Sharing The Message of HOPE and Help From The National Council on Problem Gambling – Be Mindful This Superbowl Weekend…

Now that another SuperBowl Weekend is now upon us, my good friend Keith Whyte, who is Executive Director at The National Council on Problem Gambling and their team care about those who will be “Sports Betting” this weekend. It is one of the major weekends that gambling is very prevalent, and sorry guys, especially among MEN.


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And just like my buddies from the NFL, Randy Grimes who played for Tampa Bay and Vance Johnson who played for the Denver Broncos who both are at the Superbowl this year advocating and attending SoberBowl, yes, those of us in recovery CAN have a great time “Bet Free, Clean, and Sober!

They are sharing their stories and message of HOPE to all who come by. And the same can be done for gambling addiction. So? How much money will be GAMBLED AWAY this SuperBowl? Well, I came across this article courtesy of The Business Insider  and they said;

Gamblers expected to bet a whopping $4.8 billion on the Super Bowl and only about 3% will happen in Nevada…

 

Brent MusbergerErik Kabik Photography/MediaPunch/IPX

“The American Gaming Association estimates that approximately $4.76 billion will be bet on the Super Bowl this year.

  • Of all that money, just 3% of it is expected to be wagered legally in Nevada, with the rest of the bets being made through offshore books and local bookies.
  • Still, Las Vegas bookmakers are doing just fine — 2017 was their most profitable year on record and the Super Bowl is looking like it will easily pass last year’s record.”

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This is why I am sharing my new email newsletter from my friends of the National Council on Problem Gambling. If end up getting in over your head sports betting this Superbowl weekend? Make sure you visit them. There is HOPE & HELP available for Problem and Addicted Gambling. You may also visit my Recovery Resources page while you are here. I have many resources for help listed, suggested books to read and more. Here now is the message from NCPG…

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Super Bowl Weekend & Gambling: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Help & Hope are available
Super Bowl weekend can be a difficult time. Sometimes fans may feel desperate after a losing game or season if they have gambled more than they could afford.

The Super Bowl can be especially hard for people who suffer from a gambling addiction. Research shows that people with gambling disorder, like substance use disorder, may have a genetic predisposition that drives their need to bet more and more money to achieve the same excitement or “high.” These urges run deep and symptoms include:

  • Inability to set and stick to a limit of time and money spent gambling;
  • Viewing wagering as an investment; and/or
  • Betting to escape feelings of anxiety, stress or depression
Each of these is a potential warning sign of a gambling problem or challenge to recovery.

NCPG urges people who are at risk or experiencing problem gambling to contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline.
A simple two-question self-test can help indicate whether someone has a gambling problem.
1. Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?
2. Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled?
If the answer is “yes” to either question, it is likely there may be a gambling problem.
 
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) is a toll-free, confidential, single point of access for problem gambling help via phone, text, and chat.

Visit www.ncpgambling.org for extensive referral resources and materials, including an anonymous self-test, an online directory of certified gambling counselors and a list of treatment centers with gambling-specific programs.

The Problem Gambling Helpline offers hope and help without judgment or shame. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call now.

Super Bowl weekend and Gambling. Keep Your On The Ball!

“Shining a light on “Sports Betting” through Superbowl Weekend!” 

Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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Gambling Addiction: Is It A “Choice” or A “Disease”? My Thoughts…

“I surely didn’t wake up one day and decide to devastate my life and my husbands’ life by CHOOSING to become an addicted gambler.” ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 
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Is Gambling Addiction a Disease or by Choice?

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As a recovering gambling addict, this has been a BIG question in my life, and in the life of many recovering, but I’ve struggled with the answer. On the one hand, I’ve had people tell me I make a “choice” every day and to say it’s a disease minimizes people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or cancer (WHAT? Really?).

 

On the other hand, I know that when I gambled, I lost the ability to stop and kept gambling and gambling on the slots…

That is how gambling addiction is described and knowing we have crossed the line into uncontrolled gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling says;

Gambling addiction—is an impulse-control disorder. If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. And I know first hand that this is true as it happened to me. No, I didn’t come from a background or a family who were gamblers. I was normal when it came to gambling.


I was an every now and then with the girls’ gambler. Maybe go to Reno, NV or the Indian casino about 42 miles North of my home with the girls. But then, something changed. Did I make the choice to become an addicted gambler? NO. It began around the time my brother-in-law passed away. After? All my past hurt and pain from abuse as a little girl came rushing back and I had NO idea why or how to process all this. See, my brother-in-law Mike was the only person I ever told about my past and the sex abuse I went through.
And since I was raised not knowing it was OK to see or talk to a professional about what I was feeling and going through. So when Mike died, I literally felt that weight and baggage of my past sit right back on my shoulders. This was in 1992 and I had just turned 30. Yes, life events can trigger many negative things when you least expect it. And not knowing, I began to use gambling as a way to “escape and cope” with what I was going through and all the haunting feelings and emotions I was going through. It was like being traumatized all over again. More things came into play as well and as we know, gambling addiction is a slow progressive disease.

I surely didn’t wake up one day and say; “let me become an addicted gambler and devastate my life!” I did NOT do it by choice. When I came became an addict, it was the disease that took over. We all come from addiction in various ways and paths, it is how we decide to tackle the beast when we realize gambling has made our lives unmanageable and has taken over destroying any and everything good in within it.

The disease is riddled with many bad habits and behaviors, too many to count. It is the diseased thinking that the addict makes these bad choices. It is the negative side of the sickness. No, no excuses, they are fact. A highly suggested article written to the “cognitive choices made” can be read here “Pathological Choice” as it explains the brains “choice” functions when in the minds of addicted or pathological gambling addicts.

 

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It is one of the reasons I came up with the title of my memoir; “Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” My gambling addiction made me become a “Liar and a Cheat” within my own gambling addiction. The article shares psychological models of gambling, which have additionally highlighted the central role of cognitive distortions during gambling. The most classic distortion is the gambler’s fallacy, which is a bias in the processing of random sequences. Winning or losing can also keep an addicted gambler in the addiction, so they are either thinking when they win, they will win every time and when they are losing, they will keep gambling to “Chase” what money they lost.

That was huge for me and when I crossed the invisible line into uncontrolled addict gambling. Other factors from my own experience? Bordum, to much time on my hand when my husband was working out of town often, looking for excitement, and escaping my problems, including my past abusive past childhood. These are just some of the roots of my addiction.  Did I choose to lie, steal, pawn, hide money, sell valuables and more? NO. I had worked very hard to get to where I was along with my husband to lose it all because of a disease, a sickness. And I see it as 3 different classes of those who gamble.

I base my argument on the element of control. For this classification, the term “gamblers-by-choice” is used to represent the group of people who have a greater level of control over when, where and how they gamble. They also seem to have control over how much they gamble. Such people find it a lot easier to walk away compared to gamblers-by-addiction. Gamblers-by-addiction are people who have lost their way and will. Their self-power and self will to walk away has been eroded over time and they are now being controlled by the gambling, as opposed to the former group. These are the Problem-Gamblers and can go either way, addicted or stay a normal gambler and catch knowing it IS becoming a problem in their life.

A great place to learn more and if YOU ARE having problems with gambling, visit my friends of “The National Council on Problem Gambling ”  They have Help, Hope, and have saved many from this devastating disease…

What are your feelings and thoughts about this topic? Is Gambling Addiction a “Choice” or a Real Disease? Let me know!

Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Now On Sale At Amazon Kindle!

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) by [Townsend-Lyon, Catherine]

 

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Today I am shining the spotlight on one of my favorite blogs I enjoy reading good articles and always who has great information about gambling and other addictions. They have an array of recovery resources and suggested treatments options they display on their site as well. I am a firm believer that reading and research to stay educated maintaining recovery is vital.

It is also the same for family and loved ones of the addict to have places they can get help and suggested information on how to safeguard themselves while looking for help for their loved one or friend. This article does just that. So I hope everyone gives it read and it helps others and written by Sydney Smith LPC, LADC, NCGC-II for Addiction Blog. org

 


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A Gambling Problem Can Be Difficult To Detect

Problem Gambling can be hidden for a long time which often makes it very difficult to detect. By the time the problem surfaces and the family finds out, the devastation and wreckage can be tremendous. Family members tend to know that something is wrong with their loved one but due to gambling addiction’s invisible nature, especially in the early stages of the disease, it can be extremely hard to identify.

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of, and ways to identify if your loved one has a gambling problem. Then, we’ll invite your questions about how to get help at the end.

Determining If There Is A Gambling Problem

As a family member, we may or may not know the extent of the gambling problem or how long gambling has been an issue for our loved one. We may know about the gambling, but still, have much uncertainty as to whether there is a gambling problem. So if you are asking yourself,  “How do I know if my loved one is a problem gambler?”

…the following are questions and information that may help determine if there is a gambling problem.

SIGN 1: Time away. If I know the person is gambling, the amount of time spent gambling or engaged in gambling activities increases. The gambler can be gone for long unaccounted for periods of time.

When the gambler in my life gambled, he often gambled while he was at work. So, in the early stages, I did not know how much time he actually spent gambling. As his gambling worsened, he would not come home from work and would disappear for 24 hours at a time.

SIGN 2: Obsession to find money. Is the gambler becoming preoccupied or obsessed with obtaining money to gamble or thoughts of gambling? The great obsession can be on coming up with ways to borrow money, taking out loans, pawning items for cash, or planning their next bet.

Living with a gambler in the past, I would frequently have jewelry missing or items of value just disappear. Later I would learn that my gambler would pawn these items to obtain gambling money or to chase his losses. Later in the progression of the disease, the gambler may be physically present but not there, as the mind is preoccupied with gambling.

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SIGN 3: Emotional volatility. Does the gambler have moods swings or gambles as a means to cope or change feelings? A gambler deep into his addiction can exhibit mood swings similar to those of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The extreme up and down in moods can be hard on both the gambler and the family members. The “up” moods can follow a win, and the gambler may even brag about the winnings. The “down” mood can be very depressive and the gambler may experience anxious or depressed mood, anger, and become irritable.

Gambling is used to change the way the person is feeling and the family members may hear the gambler make statements such as, “I had a stressful day at work and I just need to go gamble to unwind.”

SIGN 4: New Secrets. Are there secretive behaviors or hiding? Is the gambler becoming very secretive in his actions and with his money? Hiding of gambling wins or losses, hiding lottery tickets, tax documents, etc. becomes common.

In my therapy practice, I often hear the spouses say, “I found payday loan papers, or while cleaning, I found ATM receipts from the casino.”. The family may begin to lose trust in the gambler as the hiding, concealing, and lying about gambling grows.

20 Questions Family or Spouse To Ask Yourself

 

These are a few of the more noticeable warning signs one may experience with the gambler. In addition, Gam-Anon created a simple list of 20 questions for family members to ask themselves.

Family members of problem gamblers will answer “YES” to at least seven of the twenty questions.

  1. Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  2. Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?
  3. Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  4. Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  5. Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?
  6. Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?
  7. Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?
  8. Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?
  9. Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?
  11. Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?
  12. Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?
  13. Do you hide his or her money?
  14. Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?
  15. Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  16. Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?
  18. Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  19. Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?
  20. Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

What Can You Do Next?

This list can be found on the Gam-Anon website or in Gam-Anon published literature. If you can identify with any of the information listed above:

  • Continue to educate yourself about gambling addiction through resources and literature.
  • Reach out to a trained professional.
  • Attend a Gam-Anon or any 12-step support meeting for friends and family of addicts.

If we believe our loved one has a gambling addiction, it is OK to encourage them to seek help, however, it is vitally important for us as family members to seek out our own help.  We are not alone, there is hope, and life can get better. 

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I’d like to add that the addict does need to make the first step. Yes, it is vital and important that the spouse and family SEE through the anger and disappoint them may feel when first learning they are living with a gambling addict like my husband was. But once you look beyond that, your next step is to reach out for help to first safeguard your finances for you and your family. Gama-anon can help but also look into help from a professional. 

Maybe a financial advisor or a friend. Contact your local health department to see if the State Lottery has funded treatment and help for you and the gambler. My own treatment and my husbands guideness counselor were free and paid for by the Oregon State Lottery, including my crisis center stays and treatment. I do meetings with Gamblers Anonymous online, but there are many options for the addict and the family. And, yes, after everything we went through with my gambling addiction, my husband and I worked through it and are still married today over 28-years. You can read all about HOW in my Memoir…

WE DO AND CAN RECOVER!

Catherine 

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Loved Being A Guest On RadioMD and Rewired Radio With Erica Spiegelman! Just Advocating & Awareness.

Loved Being A Guest On RadioMD and Rewired Radio With Erica Spiegelman! Just Advocating & Awareness.

Welcome Recovery Friends and All Visitors,

As part of my “Give A Gift of 12 Days of Christmas of Recovery” I had a scheduled Radio Show today and wanted to share it with all of you! Many studies and facts have been changing due to the increase of more and more expansion of gambling options. Expanding State Lotteries, Indian/Tribal Casinos, and internet gambling as well.

When Erica Spiegelman and I chatted on Rewired Radio here: http://apple.co/2oAJps6 she wasn’t fully aware of all the places gambling is available like in our church’s with Bingo and Bingo fundraisers. Same with your kids’ schools, from prom casino night fundraisers and raffle ticket fundraisers. 

At our grocery stores with scratch ticket and lotto machines. Gambling is everywhere. Now, for normal people, they may not think twice about it. But for those trying to recover from this addiction, it seems like gaming options are all over. So, being able to have a platform and interview to raise more awareness is awesome! To share and educate the public about how gambling is now reaching our Seniors, High School and College age kids too. When will it stop? So I hope you will take some time and give a listen to my New Radio Interview with my Host, Erica and the fine folks of RadioMD and Rewired Radio! 

Now THANKS to Sylvia who shared all the links you can go take a listen and please share them on your social media if you ENJOY the Interview! More info below!

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Visit This Link and click on LISTEN 

ABOUT THE SHOW:

Guest Info & Links: Catherine Townsend-Lyon
From the Show: Rewired Radio

Summary: When we talk about addiction, we often focus on substance abuse. In truth, there are people addicted to behaviors and habits that can cause just as much damage to their lives as drugs or alcohol.

The Silent Addiction

When we talk about addiction, we often focus on substance abuse. 

In truth, there are people addicted to behaviors and habits that can cause just as much damage to their lives as drugs or alcohol. 

Catherine Townsend-Lyon understands this all too well. For years, she was addicted to gambling, what she calls “a hush addiction.” 

Catherine shares her story of how she was able to free herself from this crippling addiction and how she uses this experience to help others get on the path to recovery, even when all hope seems lost.

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Grab Her New Book:

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ABOUT MY HOST:

Erica Spiegelman is a consultant, author, counselor and speaker who has made an indelible mark in the field of addiction recovery. She has founded a multi-media health and wellness platform, providing consulting and counseling solutions for clients by providing them with tools on how to reach emotional, mental and physical freedom.

She holds a Bachelors degree in Literature from the University of Arizona and a degree as a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADAC-I) from University of California, Los Angeles. Erica has a consulting business and works with numerous patient care centers in California, including the Living Rebos Treatment Center, Klean Treatment Center, and Passages Malibu. She is a regular contributor to online health outlets, writes for Maria Shriver, and often co-hosts a weekly radio show Klean Radio on Sirius XM.

Grab Her Books on AMAZON!

Product Details

Rewired: A Bold New Approach…
2015

Product Details

Rewired New Workbook
2017

 

Christmas Past Blast Throwback. Reshare Article of Mine From Christmas Past…

LET’S QUIT TO WIN THE HOLIDAYS!
By Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ “Keys to Recovery Newspaper”

 

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“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 areas 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 may 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.

 

STOP Desperately Gambling For The Holiday 

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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 and applied those skills and tools, I began on 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 here: Holiday Relapse Prevention Guide.

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!

 

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“You Are Worth It In Recovery and a Happy Holiday Season!!
Catherine 

My Recovery Spotlight on Author & Advocate, Marilyn Lancelot a Recovering Gambler Like Me…

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What can I say more about this beautiful friend of mine who was responsible for getting gamblers anonymous meetings into Arizona’s Womens prisons and correctional facilities? Marilyn has been maintaining a long-term “Bet Free” lifestyle” and she makes it look easy. She is also my sponsor while I am temporarily living in the Phoenix, AZ area for now. Marilyn calls me each week or so like clockwork, and I am so grateful and blessed to have her in my life!

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I came across a wonderful in-depth Guest Interview she did not too long ago on and courtesy of  EnCOGNITIVE.com  … I love Marilyn to pieces as we don’t often meet true supportive friends every day like her. I am excited to mention her and I will be on an upcoming coming radio show together on Mental Health News Radio Network With – Kristin Walker! Our topic will be on ” Switching Addictions” which is also the title of Marilyn’s 2nd book. Her first is a MUST READ Titled; “Gripped By Gambling” a memoir that you won’t believe and is EYE OPENING. So let’s meet and learn more about Marilyn Lancelot…

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Product Details

GRIPPED BY GAMBLING  (A book that will have you in tears and then laughter. A story told with the painful truth about the addiction of gambling and how I found recovery.)

Interview with a Recovering Compulsive Gambler.

“My name is Marilyn Lancelot and I am a recovering compulsive gambler. I visited my first casino in 1984 at the age of 53. For seven years, my boyfriend and I made the four-hour trek from Yuma, AZ to Laughlin, NV every weekend. I learned early on how to lie to my family and friends and how to sign my employers’ name to company checks. I considered suicide and planned it so it would like an accident.

Then one day the auditors discovered my embezzling. Horrified, I watched seven police cars pull into my driveway to take me away in handcuffs. I lost my job, home, life savings, my retirement, and my freedom. I had progressed from a Mrs. Cleaver type housewife to a Ma Barker type criminal.”


Questions and Answers:

Under what circumstance did you first gamble?

As a young girl, I remember playing cards with family and betting twenty-five cents a hand. I thought it very boring and everyone got drunk and argued. I went to dog and horse races and thought they were too slow. I remember vividly the first time I gambled in a casino. I visited Las Vegas with my husband but only played the twenty-five cent slot machines. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I spent a weekend at a bowling tournament in Reno, NV and that’s when I became addicted.

Did you win the first time you gambled?

The weekend in Reno was what many refer to as beginner’s luck. I just couldn’t lose. I felt I was destined to become a professional gambler and could earn a living in the casinos.

After the first time you gambled, when did you come back again?

When I got home from the bowling tournament I told my boyfriend what an incredible weekend I had and we must drive to Laughlin the following week. We did drive the 4½ hours to the casinos and 4 ½ hours home for the next seven years.

Was it internal or external pressure that made you want to quit?

I didn’t want to quit even though the gambling was killing me, physically, emotionally, and financially. There was no external pressure because of no-one, not even my family knew of my addiction. It was my money and I could do whatever I wanted to and when I wanted to.

What would you say was the lowest point in your gambling life?

Some of the lowest periods in my gambling were the times when I wanted to die; when my credit cards were maxed out, when I began embezzling money from my employer, and when I realized I couldn’t do anything about my gambling. But the very lowest was when the police came and took me away in handcuffs for a crime I committed to support my habit.

What were your game or games of choice?

My game of choice was the slot machine. No other form of gambling gave me the hypnotic feeling of escaping as the slot machines did.

Did you have rituals you went through each time you gambled?

My rituals for my weekend at the casino were to wear my lucky shirt, my lucky jewelry, and to follow the same path around the casino floor each weekend. I thought any changes would spoil my luck.

Why do you think it’s hard for compulsive gamblers to understand that money can’t be made through gambling? What is their mindset, do you think?

It was difficult for me to understand that money couldn’t be made through gambling because once in a while I did win and everyone around me won so my turn would come again. I believed I could win all my losses back if I just tried harder. I even bought books on how to gamble successfully. I had to continue to gamble until I hit the big jackpot.

Besides the money, what would you say was the worst thing you lost because of gambling?

I think the worst loss was my loss of the seven years I gambled. For those years I was a zombie and didn’t have time for my family. My mind was not on my job during the week because all I could think about was the weekend.

There is a theory that addictions run in families. Was there anyone in your immediate family who had an addiction problem?

My parents both had drinking problems so if addictive, compulsive behavior is hereditary, then I believe my poor coping skills came from my parents. I don’t blame anyone but myself for my addictions. My five children all became addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Poor coping skills have been contributed to addictions. Can you share with us what coping skills you’ve learned that have helped you? Then specifically how you cope with:

Anger: When I feel angry about something or someone, I stop and analyze my feelings (after months and years of practicing, it becomes second nature) and decide if I should really be upset by the situation or just move past the issue. Like driving down the freeway, if I slow down and allow someone to cut in front of me, I can’t be angry because I allowed that person the courtesy.

Rejection: Feelings of rejection go back many years even before I attended my first 12-step program. If I truly love someone and they abandon me or say cruel things to me, I tell myself, that because I love that person, I will allow them to do with their lives what they want to do. And there again is my decision to allow. If I think they may be on a self-destructive path, I will share my thoughts with them and then allow them to do as they wish. I have learned that I cannot control anyone, not even myself sometimes.

Insecurity: I am not bothered by insecurities today. There was a time when I suffered deeply from an inferiority complex. Today I don’t, I feel that I’m as good a person as I’m supposed to be and I hope people will accept me as I am.

The past: I have forgiven myself for the damage I caused in the past and the mistakes I’ve made. I will never forget them, they’re part of who I am today but I don’t punish myself for my past.

Frustration: If I feel frustration coming on, I do a quick analysis of my surroundings and what’s bothering me. I recite the Serenity Prayer and if I can do something about the problem, I will try and if I can’t, I will accept the consequences.

Or other emotions and events?

Jealousy sometimes pops its ugly head over my shoulder but with a little thought exercise, I can usually make a decision that will show me I have nothing to fear or envy.

Prior to gambling addiction, did you have another addiction? Or did you have another addiction while you were gambling?

I’ve always had addictive patterns in my life. I have had eating problems, I’ve gone through a period where I was a workaholic, I’m a recovering alcoholic and now a recovering compulsive gambler. I know today that if anything feels good, tastes good, or looks good, I have to be aware of the dangers of another addiction.

What would you say is the worst addiction? And why?

I think overeating must be the tougest addiction to cope with. With all other addictions, the person gives up the drug, habit, etc. completely, but with an eating addiction, the person has to modify their habits and continue to stay in the problem but with control.

Almost half of compulsive gamblers are now women. What do you think is contributing to this increase?

I think more women are becoming compulsive gamblers because we are more independent today, we make decisions, earn money, and many of the women are single parents with more responsibilities. Gambling is around every corner, the little store on the corner sells lottery tickets and the churches have bingo. Women feel safe in casinos and the casinos in our backyards and if we can’t drive there, the casino will send a bus to your neighborhood and give you a ride.

There are many theories as to why people develop a gambling problem. They range from social, environmental, biological, cognitive, and spiritual. In your experience, what contributed most to your problem? What theory or theories do you think affect most people?

I guess I don’t look for the reasons why I gambled, I’m just grateful that I found a way to stop. It really doesn’t matter whether we’re rich or poor, young or old, college graduate or high school drop-out, the gambling addiction is not prejudiced.

If you could draw up a plan to help someone to quit gambling, what would that plan look like in detail?

If I could draw up a plan for someone to quit gambling, I would follow the 12 steps of Gamblers Anonymous. I would encourage them to attend meetings, find a sponsor, and make an appointment to see a gambling counselor.

How do you feel about the gambling industry as a whole? Do you think they have the right to operate as a business and it’s caveat emptor (buyer beware) for the consumers?

I have no opinion on the gambling industry as a whole. I just know it’s not for me.

The gambling industry is expanding as a whole. Do you think more people will become addicted to gambling because of this?

Yes, I think the gambling industry is expanding and more people will become addicted. They can’t avoid it with the clever advertising the casinos provide. The casinos are beautiful and the gamblers are treated royally.

How do you feel about poker? Seeing that it’s all over the place now. Do you feel that celebrities playing in poker tournaments is setting a bad example to young people?

I’m sure the poker tournaments on television will tempt many viewers to take that trip to a casino and test their skill. It could be a trigger for some.

You’ve credited Gamblers Anonymous as being instrumental in your recovery. Can you share with us your experiences in the program– the people you’ve met, your most memorable moments and low-points while in the program?

Gamblers Anonymous saved my life. When I was at the lowest point in my addiction and attended my first GA meeting, I knew this was where I belonged. I knew the other members couldn’t do it for me but I couldn’t do it without them. But I do feel there are many other ways to get help and treatment.

Do you agree with the Gamblers Anonymous program that people are “powerless” over gambling?

I know that I was powerless over gambling because I tried so many times to stop driving to the casinos and I just couldn’t stop. Each weekend on the ride home, I’d cry to myself, “I’m never coming back, this is so stupid.” And half-way home I’d be planning my next trip.

Did any friend or family member attempt to understand your problem? Or did you try to hide it from them?

I don’t think any of my friends nor my family would have understood my gambling addiction. They weren’t aware of my problem because I kept it hidden so well. I even rented a post office box so credit card bills wouldn’t be sent to my home.

Do you remember how many bottoms you hit?

What was the worst or most memorable one? Every morning when I woke up and every weekend on my way home from the casino, was a bottom. The most frightening one was when the seven police cars came to my home and took me away in handcuffs.

Did suicide ever cross your mind in the midst of the addiction?

I thought of suicide many times. When I drove alone in my car I thought one quick turn of the wheel and I’d hit a wall or an 18-wheeler and that would be the end of my gambling.

How did gambling make you feel? What were you hoping to get out of it?

While I gambled, I always thought gambling made me feel good. Some nights I sat on the stool at the casino and didn’t care whether I won or lost, I just wanted to keep playing. The money didn’t seem real.

How many times did you try quitting before you succeeded?

I think I quit every weekend for the seven years I gambled compulsively. That only lasted for ten miles down the road when we left the casino and then I would be planning my next trip. I’d wear a different shirt and I wouldn’t wear that dumb bracelet because that’s what gave me the bad luck.

What were the reactions of your family and friends when you were gambling?

My family and friends never knew the amount of money I lost or won. A compulsive gambler becomes very clever with lies and covering up all their gambling problems. We just can’t let anyone know what we’re doing, they make try to make us quit and I wasn’t ready to quit.

Does the thought of gambling creep into your mind sometimes?

I’m happy to say that gambling doesn’t have a place in my thoughts. I’ve been told that I’m not responsible for the first thought that comes into my head but I am responsible for what I do with it after that. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t gambled since I attended my first meeting more than 16 years ago but I know that if I made that first bet, I’d be off and running again. And this time I would probably die.

Do you have any regrets?

I have regrets. I regret the harm I did to my employer and I’m sorry for not being there for my family. I’ve forgiven myself but I’ll never forget what I’ve done. You can process it so it doesn’t haunt you every day.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to quit?

If someone wants to quit, they’re half-way there. The desire to stop is the biggest step a compulsive gambler can make. If we don’t have the desire, we can’t quit…

My book GRIPPED BY GAMBLING may be purchased through Amazon.com and other on-line bookstores. The blog here by Author, Catherine Lyon has some good advice and resources I hope people who may have a gambling problem stay and look around while they are here and share with friends and family…

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Marilyn Lancelot

Again, I want to thank EnCOGNITIVE.com  for letting me share this fantastic and informative interview with Marilyn Lancelot. She has published two more important books since Gripped By Gambling. You can visit her on Amazon for all her books here: Amazon Author Page 

Was Problem Gambling A Factor For The Las Vegas Mass Shooter? News About It Around The Web…

Was Problem Gambling A Factor For The Las Vegas Mass Shooter? News About It Around The Web…

“My first and foremost thoughts before my post are to send love, prayers, and condolences to all of those who were lost and the families suffering a loss of loved ones by another senseless shooting. I wish a speedy recovery for all those who were injured. To them? I want to say, PLEASE, if you begin to experience any delayed trauma or symptoms of PTSD, do not hesitate to reach out for help. There is NO SHAME in doing so. Know you are loved and not alone. The world and I have you in our prayers”   ~Author, Catherine Lyon

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I was sent a link to an article that was put out courtesy of The New York Times and found a couple more I will be sharing snippets within my post. The first was about the shooters gambling patterns and behaviors. As I have shared through social media, the more I read and heard coming from news reports, my gut feeling was telling me that this disgusting man may have had a gambling problem.

For the regular person who has NO CLUE about having a problem or addicted to gambling, would not see the same warning signs as I or others who have. While detectives and FBI profilers grapple with finding the motive or the WHY the shooter had killed, I think his gambling played a role in some way. 

 

He was a high-stakes gambler recognized in the casinos of Nevada. He dabbled in real estate investments in Texas. His last known full-time employment was 30 years ago. He was twice divorced. He had a pilot’s license and had owned two single-engine planes. (courtesy – The NY)


Now CNN and MSNBC happen to make a few remarks ‘off the cuff’ about the shooters gambling, but not in a way that would link it to be a factor in what this disturbed man carried out. Oh, they mentioned he was a millionaire, he made many trips to gambling destinations like Reno, Vegas, and gamble on cruise lines. He liked playing a $100 dollar a hand on video poker machines. Even millionaires can run out of money when addicted. Millionaires also carry out crimes and murder. 

And as you all know I am a recovering compulsive gambler, so when I read that in another article I just laughed. The paper wrote he would act ‘isolated’ when playing the machines, no smiles, no talking to others around him. That is called being “zoned out” when you have been playing for hours. What many don’t know when those machines, they are NOT like playing poker at a table. When you’re on video poker machines, each card that is dealt by the machine has a deck of electronic cards behind it!

So it is impossible for one to “card count” regardless if you were an accountant and are a “methodical math or numbers buff” when playing these machines. You are literally playing with 5 decks. The shooter was hitting machines that claimed a high 90’s percentage payout or payback while playing, but even then? The house is usually the one who will win not the player in the long run.

 

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“Details about Mr. Paddock’s career and livelihood were sparse, aside from observations by neighbors and family members that he routinely gambled large amounts of money. “He was a gambler, that was his job,” his brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters Monday at his home in Orlando. “He was a wealthy guy, playing video poker, who went cruising all the time and lived in a hotel room.”


The statement above kind of makes you laugh. If people were making a real living as a video poker player? Wouldn’t there be loads of them in the press and news? And I’m sure there would be even more people not becoming addicted gamblers right? Having a problem with gambling or being addicted has many phases to ones down spiral into a black abyss. It is also a doubled edged sword. If you are winning? You think you will win each time you gamble. But if you take a big loss? You will be out chasing lost dollars and keep gambling thinking you can win back your money.  Las Vegas is in the business to MAKE money, your money.

So they will entice you with many “perks” as they comp meals and rooms to keep you there or come often. And perks is how he met his current girlfriend by the way. She worked in the industry as a “High Limit Hostess.” Most all casinos have them. Same with going to the bars or dance clubs. They have “drink ladies” to mix up all your drinks and keep you ordering more alcohol when you PAY for a table. It sure is different times. It used to be, and maybe still is, that casinos gave away alcoholic drinks as the gambler played to try and make you feel “special,” keep playing longer as the more you drink the more stupid you get with money! Lol.

“The Shooter was 64, lived with his current girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62.
She worked as a “high-limit hostess” at the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nev. from 2010 to 2013, according to her LinkedIn account. On Monday, the casino said that she left the company several years ago. High-limit hostesses attend to members of a loyalty club called Club Paradise who spend large quantities of money and receive discounted hotel rooms, meals and other amenities, according to the casino’s website.”

 
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So, was it really fun and games for the shooter when he played? Was it just numbers for him? Was it he just had to WIN? Or was he chasing some loss? The Los Angeles Times reported.

 

“The shooter wanted to win and, like any savvy video poker player, he knew which machine to lock down at Mandalay Bay.

There was only one in the casino — a Jacks-or-better 9-6 machine, meaning it paid 9-to-1 credits on the full house and 6-1 on the flush and offered the casino only a slim advantage. Mandalay Bay was having a contest for a $100,000 drawing and players, based on the amount of their play the next day, would get tickets to enter. He got ready to work.

David Walton, a video poker playing pro, headed down to the casino floor early to nab the good machine. 

There sat the shooter. Not playing it. Just sitting there. Waiting. Walton settled into the machine next to him — not one with as generous a payout schedule — and waited for midnight. When it struck, the shooter hit the machine lightning quick, going at a rate of $120,000 per hour. He barely spoke. Walton said Paddock played 24 hours straight that day in 2007. Before the drawing, Walton wandered over to look at the 4-foot-by-4-foot drum holding all the tickets to the drawing to size up his chances at the $100,000.” (courtesy LA Times)

“Those hopes were diminishing quickly.  “Every ticket on there I saw through the mesh said ‘Stephen Paddock. Stephen Paddock. Stephen Paddock, Walton said. “He won.”


Now, my feelings are the shooter may have won that day, but a decade later, he would ride an elevator up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, smash out two windows in his suite with a hammer, and aim a 10-minute, rapid-fire volley of gunfire at the 22,000 people gathered below for a country music festival and as he hit hundreds he killed 58 and injured hundreds more. The shooters brother Eric Paddock told reporters last week, “he gambled for more than 20 years.

“Successfully …. He did it because it was a way to have a fun life, and he didn’t go poor or broke doing it.”

Well, sorry, I would have to disagree. If gambling brought so much fun in his life, why did he feel he needed to KILL? Had he finally hit his”rock bottom”?  

I guess we won’t know for many weeks to come. Now that investigators had sent and served many search warrants on the shooters financial holdings and assets, I am sure we will get those answers. Was he going broke? Had he blew through all his millions of money? As a recovering addicted gambler, I know just how fast it happens. The shooter is not immune to the dangers of gambling addiction. He is human. Just because you think you can afford a gambling habit, does not make you again immune to becoming an addict. If he wasn’t having money problems from his gambling? Then maybe the disease took a mental and emotional toll on him and had begun to take over. Gambling is a 24/7 addiction. Even after you walk away from the slot or video poker machine, a card table, craps or roulette wheel.

I know, I had been there. It is exhausting. And it is why many first coming into treatment do have some mental health issues like I did. I had to be on Wellbutrin for over a year from all the obsessive gambling had depleted my brain chemical that triggers your “pleasure and reward” area of my brain. I also was put on anti-anxiety medication as it was in “high mania” mode when first coming to the crisis center AFTER my hospital stay from my first suicide attempt which was not my last. That is how bad I had spiraled down into “blackness.” Of course, I was severely depressed as well.

So as I close, let us remember that many families and loved ones are holding funerals and memorials for their loved one who were taken to soon and in a senseless way. It is NOT about the shooter. And again, my condolences to those families dealing with the loss.

THIS COULD HAVE BEEN Prevented if we had gun control laws in the books. That is another post for another day…

Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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(News Snippets Courtesy of “LA Times & The New Times” Referenced Articles)