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

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


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

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


A Message From My Friends of Know The Odds 

THE HIDDEN ADDICTION

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Now A Message From The Addiction Blog

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

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

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

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

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

6 Tips To Begin A Recovery From Gambling


1.
 Write a goal statement.

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

2. Identify your triggers.

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

3. Talk to your friends and family.

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

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4. Take financial responsibility.

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

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

5. Steer clear of other addictions.

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

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

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

6. Reach out for support.

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

For More Information On Quitting Gambling

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

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                   The Addiction Blog

Dual diagnosis in gambling addiction and mental health disorders. Special Guest Post By, Nicola Smith.

As a dually diagnosed person myself, my recovery friends know it has been difficult for me to put into words how it feels to live and maintain my 10+years in recovery from gambling addiction while having mental health challenges.

So I enjoy having special guests here when I can that can write and explain it a “wee bit better” than I can. I welcome Author, Nicola Smith, and special thanks to Maegan Jones of Healthline.com for putting us together!
Catherine Lyon “-)

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What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis is a relatively new concept in the addiction recovery field. Up until the 1990s, people experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder such as anxiety attacks, depressive episodes, delusional behavior or mood swings were often treated separately to people who sought treatment for addiction. In some cases, when conditions overlapped people were required to get clean or sober or overcome their gambling addiction, for example, before they could be treated for mental illnesses.


Mental health illnesses associated with gambling addiction


With recent findings that 
substance abuse and addiction are often driven by underlying mental health illnesses, people with a Dual Diagnosis have been unable to get the help they needed in decades’ past. The Office of Applied Sciences at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service’s Administration (SAMSHA) within the United States Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2002 that only 12 percent of the 4 million American adults suffering from a Dual Diagnosis received treatment for both conditions.

Patients with a Dual Diagnosis are referred to as having a co-occurring disorder. The most common mental health illnesses associated with gambling addiction are depression and anxiety, as outlined by Dr. Jon Grant — Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago and supervisor of an outpatient clinic for those with an addictive-impulsive disorder. Symptoms of being impulsive and risky are also seen in those with gambling addictions, according to Dr. Grant.


Mental illnesses that often co-occur with gambling addiction include depression, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and anxiety. In cases of people addicted to gambling who also experience depression or anxiety, the hope of fun that rolling the dice or spin of a slot machine can make depression and anxiety worse over time.


A recent survey of more than 43,000 Americans found, that 76 percent of people with a gambling addiction suffered from depression while 16 to 40 percent experienced lifetime anxiety. Also within the group, 24 percent had a 
lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder and 20 percent had symptoms of lifetime prevalence of ADHD.

Which occurs first?

The finding that many people with gambling addictions also have other mental health conditions has raised questions among healthcare professionals — which occurs first? Is it that pathological gambling occurs as a result of a person experiencing another condition and turning to gambling for an escape? Or, could a person suffer financial and relationship problems due to excessive gambling consequently developing depression?

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A recent study of 10,000 Americans found that gambling addiction occurred before the onset of another disorder 25 percent of the time while a gambling disorder occurred after another disorder was already present 75 percent of the time. Although further studies are needed to clearly determine the order between gambling addiction and co-occurring mental health illness, the connection between the two indicates that Dual Diagnosis treatment is one of the most effective approaches to recovery by treating addiction and mental health illnesses concurrently.

How does treatment work?


Dual Diagnosis treatment involves a combination of the most effective treatments for mental health illnesses and addiction. Where there once would have been a line drawn between mental health and addiction, these conditions are now treated as part of a continuum. With the recent rise in Dual Diagnosis treatment, healthcare professionals who work in addiction treatment can now undertake training and certification in the treatment of co-occurring mental health illnesses. Dedicated facilities are now also offering recovery services specializing in treatment for Dual Diagnosis people.

Treatments such as medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support for Dual Diagnosis patients with an addiction to gambling and mental health illnesses recognize and treat the person’s addictions and illnesses with a continuum focus, putting them in a better position to make a full and long lasting recovery.

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Helpful and Informative Resources:

An Introduction to Co-Occurring Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Use Disorders, 2015, Office of Applied Sciences at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service’s Administration (SAMSHA), https://newsletter.samhsa.gov/2015/03/03/


Dual Diagnosis Treatment, 2017,
DualDiagnosos.org,
http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/dual-diagnosis-treatment/


Kessler RC, Hwang I, LaBrie R, et al. DSM-IV pathological gambling in the National Comorbidity 
Survey Replication. Psychol Med. 2008;38(9):1351–60.

Petry NM, Stinson FS, Grant BF. Comorbidity of DSM-IV pathological gambling and other psychiatric disorders: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. J Clin Psychiatry. 2005;66(5):564–74.


Recent Facts and Statistics on Dual Diagnosis, 2017,
Michael’s House, http://www.michaelshouse.com/dual-diagnosis/facts-statistics/


Roads to Recovery from Gambling Addiction, Volume 2, 2019,
National Center for Responsible Gambling, http://www.ncrg.org/


What Clinicians need to know about Gambling Disorders, Volume 7, 2012,
National Center for Responsible Gambling, http://www.ncrg.org/
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Nicola Smith's Profile Photo

About The Author:

With a keen interest in holistic health and wellness, Nicola Smith works with heart-centred female entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry, providing copy that engages to help grow their businesses. Her goal is to help women increase their impact on the world, build the business of their dreams, and inspire others to simplify their lives, pack a suitcase and book a ticket to somewhere they’ve always wanted to visit or live. You can also follow her adventures and join her FB Group on Instagram @luggagelifestyle 

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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