A Blast From My Past. My Days Writing For InRecovery Magazine! A Special Interview With Arnie Wexler a Gambling Recovery Expert, Advocate, and Author.

A Blast From My Past. My Days Writing For InRecovery Magazine! A Special Interview With Arnie Wexler a Gambling Recovery Expert, Advocate, and Author.


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An Article I Wrote All About Arnie Wexler for and Courtesy InRecovery Magazine and An Amazing Book You Need to READ . . .


THE AUTHOR’S CAFÉ ~ 
By Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Columnist
InRecovery – June 30, 2017

 

Awhile back, the Powerball lottery drawing was for an ungodly amount of money and went a couple of rounds without a winner. I was chatting with a dear friend and fellow author, Arnie Wexler. I call him “The Grandfather of Gambling Addiction Recovery,” as his last bet in the mad world of sports betting and horse track betting was back in the 70s.

He’s never looked back. Instead, he has helped scores of people return from the abyss of gambling addiction. He co-wrote a book titled, All Bets Are Off: Losers, Liars, and Recovery from Gambling Addiction with veteran sports journalist, Steve Jacobson, in which he shares how his gambling addiction drove him and his wife, Sheila, to the edge of life.

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“Steve Jacobson is what’s known in baseball and journalism as a seasoned pro, a man of credibility, conscience, and caring. Arnie Wexler? There’s a reason why for the last 35 years, he has been the news media’s go-to guy on issues of addicted gambling: He has saved at least as many souls, including his own, as Mother Teresa.”
– Phil Mushnick, Sports Columnist, New York Post

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An advocate of gambling addiction recovery like me, Arnie has shared his expert advice on various media outlets and as a speaker for Fortune 500 corporations. He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including Nightline, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, 48 Hours, Crossfire and Oprah.

He is the past executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey and is a certified compulsive gambling counselor and recovery coach. He and his wife set up the hotline 1-888-LAST-BET that continues to help addicted gamblers today. I’m happy to say he’s also a good friend and my #1 recovery supporter.

Now, back to our chat about the Powerball lottery. Arnie was telling me that many in his Gamblers Anonymous group (GA) either bought tickets for a chance to win or had others buy them tickets. I was also encountering this on my online GA meetings and gambling recovery chat rooms. We both agreed that either way the tickets were purchased, it was still gambling.

 

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See, Gamblers Anonymous defines gambling for the compulsive gambler as “Any betting or wagering, for self or others, whether or not for money, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or ‘skill’ constitutes gambling.”

According to this definition, all forms of risk or chance such as raffle tickets, scratch tickets and flipping a coin are considered gambling; though many people don’t like to include lottery tickets in the list.

Addiction is addiction no matter what your gambling preference. Arnie and I were brokenhearted as we heard about all the people in long-term recovery who had bought tickets. Even this seemly innocent purchase could be dangerous for gamblers; gambling addiction has one of the highest suicide rates among addictions.

What is your take on this? Do you think buying a lottery ticket constitutes gambling?

How about those who had someone else buy tickets for them? Is that gambling?

Should they lose their recovery time over a Powerball lottery drawing?

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I know GA
is not the only way to recover; many of us decided to have professional treatment including rehab, recovery coaching and even one-on-one therapy aimed at helping addicted gamblers. After doing some online research, however, I discovered that most recovery sites advocate GA’s guidelines for persons in recovery from gambling. This disease cost me way more than the year’s of wasted money, it almost cost me my life twice from suicide.

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Even though they were failed suicide attempts, 1 in every 5 problem gamblers will try suicide. Gambling addiction now affects 2.9% of our population as problems with gambling. AND? Gambling Addiction is now the #1 addiction claiming lives by SUICIDE over drugs and alcohol combined. By Suicide. Google it if you don’t believe this FACT.


Lastly and finally, the word about addicted gambling is getting out and is a hot discussion all over social media – but the way Arnie and I see it?

If a recovering gambler has someone else buy tickets for them, they gambled. Gambling is gambling.   www.aswexler.com

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Arnie Wexler is one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in the country, who has spent the last 30 years helping other compulsive gamblers to recover. He’s a certified compulsive gambling counselor, and he was the Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey for eight years. Arnie has appeared on many of America’s top television shows, including Oprah, Nightline, and 48 Hours.

 

He’s been quoted and profiled in literally hundreds of magazines and newspapers. He presents workshops and training sessions internationally. He has spoken to many gaming industry executives, Fortune 500 companies, legislative bodies, and on college campuses across the nation.

Since 1994, both Arnie and his wife Sheila have trained hundreds of professionals working in addiction treatment centers, including Sierra Tucson and Betty Ford Center. In addition, they have provided extensive training to casino personnel, and have written responsible gaming policies for major gaming companies.

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Summer Spotlights for Gambling Recovery! My Friends of The Arizona Office of Problem Gambling & National Council on Problem Gambling…

Summer Spotlights for Gambling Recovery! My Friends of The Arizona Office of Problem Gambling & National Council on Problem Gambling…


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Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,

Summer is in full swing and here in Arizona it is now moving way into the “Heat With Double Digits.” It can be a tough time for many of us who maintain recovery from gambling addiction and those who are still suffering and stuck in the cycle of addicted gambling. With the heat, we look for indoor things to do and for those with a gambling problem? That can mean more visits to the CASINOS.

So, during these summer months, I will shine a spotlight on the many recovery resources and places who offer help, education and raise awareness about problem gambling. If you spend more time indoors at casinos, your open to the slow progression into full-blown addicted gambling. But there is hope and help out there, you just need to know where to look. Even though I have many places for help on my resources page, I can never share too many places for help, information, and hope. And it’s why I came up with the idea to share them and ‘Shine a Light’ on those places who care and want to help those needing it this summer!

I will start for those seeking help in The State of Arizona!

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ABOUT THE ARIZONA OFFICE OF PROBLEM GAMBLING:

“Our Mission Is Simple: “Our Mission is to provide and support effective problem gambling prevention, treatment, and education programs throughout Arizona.”

The Division of Problem Gambling is committed to a public health approach to address problem gambling issues.  This takes into consideration biological, behavioral, economic, cultural, policy, and environmental factors influencing gambling and health. We will accomplish our mission and realize our vision by being culturally sensitive and responsive to the needs of our partners and those we serve.

We will be professional, collaborative, equitable, and innovative in our solutions to address problem gambling. To Support a sustainable continuum of services that reduces to a minimum level the impact of problem gambling in Arizona.

General Election 2002’s Ballot Proposition 202 (the “Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act”) stated: “Two percent [of the tribal contributions made to the Arizona Benefits Fund], shall be used by the Department of Gaming to fund state and local programs for the prevention and treatment of, and education concerning, problem gambling.” The Division of Problem Gambling has been established by the Department of Gaming to fulfill this responsibility.

Another Arizona state agency, the Arizona Lottery, has had a Please Play Responsibly Program since 1998 and a Problem Gambling Program since 2000.  The Lottery and the Department of Gaming are collaborating through an inter-agency agreement to consolidate management of all state problem gambling programs within the Division of Problem Gambling with the goal of ensuring continuity of services.

“We look forward to serving the people of Arizona by fulfilling our Mission.”

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The National Council on Problem Gambling by State.

Both The AZ Office and The National Council on Problem Gambling offer fantastic advice, prevention, and education for Parents about Youth and Gambling this page on their website: YOUTH & GAMBLING.

If they’re not drinking or using drugs, what’s the big deal?”

Gambling is not a safe alternative to alcohol or drug use for YOUTH. Many people think that poker among friends is totally safe if young people are not drinking or smoking. The truth is, while most people do not develop problems with gambling, more youth than ever are developing problems with gambling. Consequences of problem gambling include more than lost money.

 

Our youth are the first generation in our nation to experience the current acceptability and accessibility of gambling. Their mothers and grandmothers are taking trips to local casinos; families watch poker tournaments on TV as if they were a sporting event and schools regularly have casino nights as fundraisers or after proms and graduation. We owe it to our youth to teach them that gambling is not risk-free.

Large-scale prevalence studies and reviews all confirm the high prevalence rates of youth gambling. It is estimated that between 4% and 8% of adolescents presently exhibit a serious gambling problem with another 10% to 14% of adolescents at risk for developing or returning to a serious gambling problem (Shaffer & Hall, Meta Analysis, 1996, Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 193-214)

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Gambling risk behavior is consistently associated with other risky behavior such as drug use, juvenile delinquency, and family problems:

Arizona Youth Gambling Profile Report – 2008

Arizona Criminal Justice Commission Youth Gambling Fact Sheet
Nebraska Risk and Protective Factor Study – 2003

  • Of the students who gamble, the most common age of initiation is 10 or younger
  • Males are more than twice as likely as females to have gambled in the past year
  • Males are three times more likely to respond to two or more “problem gambling” questions than females
  • Gambling involvement is positively correlated with substance abuse and all other risk factors for substance use

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Teen problem gamblers have higher rates of:

Crime (theft, robbery, embezzlement)

  • School problems (e.g., lower grades, truancy, behavior issues)
  • Family problems (e.g., withdrawal, behavior issues)
  • Peer relationship problems
  • Legal and money troubles
  • Depression; suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • Dissociative, “escape” behaviors
  • Risk for co-occurring addiction(s) including alcohol and substance abuse

Source: Gupta and Derevensky, eGambling Youth Gambling: A Clinical and Research Perspective


For Adults and Families? They can help both individuals and families with treatment options paid for the State of Arizona.

So Arizonians now have help and options to get treatment for Gambling Addiction or Problem Gambling. If you or a loved one needs help today?  Please call or email below or The NCP Gambling.

JAY HERYCYK – State of Arizona

Treatment Administrator
602-255-3888

 

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FIND HELP IN YOUR STATE NOW, including counseling, treatment, self-help, and support groups:

NATIONAL PROBLEM GAMBLING HELPLINE

Call: 1-800-522-4700
Text: 1-800-522-4700
Chat: ncpgambling.org/chat


AND

ARIZONA COUNCIL ON COMPULSIVE GAMBLING, INC.

9001 E. Palmer Drive
Chandler, AZ 85248
Tel: 480.802.4945
Fax: 480.802.4945
Email: azccg@azccg.org
Website: www.azccg.org
Helpline: 800.777.7207

OTHER STATE RESOURCES

• Arizona Office of Problem Gambling is responsible for general health and/or addiction services in this state, and may also have information on problem gambling.

• For the fact sheet on gambling and problem gambling in Arizona, click here.

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PROBLEM GAMBLING WARNING SIGNS:
Ask Yourself These Questions?

  • Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?
  • Have you ever lied to people important to you about how much you gambled?
  • Have you repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling?
  • Do you gamble as a way of escaping emotional or physical pain?
  • Have you ever relied on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling?
  • Have you ever jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or career opportunity because of gambling?
  • Have you gambled to get money with which to pay debts or to solve other financial problems?
  • Have you borrowed money to finance your gambling?
  • Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  • Do you gamble to try to get your money back?

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The Four Phases of Escape Gambling

Problem gambling is thought to be a progressive disorder, traveling through four phases. Although this describes the four phases of what is commonly called the “Escape” gambler, anyone experiencing problems in life due to gambling will probably be able to identify with this progression.

Gamblers Anonymous 20 Questions

If someone answers “yes” to seven or more of these questions, Gamblers Anonymous suggests it is an indication of a serious problem.

DSM-5 Diagonostic Criteria: Gambling Disorder

A score of five or more is categorized as pathological gambling, but a score of three or four could indicate a serious concern for the problems gambling is creating in one’s life.


So don’t gamble with your life like I did! Please visit The Office of Arizona Problem Gambling Division or The National Council on Problem Gambling and get help now!  The State of Arizona! 

 

 

 

Now a 4th of July Message From My Friends of The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling …

Now a 4th of July Message From My Friends of The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling …

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KEEPING US SAFE and BET FREE Over The 4th of July Holiday …

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Don’t Ruin Your 4th with Illegal Bets on the 400…

 by Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling under Mental HealthProblem Gambling AwarenessSports Betting

 

What do a barbecue, the beach, and fireworks have in common?

They’re all part of the way Floridians and the USA celebrate Independence Day! Not to mention, all three of these come with their own set of safety warnings.

Daytona Beach also has a tradition for the holiday weekend that started in the summer of 1959. Originally dubbed the Firecracker 250, the Coke® Zero Sugar 400 is the second major stock car cup series race of the year in the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” following the famed DAYTONA 500® that kicks off the season. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR®) fittingly has its headquarters in Daytona Beach as well, and the Daytona International Speedway is a landmark that cannot be missed.

This year’s Coke® Zero Sugar 400 takes place on Saturday, July 6, 2019.
Will you be watching?

Image result for coke sugar 400

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Although sports betting has not been legalized in Florida, betting on stock car racing is in the fast lane elsewhere. Dover International Speedway in Delaware introduced a betting kiosk in October 2018 and became the first racetrack to allow visitors to gamble on site. Delaware passed legislation to allow sports betting less than one month after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional in May of last year.

In partnership with Sportradar Integrity Services, NASCAR® developed its policy for gambling on races in order to prevent associated cheating, which is put in place for the 2019 season. The policy includes a ban on betting for drivers and team members. This past May, NASCAR® announced that it is teaming up with Genius Sports to create a live betting platform for sportsbooks.[3] NASCAR® also operates its own fantasy game website.[4]


“The wheels are turning on sports betting, and so too must the wheels on problem gambling treatment and prevention.”

While gambling is a safe recreational activity for most, those who suffer from “gambling disorder” experience a wide range of devastating effects that go far beyond an empty wallet. Gambling addiction is associated with divorce, domestic abuse, child neglect, crime, and suicidal ideation and attempts, to name a few.

Take note that it is not always easy to tell when someone in recovery for problem gambling may be in the room. Problem gambling is also known as the hidden and silent addiction since those who are suffering do not show physical symptoms common in cases of substance abuse. Even starting a friendly betting pool for next Saturday’s race presents a host of triggers and poses a significant risk of relapse to these individuals.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with problem gambling,

call Florida’s 24-7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848). The HelpLine offers a wide range of resources to help individuals understand disordered gambling and be able to recognize the warning signs, while providing referrals to support groups and licensed treatment providers for those in need.

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What is Problem Gambling? My Friends of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Explains and NCADD Shares April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

What is Problem Gambling? My Friends of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Explains and NCADD Shares April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

Now that March was yesterday ending “Problem Gambling Awareness Month and the beginning of April which is Alcohol Awareness Month. I thought I would share two informative articles that share what some of the warning signs of Alcoholism and Problem Gambling are. I help advocate both because toward the end of my addiction to gambling, I began to abuse alcohol as gambling just wasn’t working as my ‘escapism’ and using to cope with life and old past pain from my childhood.

Those of us that end up becoming addicted to something usually have roots and underlying issues as to “WHY” we began using that has still hurtful and unprocessed like my own childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Not always from a negative problem that we may turn to addictions.

It could be from overindulged or wealth and a child growing up with no parental mentoring or guidance and feel entitled. Either way, gambling, alcohol or even drugs that may have been recreational can become an addiction for many, many reasons.

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When the Fun Stops – By Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

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Just as some people can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is possible for a person to become obsessed with an uncontrollable urge to gamble. For the problem gambler, making a bet is not just about having fun or winning money. Gambling becomes an emotional response to change the way they feel. 

 

Some problem gamblers may gamble to relieve boredom or avoid feelings of anxiousness or stress. Others may gamble to ‘numb out’ when feeling helpless, guilty, or depressed. As they continue to gamble, they become more and more emotionally and mentally dependent on gambling, with less and less control.

The impact of this addiction is much greater than the obvious financial losses that can result from repeated gambling. The long-term result is a steady deterioration of the mental and physical health of both the gambler and their family.

Surprisingly, problem gamblers are often the last ones to realize what is happening to them in spite of mounting negative consequences and increasing emotional impact. They may attribute their difficulties to a mere financial problem or believe they are just not being ‘smart’ enough when they gamble. The fantasy that one more big win will solve the financial problems and return everything to normal drives them on to gamble even harder.

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KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS

 

Most people who gamble do so with no harmful effects. They set limits and stick to them. However, for a small percentage of the population, gambling can become more than a game, and lead to serious consequences for both the gambler and their family.

Here are some of the warning signs:

For the Gambler:

  • Gambling to escape worry or trouble
  • Gambling to get money to solve financial difficulties
  • Unable to stop playing regardless of winning or losing
  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone
  • Losing time from work due to gambling
  • Borrowing money to pay gambling debts
  • Neglecting family because of gambling
  • Lying about time and money spent gambling

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For the Family:

 

  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Reduced involvement in social/group activities outside the home
  • Emotional distress, anger, depression
  • Lack of communication among family members
  • Items of value lost or missing
  • Family members working overtime or taking a second job to make ends meet
  • One member (gambler) noticeably absent from or disinterested in normal family activities

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If your gambling is no longer fun, don’t wait for the problem to get worse… Get Help Now or call the 24-hour Problem Gamblers Helpline.

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Facts About Alcohol

  • 2.8 million worldwide deaths caused by alcohol annually.
  • 3rd Alcohol addiction is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
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  • 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use in the U.S., while 40% of all hospital beds in the United States are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.

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Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States – By NCADD.

17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence.

Alcohol addiction can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications. It also damages a person’s emotional and mental health, financial stability, career, family, friends, and community. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.

17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence along with several million more who engage in risky binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance and can cause severe health consequences, even if it’s only used for a short period of time. In the United States, many people begin using alcohol at a very young age. 66.6 million people from age 12 to 17 report binge drinking. That’s 1 in 4 young people, many of whom also report using other substances or trying other high-risk behaviors.

Engaging in binge drinking can lead to problems with alcohol. The problem can be exacerbated by a home environment where heavy drinking or alcohol use is considered “normal.” A family history of alcohol problems is the single major factor that can predict alcohol addiction, which is one type of substance use disorder. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcohol addiction or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has severely misused alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder can develop in anyone who is predisposed to it. The condition cannot be predicted by what kind of alcohol the person drinks, how long they have been drinking, or even how much they drink. However, early alcohol use, binge drinking, and a family history of problems with alcohol are all linked to future health issues.

Cutting back on drinking, eliminating alcohol completely, and avoiding any form of alcohol are all ways to reduce health risks. Substance use disorder affects the person who drinks: it also affects the entire social system around them, from their co-workers to their children. A healthier individual helps create a healthier family, community, and country.

Alcohol addiction and alcohol misuse can affect all aspects of a person’s life.  Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, can damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends, and community.

Over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments, and social problems, including but not limited to:

  • Dementia, stroke, and neuropathy
  • Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, violence including child maltreatment, fights, and homicide.
  • Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
  • Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and esophagus
  • Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
    Alcohol addiction

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If you are questioning your alcohol use – take our self-quiz and see where alcohol might be a problem for you. Or learn more about drugs.

 

Facing Addiction with NCADD), Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcohol addiction by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcohol addiction, and recovery. Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use!

Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery.  It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.

With this year’s theme — “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” — the month of April will be filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. Local Facing Addiction with NCADD Affiliates as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations will sponsor a host of activities that create awareness and encourage individuals and families to get help for alcohol-related problems.

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I will be advocating out loud on April 10th, 2019 at 4 PM at The Phoenix, AZ State Capitol Event for and supporting BIG JIM’S WALK FOUNDATION AND His Biking Around America 4 Addiction Awareness along with many other recovery friends!

It will be in the Capitol Lawn and Rose Garden area with many Special Guest Speakers. So come out and Rally for Addiction Awareness in Phoenix!

~Catherine Lyon, Author/Advocate

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Big Jim Downs Visits Austin, Texas State Capitol Today and The News Is AMAZING.

Big Jim Downs Visits Austin, Texas State Capitol Today and The News Is AMAZING.

Welcome Recovery Friends!

It is no secret that I am “being of recovery service” as media manager to a couple who is fighting this Addictions Crisis in America with all that they have! Literally. We have been friends, Big Jim and Marisol Downs for almost three 1/2 years.  I met Jim while he was accomplishing his first event of “Walking Across America 4 Addiction Awareness.” He had just finished his own 16-month treatment and recovery program while living in a faith-based rescue mission. He had finally had enough of drugging and drinking after 34 years of it! He was at the bottom after an anger rage he couldn’t remember after it happened.

He decided it was time for him to get help, for him and GOD to have a long conversation about his life and what was it he was missing? It was FAITH. He walked to be able to hear and get closer to GOD. He was redeemed from addictions, but without GOD in his life? He surely knew he would relapse and that to JIM was not going to happen. So he went for a walk from Panama City FL. to Canada! When Jim finished the “walk,” he founded and began “Big Jim’s Walk Inc.”

Now, with a new mission from God and years maintaining recovery, Big Jim is now “Biking Around America 4 Addiction Awareness and with powerful recovery support and treatment team behind him. He has already in just 2 and half months saved 41 lives from addictions who reached out to him while biking around America!

And? Well, I think I will let you read the rest of the “Ride” story courtesy of “The Eagle” newspaper located outside Houston, Texas as that is WHERE Big Jim has made it to and will be speaking on the State Capitol Steps in Austin, Texas today!! I would like to invite all who are my supporters of this blog go Donate and support Big Jim Downs as he riding for MY Addiction I am recovering from as MARCH is Problem Gambling Awareness Month! Jim and Marisol are doing this ride on the kindness of people who know this addiction crisis in America is reaching everyone’s communities and claiming too many precious LIVES.

So I invite you to contribute and I THANK YOU in advance and donate here on Big Jim’s Fundraiser on the Official Website of Big Jim’s Walk Foundation. 

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PEDALING FOR HOPE

Addiction-recovery advocate makes unexpected Bryan-College Station, Texas stop…

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“Now five years clean, 50-year-old Jim Downs is hiking and cycling across the country to share his heart and testimony of hope with other addicts, and he has a mission to visit the steps of every state capitol in the continental United States this year.”

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Jim Downs battled the long road of drug and alcohol addiction for more than 30 years before finding rescue in a faith-based recovery program.


Now five years clean, the 50-year-old Florida
man is hiking and cycling across the country to share his heart and testimony of hope with other addicts, and he has a mission to visit the steps of every state capitol in the continental United States this year.

On the way to Austin on Thursday, Downs’ bright yellow-green Performer JC26X recumbent trike blew a tire just outside Bryan-College Station. His wife, Marisol, who was driving the couple’s car, met up with her husband in Bryan so he could strap the trike to the vehicle roof and take it for repairs.

Marisol often has to stay back in Florida to work while Jim makes his long journey, but she tries hard to follow her partner in the car when she can, hoping to help him if he runs into trouble. Sometimes she’s able to travel ahead of him and let recovery centers and news outlets in the local area know Jim will be pedaling into town.

The couple runs the charity organization known as Big Jim’s Walk and is in the paperwork process of having the group designated formally as a 501(c) nonprofit, Marisol said. The program started just two years ago when the couple decided to embark on a charity walk together from Florida to the Canadian border, talking to drug and alcohol addicts they met on the way and connecting them to recovery programs.

Now the organization is staffed by several people who have access to a catalog of addiction recovery programs throughout the country. When they meet an addict on a trip, they connect the addict to a long-term recovery program that will care for that person free of charge.

So far, they have helped 42 people since 2017 and have spoken with both small-town politicians and high-ranking state elected officials about funding for sober living and addiction programs.

Jim said that while he took a quick stop in Bryan to deal with the broken trike, he wanted to share his story with the people of the area via media outlets, hoping his testimony could help anyone in the Brazos Valley battling some kind of addiction and needing hope.

Jim was raised in California by what he described as a stable middle-class family and had never witnessed drug or alcohol abuse. But, he says, family issues led him to turn to drugs at school to deal with emotional problems. Having first tried illicit substances at 12, he eventually spiraled out of control and was an addict for 34 years.

He attempted suicide five times, was fired from jobs, was homeless at times and was repeatedly arrested, he said. He said he eventually let down his children and takes responsibility for leading one of his kids into methamphetamine addiction.

After enduring a psychotic blackout just over four years ago, he decided to reach out to Panama City Rescue Mission in Florida, a faith-based recovery program.

“I went in with a chip on my shoulder about recovery and an attitude of ‘I’m only doing this once,’ especially since I’d had heard people say they did it four or five times,” he said. “… Getting a relationship with God and working the 12-step addiction program through that relationship, I was digging deep and dealing with the root cause of all of it — a sense of abandonment.”

Recovery was not a simple process. Jim explained that recovery takes work and dedication, and lots of support from friends and family members who are not addicts. Jim said he would like to see more opportunities for those battling addiction to enter a recovery program that looks at the long-term healing process beyond the initial days of detoxification.

His mission as a sober man riding his bike cross-country is to connect the people he meets with the services that will help them in the same way he was helped. If those services aren’t available to a person in their immediate area, Jim stressed his organization will pay for that person to be bused to a town where they can receive treatment.

“The objective is to let everyone out there know that I get it,” he said. “I’ve been homeless, eaten out of garbage cans, done dope most of my life. I encourage people through my testimony and let them know they don’t have to live that way and there is hope. Then I offer them free recovery.”

The couple planned to drive on Thursday night to Austin, where Jim could have his trike wheel repaired. Next stop after speaking in Austin: Phoenix, where he plans to keep passing on the message of hope.

To reach out to Jim and Marisol Downs and learn more about their charity, visit bigjimswalk.com.

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March Is Problem Gambling Awareness So Let’s Have a GamTalk! It Is a Great Resource . . .

Those of us who maintain recovery from the cunning disease and addiction of gambling know our stories can be helpful and powerful tools to show Recovery is Possible from this illness and others are NOT ALONE. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you feel you have a gambling problem.

One place for exceptional resources and be with other “like-minded” individuals recovering or even having a struggle to maintain theirs my friends of GAMTALK!
Founded by Dr. Woods, GamTalk has great tools and resources to help you Recover.

Since March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, I wanted to share Stories of those who have shared their VOICES and Addiction/Recovery on GamTalk so everyone can know there are many out here including myself trying to stay BET Free.  That gambling caused us much pain, financial devastation, and can be a challenge to maintain recovery at times.

Unless we begin “THE CONVERSATION” about this disease, others will still stay within the STIGMA and not reach out for the HOPE and the HELP that is out here and ready to help those looking to get their LIVES BACK! I sure did and it’s time for you to as well . . .

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GamTalk

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WHAT and WHO IS
GAMTALK:

Dr. Wood is the founder and manager of GAMTALK

“I have been investigating gambling problems for the last 18 years. I don’t have all the answers, but I will do my best to tell you what is currently understood. I focus on problem gambling prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery related issues. Through GAMTALK I will discuss the benefits of online support and to explain how Gamtalk helps thousands of people every year to discuss their gambling issues as part of a supportive online community.”


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SHARED STORIES of HOPE:

Arnie, A Long-Timer Maintaining Recovery From Gambling:

I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler who placed my last bet April 10,1968.

I started gambling at about age 7 or 8 as a kid in Brooklyn, NY. It started with flipping baseball cards, pitching pennies, shooting marbles and playing pinball machines. That kind of gambling continued until about age 14. At that point, I started to bet on sporting events with a bookmaker and I got into the stock market.

As a young kid, growing up, I always felt that everyone was better than me. The only time I felt okay about myself was after I had a win, whether it was marbles or baseball cards or pennies. Then at 14, I went to the racetrack for the first time (that was Memorial Day, 1951 Roosevelt Raceway). At that time in my life, I was making $.50 an hour after school, working about 15-20 hours a week. That night at Roosevelt Raceway I had my first big win and walked out of the track with $54. Looking back today, I think it was that night that changed my life. Even though it was only $54, it was about 5 weeks salary to me at that time. That night gave me the belief that I could be a winner from gambling and eventually become a millionaire. I can still recall that high feeling walking out of the racetrack that night.

By 17, I was already stealing to support my gambling. It started with stealing comic books to play cards with from the local candy store. Before long it was stealing money from my family to pay for gambling. By then I was taking the bus to the racetrack, a few nights a week on a regular basis. In those days they closed the track in the winter months, in New York so on weekends, I would take the bus or the train to Maryland to gamble. I was betting sporting events and horses with the bookmaker on a daily basis. In those days each sport had its own season. I remember calling the bookmaker one day and the only thing that was available to gamble on was hockey. I had never seen a hockey game but bet on it anyway. It wasn’t until months later when I did see my first hockey game, that I realized that hockey was played on ice.

Somewhere between age 17 and 20 I went to the racetrack one night and won $6000. Wow! Another big win. It was the equivalent of 2 years salary. This reinforced my belief that I could be a winner at gambling.

By my early 20’s I was betting big amounts on lots of games that I didn’t really know much about and probably couldn’t name more than a handful of players who played in these events. In some of the college games I bet on, I couldn’t name one player or even tell you where the college was located, but I needed to be in action. By then I was a regular at the old Madison Square Garden, every week.

I was watching and betting on college and professional basketball on a regular basis. At this point in my life, I was working full time in a shipping department in the garment center and every Tuesday when we got paid there was a regular crap game out in the hallway. Almost every week I would lose my pay in this game. I began stealing supplies and merchandise on a daily basis to pay for my gambling. By then, I had a bank loan and a loan with a finance company loan. I was also borrowing from coworkers.

At 21 I met my future wife. Our first date was to the movies and most of the rest of our dating was at the racetrack. We had a joint checking account saving for our wedding. She would put money in and I wouldn’t. I needed to use my money for gambling. I was still looking for another big win. I thought the perfect place for our honeymoon would be Las Vegas or Puerto Rico since I knew both places had casinos. My wife to be didn’t think that was a good idea.

I guess she understood enough about my gambling already. At 23 we got married and I wanted to stop gambling at that point. I thought that I could. Within a short time, I was already back to gambling. Even though I wanted to stop, I realize today that I couldn’t. I needed to gamble like any drug addict needed to stick that needle in their arm, or any alcoholic needed to have that drink.

Four weeks after we got married I went away to the Army Reserves at Fort Dix, NJ for 6 months. During those 6 months, I gambled every day, fast and furious, from placing bets by phone with the bookmaker to shooting crap and playing cards, every waking minute. When I came home in December of 1961, I owed $4000 and didn’t even have a job.

I got a job, eventually, working in the garment center In the showroom that I worked in there were a few compulsive gamblers who I quickly got friendly with. They became my buddies. We would play cards during the day and go to the racetrack at night and on weekends, together. My wife thought I was at business meetings some of these nights and all of us would lie for each other.

In 1963 my first daughter was born. My wife was in labor for 37 hours. During that period I went to the racetrack twice. When the Doctor finally came out and told me that we had a baby, the only question I really was concerned about was “how much did she weigh”. He told me 7lbs.1 oz. You would think that the concern should have been “how is my wife” or “how is the baby”. The first call I made was to the bookmaker. I bet 71 in the daily double. The next day when I picked up the newspaper, the daily double hit. I was convinced that day that God was sending me a message that I was now going to be a winner.

One year later my boss gave me an option to buy 500 shares of stock in the company for $7500. Within a year that stock was worth $38,000. In those days you could buy a car for $2000 and a house for about $10,000. Within 3 years this money would be gone due to my gambling. By now I was a plant supervisor for a Fortune 500 company. My gambling was already so out of control that I was stealing everything I could to stay in action. I set up a room in the factory that we used for playing cards (all day long). I was starting to do illegal acts (manipulating stocks) in the stock market.

Our home life was deteriorating. Gambling was more important than anything else that was going on at home. I was lying about almost everything and I would come home and pick a fight so I could go out to gamble. Nothing else at that point in my life was more important than gambling; not my family or my job. Gambling came first. At this point even though I was doing illegal acts, I was still borrowing money from only legal sources.

My gambling continued to get progressively worse. I was now a plant manager, supervising 300-400 people. My boss worked in New York, and I was in a factory in New Jersey. Most of the time he didn’t know what I was doing. Besides stealing and borrowing money from coworkers, I now had 3 bank loans and 3 loans to finance companies; I owed a loan shark an amount of money equal to one year’s salary. I was involved with 3 bookmakers, both working for them and betting with them. I directed a lot of people who gambled in my company, to my bookmaker and got a piece of the action.

I even got involved in a numbers operation. Between this and stealing, I was supporting my gambling. There were times I would bet 40 or 50 games on a weekend, and believe I could win them all. One weekend, just before I hit my bottom, I called a bookmaker and took a shot by betting a round robin which amounted to about 2 years annual salary. At that moment if I lost that bet, there was no way I could pay it. Things were getting so bad, I remember calling a bookmaker one day and being told that if I didn’t bring him the money I owed him he would not take my bet for that night. I went home and sold our car to a neighbor.

By now, I wasn’t going home to pick a fight with my wife. I was doing it over the phone so I wouldn’t waste the trip home. Most of the time I was out gambling, but when I was home we were constantly fighting. We had sex very rarely. When I won I was so high I didn’t need it and if I lost I didn’t want it. But there were times we had sex and my wife would say to me “do you hear a radio”. Of course, I would tell her she was crazy, but I had a radio on under the pillow so I could listen to a game. We were trying to have another child, but couldn’t. My wife came to me with the idea of adoption. I didn’t like that idea especially when I was told it would cost money. I needed that money for gambling.

After 3 months of her bothering me, I finally went along with the idea of adoption, as I thought she would be so busy with the 2 kids that she would leave me alone. I borrowed the money we needed from my boss and relatives. On the day we were bringing our son home on a plane, it was the 7th game of the 1967 World Series. My wife was busy looking at this beautiful new baby. I had no interest in him. I had a large bet on the game. The pilot was announcing the score every 15 minutes, or so. I was so upset that we were on this plane. I wished and prayed that the plane would get to the ground so that I could see or hear every minute of this game.

In the next few months, the bottom fell out of my world even though I still had my job and still looked okay. There were no track marks on my arm, I wasn’t smelling from my gambling. No one could really tell what was going on. I would come home from gambling and see my wife crying all the time, depressed, sick. Our daughter was 4 years old and I don’t remember her walking or talking. I either wasn’t home or when I was my head was consumed with the gambling. At that point in my life, I owed 32 people, 3 years annual salary. I had a life insurance policy and constantly thought about killing myself and leaving my wife and 2 kids that money.

I would do anything to keep gambling. As long as I could get my hands on some more money to stay in action, I still thought that the big win was just around the corner. I was trying to find out where I could get drugs to sell and looking around at gas stations to rob. I was asking people about making counterfeit money. I was running out of options. My boss came to me one day and told me that a detective was following me and he had a report on my gambling. He knew I was betting more money than I earned and he was sure that I was stealing from the company and that if he found out he would have me arrested.

Three hours later I was stealing from the company again. I needed to go to the racetrack that night. On February 2, 1968, my wife was having a miscarriage and I was taking her to the hospital. I was wishing and praying all the way that she would die. I thought that would solve all my problems (I wouldn’t have to tell her how bad things were). That morning I called my mother to watch my kids, I called my boss and told him I couldn’t come to work because my wife was in the hospital.

That afternoon I went to the racetrack. After the track, I went to see how my wife was. When I got to the hospital the doctor told me that my wife was in shock and had almost died. I was so deep into my addiction that I really didn’t care about her, the 2 kids or myself. The only important thing was making a bet.

“I thought that I was the only one living the way I was living and doing the things that I was doing.”

I found out that I was not alone and that I could stop gambling with the help of other people. I had hope for the first time. It’s been almost 38 years since I last gambled. Today I have everything I dreamed about getting from gambling and then some.

I have a wonderful family that is still intact and even have been blessed with 4 grandchildren who I love very much. In the last 20 years, I have been able to devote my working life to helping others who have this problem and educating people on the disease of Compulsive Gambling. This has been a dream come true.
~Arnie

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GamTalk
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Please give GAMTALK a visit and read more Stories of Hope and know you are not alone and we can recover from the cunning disease of Gambling and recovery is Possible and it WORKS.

~Catherine

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My First Post For a New Year in Recovery as I Celebrate My 12th-Year Maintaining My Journey on Jan. 29th, 2019.

My First Post For a New Year in Recovery as I Celebrate My 12th-Year Maintaining My Journey on Jan. 29th, 2019.

Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends and New Visitors,

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I wanted to have my first recovery post of 2019 to be a personal share and look back as I have been putting the finishing touches on my follow-up book to my first memoir of “Addicted To Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.”

My second book will be a pick-up from all that has happened in my life while maintaining my recovery from addicted gambling with alcohol abuse. There have been ups and downs and many phases of my recovery and life “Journey” … Many blessings, many doors opened, and as I call them, “Perks of Recovery!” Lol.

But I feel I need to share as I grow and as we all get stronger within our journey. And since I love journaling and a writer, it is also an important part of what I do for my recovery. Journaling is such a healthy way to let go of stress, forgive yourself, heal, and a great way to show others what may work for them in their path.

We all learn the skills and tools to use during treatment or your form you had chosen to begin your journey away from the bondage of addiction, and sharing may help prevent others from relapse or slip. And when you make it in longer-term recovery, you should learn to share your voice and become more of an ‘Advocate’ as it is an easy way to help those that may be new or in early recovery. Like “Paying it Forward” to others.

WHY? Because of Facts Like This Below? It Is Time To Not Be Silent Anymore …

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And is also why I try to find platforms to DO JUST THAT! And this year will be no different. My goal and mission for 2019 are to hopefully shine an even ‘Brighter Spotlight’ and be louder than last year about Gambling Addiction. To be able to help those who don’t understand this ever-growing problem.

It’s Time Share so we can shatter the “Myths and Misconceptions” about this disease if only by a little …

For those who don’t know, I am a Gambling Recovery Columnist for one of the biggest Recovery and Resource Newspaper who wanted to elevate the awareness about gambling addiction now touching more and more people. My dear friends Jeannie, Marcus, and Beth are Founders of “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” which is FREE for everyone! Great articles and columns and supportive resources for help too. My JAN 2019 column and article is on page 15 and cont’d on page 22!

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About Keys to Recovery


S
preading the Message of Hope and Recovery

 

Our purpose and our missions are to give hope that recovery is possible. Incorporated in the state of California Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity.

Our main objective is to carry the message of Hope and Recovery from all types of addictions and disorders to as many people as possible and to offer resources that may provide treatment and support. We do that by printing (yes, printing) a traditional type of newspaper, as well as having an online presence. Our newspaper is filled with columns from today’s top experts in the recovery field.

 

Keys to Recovery Newspap, Inc. is educating our communities about alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, gambling addiction, homelessness, domestic violence and so much more. We also print, at no charge, a 2-­‐page resource guide listing free services and vital help offered within the communities.

 

Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. is making a strong effort to reach the many individuals currently in jails or other types of institutions, and offer them information that will assist in their future recovery. For every paid subscription we will be able to send a free subscription to someone in an institution.

 

We are NOT affiliated with AA, NA, Al-­‐anon or any other 12-­‐step program. We do, however, believe in the power of the 12-­‐steps and the principles behind them.

 

We operate Keys to Recovery Newspaper, Inc. using these principles as a guideline -­‐ Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Brotherly Love, Justice, Perseverance, Spirituality, and Service.

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So as this new year begins, I will be also committed to posting more of my own personal experiences with addiction and recovery, my mental health challenges and goals as I push through the FEAR of my agoraphobia, depression, and anxiety issues and more about HOW I will be of recovery services to others too! I hope you will follow along and visit often as I’ll be adding more reads and resources on those Pages as well!

I wish you all and very Happy, Blessed, and Successful 2019! 

~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate

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