“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.”

 

Dear Gambling Addiction, ~ It’s My Final Goodbye…Part One

“It is time to make amends and to forgive me.”

I Am A Recovering Gambling Addict.
In Recovery As of – Jan 29th, 2007
1996 to 2007- “I was a gambling addict until I entered recovery.”

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Dear Gambling Addiction,


It has been some time now since we have been together, or had any contact between the two of us now for 10+ years. So I thought it was time to for a final goodbye but first catch up on the years we have been apart, and this will be my last contact with you.

Things have been going well for me these past years. Yes, you have crossed my mind in those early years, but I never had the courage to bring myself to tell you that it was time for “A Final Goodbye” forever as it stings for it to be so final…..Like a loss or death. This time it is your funeral and not mine, as my two failed suicides were enough for me.

YES, we have drifted apart, so this shouldn’t be a surprise or difficult for either of us to finally be silent from one another. We have been through so much together. And not all was positive. Yes, we shared and had some good times, but that ended up turning deadly for me. Many of those bad memories are pretty tough to forget. I just could not deny or see how you began to HURT me in our friendship. I didn’t understand at the middle to end of our friendship and then breakup that you could be so mean, hurtful and abusive to me.

WHY?

Do you not remember the times I’m talking about? There were many I can recall.

Please, do I have to remind you of all the times you were just a jackass to ME? So much so I tried to kill myself twice because of you! You want me to go THERE? Why don’t we start around the time we first met. We had seen each other around a little, once for my 21st birthday in Las Vegas, then in Reno once a year with my girls, or at the Indian Casino 40 miles from my home once every 3 to 4 months.

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But where did we get to know each other well? It was at all the “Oregon State Lottery Retail” stores opening up everywhere! It was where you and 5 of your video poker machine buddies seemed to be each time we ran into each other. I began to like you a lot and not be able to stay away from you. It was if you had all the control and I just went along with it. That was my downfall.

Especially when I started seeing your shiny video lottery signs outside all the bars and taverns around town, and even in most of the restaurants where hubby and I would go to eat. OH PLEASE, don’t get your panties in a bunch! I knew you were always mad or jealous of Tom my husband the first time you saw us together. I never understood why you didn’t like Tom, and why you were always HELL BENT to do anything to break our marriage apart! Well, I guess most was my fault as I feel “head over heals” in love with YOU dear video and slot machines. You turned out to be the best part of each day. I longed for you like a lover.

I know it was YOU who was always there for me when I was tired, bored, lonely, angry or had too much time on my hands, too much alcohol, and when Tom worked out-of-town those few years, you kept me high and we had such FUN! That’s when you and I got to know each other intimately, and we spent many, many hours together. It was like you loved me so much that all I could see and think of was you. You listened to what said, knew how I was feeling. You made me feel wanted and special.

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Then, to be able to spend more time with you, I had to begin to lie bout where I was all the time. I began to see you before, during, and after work. Then, toward the end of our friendship, you became more greedy and started to cost me a fortune in wasted money, taking more of my time from life, friends, then the job loss, our home, even pawning my jewelry! Need I go on?

You even had a hand in me being “arrested,” then a had a criminal record when I’d never stolen a penny in all the years I worked in the banking field or wasn’t even spending time with you anymore! You had me in such dire financial distress. Yes, I know, that was my fault because I stole from someone just to be able to able to pay my bills. That was even after I tried to stop seeing you! You were like a bad affair I couldn’t get rid of like the movie, “Basic Instinct.”

THEN? before I entered recovery the first time, you began to just take and take from me. Year after year until I had nothing left to give. THE MADNESS and INSANITY HAD TO STOP!

TO BE CONTINUED…..


Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author/Freelance writer

“Transforming Our Recovery: From Treatment Into Recovery and Healing”

Welcome Friends and Visitors!

YES, sorry that it has been a while since I have blogged about my journey and recovery from gambling addiction now 10+years IN!


I also have had many blessings come my way recently and thought I should share what I’m doing in my own recovery path. On of the beautiful things about recovery is we continue to grow when we have a plan in place for whatever life brings us. It can a new trial or test, or it can be an awesome learning opportunity. If we are NOT learning along the way, we become close minded and maybe not open to seeing all the miricales that happen in life and in our recovery journey!

Lately,  I have been on a journey myself of living wellness in LIFE. Yes, in life, not just in recovery. I have been craving more than “just” living a life in recovery and have learned we have many choices to get there. Our recovery is only a part of life. Living an authentic fun and peaceful life from addiction should be a goal when reaching long-term recovery.

We need to explore what we need to do to maintain and continue to grow, and there are many ways to accomplish this in both the treatment side and doing our inner work side, especially for those coming early into recovery. TWO great tools I have been using is an Educational DVD Series and finished reading the book; “Addiction To Recovery: Unlocking Your Potential.” They both have transformed my recovery. The book is the material used for the DVD’S.

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New Recovery DVD Series

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And if you have been in recovery from gambling addiction long-term, let’s face it; you don’t need to be a person who works in the field of treating gambling addicts to know there has not been much development in treatment options for those of us who become addicted gambling. And, there is much confusion of what to call a gambler who becomes addicted. Labeling a disease I feel adds to the “stigma” around many addictions let alone gambling, and hampers many who may seek for help.

Now, by all means, I am sharing this as a recovering gambler’s perspective and is what I call myself when speaking about my recovery from this illness. I am not an expert in the field, nor a therapist or treatment expert. It seems; however, we learn a lot about our addiction by research, by our treatment choice and the education we receive, and even by just listening to others around you in a group or GA meeting. We can look at recovery in the same way. And I have heard many “old” battles and disagreements about what IS the best route or path to recovery. A 12-step model, professional treatment, spiritual path or others. Recovery is not a “one size fits all” concept.

When we label people though, it may make them feel “like their disease” if that makes sense. I know I don’t like being labeled just because I live in recovery from addiction. I also live with mental health challenges, so more labels around that too. My addiction is called many names; “pathological gambling,” “compulsive gambling,” “addicted or at risk gambling, gambling disorder” and problem gambler,” and on and on. It can be very frustrating! But I am certain these various terms reflect the efforts of researchers and treatment providers to be able to describe the different levels of severity shown among people with gambling problems.

The same is lacking for new and innovative ways to treat gambling addiction. Some even treat it as a “Mental Health” issue and require a treatment model of cognitive-behavior. I disagree as an addiction IS a disease, and a disease is a medical problem, not just a mental health issue. The various treatment models used for gambling addiction, I found the problem was the effectiveness of these options and what seemed to be missing.

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WHY?

Because as I went through treatment myself, and attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings as well, did I relapse? YES, and I was seeing the same people in both my treatment group and GA meetings, out and had relapsed as they were out gambling too! That seems to question the actual honest success rate of these options of treatment. And with this in mind, most treatment options tend to only focus on three stages of treatment; crisis or intervention, followed by rehabilitation and ending with maintenance. Again, all my observations and what I experienced.

I feel what is missing in most types of treatment options is the so-called “maintenance.” The aftercare and teaching us how to begin the stage of “inner work” and self-reflection to address those deeper underlying issues, maybe pain, past trauma or abuse that may have had a part in those turning to addiction in the first place. It is the way addicts can learn to take back the power of our lives, begin the healing process, learn to forgive and then “let it GO.” Only then can we journey to a better way of life. Former addicts need the necessary skills and tools to inner work of our character defects and “clean out the soul” so to speak.

In recovery from gambling, we need to learn how to “feel” again as we used addiction to ‘numb or escape’ from our problems, life, or any pain or hurt. There are many ways to learn these skills if you are not receiving it within your choice of treatment and recovery. Some ways to begin “inner work” can be by journaling each day, write what worked and what areas you had problems that day and correct them. Reading addiction/recovery books, recovery magazines and even recovery papers like “Keys To Recovery,” and even working the 12-steps and rework them are all excellent tools to start the inside work, especially in early recovery.

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So, listening to recovery podcasts and DVDS are great ways to learn more about what others in recovery are doing to live a well-balanced, and happy life in recovery. Many add prayer, meditation, and even yoga as ways to a truer inner peace and gain serenity. These are all actions I use in my recovery. Coming into recovery is scary enough, but learning a deeper meaning of yourself and life without addiction in the process is the best part of your recovery that gets you to long-term recovery IN happiness from addiction.

Life doesn’t stop just because you are recovering. It takes honest surrender that gambling has you beat, that you are ready for change, and you want your life back. It takes a lifetime journey, but always remember we “all are works in progress.” I think as others in recovery from gambling addiction; we need to continue to ask ourselves?

What more can we do to help decrease the “stigma” and increase how we can help and be of service to others fighting this addiction? I say?

“Keep having the conversation and advocating.” I know I will!

**Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, Former Columnist, Freelance Writer** 

 

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

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I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

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One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

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Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

Teen Gambling and Addiction. Addicted Gambling IS Reaching Our Youth! “Problem Gambling Awareness Month.”

It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body. However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gate way’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has […]

9 MAJOR CONSEQUENCES OF YOUTH PROBLEM GAMBLING — TEENS AND THEIR FRUIT MACHINES ….


RECOVERY Guest Post ~ Courtesy of ‘Teens and Their Fruit Machines’ Australia….And It IS Happening In The USA.”

About

Teens & Their Fruit Machines is a campaign aimed at raising awareness towards the increase in problem gambling, amongst our youth.

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“It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body.”

However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gateway’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has damaging effects on not only the victim but also their family and friends.  With all of the statistics telling us how many young individuals are affected by this addiction, it’s important to recognize the consequences and problems they face from gambling.

Teens who gamble have higher rates of:

  1. Bankruptcy/ money problems

An average problem gambler loses around $21, 000 per year. Some poker machines can allow a gambler to lose more than $1, 500 in just one hour. In Australia, young people (18-24 years old) spend more money on poker machines than any other age.

  1. Absenteeism from school and early drop-out

This includes poor academic performance and loss of motivation.

 

  1. Housing crisis and homelessness

Whether it’s through financial problems, due to money lost from addiction, or family members kicking young adults out for their problem, homelessness is a common link to gambling addiction.

  1. Substance abuse

This involves alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily, than non-gamblers.

  1. Suicidal ideation and suicide

Problem gambling can lead to feelings of helplessness, as youth feel they have nowhere else to turn. Only 15% of problem gamblers seek help due to stigma, leading them to face the issue on their own.

  1. Mental health issues

This includes anxiety, depression and anti- social behavior.

  1. Criminal behaviour

A higher rate of illegal activity such as robbery, in order to fund their addiction and financial difficulties perpetuated from their problem.

  1. Disrupted family and peer relationships

For each problem gambler, it is estimated that 5-17 other individuals may be affected by their addiction. This could include emotional impacts such as guilt, arguments, disapproval and disruptions to family life.

 

 

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TOP WAYS FOR YOUTH TO GAMBLE ~ What Are They Betting ON?

Scratching tickets, playing cards or watching horses, whatever it is, young people gamble in many ways.

But whether it’s Keno or backing a Bachelor Winner on Sportsbet,  what are our young actually gambling on? Well in the US they are placing BETS ON:

Poker Machines:

 Don’t let the bright lights fool you! If I haven’t said it already, these fruit machines are dangerous! Around 4% of age youth regularly play poker machines, with 15% of people who play being problem gamblers. If it couldn’t get any worse, young people aged 18-24 spend more money on these machines, than any other age group. Poker machines are by far the most problematic form of gambling for college age group.

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POKER/Cards: A Must Read Story – Teens and Poker The Guardian

 
Steve learned the basics by stacking “play money'”  at “Poker school’ sites run by the big online poker companies alongside their gambling sites. Within a month, he was betting cash. “I just typed poker into Google and started playing on the first sites that came up. I deposited money using my own debit card and just registered using a fake date of birth.”

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So, 18 months on, is he winning? ‘Oh yes, definitely, in the long run, but you can have huge swings each week. This week I lost $2,000 [online poker is denominated in dollars], but the week before I won $3,000. Poker’s all about skill in the end and I’ve taken the trouble to learn the game.’ Steve intends to postpone university for a year to play ‘full time’ for ‘five or six hours a day.”

BUT?

The number of High school-age and College students calling gambling helplines in America has doubled in the past two years. Ed, who runs a helpline for the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling, blames internet poker. “I have been in this field for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything as crazy as this,” says the reformed gambling addict. “It’s much like when crack cocaine came out in America in the Eighties. Internet gambling is something right now that you almost can’t stop.”

Two years ago, Paul, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, stole his father’s American Express card to play online poker. Within a few weeks, it was $10,000 into the red. He hoped to win it back before his father found out, but was forced to confess when the bill arrived: his father had to pay up. Paul says the lure of the 24-hour online poker rooms was irresistible: “There was no real age verification or proof of anything needed to play.”

THAT’S THE PROBLEM!

 

 

Sports Betting & More of Internet Gambling:
Sports’ betting is the fastest growing form of gambling around the world. A study by the center for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University, reported a 70% increase in individuals presenting to gambling help services with sports –betting problems in 2009. Not only this but now online gambling! And is now worth an estimated $30 billion. And online poker is estimated to be worth $6 billion annually in the US alone, as the Justice Department has apparently opened the door to internet gambling by reversing their longtime position that online poker and betting was illegal.

 

 

 

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You can pretty much bet on anything on the Internet today! With the increasing accessibility of the Internet around the world, young people have the ease of gambling from the comfort of their own home or dorms.  Not only that but young people can access betting sites from their tablets, smartphones, iPods, laptops and whatever new gadget appears in the store.

In other words, the betting environment has changed, and the breadth and intensity of engagement with the gambling industry and following with it. Not to mention gambling advertising, which swarms our online news, and news feeds!  Last week, I was offered to make a bet on The Bachelorette winner!

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Let’s face it, parents, now YOU need to add gambling and the dangers of how easy they can start to have a problem with it or even become addicted when you have “the talk” with them about drugs and alcohol.

 

Some stats from Center on Addiction say’s “that with most types of addiction, perceptions of who’s at risk for a gambling problem are often wrong. The most recent available data indicates that 2.1 percent of U.S. youth aged 14-21 engage in problem gambling – virtually the same percentage as adults with the disorder. Two-thirds of youth reported gambling in the past year and 11 percent said they gambled more than twice per week.

 

Though it’s hard for teens to access casinos, online and at-home betting is another way for adolescents to gamble, making it difficult for adults to monitor or detect. Like substance use and addiction, most adults who have a problem with gambling began during their teenage years.”

 

 

 

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** Presented by “Recovery Starts Here! – Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon” **

 

 

    

An Expert and Real Words About “Gambling Addiction” From Arnie Wexler, Author, Expert, and My Friend.

PLEASE, take a listen to this very important video of Arnie Wexler and his take on Gambling Addiction and about his book, gambling addiction. As Now We Kick Off Another “Betting Superbowl!!”  . . . . .

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“A Look at Problem Gambling Problem with Arnie Wexler a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor and Author of  “All Bets Are OFF

 

 

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About The Book:

Arnie Wexler’s life as a gambler began on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, flipping cards, shooting marbles, and playing pinball machines. At age fourteen he found the racetrack, a bookie, and started playing the stock market. His obsession with gambling accelerated until a fateful day in 1968 when it all came crashing down.

Wexler’s gripping narrative leads us through the dungeon of a compulsive gambler’s world—chasing the big win and coming up with empty pockets—and how his addiction drove him and his wife, Sheila, to the edge of life. With help, they managed to escape, and together they have devoted themselves to helping others with the problem they know so well.

Arnie and Sheila Wexler have provided extensive training on compulsive, problem, and underage gambling to more than 40,000 gaming employees and have written Responsible Gaming Programs for major gaming companies. In addition to running the toll-free, national helpline 888-LAST-BET, Sheila and Arnie are consultants to Recovery Road in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a Sunspire Health private residential treatment facility for adults with chemical dependency and problem gambling.

Steve Jacobson was a sports reporter and columnist for Newsday for more than forty years with a great interest in all aspects of sports. He co-authored a number of books with notable sports personalities. He was named by Associated Press among the top sports columnists and twice was nominated by Newsday for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Book by Arnie and Sheila Wexler
and Steve Jacobson.

Read about Arnie’s life of addiction and how it impacted his wife Sheila and their family.

Books can be ordered on Amazon.com

Watch the YouTube video of The Steve Malzberg show’s review of the book and interview of Arnie and Sheila.

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Courtesy and Visit Arnie’s Blog: WWW.ASWEXLER.COM

http://aswexler.com/2017/01/11/n-f-l-playoff-gamessuper-bowl-and-gambling/

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**