Giving Thanks and Having Gratitude as Another Holiday Recovery Season Begins

Giving Thanks and Having Gratitude as Another Holiday Recovery Season Begins

Happy Thanksgiving Week and Kick Off to Another Recovery Holiday Season!

Well, another holiday season is upon us already. It seems just yesterday it was summer. Time sure does fly. As you begin holiday shopping, the smells of turkey roasting, decorating, baking those yummy Christmas cookies, I hope for those maintaining recovery from gambling and all addictions take some time to reflect on how you have gotten to your beautiful recovery life today. Be “Thankful” and have a heart of “gratitude.”

You need to be mindful of where we came from and how far you have come and have worked to positively move forward in life. It is essential to do so, especially at Holiday time, as you walk farther away from your past within addiction. I thought I’d share a little of my “Holiday” article I wrote for my gambling recovery column QUIT 2 WIN over at “Keys To Recovery” newspaper.

So why do we need to reflect as we move farther away from our past “wreckage and damages” from our addictions?

It gives us a sense of accomplishment and gratitude as we become thankful for all the work and “change” we have put forth to get where we are today maintaining our recovery path. We also need to be mindful of those who “don’t have what we have” when it comes to recovery.

Many do still have struggles around the holidays and why I will be recovery blogging and being close to my phone and email through the holidays for my 6th year now. I do this to be of recovery service to those who are new to recovery and may have a tougher time through the holiday season. I started this recovery tradition right after my book, ‘Addicted to Dimes’ released in late November of 2012, and decided I would do it every year.

I knew how hard it was around the holidays when I was still deep within my gambling addiction, and when I first started recovery. We have feelings of desperation due to no money for gift giving, decorating the home and even holiday meals. I still remember walking up and down the store isles wishing I could buy this or buy that and feeling sad and mad at myself because it was all my fault, my gambling was why I couldn’t.

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Anger, stress, and holiday chaos can be triggers, so as I’d leave the store and gamble a few hours to help me feel better hopefully. But it didn’t because I was desperate! Even in recovery, the holiday season can be filled with many opportunities to gamble with the people around them, which may threaten their gambling addiction recovery.  So be mindful through the holiday season.

Know Yourself – Remember what caused you to gamble before, and make sure your behaviors and habits do not change during the holiday season and trigger gambling impulses. You may also need to monitor your alcohol intake, turning down vacation day trips to casinos with friends, and making sure no extra vacation time causes you any feelings of boredom or loneliness. Use the tools and skills learned! Have a wonderful sober, clean, and bet free Recovery Holiday Season …

 

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I am also sharing below a little “Faith” from Harvest Church of Pastor, Greg Laurie. Because as we enter the Holiday Season,  it is many times with stress and worries. I work my own recovery through faith as I would not be on this earth otherwise. I’m just not too loud about it! Lol.

When your life is pulled back from “A Power Greater Than Ourselves” from suicide not once, but twice? You know that IS a miracle of GOD. So turn those worries and the stress of the holidays into PRAYERS.

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Turn Your Worries into Prayers

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

—Philippians 4:6

There are so many things today that can cause us to worry. There are the worries of
the world. There are the worries in our own country, including the threat of terrorism and the threat of North Korea. Then there are personal worries, such as health worries and family worries.

It seems as though worries are always there, always closing in on us. But worry isn’t productive. In fact, it’s a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means “strangle” or “choke.” That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. It actually diseases the nervous system and, more specifically, the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 79 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related.

Philippians tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:6–7).

We need to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. Then there’s a conditioned reflex, something that becomes natural after we’ve done it so many times. For instance, standing during the national anthem or placing your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance is a conditioned reflex.

We can’t control our universe, as hard as we may try, but we certainly can pray about it. The next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead. Turn your worries into prayers.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and Celebrate Recovery Through The Christmas Season and Beyond Recovery Friends!  ~Advocate/Author, Catherine Lyon 

Dig Deeper:

Today’s Radio Program
“Hurried, Worried, Buried (How to Overcome Fear, Worry & Anxiety)–1”

This Week’s TV Program
“The Danger of the Compromised Life”

 

 

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Mega-Millions Frenzy … Really? A Message From My Friends of The National Council on Problem Gambling. Gamble Responsibly Please.

Mega-Millions Frenzy … Really? A Message From My Friends of The National Council on Problem Gambling. Gamble Responsibly Please.

There will be More Losers Than Winners … 

 

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Mega Millions lottery hits a record $1.6 bln after no winners in Friday’s draw

UPDATE – Personal Note:

Of course, I am NOT rubbing any noses in the fact that last nights Mega-Million drawing HAD no winners.  It just hammers home a wee bit that for those who happened to OVER BUY tickets, it seems today, just a waste of money that could have been better spent on something more fun or constructive.  See, I know there a boatload of people who CAN gamble just for the fun it.  AND?  Many don’t feel or agree that buying lottery tickets if real gambling. Sorry, but it is if you read the ‘definition’ of what the word “Gambling” means:

GAMBLE – The definition of a gamble is a risk.
An example of a gamble is the act of betting that a certain team will win a game.

Gamble is defined as to take a risk, or to play games especially with money for betting.

An example of gamble is to play the slots in Las Vegas.

When you place a bet for money or not as the outcome is uncertain and is a risk? That is gambling.  When buying lottery tickets for a CHANCE to win?  That is gambling.  Now that no one won, just think of those who are Problem Gamblers or even maybe addicted and think about where they will get the money for this next drawing?  Will it be there food money to feed their kids?  Maybe not a pay an important bill like electricity or their heat? Maybe forego a part of their rent or housing money just for a “CHANCE” … Know your ODDS before you risk all that!

No, I’m not a Buzz Kill …Lol.  I WAS an addicted gambler and know this disease and the thinking we trapped into.  It will talk you into doing ALL the above!  Because once gambling has you hooked?  The sickness takes over and we lose ALL the CONTROL.

Don’t waste loads of money for a tiny sliver of hope that you are going to win.  As most times you end at a loss. If you are going to take a Risk, then Gamble Responsibly …  

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Mega-Millions Jackpot Media Frenzy Offers Opportunity for Responsible Gambling Messaging.  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 19, 201

 

WASHINGTON, DC – As the Mega Millions jackpot has reached record levels, the National Council on Problem Gambling urges consumers to protect themselves against excessive gambling and calls upon lotteries and the media to promote responsible gambling messages.

Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, states, “The media and consumer interest in high lottery jackpots creates an opportunity to provide responsible gambling messages designed to help people who choose to gamble make informed decisions about their play.”  Responsible gambling efforts should be made by lottery operators and players alike.

Here are four simple responsible gambling tips to know and share:

– Set a limit of time and money spent gambling.

– Don’t gamble to escape feelings of anxiety, stress or depression.

– Know where to get help for a gambling problem.

– Minors are prohibited from most forms of gambling.

“Lotteries play an important role in reminding retailers and players about the minimum age to play and in educating their players about simple steps to promote responsible gambling.”

State lotteries and media are asked to incorporate responsible gambling messaging and the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) into their upcoming promotion and coverage of the Mega Millions jackpot.


The National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700
or www.ncpgambling.org/chat) is the single national point of access to problem gambling help. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all 50 states. All calls are confidential and offer local information and referral options for problem gamblers and their families.

In 2017 the Helpline received 233,000 calls, an average of one call every two minutes.

 

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About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gambling. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat for confidential help.

 

 

“Being of Recovery Service”~ Meet Jim Downs and His Wife Marisol of “Big Jim’s Walk, Inc.” Doing God’s Work To Stamp out ADDICTION.

“Being of Recovery Service”~ Meet Jim Downs and His Wife Marisol of “Big Jim’s Walk, Inc.” Doing God’s Work To Stamp out ADDICTION.

Hello Recovery Friends, Family, and Warrior Advocates,

 

I am happy and blessed to announce that I have accepted a volunteer position with “Big Jim’s Ride Around America!” Founder, Jim Downs and his beautiful wife Marisol are ready to embark on their next “Journey of Hope” and the second addiction awareness event through Big Jim’s Walk Inc., Foundation! I met Big Jim and Marisol last year while Jim was in the middle of his walk.

I could not believe why he was doing what he was doing and I thought this guy is crazy! But once I visited his website and Facebook as I watched via his sharing his journey by FB Live videos, I knew there was something very special about Big Jim. God was working through this man right before my very eyes. God called upon this big gentle guy to speak to the masses and help an addict get help through a spiritual path and to let “Jesus” take the wheel.

I can tell you, while on this walk, so many people were amazing to help Jim along the way. I saw the trials and roadblocks that came his way like not having enough money to sleep somewhere, camper problems or just to get a hot meal. But then, all watching including myself would rally on social media and BAM! People began donating right then and there and helped out to get it DONE!!

It was such a blessing to watch!  It was like watching GOD in action provide the blessings and solutions to help Jim on his path of walking to raise awareness and help shatter the stigma of addictions and to share that God, through his son Jesus Christ loves everyone, even those riddled with addictions!

So I began to help some and share where he was and what he was doing through social media just trying to help out a little. So let me share a little of his story with you now as he and Marisol gear up for the next event!

In doing so, I hope it will help inspires ALL OF YOU to help this amazing man and come aboard and be a part of the “The Big Jim’s Foundation Team!” as there are many ways you can like these amazing “Sponsors have already.”  Read more about this event and will welcome you aboard! ~Catherine

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“Big Jim, aka, Jim Downs stand is for love of God, family, and his recovery by raising awareness of the addiction epidemic, saving lives from addiction while shattering stigma through Jesus Christ, his Savior.”

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Jim Downs was not born into wealth, fame, or to an athletic family. Quite the contrary.

His hard life began at birth, as a child of God, but sadly an unwanted pregnancy and was given up right after his birth. When Jim turned three months old, new parents adopted Jim. His new parents welcomed him as he grew to be ‘the apple of his father’s eyes,” Then, tragically at three and a half years old, his father passed away, leaving him with only his mother.  A year and a half later she remarried, and his new adopted father never embraced him, Jim started feeling unloved and a profound sense of abandonment, a constant burden to his second father that lasted many years until his father’s passing.

Some of the underlying roots to why he may have turned to addictions while growing up. A need to numb the pain, haunting’s, and hurt as a child. Unbeknownst to Jim, his ‘Holy Father’ above was watching and waiting for him.  Jim began looking for anything to fill that void and feelings of emptiness, at 12-years old he started drinking alcohol and smoking weed. It progressed and at 14 -years-old he turned to hard drugs.  Meth became his demon.  All the while, God had been walking next to him.

Side by side, God traveled Jim’s road with him, the years of destruction and self-sabotage.  God never left him, Jim didn’t know who he was.  Besides, as addicts, we feel the massive shame and guilt of turning our backs on God as Jim had. Thinking; “how can God love or care about a man who lies, cheats, causes pain to others and a hopeless drug user like me?”

Then, a ‘Miracle,’ as homeless and deep within many of his addictions, Jim had seen a sliver of light that God had opened up for him.  He reached out to that light, and he entered a treatment program in Panama City, FL.  Here is where his life transformation and conviction within Christ began.  At that moment he chose life and walked into a recovery program at The Panama City Rescue Mission.

His first blessing and miracle from God.  Jim began treatment learning the recovery tools and skills that aid his recovery still today, but another test and trial came by way of losing his best friend Alex Peters only 4-months into his treatment.  At a crossroad, Jim not only felt Gods spirit in him but the stirring for his ‘Second Miracle’ was building that included losing Alex!  This lit a fire in him as God revealed and gave Jim his real mission and life purpose.

And so it began, “Big Jim’s Walk Across America.”

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After 16 months in the addiction recovery program, Jim left The Panama City Rescue Mission at 7 a.m., Feb. 1, 2017, and embarked on an eight-month walk/hike leaving the front door of the center. Going from Panama City, Florida, to Canada by walking “The Appalachian Trail” beginning in Georgia.  Why?  It would be his aftercare program like no other to keep him stable within recovery through his faith.  Jim said it best;  “I want anyone who is in the final phase of their recovery program to remember this event and be empowered not to go back to their ‘old life’ when they leave any recovery program,”

Jim said. “They need to step out within faith and let God guide them to a new way of life. There is life after addiction.

Jim shares;  “this hike and walk will be a spiritual journey for me, bringing me closer to God.”  “I’m out here to find myself, who I am, what I stand for.”  Jim did complete his walk and even got off the trail as God asked him to.  “God wanted me on the road, not a trail to talk to others and raise awareness of addiction.”  He did in honor of his best friend Alex who died of a drug overdose and seeing Alex’s family left heartbroken.

Along the walk, Jim carried a large wooden cross part of the way. Jim said;  “since God asked, I will witness and testify to anyone that will listen to me about how I turned to, and I accepted ‘Jesus Christ’ into my life as my Lord and Savior, He changed me and the life I live.”

As his walk continued a ‘Third Miracle’ was coming as God had a big one in mind for Big Jim that would knock him off his feet!  Before his walk, God had chosen an “Angel” who was watching on social media.  This angel told her mother she was watching Jim’s walk because she wanted to see how God, through Jim, was using him and guiding this “Big Guy” to share hope, witness, and educate those he spoke with and met along the way.

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This “Angel” is Marisol Lozano.  They slowly began a penpal friendship that of course, later on, turned into a beautiful relationship and a marriage along the walk.  An extra-special one as a prophet married them. Their beautiful prophetic ceremony solidified them to one another and brought them even closer to their ‘Heavenly Father.’  Jim completed his “Walk Across America” ending in Canada with God and his “angel”  Marisol Lozano by his side.

Today, Big Jim and Marisol along with an amazing Big Jim’s team is already in place and working hard before Jim embarks on the next “Miracle and Mission” God has called upon them to accomplish. This one is already shaping up to be bigger than the walk, more significant than we could ever imagine!

“Announcing “Big Jim’s Ride Around America ~ Jim Bikes America 4 Addiction Awareness.”

Jim will bike around America to raise awareness of the epidemic of addiction. Big thanks to Performer Cycles, so on Jan 1, 2019, Jim will leave from the steps of The Fort Myers Florida City Hall on a bicycle and pedal addiction awareness to all the lower 48 state capitals. Almost 14,000 miles in one year!

The event will be filmed courtesy of Bethel Film Production as Jim encourages thousands to enter recovery, bring communities together to fight for those struggling with any addiction as they share their stories and voices. Jim will talk with ‘State Capitol Politicians’ in hopes of changing the way they approach and pass legislation of addiction bills and issues.

You can help The Ride by Donating or Purchasing Jim’s Gear ~ And Help #BuildTheRecoveryHype 

Visit Big Jims’s Walk Foundation Website and Donate Today.

Become a #Sponsor of this event by contacting Marisol Lozano lozanomarisol2627@gmail.com or call her at (

Now you purchase Jim’s Gear and Equipment as a #FaithDonation right on FB Courtesy of  REI -Co op Outdoor & Sporting Goods Company! Located in Seattle, WA.

Everyone can Jim and Marisol get “Big Jim’s Walk Foundation” filed as a Non-Profit here at our Go Fund Me 501c3 Filing!

We #ThankYou in advance for your support with helping Jim stamp out addiction and PLEASE..please watch and share our ‘Official Video and Announcement’ for “Big Jim’s Year Long Ride Around America.”


God Bless,

Catherine Lyon ~ Social Media Manager “Big Jim’s Ride.”

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Warrior Advocates, and New Visitors,

I am so happy and blessed that Amy agreed to let me reshare her article which comes by way of The Fix Magazine. She is an amazing “in your face –let it hang out” writer and blogger for them. The Fix share news about addiction and recovery from drugs and alcohol and is one of the top resource magazines around!

I happen to have signed up for there newsletter a while back and seen Amy’s article. Being dual-diagnosed myself and still have bouts of depression at times, I felt this article of hers really needed to be shared with all my friends here.

It is very informative and I just love Amy’s views on a variety of issues and her writing style! I hope you enjoy reading it and learn some from it as I did! Don’t forget to grab of copy of her book (link listed in her bio) if you have not read it.

It is truly a great read and her life memoirs are “one of kind!”  ~Cat 

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 ~ Courtesy of The Fix Magazine
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Mature Woman Depression Looking Away
((The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

 

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments.

I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

I’ve suffered from symptoms of depression since I was 19, so it’s an old, old friend. What really annoys me was that some (dare I say many?) people think at five and a half years of sobriety, you shouldn’t feel depressed. What I kept hearing from AA fundamentalists was:

“It’s your untreated alcoholism.”

“Listen to these tapes about prayer and meditation.”

“You’re not connected enough to your Higher Power.”

“You’re not going to enough meetings.”

“You need to do more service.”

Thankfully my sponsor, who has a foot in the medical world, did not say something along those lines.  One of my big problems with AA is that it looks at every mental problem through the paradigm of your “alcoholism.” If you’re suffering, you should look to the program for relief.

Nobody would tell you to “drive around newcomers!” more if you had diabetes or kidney failure, but if you’re feeling down, that’s what you’re told to do. As it turns out, AA is not completely off the mark: “Addiction is a not a spiritually caused malady but a chemically based malady with spiritual symptoms,” addictionologist and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Wetsman told me.

“When some people start working a 12-step program, they perceive a spiritual event but their midbrain is experiencing an anatomical event. When they’re working a program, they’re no longer isolated and they no longer feel ‘less than,’ so their dopamine receptor density goes back up [and they experience contentment],” he explained. But what if your program hasn’t changed or feels sufficient and you still feel depressed?

What if you’re working your ass off in your steps and helping others and you still feel like shit?
“Well, low dopamine tone experienced as low mood can be brought on by fear and low self-esteem (the untreated spiritual malady part of alcoholism/addiction) but it can also be brought on by biochemical issues,” Wetsman added.

Huh?

So was I experiencing the chemical part of my “addiction” or was I having a depressive episode? Perhaps my whole life I’d been confusing the two. Of course, all I wanted, like a typical addict, was a pill to fix it. But as I’ve done the medication merry-go-round (and around and around) with mild to moderate success, I was hesitant to start messing with meds again. I didn’t have a terrific psychiatrist, and SSRI’s can really screw with my epilepsy. And Wetsman was talking about dopamine here, not serotonin. Hmmm…

Dr. Wetsman has some interesting stuff about brain chemistry and addiction on his vlog. He mentions something called “dopamine tone” which is a combination of how much dopamine your VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) releases, how many dopamine receptors you have on your NA (Nucleus Accumbens), and how long your dopamine is there and available to those receptors.

Stress can cause you to have fewer dopamine receptors and fewer receptors equal lower dopamine tone. He’d explained to me in previous conversations how almost all of the people with addiction he’d treated had what he described as “low dopamine tone.”

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When you have low dopamine tone, you don’t care about anything, have no motivation, can’t feel pleasure, can’t connect to others. In addition, low dopamine tone can affect how much serotonin is being released in the cortex. Low midbrain dopamine tone can lead to low serotonin which means, in addition to not giving a shit about anything, you also have no sense of well-being. Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

Dr. Wetsman has a very convincing but still somewhat controversial theory that addiction is completely a brain disease and that using drugs is the result, not the cause. I really suggest you get his book, Questions and Answers on Addiction.

It’s 90 pages — you could read half of it on the john and half of it while waiting at the carwash. It explains in detail why most of us addicts felt weird and off before we picked up and why we finally felt normal when we used. Again, it’s all about dopamine, and it’s fucking fascinating. No joke.

In his vlog, he explains that dopamine production requires folic acid which you can get from green leafy veggies (which I admittedly don’t eat enough of) but it also requires an enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) to convert folate into l-methyl folate. Certain people have a mutation in the gene that makes MTHFR, so they can’t turn folate into l-methyl folate as effectively, and those people are kind of fucked no matter how many kale smoothies they drink.

But it’s not hopeless. If people with this genetic mutation take a supplement of l-methyl folate, their brain can make enough dopamine naturally. Of course, once you have enough dopamine, you’ve got to make sure you release enough (but there’s medication for that) and that you have enough receptors and that it sits in the receptors long enough (and there are meds for that too).

So this all got me wondering if maybe my MTHFR enzyme was wonky or completely AWOL. Dr. Wetsman urged me to find a good psychiatrist (since I’m on Prozac and two epileptic medications) or a local addictionologist in addition to taking a genetic test for this mutation. In his experience, patients who had a strong reaction to taking the l-methyl folate supplement were frequently also on SSRIs. They either felt much better right away or really really shitty. But if they felt even shittier (because the higher serotonin levels work on a receptor on the VTA which then lowers dopamine), he would just lower their SSRI or sometimes even titrate them off it completely. And voila. Success.

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It’s all very complicated, and this whole brain reward system is a feedback loop and interconnected with all kinds of stuff like Gaba and Enkephalins (the brain’s opioids) and Glutamate. But you guys don’t need me for a neuroscience lesson so I’m trying to keep it simple. The basics: how do you know if you have too little dopamine?

You have urges to use whatever you can to spike your dopamine: sex, food, gambling, drugs, smoking, and so on. What about too much dopamine? OCD, tics, stuttering, mental obsession and eventually psychosis. Too little serotonin? Anxiety and the symptoms of too high dopamine tone. Too much serotonin? The same thing as too little dopamine tone. Everything is intricately connected, not to mention confusing as all hell.

Being broke and lazy and having had decades of shitty psychiatrists, I decided to go rogue on this whole mission (not recommended). I mean I used to shoot stuff into my arm that some stranger would hand me through the window of their 87 Honda Accord so why be uber careful now? This l-methyl folate supplement didn’t require a prescription anymore anyway. What did I have to lose? I did, however, run it by my sponsor whose response was: “I’m no doctor, honey, but it sounds benign. Go ahead.”

I ordered a bottle. A few days later I heard the UPS guy drop the packet into my mail slot. I got out of bed, tore open the envelope and popped one of these bad boys. A few hours later I started to feel that dark cloud lift a little. Gotta be a placebo effect, right? The next day I felt even better. And the next day better still. I didn’t feel high or manic. I just felt “normal.” Whoa. It’s been weeks now and the change has been noticeable to friends and family.

Normal. That’s all I ever really wanted to feel. And the first time I felt normal was when I tried methamphetamine at 24. It did what I wanted all those anti-depressants to do. It made me feel like I knew other people felt: not starting every day already 20 feet underwater. I found out later that my mother and uncle were also addicted to amphetamines which further corroborates my belief that there is some genetic anomaly in my inherited reward system.

When I emailed Dr. Wetsman to tell him how miraculously better I felt, his first response was “Great. I’m glad. The key thing is to take the energy and put it into recovery. People go two ways when they feel amazingly better. One: ‘Oh, this is all I ever needed. I can stop all this recovery stuff.’ Or two: ‘Wow, I feel better. Who can I help?’ Helping others in recovery will actually increase your dopamine receptors and make this last. Not helping people will lead to shame, lowered dopamine receptors and it stops being so great.”

So no, I’m not going to stop going to meetings or doing my steps or working with my sponsor and sponsees. Being part of a group, feeling included and accepted, even those things can create more dopamine receptors. But sadly I’m still an addict at heart and I want all the dopamine and dopamine receptors I can get. However, I also know that enough dopamine alone isn’t going to keep me from being a selfish asshole…

But maybe, just maybe, having sufficient dopamine tone and working a program will.

 

 

Amy Dresner

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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up.

She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, Addiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books.  Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.

 

 

Recovery Month Featured Guest Article. “A Gambling Story.” By Charles Watson.

Recovery Month Featured Guest Article. “A Gambling Story.” By Charles Watson.


Will call her “Jenny.”

Jenny is a thirty-eight-year-old who shared her gambling addiction story with my friend Charles Watson who is a content writer for addiction/recovery and health-related issues. Jenny let us share some of her feelings and struggles with addicted gambling as part of an interview with Charles. To keep her bit anonymous, I’m using the first name only. Here is what he learned from his talk with Jenny. As we know those of us maintaining recovery, sharing our stories can be a powerful tool to help others and share hope…

“My Gambling Addiction Story”

I never wanted to admit that I was addicted to gambling until I went home late one evening and found my 10-year-old son quietly sitting outside our apartment. Next to them was a bag full of toys and some school stuff.

The moment I saw him, I knew what was going on. Still, I waited until my son blurted it out, “uncle told us to leave, mom.” Yes, we were being evicted. I know I was five months behind our rent and that we only managed to stay longer since the landlord pitied my son. Then again, this fact didn’t stop me from falling deeper and deeper into my gambling habit.

On my way to work, I’d pass by the casino, try my luck at one of the machines there, as if it’s a part of my daily morning routine. For me, that was how I should jumpstart my day. After work, I’d pass by the casino again, and no matter how full or empty the casino parking lot would look like, I always had a reason to go inside. If the parking lot was full, I’d talk myself right inside thinking that the machines will be paying out now. If the parking lot was empty, then I’d think that the slots will pay out again this time. That’s how bad it has gotten! My thinking was even addicted and going entirely in the wrong direction.

My Backstory

I came from a struggling family. I had eight other siblings, my mother worked as a preschool teacher while my father prided himself in being a professional drunk. We could barely make ends meet because my father would always steal my mother’s money for alcohol. My siblings and I ended up working odd jobs to support ourselves. Cash was hard to find for us back then.

Luckily, I got a scholarship for college and with blood, sweat, and tears I was able to graduate. Since I was at the top of my class, I attracted a firm and was hired as a PR and Advertising Consultant in one of the biggest PR firms in the city right after graduation. Even though I was new, my firm was confident to let me handle large accounts.

Having drive and determination and a “DON’T- take-No-for-an-answer” attitude, I was promoted after a year. I was just 24 at the time I landed the account that turned my career around. I was doing really great and for the first time ever, I felt like I could do anything, and finally, money was now effortless to find making life much easier. I was at the peak of my career when I met Josh, the father of my child.

I knew him to be a well-mannered gentleman who came from a good family. He presented himself as somebody who is successful in his career and is financially stable. I felt secure having Josh in my life. This is the same reason that prompted me to move in with him, even before we were married. In 2007, I gave birth to our first child. Since I feel like I needed to spend more time with our newborn, I decided to quit my job.

I gathered all my savings and invested it in a business Josh was planning to start. In short, I gave Josh all my money. A week after I gave him the money, he talked to me again, now asking me to give him more. He said he needed more investors for his business. So, I borrowed money from friends and from the people I worked with in the past. I gave him a total of $50,000…

“After getting all the money from me, Josh just disappeared.”


How my gambling problem started

I was furious. I couldn’t accept the fact that Josh left me and for a younger woman. I cried buckets and buckets of tears day after day. I overdosed on sleeping pills and alcohol in attempts to escape from my problems. I also met a few friends who invited me to the casino to ‘supposedly’ unwind and rest from my worries and stress. When I told my new-found friends that I don’t have money for the casino, they told me to pawn anything valuable I have. So, heeding their advice, I pawned the diamond ring Josh gave me as a gift for our anniversary. Off we went to the casino!

When I saw the colorful lights and festive atmosphere of the casino, I was ecstatic. After a very long time, I finally broke away from my misery. That day, the casino became my savior, my refuge, and my escape. I tried playing with the slot machine and voila! For my fourth try, I won big! Whew! I felt like my life was slowly getting back on the right track that night. That night ended with me bagging another big win before we left! I was hooked!

The next day, I spoke to my old boss and asked him to take me back. I felt if I went back I would win big again. Then, I got my old job back, but it was very different this time. My motivation to work was to have money to spend at the casino. My thinking sure changed after those couple big wins. Every time I received my paycheck, I would immediately go to the casino and into the arms of my slot machines. I would always think about the fun, dream world, and seemingly happy casino atmosphere. It was something that I could not get over. And just how fast I got hooked!


Acknowledging The problem and Doing Something About It

I never acknowledged it as a problem until I saw my son crying because he was starving. We had nothing in the fridge. No water, no electricity, as well. I realized I was no longer buying groceries and I was not paying our bills. All I was thinking was the casino! After spending another night at the casino, I went home to an eviction notice. We had nowhere to live. I only had five dollars in my wallet. How would we survive? I decided to stay with my mom and dad. I shared my gambling problem with my mother, and she asked me to speak to her friend who is a counselor.

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We made my first appointment and after, I was happy to find a counselor who was empathetic and supportive of my decision to break away from my gambling habit. I still see her every week. Even though I’m still struggling, I can say that I’m doing the right thing and on the right track. It’s ironic how we only decide to do something about a problem once everything else in our lives is a mess. My experience was genuinely becoming unmanageable.

I’m still thinking about the casino and the rush and high I get every time I go there. But then again, when I look at my son, I know there is more to life than my need to temporarily escape from my problems and issues. I have work to do in learning the proper tools and skills to keep me from gambling as I now know I have a problem with it.

In closing, I’m trying to stay on the right track — for myself and give a better life to my son.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Guest Blogger: Charles Watson. Brand: Sunshine Behavioral Health


Charles L. Watson is a freelance writer. Although he holds no medical or psychological degree, his content writing specialties include both addiction, recovery, and health-related topics. You can read more of his content for Sunshine Behavior Health. He would like to thank “Jenny” for her time and honesty with regards to her story above. While the story itself is heartbreaking, let us remember that gambling itself is an addiction and recovery from this disease is possible.  Charles can be reached on Twitter.

National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

“I am a woman maintaining recovery from addictions and I am dually diagnosed with mental and emotional health challenges. My gambling addiction is what finally brought out my mental health symptoms to the point of trying suicide…TWICE.”

And I have not talked about it much. That comes from stigma. I don’t really want a label attached to me even though stigma is still prevalent among those recovering from addiction, but mental illness still has a long way to go. Of course, we have to have a name for the many forms of mental illnesses, but many times those who suffer become targets and ridiculed. That comes from NO Understanding and Lack of Empathy.

Just my own feelings. It is why I advocate, I try to help educate and inform the public that we who have mental illness are no different from others. We may just have a few more challenges than those who don’t have mental health issues. There has been an alarming rise of those recovering from addictions being diagnosed with some form of mental and emotional problem.

According to this article by my helpful friends of The National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Recovery Village. I treat my mental health just as my medical health. I am well managed, take my meds properly, and don’t use alcohol. I always keep my appointments and live life. I don’t let my challenges hold me back from what I enjoy doing! I do however need to be open and comfortable doing so. Here is a new attempt…Lol. I do hope all who visit find this article informative.  ~Catherine

Mental Illness and Addiction: America’s Struggle to Accept the Connection
Article By Staff at The Recovery Village.

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The United States is knee deep in a polarizing discussion on mental health and the best ways to help people struggling. Another topic Americans continue to wrestle with is how to address drug and alcohol addiction. But is there a relationship between the two issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the United States suffer from mental illness each year. Additionally, 20.2 million people in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder and a little more than half of them also have a mental health disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder.

Despite the prevalence of both mental illness and substance use disorder, a cause-and-effect relationship between the two is not universally accepted by many people in the United States.

The Recovery Village, a leader in substance use disorder treatment and mental health, recently conducted a survey that uncovered an overlap between mental health and addiction among the respondents’ answers. This information could help more people accept that there is a link between the two, and acknowledge them as equally important illnesses, helping create a culture that promotes healing and treatment instead of criticism and blame.

What Is Mental Illness?

First, it’s important to define mental illness. Medical experts summarize the disease as any disorder or disorders that cause a person to experience an altered mood, thinking pattern or behavior. According to Medline Plus, mental health disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders or personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia

From the survey conducted by The Recovery Village, approximately 62 percent of people said they either currently suffer or have suffered from a mental illness in the past. The most common mental health disorder that survey respondents said they suffered from was depression (78.46 percent), with anxiety disorders (70.73 percent) a close second. Mood disorders (37 percent) followed, and multiple respondents included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a write-in answer.

Respondents were allowed to submit multiple answers, as many people suffer from more than one mental illness. The number of respondents who suffer from a mental illness is not the only evidence of the issue’s significance. Nearly 63 percent of survey respondents said they know at least one family member who suffers from a mental health disorder and 54.25 percent said they know a friend who suffers from this disease. Few people surveyed — only 57 out of 400 — said they don’t know anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, a reason to believe that this issue either directly or indirectly affects a large majority of Americans.

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Connecting Mental Illness and Addiction

Many people suffering from a mental health disorder resort to drugs or alcohol as a dangerous form of self-medication. Additionally, many doctors prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to patients with a mental illness, and these drugs can be addictive. While some people misuse substances as a response to mental illness, others developmental health concerns after prolonged drug or alcohol addiction. For example, people who misuse cocaine or other stimulant drugs might experience long-term behavioral changes, including depression or anxiety, as the body functions alter permanently due to the substance’s effects.

How many people suffer from co-occurring disorders? A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 7.9 million adults in 2016 suffered from substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Rates were highest among adults between the ages of 26 and 49. The Journal of the American Medical Association found information that links the two diseases:

  • Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health disorders are also affected by substance misuse
  • Around 37 percent of people addicted to alcohol and 53 percent of people addicted to drugs suffer from at least one mental illness

America Still Behind on Accepting the Connection

The survey conducted by The Recovery Village shows an even stronger connection between co-occurring disorders. There is a large overlap between the number of people who have been affected by each disease. Of the 343 people who said they know someone who suffers from a mental health disorder, 303 people (88 percent) said they know at least one person who also has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. However, since some people could know multiple people, one with each illness, this information might be open to interpretation.

The survey respondents’ first-hand knowledge and experiences with these two illnesses provide even better evidence of the relationship between mental health disorders and addictions. Around 39 percent of the people surveyed said they have struggled or currently struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction, and nearly 35 percent said that they have struggled with both an addiction and mental health disorder.

Out of the 156 people who admitted to struggling with addiction, around 89 percent said they also suffered from, or still struggle with, a mental illness. Yet not as many drew a definitive connection between the two. Only 59 percent of respondents said they believe there is a relationship between mental health disorders and addiction. While that is a majority, the respondents’ beliefs about the potential connection are not reflective of their personal experiences.

Destigmatizing Mental Illness and Addiction

As the United States continues to discuss ways to make mental health treatment more accessible, the conversation of removing the negative stigma remains on the frontlines of discourse. However, a similar negative view of addiction continues to fester in the country, creating a more difficult landscape for people to accept and find treatment for their disorders.

Claire Rudy Foster, a contributor to Huffington Post who is in recovery from addiction, summarized the public’s perception toward substance use disorder: “Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal.

Maybe I am morally infirm as well.” The negative perception about addiction that exists in the United States can often become a roadblock toward lifelong recovery. If people suffering from substance use disorder do not have support from their peers, the healing process becomes more challenging.

Many medical professionals stress that a link exists between mental illness and substance use disorder. Additionally, the survey responses show that a majority of people who have suffered or are suffering from one of these disorders have also experienced the other. Yet only a little more than half of Americans are certain that a connection exists, potentially allowing the negative stigma surrounding addiction to fester within the country.

Increasing awareness and understanding can help create a more positive environment for people seeking recovery from substance use disorders. For those who have an addiction to a harmful substance and also suffer from a mental illness, there are many resources and hotlines available.

Seeking and receiving help from medical experts can make a big difference toward finding peace and living with either or both illnesses.
~The Recovery Village

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September Is National Recovery Month

Mental illness is a growing epidemic in the United States. The disease has affected the mood, thinking, and behavior of millions of people across the country. However, many Americans remain unaware of the widespread existence of mental health problems, and some of those with psychological issues avoid lifesaving treatment.

To reduce mental illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created National Recovery Month. Every September, the organization helps people host events designed to educate the masses about mental illness… So Please Visit and be Educated addiction.

 

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

As we celebrate National Recovery Month another year, not much has seemed to change regarding addiction. The opioid epidemic and alcoholism rates are still rising, just as more expansion has been rising with more gambling options being legalized like the one for legal online sports betting now in several states.

So how does recovery fit into this as we are losing more and more lives to all addictions every day? Why are we celebrating when it seems all addictions are getting out of control instead of better? I feel our Government needs to step up and take some part of the ownership and accountability of this problem as they don’t seem to be doing enough and just side kicking it to all the individual states in the US to handle it “on there own.”

“This to me and to many in the addiction and recovery arena and to me is just unacceptable” …

My good friend Ryan Hampton from ‘United to Face Addiction’ and ‘The Voices Project’ has worked tirelessly, including on Capitol Hill to get laws changed and put new laws and legislation on the books regarding opioid epidemic and treatment, rehabs, and sober living facilities. To force higher standards that will actually help those looking to recover. We need more longer-term after-care for those who reach out for recovery. Not just paid for and only a 28-day treatment stay. This DOES include gambling addiction and treatment where Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling lays out in this article …

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Is it wrong for the addiction/recovery community, parents, advocates, feel that our Government could be doing more? Is it not right for me if I was still an addict to ask for a longer treatment stay for free and not be in bondage of the Insurance Companies on how I chose to be free from any addiction? We all know most cannot afford addiction treatment is we have NO INSURANCE right? Even the cost alone if YOU HAVE INSURANCE is way too much for what we receive and WHY treatment is cut off by about the 28th to 30 days benchmark.

So how do we change this arena? Many advocates and those who work out in the field know this is an area in desperate need of changing. Lord knows I don’t have the answers but I will continue to advocate loudly for these and many more changes. I tip my hat off to those like Ryan, Les, and even my co-writing partner Vance who travel all over the US, even to our White House to advocate loudly for change.

Change in how addicts get treatment paid for or if they have no insurance, and to shatter Stigma around those who do because STIGMA can prevent addicts to reach out and get help. It’s why I advocate and share a wealth of HOPE … I will close with this FB Post by Vance Johnson who is a recovering addict, former NFL Pro, and what he had to say that hit home for me. I am so blessed to be writing his memoir with me and to have him as a dear friend.  ~Catherine Lyon

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Whatever you misdiagnose, whether illness, relationships, even politics, you miss treating.  This post is deep so stick with me.

Recently I’ve run into a ton backlash and opposition with my 4.5 years being clean.

From family to friends and in between, some are convinced that I’m not clean for the right reasons. Start with Religion… Some think this new walk that I walk in Christ delivering me from the bondage of addiction is “Fake News” and only a reason for my new supposed found fame. I was addicted to fame, and fame made me drink and use drugs.

When I lost that fame and status as a pro-NFL player and after walking away from the game, I drank and drugged myself into a coma. Let’s move to Politics.

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I grew up around democrats, became independent, and decided at one point that only Republicans are true believers in God. I’m not dogging politics, it’s needed…. but what you misdiagnose you miss treating! Whether politics or religion, most of it can be agenda driven and being agenda driven can make you interpret circumstances incorrectly.

In relationships, you may have got information about your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, even your children that sheds a light on them that moves you directly into judgment. All because of your misdiagnoses and believing lies shaped in truth, that’s actually formed by an agenda.

Years of doubt, demonic interpretation has damaged your relationship. Although you see them never walk away from his or her commitment to love you, take care of your children and has never strayed.

Their devotion and walk in Christ echo their lifestyle. Don’t let religious or political prophecy become deluded or distorted by people saying they know what God is thinking.

In the Bible, Paul said lustfully pursue the gifts of the Spirit, especially that you may prophesy. I travel all over the country and share my testimony to thousands. I run into people all over, and the Spirit of God has led me to speak into people’s lives, and pray over them. I share the good news about what Christ has done for me in this new walk. I’ve seen miracles and lives touched while standing boldly redeemed and in conviction to Share Hope.

Thanks for letting go deep here, just wanted to share personal thoughts in this new transparent life I lead, to show myself approved in God’s eye, not man’s eyes… I encourage all of you to recognize what may be the spirit of deception.


You can think it’s a righteous stand while being “fed a lie.” No matter where the lie comes from.


Own your Faith, Own Your Sobriety.  ~Vance Johnson 


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