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

4 Years Worth of Gambling Addiction Advocating and Sharing My Story Here on WordPress To Help Many From This Cunning Real Addiction!

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My Story I Shared At “HEROES In Recovery” Shattering Stigma and More…

“My name is Catherine and I am dual diagnosed living with mental health challenges and in recovery from gambling addiction 10 years now!
If I can RECOVER, SO can YOU XOXO”

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

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

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

After this second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a well-balanced recovery and had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, has bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with a gambling specialist and got my mental health under control, I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live in recovery. Those of us who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

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

Another tool that helped was journaling every day and reading. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. Those journals were used for help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me. I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse, sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, people who to recover and live with mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen to not be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real disease and addiction. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities, our families’ and now youth and the negative impact it has on all.

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

The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 1% of our population are problem gamblers. And it the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide than any addiction. Through my own recovery and sharing my testimony, I have learned a lot. The best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.

Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. What is missing is to learn how to also begin the inner work to address the roots of WHY we may have turned to addictions. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in longevity in recovery. I learned this the hard way. I became an addicted.

Now that I have reached ten years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we can weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I share as much as I can with others. I do this in many ways. My second book is almost finished, and I hope to release it late 2017. It will be more of “how-to” for reaching that elusive first year of recovery.

With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, my readers asked me to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share my recovery and journal in blog form. All I can urge others to do is never give up. You are worth a better life in recovery. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover.

Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen to and learn from. My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent in your recovery journey if you do one thing a day for RECOVERY…

“This is my 4 Year Recovery Blogging wish for all who is battling the cunning cycle of gambling addiction. Thank You, WordPress for helping me help others!”

Catherine ~ XO

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4 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 4 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

 


“Fighting Compulsive Gambling One NY Times Article and One Life at a Time.”

30retiring1-master768Photo Courtesy Deanna Alejandra Dent for The New York Times.

 “Author and Advocate, Marilyn Lancelot, 86, said that after being a compulsive gambler for seven years, she was arrested at age 61 for embezzling $350,000 from her job and served nearly a year in prison.”

And an amazing woman she is. And I have been blessed and honored to know her for over 5-years now and she is my sponsor while I am living temporarily here in Arizona. She has helped so many women and men too into recovery from the deadliest and hush, hush addictions around. Yes, I am talking about Gambling Addiction. Currently, IS the #1 addiction claiming lives by the hands of Suicides…

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New York Times – “Fighting Compulsive Gambling Among Women”
by:   APRIL 28, 2017.

 

Blinking lights, the clicking sound of coins, and perks like free or inexpensive food, drinks, and casino bus trips are enticing many older women to gamble.

For some people, that seductive environment can be extremely dangerous.

“Casinos are trained to make you feel welcome, while you lose your life,” said Sandra Adell, 70, a literature professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who recounted her experiences as a compulsive gambler in the book “Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen.” In an interview, Professor Adell said that advertisements aimed at older adults often show smiling people, dressed up and looking glamorous, “to create an illusion that plays to people’s weaknesses.”

“What the industry is doing,” she continued, “the way it markets and keeps casinos filled with elderly people, is morally reprehensible.”

Hard numbers are difficult to find, but Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said that gambling addiction among older women near or in retirement appears to be increasing in scope and severity, with a devastating impact on personal finances.

Marilyn Lancelot, 86, of Sun City, Ariz., for example, said that after being a compulsive gambler for seven years, she was arrested at age 61 for embezzling $350,000 from her job and served nearly a year in prison. “I really thought I’d win the big one deep down in my heart,” she said in an interview. “Every gambler says that.” Ms. Lancelot has described her experiences in the book “Gripped by Gambling.”

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Many experts say that men are often “action” gamblers, who favor blackjack and poker, while women tend to be “escape” gamblers, drawn to games based on luck, like slot machines and lottery tickets. Women often begin gambling later in life than men, sometimes after a major life event, like the death of a spouse or when they become empty nesters.

Women are less likely to develop gambling problems than men, Mr. Whyte said, but “telescoping, the rapid development of problems, is especially pronounced in senior women.” It may seem surprising to some people that women have severe gambling problems, he said. “Grandma is not seen as someone who embezzles money and is taken off to jail,” he said, yet it happens.

Many women lose significant amounts of money and jeopardize their futures. “Once they tap into retirement savings, it’s incredibly hard — if they are ever able — to rebuild those savings,” Mr. Whyte said.

Stephanie Iacopino, 63, of Toms River, N.J., who works part time in retail sales, said that during years of compulsive gambling, she stole money from family members, friends, and clients in a travel business, and ultimately went to prison in 2010 for embezzling about $18,000 from her church.  She said she served nearly four months at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women near Clinton, N.J., followed by 22 months in New Jersey’s Intensive Supervision Program, which, the state says, is “more onerous” than traditional probation. “We don’t have a nest egg,” said Ms. Iacopino, who is married. “We live paycheck to paycheck.” But she said that while she is struggling financially, she is happy to be recovering from her addiction.

Some women have medical issues associated with gambling, Mr. Whyte said, like bladder problems aggravated by not getting up from slot machines to go to the bathroom. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that among older people, some medications may lead to compulsive behavior, including gambling addiction. Decreased cognitive functioning can also interfere with the ability to make sound decisions, he added.

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There is a strong connection between gambling and substance abuse. “If you are a problem gambler, you are four times more likely to have a problem with alcohol at some point in your life,” he said. “At a minimum, the rate of problem gambling among people with substance-use disorders is four to five times that found in the general population.” (The council operates a national 24/7 help line for problem gamblers and their families.)

Patricia A. Healy, clinical director of Healy Counseling Associates, in Toms River, N.J., which specializes in addiction counseling, said problem gambling among the elderly “is a hot issue and under-noticed in this country.”

“Gambling is the stepchild of the addiction world,” she said. “You can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you can’t observe it,” unless you see someone in action.

For certain people, she said, there is an adrenaline rush and “suddenly they’re in the chase. Sadly for some, it’s a death spiral.” Bus trips to casinos are sometimes arranged to coincide with the arrival of pension and Social Security checks, she said, and cases of retirees who cash in their I.R.A.s and pensions, or mortgage or ultimately lose their houses are not uncommon. “There is a tremendous amount of shame.”

Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said some older people gamble with money intended for medication and find themselves in desperate straits. Some who become suicidal may “drive out in traffic and get killed so families can collect insurance,” she said.

Sam Skolnik, author of “High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America’s Gambling Addiction,” said the aftereffects of pathological gambling include social costs that range from loss of productivity at work, domestic crime, suicide and harm to families from rising indebtedness, home foreclosure, and bankruptcy. “When the elderly gamble, they are often harmed in a more permanent way, sadly,” he said.

“There’s no question the industry knows that they lose more money than they should.”

 

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Sara Slane, senior vice president for public affairs at the American Gaming Association, which represents casinos, said in an email statement, “While problem gambling has not increased along with the increase in casinos, the industry and the A.G.A. continue to increase their investment and commitment to responsible gaming programs.” She cited research in The Journal of Gambling Studies that compared telephone surveys conducted in 1999 and 2000 with those from 2011 to 2013 and found that rates of problem gambling remained stable overall and actually declined among women.

Rachel Volberg, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, who studies gambling, said the state of knowledge about the issue in the United States is still inadequate. “There’s not much support for gambling research in the U.S.,” she said.

It wasn’t until 1980 that pathological gambling was designated as a mental health issue in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, she said: “It’s a relatively young disorder as far as having recognition.”

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Ms. Lancelot, of Arizona, who is now retired, said she left prison with nothing but eventually recovered financially. As a felon, getting a job and an apartment was difficult, but she borrowed three months’ rent from her brother, offered to pay the landlord in advance and found work as a secretary with the Arizona state government. Within 10 years, she said, she had two homes, a new car and checking accounts. “I want older people to know that it’s not the end of the world,” she said.

Ms. Pryor, of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said older adults can protect themselves from potential gambling problems in retirement by seeking help in managing their finances — and in planning how to spend their time — long before they stop working. “What people need to realize,” she said, “is, they may win a little, but ultimately, the house always wins.”

 

Recovery Guest Blog & Article Spotlight. Marilyn Davis of ‘From Addict 2 Advocate’ & Article By, Carl Towns.

Note from  of  Addict 2 Advocate:  I’m always excited to bring another voice to From Addict 2 Advocate. Carl Towns discusses his struggles with gambling addiction and offers straightforward information, his experience with gambling, and some solutions.

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Gambling Addiction: When Rewards Stop Working

Gambling is one of those attractions that are present in everyday life – the football pool at the office, betting on a presidential race, wagering a dollar on the weather, bingo at the senior citizen center. We might even get a scratch-off with our change from the convenience store, and most people turn a blind eye to these kinds of gambling.

However, the rewards for these seemingly innocuous chance games is what can fuel a gambling addiction.

Our brains have neural pathways; one of which is the brain’s reward system. This system involves electronic impulses that turn into pleasure, memory, and motivation. When a person engages in basic actions such as eating, sexual activity or even sleep; the reward system starts to work. The brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which is the one responsible for all the feelings of pleasure and euphoria one might experience upon engaging in certain activities. Experts used to think of addiction as dependency on a chemical; they now define it as repeatedly pursuing a rewarding experience despite serious repercussions.

This is the reason drugs have such an addictive power. These substances basically trick the brain into thinking it has engaged in a highly pleasurable activity and releases up to 10 times the normal dose of dopamine, sometimes even more.

Gambling, much like drug addiction has the same impact on the brain and its dopamine production/release, the difference is that no outside chemicals are working, but the brain starts to relate only gambling-like scenarios with pleasurable ones.

For me, it was just an occasional escapade because I had a couple extra bucks to blow or because I ‘happened’ to be vacationing in Las Vegas and gambling is what people do in Vegas, right? At first, I thought of this as harmless fun, until it wasn’t anymore. I didn’t get the same feelings from just occasionally going to the casinos and found that it was impossible to distance myself from the practice of gambling in any form.

Although I realize now what was happening to me,  many people are unaware that gambling addiction causes the same outcomes as drug and alcohol addiction; it is a problem that affects people all across America and the world. If your gut is telling you that someone you know or love (or yourself) is engaging in gambling at the expense of other areas of their life, these facts may help you decide if there is a problem. As with a substance abuse problem, you may need to help your loved one, or yourself, find professional help.

1. Underestimating the Disease

One of the biggest problems is that often people treat don’t treat gambling addiction seriously. Many times I was told to “brush it off” or “snap out of it”. While those statements prompted my guilt, I was unable to stop gambling, so went to greater lengths to hide my gambling.

If someone approaches you telling you they are suffering from this, listen to them and support them, just like you would do if they were addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Gambling is not unlike chemical drugs; one taste can be enough to hook someone. The first time I set foot in a casino was on a cruise with my family when I was 17. I loved it and when I went back, I started looking for bets everywhere until I was able to work and I could play money.

If you go with young ones to a casino or any gambling site, such as a horse track; talk to them and have them understand that there are risks involved and they should not feel bad if they find it difficult to stop. Caution them that gambling addiction is real and that if they are struggling, even after one round of betting, whether they lose or win, is a good way to be proactive about gambling addiction.

2. How Gambling and Substance Compulsive Consumption are Very Similar

After an extended period of time of regular consumption of drugs or gambling, the reward system basically malfunctions, and three things occur as a result:

3. What Are You Doing and Where’s the Money Gone?  

There are many symptoms related to gambling addiction, however, one word sums them up –spending. How much time are you or someone you know spending in casinos, online, buying scratch-offs and how much money is being spent there?

While the “spending” symptoms are the biggest ones to look out for, there are plenty more signs that can indicate if you or someone you know is falling or has fallen into a gambling addiction. When gambling is a secret, how much money is spent, or what activities you’re engaged in; those are huge red flag warnings. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • Breaking even will become the goal in the face of big losses (even though it probably won’t happen).
  • Gambling becomes a priority: Planning how to earn more money to gamble, how to take advantage of the games; gambling, probabilities, teams, machines, etc. are all the person can talk about, normal events (like social gatherings) are forgotten in order to go gamble.
  • Gambling becomes an exit to relieve stress or suppress feelings of anxiety and even loneliness.
  • Having the need to gamble increasing quantities of money, if the next bet is not bigger, then it’s not exciting.
  • No matter how much the person works or how much they (or you) earn, it will always be an evolving financial loss situation due to constant gambling.
  • Personal relationships, such as marriage, children, family or even close friends are put in serious jeopardy because of gambling, professional life will be affected too.
  • There are several (failed) attempts to cut down the gambling.
  • When their gambling gets cut down unexpectedly bad temper or irritability start to show.

4. Withdrawal

When I finally realized I had a problem, I tried to stop gambling on my own. I decided that isolation would work. I went to my family’s cabin (which is in the middle of nowhere, in Iowa) to get away from all the temptation.


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I always thought that abstinence syndrome or withdrawals only applied to drugs or alcohol, but in that cabin, I found out it applies to gambling too. I started experiencing unpleasant mental and physical distress, insomnia, anxiety, and even physical pain. A pathological gambler would have the need to be constantly aiming higher, making riskier bets to achieve the same thrill, and high, so when I denied myself all that, I went into withdrawal.

It was a hard path, and if you or a loved one are demonstrating signs of a gambling addiction, it’s very important that you understand it’s not a moral failure or a bad habit, but a compulsion and brain disorder. In order to be treated properly professional help must be sought, if you know of someone suffering from gambling addiction or if you are suffering it yourself, please seek help.

5. Help is Available

Remember that recovering from such disorder is something possible even for people suffering the worst of it. A pathological gambler can make his or her way back to sanity and stability in their life. Resources for gambling addiction are available through local mental health agencies or here are some online resources and books for you to see if you can identify with a gambling addiction and then find help.

The National Problem Gambling Hotline

Gambling Help Online

A great book on gambling and the price one woman and those who knew her had to pay is by Catherine Townsend-Lyon,  Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)


Regardless of whether you find help locally or online, just know that gambling addiction will not improve on its own. However daunting that sounds, I know the pitfalls of gambling addiction and the peace and of recovery. I hope you find them, too.

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Biography: Carl Towns

I’m Carl Towns a 28-year-old wannabe writer; I am also a recovering addict on the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed in the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol and gambling. I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.

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Biography: Marilyn L. Davis

A recovery curriculum author with 27 years of abstinence-based recovery, Marilyn advocates for and writes to the addicted population.
She opened and ran an award-winning women’s recovery home from 1990-2011, creating a recovery curriculum, Therapeutic Integrated Education Recovery System, which breaks addiction down into the variables and then offers time-tested exercises for healing, relapse prevention, and dealing with codependency and self-defeating behaviors.

She is the Assistant Editor at Two Drops of Ink, where she shares her gifts as a communicator, encouraging other writers to use their creativity to share their talents through writing.  She believes in the power of words and knows that how something is said is just as important as what is said.

From Addict 2 Advocate explores addiction, recovery, and codependency with the same attention; write, so people relate and heal, and become the best person they can be.

Awards
Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award, Brenau University, 2008: ongoing award for individuals in mental health, wellness and recovery.
Liberty Bell Award, Northeastern Judicial Circuit, 2010: given to non-attorneys for their contribution to the criminal justice system and their communities.

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**Presented By Recovery Starts Here! ~ Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon** 

 

We Don’t Get To Chose Our Family ~ A Letter to My Estranged Family, “Leave Me Alone” Is My New Year Wish . . .

We Don’t Get To Chose Our Family ~ A Letter to My Estranged Family, “Leave Me Alone” Is My New Year Wish . . .

Unfortunately, the entire book is filled with lies. This is her attempt to get back at a her family of which I am a part of by slandering my Grandmother and Grandfathers good name. And all of the rest of us are sick at what she said in the attempt at writing a novel. It is hardly based in fact, in fact, this the stories in this novel only exist in her delusions. The one thing I would like from her for Christmas is to stop slandering my family. And to stop writing or sharing about our family. Thank you

 

MY RESPONSE Comment on Blog:

Dear Matthew and Family,

Well, Matthew, sorry you feel that way. And I don’t know why but once again my little sister filling your head with a bunch of crap as she keeps seeing things on my Facebook and sad to see “The Family Dysfunctional Dynamic” has not changed in “The Townsend Household.”

Let’s first put all of this to my friends and readers in proper context before I answer you.

My Father had stopped talking to me YEARS before my book even came out in 2013, as he stopped talking to me in 2005. His choice, I respected it and moved on.
WHY did he stop talking to me? I have NO CLUE.

At this point, I couldn’t care less as I have forgiven him and moved on. BUT? I won’t tolerate YOU or family members coming to voice their negative opinions in open forums as you all chose to not speak to me years ago.

And again, NO SURPRISE that you and my “so-called family” who chose, by the way, to be “estranged” from myself and Tom and who happens to be your uncle and “a son-in-law” who had not done ANYTHING to any of YOU or to my father, and it seems YOU have your FACTS INCORRECT.

My Memoir, not NOVEL, has nothing to do with family bashing as you put it, nor discrediting my parent’s name. Maybe your Grandparents should have known better before they chose to keep a lie from their children and SON for years and not think their children would never find out? My father opened that can of worms and it came back when Robert (my brother) found all about when Cecil died…. And we all know how that turned out right? Parents raise their children the way they were raised. It’s Fact. Like my mother always told me; “you kids were not born with a “rule book” on how to raise you, we did the best we could.”

Yes, she did. When my mother was in the hospital before she passed in 2003, and you all treated me poorly in July 2003 and I ended up flying home early because of it, mom and I spoke every morning as you all didn’t know about. We did make our amends and she shared much with me before going into the nursing/rehab where YOU ALL said she had no phone in the room??? Funny, Lil and Jim told me otherwise after a visit, as Lil called and told me at the time because I asked her to do so. So who lies to who Matthew?

It is also a surprise how you changed your feelings about my book after you told me your true feeling shortly after my book was released and you read it.

THIS BOOK is an inside look into gambling addiction, mental health challenges, and recovery. As many other people turn to addictions to cope after being “verbally and parental physically damaged and sexually abused” in one’s past childhood. You were not around then, so I don’t think you have the RIGHT or are qualified really to speak for my ex-family members. You were not even born yet as you told me on Facebook in a direct message reaching out with an amends letter.

Your mother used alcohol as well as we all know due to the amount of DUI’s she has and my brother used alcohol and dabbled in drugs, and Angela? Well, all of the above and has an anger problem. So why do you all keep denying the truth?? The truth sets you free and the healing can begin when you take your part of the ownership of what goes wrong in family relationships.  Face It, even my own father used alcohol to cope. Where do you think we saw and learned about addictions, Matthew? Each one of your aunts and your uncle had turned to something to cope.

That is the truth.

MAYBE it is time you and the rest of the family look within your own hearts and start taking accountability and ownership of how you tore a family apart. THAT I feel was started years ago by two parents as wrote in my book. Enough said about that.

This is not between you and me Matthew, as this isn’t even between me and my sisters which have shown their “True Selves”, this is about MY LIFE as a former addict and a person in long-term recovery and giving service to others in recovery. My book shows those who don’t understand addiction and recovery, as like many families don’t, that in recovery people can turn their lives around and be ‘Exceptional Human Beings’ coming out the other side.

So you all can say and think what you want about my book, but book reviews speak for themselves, Matthew. So I have nothing to prove to YOU or my Family.  I live my life today helping others and enjoying my life with my husband. I have moved on. You all need to do the same. What I shared in my memoir is the truth of which the family can deny all they want. I have faith and the backing of the “Man Upstairs,” and now, even my mother in heaven also NOW knows I told the truth inside my book. I did a lot of research and have lots of documents as well to back up all I wrote about. Most are all public records. Birth, adoption, marriage, Cecil’s death records and more. So I stand behind all that I wrote and shared.

Here is the beauty of my life today in ‘Recovery and Believing in God’ Matthew, ….
I now live my LIFE not needing your or anyone’s approval or affirmation including my estranged families.

Thank Goodness those days are over!

 

SO, please just give it a rest and let it BE! I understand family may have closed hearts, minds, and no empathy ….. Just leave me alone.

 

Respectfully,

Author/Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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“Gambling Addiction Can Happen to Anyone. A Lawyer, A Policeman, Even a Postal Worker.”

“The holidays for many addicted gamblers can be a dangerous time while out “chasing” money they may need for holiday gifts or travel. I know I did it many, many Christmas’ past within my own past gambling addiction. So many wasted holidays due to my addiction. And you know what? I was only hurting myself and digging my family into a bigger financial hole…..

Gambling addiction is not a “poor persons” addiction as I have heard it be called many times. No, it happens to doctors, lawyers, policemen and even Postal Workers like this story shares by the publication Michigan Live .  It caught my attention because it happened to a Grand Rapids postal worker and my husband happened to be born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. Why I am I sharing this guest article? To let others know that when we come into recovery wake learn and DO TAKE Accountability for the poor choices we had made.”   *Cat*

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Postal union official’s gambling led to theft of $9K intended for Muscular Dystrophy Associaton.

 

Guest Author: John Agar | jagar@mlive.com
on December 14, 2016, at 9:11 AM

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A former union official for letter carriers blamed a gambling addiction for his theft of $9,000 intended for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Brian Cisek embezzled proceeds of two charity golf outings he organized in 2013 and 2014, court records said. Cisek, 47, was sentenced this week to two years on probation and fined $3,000. He has already repaid the money he took. He has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 28 years and wanted to avoid a prison sentence to hopefully keep his job, said his attorney, Donald Garthe.

He said his client is receiving treatment for a gambling addiction. Advisory sentencing guidelines called for zero to six months in prison for theft of union funds. U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker sentenced Cisek.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler did not object to a probation officer’s recommendation that Cisek not be incarcerated to give him a chance at success in recovery. Stiffler said Cisek served as sergeant at arms and chairman of the National Association of Letter Carrier’s Branch 56 Muscular Dystrophy Association Committee from 2012 to 2015. Its major fundraisers were golf outings. Cisek was committee chairman of two golf events.

Instead of depositing proceeds into established union accounts, he opened a new account as sole signer.  He had obtained a $15,000 personal loan from Lending Club in November 2012.  The following February, the MDA fund held $1.03. He then tried to make a payment to Lending Tree from that account but there were insufficient funds.

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A few days later, he sought a $500 advance from the union to cover costs of the upcoming golf outing. The money, instead, was sent to Lending Club. Branch members became suspicious in early 2014 because the Postal Service newsletter did not say how much money had been raised in 2013 for MDA.

Questions were raised that fall, too, after the branch president contacted MDA, and found out it had not received any funds. When confronted, Cisek said the savings account had been compromised, and the bank would not allow access to it. Cisek provided a back-dated $9,100 personal check that ultimately bounced.

He then provided a $9,200 cashier’s check. Cisek apologized and resigned his union post. The federal prosecutor said it was unclear how Cisek obtained the money but his attorney said he borrowed it from his in-laws, court records show.

“Cisek has accepted responsibility for his actions, demonstrated that he is remorseful, guilt-ridden and sorry for his crime and repaid the money he owes,” Stiffler wrote.

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“I am a firm believer in two things…. “Hate the Addiction, Not the Addict”  and we all deserve a second chance in life as no one person is perfect. Even those who fall prey to Addictions.”

Author/Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

Thank You to ‘Keys To Recovery News’ for Printing My Holiday Article! I am Honored.

Hello and Happy Holidays Recovery Friends,

I am very Happy and Honored that the recovery publication “Keys To Recovery Newspaper”  a FREE recovery newspaper  by  way, has printed a Holiday Article I wrote about “Gambling Addiction and my Addiction Christmas’s Past” in their new Column titled; “QUIT To WIN” and I wanted to share it here with all of you.  We all know the holiday season can be tough many in recovery. So I want to remind them they are not alone. XO Cat

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“QUIT TO WIN”

LET’S QUIT TO WIN FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
By Author, Catherine Lyon

“Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a tough time around the holiday time. I know I have in the past with self-sabotaging my Christmas season. How do you ask? Let me share a “war story of Christmas past.” We can learn and grow in recovery in when we safely look at the “Then & Now of Christmas’s Past”, as an addicted or problem gambler.”

Many of us in recovery advocate to show to others who still suffer from this cunning addiction the importance of sharing our experiences, strength and hope with others when we do tell some of our “war stories.” It does show how insidious this addiction is. It is one of the area’s I don’t feel is proper about 12-Step programs. They tell us not to share war stories as it could maybe trigger someone in a meeting. But, if we don’t learn from these mistakes or choices, how do we look back and find growth in our recovery? Yes, you can see growth by just doing the 12-steps, but many need more than that to recover fully. I know I did. I recall one Christmas that has to be my worst within my gambling addiction and will never forget. And it is why I make sure all holidays now are safe, happy and full of JOY. It was back in 2005.

Our home we had lived and worked very hard for, had to be sold through a short sale or we would have lost everything we put into it. But even then, it felt like we lost it as we are still paying on the balance that was not covered by the sale. It also caused me to make a few bad choices, residual addicted “thinking,: I had committed a crime, that big catastrophe! I wrote about it in my memoir, and I was reeling.

I stopped taking my bipolar meds, then took them all at once! I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, low self-worth and again suicidal because 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. We were so financially broke. I remember being in JCPenney walking around aimlessly wishing I could buy this or that for the family for Christmas and again in Walmart. Luckily, all our family lived in other states than Oregon. So I had to do the same lame thing I had done for many past Christmas’s, just send a card.

It was tough already that we both had job loss, the very beginning of the economy and markets were getting ready to pop. We had a hard time finding good paying jobs, and I ended up back in an addiction/mental health crisis again with another breakdown right after the holidays. It was all too much! When I got released from the crisis center, I knew I had a lot more recovery inner work, which included financial inventory to take and work on. I had been doing well in my recovery and gamble free at the time, but something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter what the addiction is, it’s always waiting for us.

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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 that can be stressful. We may have had fall outs due to the holidays, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9… make amends where ever possible) with friends and family. Many different reasons that can become a trigger or bring on urges. The stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads! The “cycle” if not broken or interrupted will keep you either in the addiction or just on edge waiting.

That is what I needed the second time around after coming out of the crisis. I chose to work with a gambling addiction and behavioral specialist. And he would not “cut me loose” until I could tell him how the “cycle” of addiction happens, and tell him the skills and tools to stop it which took me a year. Once I learned that and applied those skills and tools, I began the road to long-term recovery. So my point is everyone needs a relapse plan. A solid plan that will help you avoid these pitfalls. I had been given a workbook that I now have listed on my recovery resource pages, for all to come and use for their recovery from gambling.

It shows step by step what is needed to make a plan to prevent relapse for any occasion, like the holiday season, life events like a loss from death, a job loss and much more. These events and the holidays will come. So you need to prepare before not after they happen. Be prepared and use those tools taught and learned in treatment, or a 12-step program, maybe in therapy or however you choose, to reach out and start your recovery journey. And learn about “the cycle” of addiction. When you do, I guarantee you will have many, many ‘Happy Holiday Seasons’ to come!

“You Are Worth It In Recovery”

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Catherine Townsend-Lyon is the author of the book “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” Available at Amazon.com.

Catherine is a Columnist for “In Recovery Magazine’s “The Author’s Cafe” where she interviews and writes about author’s and their books, films, and apps of recovery products. She has been featured in many articles about gambling addiction, most recent had been by “Columbia University” titled; Gambling with America’s Health and interviewed for a new article out soon by “Time Magazine.” Catherine lives in Arizona with her husband of 26 years and her three cats, Mr. Boots, Miss Princess, and Simon Peter. She is the owner of ” Cat Lyon’s Reading Den ” a “pay it forward” to help authors free of charge learn how where to promote their books.