had an illness, it was the time afterward that really helped him heal. “The inpatient treatment broke ground, but the 12-step meeting really helped build my recovery,” says Eddie.

Eddie has not gambled since beginning treatment and considers the three crazed years of gambling as “back then” – almost a lifetime ago. He is immensely grateful that he learned about his illness – and began to deal with it – at such an early age. “A lot of people I see in the 12-step programs are in their 40s and 50s. If I were dealing with this for 20 years, I’m pretty sure it would have killed me.”

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255) | suicidepreventionlifeline.org
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(Article Courtesy of The Fix)


Suicide rates among gambling addicts are staggeringly high. The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has estimated that one in five problem gamblers attempt to kill themselves, about twice the rate of other addictions. The reasons for this fact are both blindingly simple and impossibly complicated. And the central befuddling fact is this: Gambling kills you because it doesn’t kill you.

For the majority of addictions, how much you spend is regulated by how much the body can endure. There is only so much heroin, cocaine or vodka you can consume before you end up in a hospital or a morgue. Gambling is subject to no such constraints. “The amount of financial devastation you can wreak plays a big role in this,” says Keith Whyte, the NCPG Executive Director. “You can bet $50,000 in a single hand, every minute.”

Scholars of addiction point out that problem gamblers are subject to a slew of messy contributing factors and associative disorders. “We’ve known for a long time that problem gambling is not a standalone issue,” says Dr. Rachel Volberg, President of Gemini Research, which conducts gambling-related studies. “Problem gamblers are likely to have other substance abuse issues, usually alcohol and tobacco. Depression and anxiety are also prevalent among problem gamblers.”

In terms of the gambler’s tendency toward suicide, however, these factors serve only to cloud the issue. The most reliable killer of people with gambling problems can be summed up in a single word: debt. Because once negative equity enters the picture, gambling addiction moves into a category of its own.

A study undertaken in Hong Kong in 2010 found that of the 233 gambling suicides in the city over the course of a year, 110 of the victims had significant debts related to their problem. The majority of these were male, middle-aged, married and employed. Few showed evidence of prior psychiatric problems. They appeared normal in every way except that they had gambled their way into a bottomless pit.

It’s tough to put a number on how much debt Americans incur due to gambling: people lie about the problem; the landscape shifts too quickly to keep track. We do know that callers to a Wisconsin helpline a couple of years back claimed an average of $43,800 in gambling-related debts—up from $36,000 the previous year. One study estimated that US problem gamblers owe, on average, between $55,000 and $90,000. Another reported that 90 percent of problem gamblers use their credit cards to play.

None of these figures, though, get to the heart of the issue like the following passage, which was posted on the NCPG website: “I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to tell my husband that once again we have a major credit card bill on the way. I swore to him that it would never happen again. I believed my vow, especially when I saw how hard he had to work to pay off the last debt I ran up. How can I tell him I’ve done it again?”

This is where, in terms of suicidal tendencies, gambling addiction leaves the pack. “If you stop drinking, you can still go get a job,” says Whyte. “But once you’ve got a gambling debt twice your annual income, it’s hard to come back from that. In our society, living without money is a lot harder than living without alcohol.”

Gamblers who have landed themselves in debt, then, are no longer simply chasing a high, they are trying to evade catastrophe—as Whyte puts it, “You’re always one bet away from winning everything back.” And, again, there is no limit to the amount of money that can be devoted to this pursuit. Unless the gambler just stops, which is unlikely without outside intervention, the problem becomes compounded with every attempt at a solution. It is the cruelest catch-22.

There was a story in the paper a few weeks ago about a Vietnamese gambling addict who, having been hounded by creditors, dug a hole beneath his kitchen and hid there for two months. There’s a certain symbolic resonance to this story. For people with this addiction, there is an overwhelming urge to vanish, to remove yourself from the world.

“There’s a sense of stigma and shame,” Whyte says. “A lot of people still don’t understand that you can be addicted to a behavior. People tend to view gambling as a moral failure.” So adept are gambling addicts at hiding this failure, the people around them are often blind to it until the bailiffs come knocking on the door.

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As the problem progresses, pathological gamblers become insufferable, riddled with anxiety, anger and paranoia. They tend to be deceitful, manipulative and preoccupied, and always seem to have forgotten to bring their ATM card when they go out. People get fed up with it; it wears them down. And so the gambler eventually finds himself alone—which becomes especially true after the explosive revelation of his debts.

The gambler’s sense of isolation, says Whyte, is compounded by the “vast disparity of resources” devoted to treating the various forms of addiction. “A problem gambler can find it much harder to get help,” he says. “Some people don’t even know it’s treatable.” According to Volberg, fewer than 5% of problem gamblers enter into treatment. Left unchecked, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness proliferate. Very often, gamblers will come to the conclusion that there is only one way out. About 80% at least think about hurting or committing suicide.

We have no real way of knowing how many people follow through. Gamblers are, by nature, impulsive and secretive—the ones who leap from a multi-story parking deck after a bad night generally don’t leave suicide notes, while those who do tend to gloss over the reasons for their self-annihilation. Certainly, it’s unlikely that there has ever been an autopsy report that cited “gambling” as a cause of death. Which is not to say, of course, that it wasn’t … Article Courtesy of  The Fix Magazine

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** Author & Columnist @ In Recovery Magazine, Catherine Lyon **

“WHAT? The Holidays Are Here Already? ~What To Do In Recovery Around The Holidays …

Hello Recovery Friends and New Friends & Visitors,

 

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Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a rough time around this time of the year. I know I have in the past ‘self sabotaged’ my own Christmas season. WHAT?
You want to know how I did that?

Well, I hate telling “gambling war stories” of my past “Compulsive Addicted Gambling”, but we all know we can learn a lot from others stories and personal experiences, so here goes! …

It was back around Christmas 2005, and we had almost lost our home to foreclosure, but a good friend of ours got a “short sale” done just before it did in late September. I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, and low self-worth that I knew it was because of my past gambling is how we got into this mess in the first place! Of course, no excuse’s, just insights.
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Well, that and were we lived was the first area hit hard at the very beginning of the financial & housing markets starting to collapse,  jobs going away, and we were having a rough go of it trying to get past the financial devastation from my past years of addicted gambling, along with my husband loosing his County job due to the Oregon timber funds no longer being given to Oregon communities.
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So the house sold, we rented a place to live and moved. But we didn’t get enough for the house to pay much off. And the rest of the money, and around Christmas? I had a bad Gambling Relapse. NO, not a one time slip, a bad relapse and binge. That was toward my final ROCK BOTTOM. It was so bad, that at the end, I tried to commit suicide for the 2nd time!! That’s how bad a binge it was. AND? I actually committed a crime. But that is a whole other blog post, or, you can read my full memoir of all I have been through with gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, living at that time with mental and emotional illness/disorders, thanks to all the years of compulsive addictive gambling, and all the cunning bad habits & behaviors we pick up along the way.
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It was at this time as I was in this relapse that I went through much of the money left over from the house, that was supposed to pay a chunk of a small balance on a private held 2nd mortgage. WELL. that never happened. I would gamble at two different types of places. The first was an Indian Casino North 42 miles from my home in Oregon. Then, I also gambled at many places that the Oregon Lottery had retail stores, with 6 video and slot style casino games on them. I could walk across the street to a bar and gamble AND drink! I could go up another few blogs and there were 4 other places I could go gamble too! Gambling through the Oregon Lottery is everywhere in Oregon.

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I had done well in my recovery, and had about 6 months gamble free at the time. But something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter the addiction, it’s ‘always waiting’ for us. Like the holidays for instance, and the point of this post, we can have a lot of temptations around us at this time of year. There are holiday parties for both personal and work related, we may have had fall outs, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9…make amends where ever possible) with friends and family, many different reasons that can wind up as a trigger or bring on urges. Stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads!
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OK, where was I? OH, … if we are never shown, or work on “The Cycle” of addiction, we will always be one drinks, one pill, one needle, and one BET away form relapse. I know I talk about the “cycle” of addiction a lot because I never really was told, taught, or broke it down until way later in my recovery. Hard to believe, as I had gone to Gamblers Anonymous, and been in the rooms of AA for years, been in and out of out-patient gambling treatment programs, and in-patient treatment, therapy, AND, … treatment groups, and never was sat down and taught the full cycle of addiction, and broken down part by part.
And the ironic part? My treatment and crisis stays were paid for by profits from the Oregon Lottery!!

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Now there is always an event, thoughts, or even a feelings that triggers us. Then the build up, then we end up giving in and gamble, drink, or use that drug. After we feel guilt, shame, and remorse for being weak, and on and on. But if we are not shown or taught to break each section apart of the CYCLE, and learn to have awareness and feel when things are not right BEFORE you have that slip or relapse, then you will be forever stuck on that wheel of the addiction cycle. It needs to be interrupted and changed.
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Now here are some things I had to learn to get out of that ‘cycle’ and stay safe! Oh, and my other gambling war story? Make that long story short, I blew 8,000.00 in 2 1/2 months!!! That’s how cunning and insane addicted compulsive gambling really IS!! Yes, I had a choice, but when your sick, in the middle of an addiction, you don’t make health choices. I was gambling at the Oregon lottery places two and three times a day.
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And yes, I look back on those days and think, “what a frigging waste of money”.  But, you lose all sense of value of money, well, actually you don’t FEEL anything. And if you win? You’ll gamble every penny, and if you lose?, you’ll be out chasing the money you lost!  I was so zoned out when I crossed that line into addicted gambling, and one reason I take one of my meds for mental illness. Because all the years of addicted gambling depleted my brains ‘pleasure and reward’ feelings and chemicals to the point that I got no pleasure out of anything, yes, … even sex. I knew you all where thinking that right? LOL.
It’s been almost 8 years in recovery and I still don’t have a bank ATM/Debit card. It could be a trigger.
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That is one of the things I did. Well, my husband did to safe guard himself and our money. Not that now he doesn’t trust me, I don’t still trust MYSELF, because my addiction and I are always ONE BET AWAY from disaster. Another thing to tie all this up in a Big Christmas Recovery Bow, is to have a “Relapse Plan” ready to use when this time of year rolls around. Actually, for anytime. We face life events all the time in our recovery. It’s one of the ways our addiction can tempt us. When were vulnerable. Also with HALT…
H-Hungry … A-Angry … L-Lonely … T-Tired ….
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Some of my relapses happened that I talk about in my current published book, Addicted To Dimes. When I attempted suicide the first time, it was from addicted gambling and undiagnosed Bipolar.
Spent 19 days in a Mental & Addiction crisis center, with the first 4 days on suicide watch. Not Fun! Second time, like I shared earlier, a bad gambling relapse/binge, and some of my Bipolar and severe depression meds stopped working to, but not the reason for me relapsing.
That’s on me. And I have taken accountability and ownership for all my misdeeds I did within my addiction. I have done much of the deep recovery work to learn about my addiction, how to stay in recovery, the inner work of my character defects, and more.
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I still have a sponsor today, and she says I’m her model recovery student! LOL.
So do yourself a favor this Holiday Season, and give yourself a Christmas gift. Go to my resource pages here on my blog, and copy & paste my “Relapse Prevention Guide” I have posted here. It has all you need to know about keeping you and your families money SAFE. I had to copy and paste the whole work book myself to put it here for all to use.
It will save you through life events and the holidays!
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OR A PROBLEM GAMBLER.
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Yes, I still have had moments when life throws way to much your way in life, and no matter how hard, and how much recovery work you do, you still need a relapse plan.
When I lost my mom and my best friend from cancer in 2002? I had a huge relapse. It was not pretty!!
And some of my triggers? Paydays, and paychecks! If I had no money to gamble with, I would obsess until it was payday! And off I went! Can’t tell how many times I spent a whole paycheck in just an HOUR of addicted gambling! Does this sound familiar anyone?
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The other thing you need to do in your recovery, again, learn and break down the “Cycle” of addiction.
The last gambling specialist I had, and I talk about him to in my book, worked with me for a whole year on the cycle of gambling addiction. He would not release me until I could tell him how to interrupt the cycle and tell him each part of addiction cycle. HE drove me crazy! But, he is a big part of why I’m a success in my recovery today. I call him my ANGEL. Thanks to Boyd I will celebrate 8 years in recovery on Jan 29th. 2015. He helped me get my Life Back!
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So I wish you all a Fabulous Holiday Season! And if you know anyone who may be a problem gambler, please share my recovery blog link with them. It just might save their life …
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Good Resources about Problem and Addicted Gambling can be found at
Gamblers Anonymous: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/  and a great place to is The National Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/
And the National Hotline for Gambling Addiction ~ 1-800-522-4700. And of course you can buy and mail my book or e-book of my personal story of Gambling Addiction as a Christmas Gift too!
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A

May God Bless You All,
Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

A Share Given To Me By My Tweet Friends ‘The Priory Group’ To Re-Share About Gambling And Sports Betting…

Hello Recovery Friends and New Visitors,

 

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I meet such good friends & recovery supporters through my Twitter Recovery account, @LUV_Recovery, and are always helpful! When they come across good articles about problem or addicted gambling, they always tweet me with the link so I can go take a read. This article is actually very important that they recommended to about SPORTS Betting due to the World Cup being played currently. So I wanted to share it with all of you! And it also proves how wide-spread gambling is, and is becoming. I hope you learn a little like I did when reading this article, and thanks again to my friends at ‘Priory Group,’  http://www.priorygroup.com/

The latest from Priory

“I was suicidal… it took me six months to stop”. How betting on the World Cup may increase the risk of gambling addiction..

Brazil’s 2014 World Cup is fast approaching and a recent poll by the Priory Group has revealed that the use of Roulette Wheel bets, known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals or FOBTs, is likely to increase during the tournament.

The poll of 500 adults who have previously placed a bet in a betting shop during a major sporting event, showed that 60% of 18-24 year-olds had used a FOBT after placing a bet on a major sporting event, and almost 60% in that age range, thought themselves likely to do so during a major sporting event such as the World Cup.  These figures exceed any other age range and show that on the whole, young people are more attracted to FOBT betting when placing a bet on a major sporting event.

Immediate gratification

“I thought, this is a lot easier than betting on football – you get the results instantly.” Matt Zarb-Cousins had been a parliamentary researcher before gambling took over.  After losing over £16,000, he managed to curb his addiction, but gambling was almost the end for Matt; “I was suicidal, I had therapy and from then it took me about six months to stop.”

Matt is now involved with the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, and is desperate to see a change.  As Matt highlighted, FOBT betting is easier and faster than betting on football and being in the bookies for a World Cup flutter may see punters tempted by the immediate results offered by a FOBT bet.
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Gambling statistics

 

Limited restrictions

Bookmakers have been making headlines for the limited restrictions on FOBTs, also referred to as ‘B2s’ or roulette and the machines have been criticized  by customers and others for potentially increasing the risk of gambling addiction. Though the industry is under guidance from the Gambling Commission, self-governance has had limited support as the way forward.

Matt points out that the staff are in a difficult position: “To intervene if they believe someone is showing signs of addiction”, he says, “is counter-intuitive. They are trying to sell an addictive product and in many betting shops, bonuses and pay are linked to FOBT revenue”.

How a flutter turns into a problem

Dr. Gary Jackson, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director at The Priory Hospital Chelmsford, considers major sporting events a particularly risky time for gamblers:

“The upcoming summer sports events and in particular, the World Cup, will see increased gambling across the board”, he points out. “Much of that will be temporary but for gamblers with a problem, that upturn in gambling may well continue”.

Dr. Jackson highlights that all aspects of gambling need to be considered in trying to reduce the risk of people becoming addicted.  “From the accessibility of gambling sites to shop advertisements, to awareness campaigns about the risks involved and the availability of resources for those with a problem (or worried they may be developing one) awareness and proactive action is key.”

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Gambling addiction statistics

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Results from the Priory Group poll suggest that the London area was most likely to be vulnerable to FOBT gambling during a major sporting event. Wales came in at close second, despite the fact that the country will not be competing in the World Cup.  Scottish respondents, on the other hand, were the least likely to pursue FOBT bets after staking a wager on a World Cup outcome.

Regulatory Issues:

Adrian Parkinson previously worked for a major UK betting agent and he too plays an active role in the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

Adrian says he could see responsible adults coming in to place a bet, and noted that, for some, the FOBTs encouraged more reckless gambling behavvior as a £2 bet turned into a £20 roulette spin.  What is more, he felt many of the customers were facing serious financial difficulty due to their increased outgoing’s.  Adrian believes that the increase of violence surrounding betting over the past 12 years and the upturn in the use of FOBTs are linked.

He stated: “We saw about 100 machines getting smashed up and a manager was murdered in London last year. Those issues didn’t exist prior to FOBTs.”

Additionally, the Priory Group’s research showed that the likelihood of being attracted to FOBTs having placed a bet during a major sporting event decreased, as the age of those surveyed increased. Whether this is due to the older age groups being more aware of the dangers of FOBT betting, or whether they are simply less attractive to those used to a traditional wager is unclear.

Adrian Parkinson highlighted: “Because it was a completely new product within betting shops, the industry didn’t have any knowledge or understanding… the electronic gaming industry in particular had no electronic [FOBT] machine format so we were on a huge learning curve”.  This resulted in what Parkinson considers both the under-regulation of the industry and a problem that continues to grow.

A different perspective

A spokesperson for the Association of British Bookmakers [ABB] told us that “what is important is that people bet responsibly and only what they can afford, whether it be on the World Cup or on a machine.”

This may seem obvious, but some players are tempted to step just one foot into the red to satisfy a craving for the thrill of gambling. The ABB told us that they have increased regulation, and that the threat of addiction is being tackled:

“Earlier this year, we introduced a tough voluntary Code of Conduct which all our members have signed up to. The code introduced mandatory breaks for all customers and customers can now set their own limits on gaming machines, no matter how small that limit may be. This has already had a significant effect, with 75% of players stopping play as soon as this limit is reached.

They recognize the concerns expressed by the responses to this survey, however, and remarked on the journey still ahead:

“We are committed to doing more and are in the process of reviewing, with Government, what additional measures we could take. A further announcement will be made later this year. Levels of problem gambling in the UK remain low, at 0.5 %, but as an industry one problem gambler is one too many, which is why we continue to work closely with Government.”

Isolation

Playing roulette is a more solitary experience than a bet on the World Cup or another major event.

“It’s not like having a bet on the horses where you stand and watch the race”, Parkinson told us, “it’s a very solitary experience.”

Due to the high-stake, high-speed nature of the machines, players can potentially lose hundreds of pounds over a period of only minutes. But the odds are such that a 5p return on a £5 investment could in some cases, be enough to keep gamblers hooked.

Signs and symptoms

The thrill of gambling is linked to the natural high provoked by risk-taking.  The effect in some cases is similar to that of stimulant drugs. If you are worried that you or a friend or a relative has a gambling problem, Dr. Jackson highlights the main symptoms and patterns of behavior to be aware of:

  • Spending lots of time on internet gambling sites.
  • Loss of interest in other hobbies.
  • Increasing bets to recoup lost money.
  • Spending significant amounts of time in betting shops.
  • Constant interest in gambling articles and literature.
  • Unexplained debt.
  • Stealing money to enable gambling.
  • Mood swings.
  • Becoming more secretive and concealing time spent betting.

If you are concerned, Dr. Jackson offers this advice to help those with a gambling problem:

“Help them by encouraging them to consider the downsides to their addiction”. And to the sufferer themselves, he advises: “Be open about bank accounts, consider handing over credit and debit cards to a trusted family member, manage finances with a family member and consider attending Gamblers Anonymous or seeking other addictions specialist help.”

*Pretty interesting article I thought. For those not familiar with FOBT*…. Here is the definition:
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A fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) is an electromechanical device normally found in betting shops in the United Kingdom that allows players to bet on the outcome of various games and events with fixed odds. They were introduced to UK shops in 2001.[1]

The most commonly played game is roulette. The minimum amount wagered per spin is £1. The maximum bet cannot exceed a payout of £500 (i.e. putting £14.00 on a single number on roulette). The largest single payout cannot exceed £500.[2] Token coins can be of value as low as five pence in some UK licensed betting offices (LBOs).[citation needed]

Other games include bingo, simulated horseracing and greyhound racing, and a range of slot machine games.

Like all casino games, the “house” (i.e. the casino) has a built-in advantage, with current margins on roulette games being theoretically between 2.7% and 5%.

FOBTs have been criticised due to the potential for addiction when playing the machines. They have been dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling by critics.[4][5] In response to this criticism, in 2014 bookmakers represented by the Association of British Bookmakers introduced the facility for customers to set time and money limits when using FOBTs.[6]
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EVEN I didn’t know what it was! Device or not, gambling is a risk, a chance, and can become addicting. I have heard some in my GA meeting talk about visiting the UK and talked about these little FOBT terminals, but it didn’t seem to make much difference of winning or loosing when betting on the horses. If people actually made a living at gambling, don’t you think it would be blasted everywhere! But sadly that isn’t the case. The real MATH is when you DO WIN, how much money did it cost you to win that money? You got to take that right off the top of your winnings? Add all of what you lost in the long run compared to what you have won,…. I think you’ll see that you’re at a loss or not much ahead.

Problem  addicted gamblers tend to be in a state of denial, or we talk about how we win all the time, as we know in our diseased mind it’s a Big Fat Lie! I have no bad feelings, ill will toward those who can gamble normally, and for the fun and entertainment value of gambling.

However, I do what I do about addicted gambling because the “RISK” is high for those who can become addicted. And to try and help Educate, Inform, and Raise Awareness of addicted & problem gambling. It totally destroyed my life! I just want the public to know that there are thousands out here who can not gamble, and the reasons why. How it is hard to stay in recovery with the ever-expanding market of gambling with State lotteries,  and Indian Casinos, everywhere. Where is the line drawn to say enough is enough. Is it not enough that just in the US alone there are over
17+ million problem gamblers? And half that number are now your college young adults! Parents, is this OK with you?
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Lets keep this in mind today,….. When is it enough? This article and post idea was courtesy of my helpful and caring friends of “The Priory Group & Treatment Services”
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About the Priory Group

Counselling Session

The Priory Group of Companies is dedicated to helping people to improve their health and wellbeing. We understand that in order for people to achieve high quality clinical and educational outcomes they need individually tailored program’s, suiting their specific needs.

The Priory Group has established an unrivalled reputation for providing quality, inspiring innovation and delivering value for its service users.  The Group currently treats more than 70 different conditions through a nationwide network of over 275 facilities that support service user’s health, care, education and specialized needs and include:

The Priory Group was created in 1980 with the purchase of the Priory Hospital, Roehampton by an American healthcare company. The Roehampton site has been in continuous operation since its launch in 1872 by psychiatrist of great distinction, Dr. William Wood. Over the following decades the Group acquired more hospitals and diversified its services. In 1993 the Priory Group moved into specialist education services with the purchase of Jacques Hall Foundation, then an adolescent therapeutic community, in Manningtree, Essex.

Our older people’s division was established in May 2009 and is now known as Amore Care. The Priory Group acquired Craegmoor in March 2011 allowing a growth in the Group’s portfolios of hospital and specialist educational colleges. As the market leader in autism and learning disability services, Craegmoor enables the Group to create a new division operating in that marketplace.

Our network of high quality facilities allow us to offer joined up care pathways. We offer program’s which integrate healthcare, therapy, specialist and education services that are tailored according to individual needs in an appropriate setting. Our integrated strength is that we can provide a seamless transition for the individual as they progress between higher and lower dependency services.

*And just because they are overseas, you can get great information at Priory Group! So give them a visit today! *
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Thanks All For Reading & Visiting!
God Bless,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Author Of:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485