Recovery Guest Author, Christine H. Is Here With A New Special Article…

Recovery Guest Author, Christine H. Is Here With A New Special Article…

The Line Between Use and Abuse

 

Once upon a time, the term “addiction” was reserved for dependence on mind-altering chemicals. However, now a dependence on anything from video games to shopping is termed “addiction.” It can be a confusing world when something that’s usually a healthy coping behavior (like going to the gym) can turn into a mental disorder.

Everyone needs an outlet. Somewhere to channel the stresses of life when they just get to be too much. And everyone needs a diversion. However, how do you determine where exactly your habit turns into an addiction? Where is the line between use and abuse?

Here are 5 questions that can help you get a better perspective on whether or not your coping mechanism has turned into something that can be harmful instead of helpful for your life.

 

Have you tried to stop numerous times and failed?

 

This is one of the most notable characteristics of addiction, but it can also be the most commonly misunderstood. Individuals are often dismayed when they find that even though they had resolved to change their behavior, they fail. However, this in and of itself isn’t a marker of addiction. After all, how many people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions? How many people start a diet that only lasts a few days? That doesn’t that they’re addicted to spending money or not working out or sneaking junk food. It might mean that they were ineffective in goal setting, or that they’re not sufficiently motivated to change behavior.

The big difference is when you resolve to change behavior because you ARE properly motivated. If you notice that your behavior is costing you too much, and still can’t seem to stop, you might be working with addiction rather than a bad habit. The next couple questions can help you clarify.

 

Use and Abuse 2

 

Is it hurting your health?

Often, people first start to consider addiction a problem because of a talk with a physician. When a certain behavior is hurting your body, it’s a cause for concern. Occasional use of something doesn’t have the same effects on your body as habitual use, one of the common stages of addiction. A doctor won’t refer you to an addiction professional for just a few drinks… unless you have liver disease and you still won’t stop drinking.

Usually, this measure only comes into play for addictions that have a direct effect on your physical health. This includes food disorders, adrenaline-seeking behavior, and exercise addiction. Often, we don’t see the signs that a doctor will. However, if you’re getting concerned about some of your own behaviors, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it, being completely upfront about what you’re doing so that they can determine whether it’s threatening your health.

Is it threatening your relationships?


There are some addictions that will never have a toll on our physical health, but they have a huge impact on our relationships. These additions might include pornography or gambling or online gaming. These types of addictions also don’t seem to have an “outer” looking appearance to a person like a drug addict or alcoholic. And the afflicted person has no idea how the addiction is damaging their health on the inside. Many have hypertension or high blood pressure, heart disease, or even becoming a diabetic without knowing.

Often, this is a tricky situation to sort out. You might feel like there’s nothing unusual or harmful about your behavior, but someone you love is concerned and wants you to change. It’s possible that sometimes your loved one is overreacting. But it’s also true that relationships require investment from both parties. If you’re unable to change your behavior in order to nurture those relationships that are most important to you, it might be a problem. Relationships and families depend on healthy boundaries that are made with love and followed with consideration.

Do you need more and more for the desired effect?


One of the first signs of any addiction
is that you need to escalate your usage in order to get the same desired effect. This is because your body is becoming slowly inured to the effects. So in order to experience the same hit of dopamine in the brain, you need to have more and more of the substance (or behavior.) This happens most notably with alcohol. Once the body is used to operating as normal with alcohol in the system, you need more and more in order to get drunk.

However, it can be the same with other substances or behaviors. If you find that you need more and more, that’s when things start to get dangerous, whether you’re shopping or adrenaline-seeking. This effect drives us to do things that we know could be harmful and cross boundaries we know we shouldn’t.

 

Use and Abuse 3

 

Do you feel ashamed after using?

This might be the most telling sign of an addiction. If you’re ashamed after a certain behavior, it’s a sign that you know that you need to change… and yet you’re not. Shame can be subtle, and hard to recognize in many of us. Shame might manifest itself as:

  • Anger
  • Despair
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Perfectionism in other aspects of your life
  • Numbing your feelings (often by indulging more often in the thing that makes you feel ashamed)

 

If you or a loved one are exhibiting these signs of addiction, reach out for help. Get help early before you become so thoroughly entrenched that it costs you valuable things in your life.


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About The Author:

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

 

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The Oregonian’s Continuing series about the Oregon Lottery and how it Disproportionately Leans on Problem Gamblers to keep its Revenues Flowing.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

Here is another article of this series I will be sharing this week and weekend to prove that for-profit gambling profits ARE being made on the backs of problem gamblers and those addicted. Common sense is they don’t make profits off the just “once in awhile” players . .  .  . “Players Beware”

 

Oregon Lottery: Agency pushes slot machines as problem gamblers pay the price
(Courtesy of TheOregoniann Newspaper)

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.  ( Courtesy: Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com )

In 2011, a team of Texas consultants hired by the Oregon Lottery visited dozens of Portland-area bars, restaurants and “delis” with video slot and poker machines to ask hundreds of patrons about their gambling habits.

What they found is the exact opposite of the fun-loving image the lottery has cultivated for years.

The biggest chunk of players, according to documents obtained by The Oregonian, park in front of a machine and gamble alone until all their money is gone.

“Video lottery is currently a solitary exercise,” Mozak Advertising & Insights concluded in bold green type, adding that “running out of money” is the primary reason for ending a gambling session.

It’s a classic description of problem gambling. 

And it fits with other records analyzed by The Oregonian showing that most of the lottery’s revenue comes from just a sliver of players who lose thousands of dollars a year. Some wind up bankrupt, divorced, unemployed or suicidal.

Yet lottery officials expressed no alarm. Instead, they’ve embarked on one of the agency’s most aggressive marketing efforts yet to increase play on the machines, considered by problem gambling experts to be among the most addictive forms of gambling on the planet.

Together, the findings and marketing plan paint a disturbing picture of a state agency knowingly — and increasingly — siphoning money away from a relatively small group of problem gamblers to pay for schools, parks, business development and other programs.

“It puts the government in the business of vice,” says Roger Humble, an addiction counselor who has treated more than 1,300 problem gamblers at the Bridgeway clinic in Salem. “We play them as suckers to help us pay our taxes.”

“Bled slowly”

The Oregon Lottery’s marketing plan declares that 2014 “will be a milestone year for Video Lottery,” with efforts to attract younger players and install new machines across the state.

It’s no wonder lottery officials are targeting video machines. The numbers tell the story:

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the lottery netted $856 million from all its games: Powerball, Megabucks, scratch tickets, Keno and video machines. A whopping $737 million -– 86 percent — came from video players.

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Lottery officials, along with state policymakers, have long known that addicted gamblers do more than their share to prop up state lottery revenues. What’s new is the state’s fervor in feeding their addiction.

The five-member state Lottery Commission last year approved spending $250 million over the next five years to replace the agency’s 12,000-plus video machines with state-of-the-art models. The first 3,000 machines are on order and could be in taverns, restaurants, strip clubs, bowling alleys and gambling-oriented “delis” in Portland and along the Interstate 5 corridor by late spring.

Created with help from math experts and neuroscientists, the machines are part of a new generation of electronic slots meant to attract younger customers used to playing arcade-style video games. They feature detailed color graphics and exotic names such as Golden Goddess and Shadow of the Panther.

But they’re all designed with one goal, says Natasha Dow Schüll, an anthropologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Addiction by Design,” a book about the link between video slots and compulsive gambling.

“They’re catering to the ones who want to zone out or escape,” Schüll says. “These machines are geared to provide that kind of experience.” The idea, Schüll says, is to lull players into a sense that they’re winning even as they slowly lose by returning 60 to 90 percent of the money they drop into the machines. “You don’t really notice that your money is going away,” she says. “As one industry designer told me, some gamblers like to be bled slowly.” 

In the Oregon Lottery’s case, gamblers fed a jaw-dropping $9.9 billion into the machines in fiscal 2013, according to lottery financial statements. They walked away with about $9.2 billion, a return rate of 93 percent. But that 7 percent loss represents a $1 billion boost to the state budget every two years — money that few are willing to walk away from, regardless of who pays it.

Problem gamblers pay a steep price and so does society, counselors say.

Addicts steal from their employers, from stores and from family members to get money to play, says Humble, the Bridgeway counselor. They wind up in trouble with the law or ostracized from their families. Often, they contract health problems, such as hypertension, that land them in the hospital.

“It’s incredible how going like this,” Humble says, mimicking the motion of pushing a slot machine button, “can create a monster.”


Slots push aside poker:

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Oregon Lottery leaders plan to increase profits from video games by $10 million, or 3 percent, in fiscal 2014. The focus clearly is on electronic slot games — “line games” that mimic slots. The games are shoving aside video poker as the game of choice.

The Mozak study shows 55 percent of players prefer line games, compared with 28 percent who prefer video poker. The remaining players divide their gambling time evenly.

The agency’s marketing plan calls for on-site advertising to bring in new players, lottery-sponsored events to teach newcomers how to play slot machines, and research into potential “mobile gaming” — think iPads in bars — as an extension to playing video slots.

The agency’s enthusiasm for the games worries mental health and addiction experts. Jeff Marotta, a nationally recognized consultant on problem gambling who lives in Portland, read the Mozak report and came away shaking his head.

“The most disturbing aspect of this study is that it is clearly focused on assisting the Oregon State Lottery to strategize ways to increase player volume,” Marotta said in an email. “I don’t believe a state agency should be aggressively pushing the public to participate in an activity that has well-documented risks associated with its addictive potential.” Marotta, who has consulted with the Oregon Lottery on problem gambling, said the recent voter rejection of a private casino in Gresham shows the public doesn’t want an expansion of gambling in the state.

“So why,” he asks, “has the lottery recently invested in research and advertising to promote a form of gambling that addicts more Oregonians than any other form of gambling?”

Les Bernal, an outspoken critic of state-run lotteries, puts it more bluntly.

“That’s a government program that’s consciously exploiting the addiction of its own citizens,” says Bernal, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based group Stop Predatory Gambling. “How many people are injured every year by the Oregon Lottery’s machines? Instead of stopping, they’re saying, ‘You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to bring in new machines.’ How incredible is that?”

Director denies findings:

The Oregon Lottery spends heavily to research nearly every aspect of its player base. Contracts with Mozak, the Texas firm that conducted the interviews of video players in bars, came to $275,000 alone.

As part of its research, Mozak also brought 130 gamblers into a room in Portland filled with video machines and closely studied their habits and preferences. Lottery officials rejected The Oregonian’s request to look at results from the study, citing a “trade secrets” exemption from state public records law.

Despite all the data, the lottery’s director either doesn’t understand or won’t acknowledge the extent to which the agency relies on problem gamblers for revenue.

In a lengthy interview with The Oregonian, lottery Director Larry Niswender defended the lottery’s practices and denied that the agency targets problem gamblers. He also disputed data showing that an outsize share of lottery revenue comes from a small group of players. He offered no explanation for Mosak’s finding that lone players gamble until they empty their wallets or purses.

“We’re operating under a framework set in the constitution, approved by voters,” said Niswender, who announced he is retiring from the lottery at the end of the month. Former state Labor Commissioner Jack Roberts takes over as director Dec. 1.

Voters overwhelmingly approved creating the lottery in 1984, Niswender said, and surveys show strong support today. And the whole point is to raise as much money as possible to substitute for tax increases, he said.

Niswender also pointed to a new responsible-gambling plan developed by lottery staff that will be implemented next year. The plan calls for the lottery to establish a “responsible gaming code of practice” but largely continues practices in place, such as clocks on game screens and prominent display of the 877-MYLIMIT help number for problem gamblers.

**To be fair here is the info from the “My Limit” website**

The Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline has been in operation since 2001 and is currently taking approximately 5,000 calls a year. Trained professional staff members are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen, educate, answer questions, and refer people to free confidential treatment services.

If you (or someone you know) are gambling too much, you can call the Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline and speak to a certified gambling counselor. All information shared is confidential and this service is FREE to Oregon residents.

Call the Helpline 1-877-695-4648 (My Limit) and speak with someone who can get you to the help you may need. Or text 503-713-6000.

All calls are free.
All calls are confidential.
Call anytime, 24 hours a day.

You are not alone. There is help, there is hope, and there is a way to get your life back on track.


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The lottery’s goal, Niswender said, “is to attract new players so we don’t have a few that play a lot, we have a lot playing a little.” He questioned lottery data showing the opposite.

“I have a hard time believing there’s a very small number of people generating what is probably between $12 million to $14 million a week in revenue,” Niswender said. “It’s got to be a broad diverse player base.”

But later, his research staff confirmed through lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann that the lottery’s video revenue does come from a small segment of players.

As far as the finding that most play alone, Niswender referred to surveys in which video players reported playing mainly for fun. “It’s to hang out with friends,” he said.

“Anything but a social thing”

A visit to just about anyplace with lottery video games offers a different view.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon at top grossing lottery outlets, people sat at the machines, quietly feeding in $5 and $20 bills.

At Ace Tavern on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, patron Amanda Elliot watched while two women who declined to give their names played slot machines in silence.

“Your focus is on the screen,” said Elliot, who rarely plays. “It’s anything but a social thing.”

Habitual players say they may go to casinos with friends, but they play Oregon Lottery alone.

“I have no interest in interacting with other people while I’m gambling,” says Kitty Martz of Northwest Portland, who recently completed a gambling treatment program. “I can’t stand to have someone even comment, ‘Looks like you’ve got a win there.’” She says she would wear a “gambling suit” that included ear buds to block outside noise and a scarf to hide her face.

Martz, 44, is a world traveler who once had a thriving home-remodeling business. Once she fell into the grip of video poker and slots, she started blowing through her and her now ex-husband’s life savings.

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” Martz says. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

A devil’s bargain

The lottery has always been something of a devil’s bargain, suggests Peter Bragdon, who helped lead a 1995 task force on state-run gambling. The task force, established by Gov. John Kitzhaber, issued a widely publicized report warning that the state was becoming overly dependent on money that came at least in part from gambling addicts.
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Years later, Bragdon was serving as chief of staff to then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who also served on the task force and helped write the report. The state was in the middle of a budget crisis, and “pressure was intense” to increase lottery profits, Bragdon said.

At the time, the state had video poker but not slots because of their addictive allure. First, the state loosened rules to allow six video poker machines per establishment instead of five. Then the governor decided to allow slot machines.

“It’s not pressure from gambling interests, it’s pressure from people who want to spend the money,” Bragdon says. “You’ve got the reality of getting people to play these games, but you’re also looking at a budget where you’ve got really vulnerable people losing medicine, losing shelter, school doors closing early.

“And you’ve got to make a choice.”

— Harry Esteve, The Oregonian

<    <   <   <  >

**Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & ‘In Recovery Magazine’ Columnist**

 

 

 

It’s Coming -“National Week of Action to Stop Predatory Gambling” Sept. 25th -Oct 1st, 2016. Meet Ronda Hatefi and Her Brother – Bobby’s Story.

Ronda Hatefi holds a picture of her brother, Bobby, a problem gambler who committed suicide in 1995.
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“Meet my dear friend Ronda Hatefi holding a photo of her brother, Bobby Hafemann one of the first suicide’s I learned about due to his Gambling Addiction .  .  . He was ONLY 28-years old.”

 


I caught up with Ronda a week or so ago by phone, and happened to learn some new information that I had not known before about Bobby. I invited Ronda to be the main focus for this 2nd annual “National Week of Action from Predatory Gambling” this year to follow-up and to keep her brother Bobby Hafemann’s memory alive. Even though Bobby isn’t with us, his story needs to be told often to help others who are still suffering and are stuck in the insidious “cycle” of Gambling Addiction.

Personally, after talking with Ronda I came to the conclusion that The Oregon Lottery and The State of Oregon had FAILED Bobby and his family. Ronda had told me that they had gotten Bobby in a form of treatment that was supposed to be provided by state funding of profits from the Oregon Lottery. But after a year or two, the treatment program was pulled and disappeared.

They also tried having him attend Gamblers Anonymous, well, the guy running the Hotline Phone Number just relapsed and was out gambling again when he had returned Ronda’s call. They were then told to seek help maybe through therapy or a psychiatrist or therapist, they had no idea how to treat a compulsive addicted gambler.
More failures. We ow know how this story ended. His suicide should have never happened!

So I will be sharing all the hard work that my friend Ronda Hatefi and her family still share’s today to help others in the upcoming week of Action. But, here is an article and story I came across about Bobby Hafemann and his death and how the family was devastated of the failures as they all desperately tried to help Bobby. . . . .

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LOSING THE GAMBLE ~ Friday, July 27th, 1995 ~ (Author Kate Taylor – Oregonian Staff)
Full Article on:  SSRI Stories – Antidepressant Stories

Summary: “The parents of a compulsive gambler say the Oregon lottery stole their son, caused his suicide.   The machines he haunted still blink up hearts, clubs, diamonds. Their glow still lures thousands of Oregonians every day.”

But Robert Lewis Hafemann, a compulsive gambler, has played his last game of video poker. After slipping his life savings and countless loans into gambling machines, and at the end of a desperate search for help against his addiction, 28-year-old Hafemann shot himself in his Milwaukie home July 20.

When he was buried this week, he left behind a grieving family as well as questions about the state’s most popular gambling game and the declining help for people who can’t stop playing.

“My Bobby was a winner,” said his father, Harvey Hafemann, clutching his wife’s hand at his Milwaukie home.   “He could’ve won at a lot of different things. But he couldn’t win that game. The Oregon lottery stole our son from us.”   His father doesn’t know how it happened.

Before 1991, when the Legislature invited video poker into the state, his family considered Robert Hafemann’s gambling playful and benign. He thrilled at his first scratch-ticket jackpot of $600 at the age of 18. The following years he won everything from cowboy hats to couches to television sets. He lost money, too, but his $45,000-a-year job as a steel fabricator easily made up the loss. He always had extra to give.

“He had the biggest heart you’d ever meet,” said his sister, Ronda Hatefi.  “He made more money than any of us, so he wanted to share.”   Then came video poker and the 1,500 taverns, restaurants and bowling alleys that put in 7,200 machines.

The machines, which bring in $1 million a day, drew Robert Hafemann like a siren song. He became one of the estimated 61,000 pathological or problem gamblers in Oregon.  He stopped coming home after work. Instead, he sought out machines.

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“He talked about the (video machines) all the time,” his father said.  “He said he was going to get out of this. He would win a million dollars, and we’d all be living on easy street.”   In his last few months, Hafemann spent every hour of spare time and every cent of his paycheck gambling. On the rare occasions his family saw him, he’d borrow money, say he was going to the store for a soda and return the next morning. He stopped picking up his mail and checking his answering machine because he couldn’t face creditors.

Hafemann’s family saw less and less of the son and brother they remembered.  “He told me he felt like a ghost, standing alone,” said his mother, Diana Hafemann.  “That’s what he looked like. We told him we’re here for you, but he said he just couldn’t stop.”

At work, he was efficient and industrious as always and continued to ask for extra shifts. But he stopped telling jokes and stopped asking his co-workers if they had heard any new ones. Instead, he asked to borrow money.

“I’d lend him small amounts and he always paid me back,” said Alan Christen, a fellow machine operator.  “You could tell his esteem of himself had gone way down.”  Then in May, he finally told his mother he was considering suicide and needed help.   “It was the best Mother’s Day present,” said Diana Hafemann.  “I told him he was a winner because it takes a big man to admit he’s got a problem.”

Searching for help:

Hafemann’s despair is tragically common, said Bob Denton, a treatment counselor at Portland’s Diversion Associates, a group that treats addicts. Almost half of the people he treats seem to be contemplating suicide, and about 90 percent say their worst problem is video poker.

When Robert Hafemann and his mother went to Kaiser’s East Interstate Medical Office for help, Diana Hafemann said a doctor prescribed her son Prozac and soon referred him to a general practitioner. Kaiser declined to comment.

When compulsive gamblers seek help, they often meet with the wrong treatment, said Steven Henry, a psychologist with the Clackamas County Mental Health Department’s gambling treatment program. “Pathological gambling doesn’t present itself with alcohol on the breath, needle marks on the arm, or roaches in the ashtray,” Henry said.  “It presents itself with empty bank accounts and the lifeblood drained out of families.”

Diana Hafemann said there were very few resources that could help her son. Many health care providers agree.  Oregon lawmakers this year approved $4 million for gambling addiction treatment over the next two years, $800,000 less than the previous two years.   Oregon lottery spokesman David Hooper said many of the county-run programs failed to spend all of the larger amounts allocated. He defended the growth of video poker, saying most of the players are healthy.

“It’s a very unfortunate, tragic circumstance,” Hooper said of Hafemann’s death.   “But it’s like any other product, there’s going to be individuals who are unable to handle it. You cannot run a society based on the exceptions.”  But those who work with gambling addicts say video poker, which is permitted only in six states, is the most virulent, addictive form of gambling.  “The hypnotic effect of screen and the speed of play engages peoples’ interest and allows them to escape from their problems in a way that no other form of gambling does,” he said. “The cost is also easy for people to rationalize — just $5 or $20 for a game, but then suddenly they’ve gone through $100 and the remorse can be overwhelming.”

That remorse was overwhelming for Robert Hafemann early July 20 as he sat drinking beer, going through his phone book and thinking about what he’d lost. He called one friend five times, despairing over his finances. She tried to calm him and thought she talked him out of suicide. He called the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department for a gambling hotline number. But Hafemann inverted two of the numbers as he wrote it on his notepad and thought the number had been disconnected. In his last words to his mother and father, he told them he loved them but said he had to take care of something he couldn’t stop any other way. He directed them to sell his belongings and pay off his creditors.

When his father and two nephews visited him Saturday, they discovered him slumped over a living room table with a six-pack of beer at his feet.

“I hate to say this, but I feel that this suicide was another job that he felt had to be done,” his father said. “He did every job the best he could, that’s the way Bob was.”

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Need help from Gambling Addiction or Problem Gambling? Call Today.


In Oregon:  call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (695-4648).

National Hotline:  call  1-800-522-4700 all days and hours for resources and referrals.

National Suicide Hotline: call Call  1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day.

Gamblers Anonymous – http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/hotlines
Find A Meeting: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/locations

For Family Help:  Gam-Anon: Family and friends of problem gamblers can find resources and a list of meetings at gam-anon.org or 718-352-1671.


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*NEW Relapse Prevention PAGE listing*

Hello everyone,
TODAYS POST is Listed On My “PAGES” Called  *Relapse Prevention & Being Complacent*
You will find a Fantastic Workbook page to use that I’ve been using since I entered Recovery from Gambling Addiction. It has everything you need to STOP Relapse in it’s track!! Feel free to “Copy & Paste” to use when ever you need. Also listed is a website for Mr. Terry Gorski, who’s information was used in some of this Prevention Plan Ira & Ken put together for all to use. Terry has some wonderful books & workbooks to purchase, as he is a Leader in Relapse Prevention. I truly hope my permanent page will be useful to everyone!  Hope you all had a Great Day!