A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

“Those of us maintaining long-term sobriety know that addictions don’t care if you are rich, famous, a sports pro, have status, …ADDICTION has no boundaries on who it “Touches.”  ~Author/Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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Through the years within my recovery and writing journey, I have met many amazingly talented people who have become friends and like me, they feel writing is a necessary part of maintaining our recovery and a part of the advocacy work we do. While writing two years for a popular recovery magazine, I have met and interviewed many high profile people turned friends like my buddies, former NFL pros Vance Johnson, Randy Grimes, and also tattoo artist Kat Von D! …No, I don’t get “star struck” at all, as my friend Jason Hyland is no different.

He was well on his way to go from the minors into the Major League of Baseball family until addictions derailed those dreams. Coming from a home with an alcoholic father passed to Jason, now clean and sober, he has a unique gift of inspiring and motivating others to enjoy your life even when maintaining recovery.

As Jason shares of himself; “I am a former minor professional baseball player. Boston bred, thick & thru. And I’m Living the Dream!” Not surprising as I find him humorous and to be an exceptional writer and author of his first published book that was released just this past June 2018 titled; Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What.”

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Jason’s book is now available in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart Online.  I am about to read it myself and will definitely come back when done reading it and add my ‘Book Review’ here on my Recovery Blog, Amazon, which he has all 5-star reviews, and GoodReads. Here is more about the new release and it shares a wee bit more of what Jason does to “pay it forward” to those who still suffer from addiction.

About Jason’s Book

Hyland’s charismatic, witty, and candid writing style brings you onto the couch with him as he takes you through the wallows of addiction and alcoholism at its greatest depths, to a rejuvenated, motivated, inspirational rebirth. He is an example that addiction does not discriminate and puts to rest the stigmas attached. He was a man who seamlessly had it all with a bright future ahead, but the power behind drugs and alcohol took a stranglehold on him, halting any progression. Stop Thinking Like That is not your typical addiction story leaving you sad and depressed, rather you end each chapter inspired and uplifted.


After a nearly two-decades-long run in and out of the bowels of the diseases, he finally surrendered and found the courage to ask for help. His journey in recovery gives hope to anyone facing great challenges in life, that no matter how far down you have dropped, you can pick yourself up, and be even better than you ever imagined. During his first couple months sober, a newfound passion and burning rush filled him within. This passion has brought to light what is now Stop Thinking Like That.


All the while living in a sober-home with upwards of eighteen other addicts and alcoholics, he relentlessly pursued his passion of spreading the message of hope. His tireless efforts ooze through the pages in his quest to find the greatest version of himself that exists. He leaves you wanting to jump out of your chair and attack life, with constant motivation and reminders of what we are capable of despite how lost we may feel we are.

Hold on tight, because this journey is one exhilarating roller coaster ride that will leave you inspired to be a better person and with the drive to help others. No matter the adversities you face in life, you can overcome them and live out the life you always dreamed of.

Hyland is living proof that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. 
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Now, Jason and I met on Twitter and he is my “Re-Tweet King!” When we see each other on Twitter, we have a chat through DMing each other as I learned pretty quick how amazing he was and how he truly cares about those suffering from addiction! As a matter of fact, he was so generous that the very firstRecoveryfest Music Concert” put on by ” Above The Noise Recovery Foundation” – Jason gave away 20 Free Tickets to it as Macklemore performed and many others!


He inspires and will motivate you to not just “Live Life Within Recovery,” he “Inspires” you to “Live Your Life 2 The Fullest” while maintaining recovery! I do believe the photo above Proves my point! Lol. As he shares on his ‘Tweet Profile,’ he describes himself like THIS:  
“Bestselling Author of Stop Thinking Like That. Former minor leaguer turned addict turned Recovery Coach, I live to Inspire, Motivate & Spread HOPE thru Sobriety 7/24/17!”

So, he was willing and gracious enough to answer some interview question about his talented writing style as the book reviews for his new book are exceptional, so he had to have done a pretty good job writing his first book … Here are my interview questions I asked him from more of a “writers perspective” and how he answered.

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1) What inspired you to write a book?

I entered detox on July 24, 2017, and with me, I brought an empty notebook. I figured I would have a lot of alone time on my hands and thought journaling would help take up as much as possible. I journaled every night about basic things, from what I ate that day, any people I may have conversated with, like those who liked me, who doesn’t like me, etc, etc, just stuff like that.

Nothing major, just used for time consumption. Then one day I wrote a story about what my mornings were like during the heart of my addictions to alcohol and opiates. To this day, every time I read that piece I’d get goosebumps and it brings me immediately back to that environment. I was shocked at how great this piece came out so I brought it to a counselor at the 6-month program I was now living at, whom I trusted and she was amazed, as well. She said she felt all 5 senses through my writing of the imagery, and I said I might be onto something.

I had shared in my early weeks of recovery, and during one of the group sessions that I was going to write a book, and of course, everyone thought I was crazy.  But after this piece, I knew it was going to happen. I went out and bought a 5-star notebook with plans to use each section for a particular characteristic needed to succeed in not just recovery, but life itself. On the first page I wrote down the chapters names, and at the point, each chapter would be about one of the characteristics and I’d include a personal story relevant to the trait.

This, of course, isn’t how the book turned out to be, but the journey had begun. At one point I was writing in three different notebooks while reading a book a week on personal development and inspirational stories. My mind was being consumed with nothing but positivity and it oozed out of me into my writing. Something within me kept telling me to keep writing, this feeling was so real, burning in my belly, to continue no matter what. Naysayers, critics, haters, family, friends, no one believed in me, but that was okay because all that matters was that I believed in myself.

 

2) Tell us about your writing process

The program I admitted myself in we could not have a cell phone, internet access, or a car, so I had to utilize the 2-hour gaps we were allowed to leave the house as best I could. I would write in my notebooks at night and then walk to the library to type it up the following day. I did this nonstop literally until I graduated that program on February 23, 2018.

It is great to look back on all the notebooks, print-outs, mini notebooks with certain words I liked from a book a read and wanted to put into my book, and so forth. I did the math and estimate I spent around a 1,000 hours between writing ‘Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What’ and then editing and publishing. The most tedious and time-consuming part was uploading my book onto Createspace, Amazon’s publishing platform. Writing came easy to me, and while doing so you’re not thinking about things such as fonts, formatting, page #s, etc., so I researched the best fonts for a self-help genre and taught myself everything on the fly.

Literally, from the first page to the last, and front cover to back, I did it. I hired someone from Morocco from the Fiverr to put the book cover together based on a design I drew in, you guessed it, a notebook. I have the pictures to show the drawing to the actual cover, and it is a beautiful sight.

3) What advice would you give other addiction-recovery writers?

Do NOT listen to the noise. There will be a lot of people trying to make you go about your recovery their way, try to slow you down, or to tell you that you can’t, it is all BULLSH*T!

Don’t listen to anyone, just follow your gut instincts. The further along you get the more people will try and hold you back. Those are the ones you do not need around. Toxicity is not allowed. AND just as importantly, be HONEST! People want to know you’re authentic and real, so don’t fear to be as raw and candid as you must.

Remember, writing is your therapy first, others second, so do whatever it takes to keep you on the right path. You will notice more people joining your side and rooting you on the more honest you are, as well as people reaching out to you because they realize they aren’t alone in this battle. Your truth speaks wonders.

 

4) How did you decide how to publish your book?

A family friend has published multiple bestselling books, so I reached out to him for advice.  His only advice was “to keep writing,” stating many people ask him for help, but then never follow through.  I followed through, and he continued guiding me on the process.  He suggested self-publishing my first book for two reasons; build an audience for future works, and to save/make maximum money.

I wasn’t working obviously while in rehab, so I didn’t have the funds to work with a publishing company, nor utilize an editor but was fortunate that my much-smarter-than-me girlfriend offered to edit the endless amounts of work I continuously sent her.” The closer I neared the finish line the more motivated I got. I knew the end result before I even got there. I sent my mother an email back in November which I saved, stating simply,  “I will become a bestselling author!”

Within 2 weeks of  ‘Stop Thinking Like that;’ and the help of pre-orders, made it became at release a #1 national bestseller in multiple categories in both paperback and Kindle, at the same time! It was such a proud moment, I had tears streaming from my eyes because I did it.

Not only to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to as mom always stated, but to show all those who are struggling and feel hopeless that they too can achieve anything they want.  I am nobody special, I was at the bottom stealing from family, going through rubbish for cans, and stealing toilet paper from Burger King bathrooms. Today, I can now call myself a bestselling sober author. I set out on a mission to show anyone and everyone that “The sky truly is the Limit.”



5) Why a recovery book?

Funny thing is, it isn’t really a recovery book, but more so self-help and personal development book. And it is NOT a memoir by any means, although it does include some personal stories about where drugs and alcohol took me, the power they had over me, and hitting bottom.

It is about finding yourself at your bottom, then crawling, digging, scratching, and kicking your way out behind discipline, perseverance, good ‘ole fashion’ hard work, and most importantly faith in yourself. It is about realizing you can still achieve all your goals in life, live out the life you’ve always dreamed of and then some. It doesn’t matter how far down you may be today, your new life can start at the snap of a finger.

I have been blessed to have this second chance, and it didn’t take long to realize I had a purpose. That was to use and share my story to help others as ‘Stop Thinking Like That’ has opened up those many doors for me.

6) What do you think about the future of book publishing for addiction/recovery books?

I know you will start seeing more addiction/recovery books being published for two reasons:

1) – Self-publishing has given the average writer the chance to show their work to the world. I am not alone in saying many do write to help their recovery, as people like myself can take all those journals, notes, and stories, and put them into a book with our name on the cover.

2)With addiction being an American crisis and epidemic, everyone knows someone that is affected by addiction, no one is immune. The general public is now aware that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live, what color you are, or what job you may have, ADDICTION DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. You are seeing more individuals building up the courage to come out and tell their story.

It is not about being anonymous anymore, people realize they are not alone and that it is okay to be vulnerable, which I believe is a sign of strength. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself open up to the world. It is how we can not only heal ourselves but help others at the same time.  Admitting you need help is VERY difficult, anyone will tell you that. So when we do find that courage to do so, we realize we don’t have all the answers, and that takes guts.

7) What types of genres you write or would like to write?

I have read upwards of 30 books in the first 6 months of my recovery all about personal development and helping me become a better human being. From; ‘Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People’ to Chris Herren’s ‘Basketball Junkie,’  to Tony Robbins and John Maxwell. Everything I read helped me in one way or the other, and I quoted around a dozen of the books I read in my book. I am a very positive person because I have witnessed firsthand the power of a positive mind.

The human brain is extremely powerful, and a determined mind is the most powerful thing known to man. I love reading about success stories, industry titans, everyday people overcoming massive odds, and building up my “knowledge brigade” aka my brain. I like to learn, and there is an infinite amount of knowledge to discover within the pages of any book.

8)  Will, you write another book and why?

YES! Because I want to help as many people as I possibly can and for whatever reason, my Higher Power whom I choose to call God has given me the platform to do so with writing.  And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I really enjoy writing, too

 

9) Lastly, what is one funny thing NO ONE Knows about you?
When I was young my mother would put me to sleep by playing jazz music, in particular, Kenny G…and I still do that to this day. 🙂

Readers, you will enjoy seeing Jason on this “Catching Up with Katy, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives video! – I welcome a very special guest Author, Jason Hyland.” 
An amazing in-depth interview with Jason worth a watch!

http://haverhillcommunitytv.org/video/april-2018-jason-hyland

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I want to thank Jason for allowing me to share some his story and about his amazing writing style with all my recovery friends and visitors. Please take a listen to Jason’s full story above and below at an outdoor Recovery Speaking event! They both are heartfelt and uplifting and a true example of how we can make it through the other side!

 

 

You can connect with Jason on social media and visit his  Website ~JasonHyland.   –  Twitter –  Instagram –  Facebook –  Amazon Profile and Book Purchase!

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National Overdose Awareness Day. In Remembrance of Those Lost From Drug Overdose. Recovery is Possible.

National Overdose Awareness Day. In Remembrance of Those Lost From Drug Overdose. Recovery is Possible.

Today is a day of awareness, education, and to speak out as many are “FED UP” with the loss of life from drug addiction. It is time to have the conversation about what our President and Government plans to do about this raging epidemic. It needs to be addressed NOW, not later. As the body count rises of loved ones, ones who would never dream of becoming a drug addict. They may have had surgery and within a week or so become addicted to painkillers better known as OPIOIDS.

These are our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. They are living and breathing real humans who may have never tried or used drugs in the past. It is also our kids. Our teens and college young adults. According to the US Drug Overdose .GOV website there have been 72,000.00 estimated in 2017 that was reported. I’m sure unreported cases would make this number higher 2 fold! Visit the site for the full report.

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The U.S. government does not track death rates for every drug. However, the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does collect information on many of the more commonly used drugs. The CDC also has a searchable database, called CDC Wonder.

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Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths, 1999 to 2017             

Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths* – Among the more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017*, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

Total U.S. Drug Deaths

Total U.S. Drug Deaths* – More than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids—a 2-fold increase in a decade. Source: CDC WONDER

* Provisional counts for 2017 are based on data available through 12/17 but are not yet finalized. Counts through 2016 are based on final annual data.*

 

Number of Deaths Involving All Drugs

National Overdose Deaths—

Number of Deaths Involving All Drugs. The figure above is a bar chart showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving all drugs from 2002 to 2016 and provisional 2017 data. The chart is overlayed by a line graph showing the number of deaths of females and males from 2002 to 2016. From 2002 to 2017 there was a 3.1-fold increase in the total number of deaths. (Please visit overdose death rates for the full report.)

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If you know a loved one or family member is suffering from drug addiction, do something NOW to get them help! Don’t let “Insurance” or lack of it to “Dictate” whether or not you receiving help. Look for treatment providers giving out Grants or Scholarships for treatment.

Reach out to advocates who have connections, or check with your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or St. Vincent De Paul organizations for help finding treatment for a loved one. Or even your local churches may have some resources. Just don’t give up looking. If you own a home, do a 1st or 2nd mortgage loan on it. WHY? YOU CAN NOT put a PRICE on saving a LIFE…

A Resources If You Have No Insurance Coverage For Addiction Treatment

How to Find a State-Funded Rehab Center – American Addiction Centers

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/state-funded/

National Helpline | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health …

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Apr 19, 2018 – This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support … If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state 

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How to Get Into Rehab Without Insurance – Rehabs.com

https://luxury.rehabs.com/drug-rehab/rehab-without-insurance/

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FIND AND ATTEND A OVERDOSE EVENT:

South Florida Is!!
Friday, August 31 at 3 PM – 8 PM EDT
Starts in about 2 hours · 90°F Mostly Cloudy

WHERE? Florida Atlantic University  777 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, Florida 33431

DALLAS TEXAS IS! Today starting now till 3PM at Lake Cliff Park!!

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An advocate of Gambling Addiction, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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

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

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


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

About

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

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

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

Teens who gamble have higher rates of:

  1. Bankruptcy/ money problems

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

  1. Absenteeism from school and early drop-out

This includes poor academic performance and loss of motivation.

 

  1. Housing crisis and homelessness

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

  1. Substance abuse

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

  1. Suicidal ideation and suicide

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

  1. Mental health issues

This includes anxiety, depression and anti- social behavior.

  1. Criminal behaviour

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

  1. Disrupted family and peer relationships

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

 

 

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

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

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

Poker Machines:

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

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

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

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

BUT?

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

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

THAT’S THE PROBLEM!

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Take our Interactive Quiz

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

 

 

    

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Searching for help:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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Sharing Awesome News From United To Face Addiction!

Hello and Welcome All Recovery Friends!


Well it seems we have some exciting news from United To Face Addiction. You may remember I was blogging my fingers off for all the happenings of the Big Rally to raise awareness and funding for all types of addictions this past October, 2015. Well it seems it wasn’t all in vain! A very BIG VOTE is coming up and we could use your help. Here is the resent email newsletter I just got and wanted to share with all my recovery friends and visitors:

Facing Addiction

BREAKING NEWS:  $1.1 Billion To Face Addiction! Sign The Thank You Letter!

Remember when we came together on October 4, 2015 to begin urgently facing addiction? Remember the personal stories you heard, the moving words from families who have lost loved ones to addiction, and the firm resolution we heard from those in positions of power to take action?

Today, we’re thrilled that the President of the United States is among those who heard us loud and clear. When the White House reveals the 2017 budget proposal to Congress next week, it will include an unprecedented amount of $1.1 BILLION in new funding for health care services needed to combat the addiction crisis. This request represents the largest increase in direct federal funding for treating substance use disorders in decades.

The President’s welcome announcement to help turn the tide on the addiction crisis deserves our support. Today, please sign our LETTER thanking the President for this bold proposal.

With the President’s request of $1.1 billion to face addiction, our movement has gained a tremendous partner and ally.

Again, please join Facing Addiction in thanking the President, and send your support for this proposal that will help hundreds of thousands of people currently struggling with addiction.

With the help of our allies across the country and in Washington DC, we can face addiction together.

Regards,
The Facing Addiction Team

So recovery friends. I hope you will take a little time to visit the blue links provide by the fine folks of Facing Addiction and let us get involved to help the President trying to get this proposal DONE!
Share your support to help get funding for the people who want to recover from any AADICTION!

Thanks Recovery Friends,
Author & Recovery Advocate ~ Catherine Townsend-Lyon

UNITE To Face Addiction Advocacy Day Is Today!

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome All,

Well, I have to tell you, what a fantastic evening of speakers and music last night in Washington, DC!!
It was a “Historic Rally for Awareness of Addiction.” Joe Walsh, Sheryl Crow and Steven Tyler were AWESOME on stage last night. Everyone of my recovery friends and the fine folks who put this rally together were sharing so much on Twitter and Facebook, I had a hard time keeping up with posts and sharing all the action throughout social media!
Here is are a few shots of the performances that took place for “UNITE to Face Addiction” and our voices were LOUD! .. .. ..

” place out to the Universe to help us get these two gents out to the Fest next year, if possible 😎 Recovery Rockfest would love to have these two GUYS who played last night next year!! XO” Nyla Cione of http://www.recoveryrockfest.com

RECOVERY ROCK FEST's photo.
(Steven Tyler and Joe Walsh at UNITE to Face Addiction)

Michael King added 7 new photos
'Yes. Darryl Strawberry. My childhood baseball hero. Yes.'
'I gotta tell ya, Steven Tyler is BRINGING IT at UNITE To Face Addiction' 'Jason Isbell helping us UNITE'
Michael King's photo.

Liz Holt Audette's photo.

(photo’s courtesy of Michael King)

SO your most likely wondering what is going on today? Today is “Advocacy Day”  . . .
Here is more about what UNITE to Face Addiction is doing on Capitol Hill .. .. ..

Advocacy Day ~ 10-05-2015

On Monday, October 5th, the day after the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally, citizen advocates will meet with policymakers on Capitol Hill to engage in conversations about the need for addiction solutions and the growing constituency of consequence that is demanding solutions.

Advocacy Day has two overarching goals:

  1. Achieve a health response to addiction
  2. Improve public safety and protect civil liberties to enhance health outcomes of those in or seeking recovery from addiction involved with the criminal justice system

To achieve these goals, citizen advocates will:

  1. Thank Members of Congress who have co-sponsored 524/HR 953, The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), and ask other Members to add their names as co-sponsors to this bipartisan piece of legislation.
  2. Ask their Members of Congress to sign a letter to federal agencies indicating that they are in support of full implementation and enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
  3. Ask Members of Congress to support the REDEEM Act (S 675/HR 1672).

To download the Advocacy Day training presentation, click here. To see the full training webinar, click here. For best viewing, please be sure to download the webinar by clicking the download button located in the top right-hand corner.

Registration for Advocacy Day is now closed. Please direct all questions, including online sign-up questions, to advocacy@facingaddiction.org.

Now even though the Big Rally is over, that doesn’t mean we are done. WE ARE just beginning this fight and you can help! UNITE to Face Addiction is building HOPE, HEALING, and HELP! With all donations taken in, they are building a foundation to help those in need of treatment and other services to RECLAIM their lives back from addiction. So please, you can help by Donating or Texting your financial support here!

By Text: TEXT to  “facing” 41444  or by donating through the website here: http://www.facingaddiction.org

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! Let us all “UNITE To Face Addiction!!” XOXOXO

Together We Can Face Addiction

Addiction impacts one out of three families in America. Sadly, today more than 90% of people in need of treatment or recovery do not receive it – this discrimination must end now.

No one should ever have to overcome addiction alone. No longer can we sit on the sidelines and let others worry about changing the system. Facing Addiction is OUR movement.

Your support will help build a national campaign that will forever change how we UNITE to Face Addiction.

Together, we can save lives – starting right now.  But we need your help.  Please donate today.

Click here to make a monthly recurring donation.

Thank you!
UNITE to Face Addiction

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon & Gambling Addiction Recovery Advocate

Facing Addiction.

Scott Magnuson's photo.
Scott Magnuson's photo.

 

How Do We Reach Life Freedom From Gambling Addiction?

Hello Recovery Friends, Supporters, and New Visitors,

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I felt this quote is fitting for the Freedom we experience in getting our lives back from compulsive addicted gambling. . .

So how do we claim our lives back from compulsive gambling addiction? How can we make that elusive first year in recovery without relapse? Well, every ones path is different, but this goal is the same for all of us!

Working through the 12-steps we sometimes are not comfortable in our own skin when we start to have those feelings of a Free Life from gambling addiction. For me it was very hard not to self sabotage myself after some months of being gamble free. Instead of moving forward in recovery, some of us don’t know how, or we start to get complacent when we are finally feeling some relief in the areas in recovery like, our finances, less triggers and urges, and much more.
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That is the time we need to be prepared so we don’t relapse just because we are starting to feel better, and our diseased thinking of this addiction makes us start to thinking and feel we really didn’t have a problem. When we have finished step 1, and have surrendered, many may go back and think, “well I feel pretty good now, so maybe I can CONTROL my gambling,” . . . . NO, you can not.

The person starts taking little pieces of his/her surrender back, and thinks I can control this or that, and before you know it? You are sucked back in the cycle of the addiction again.
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Does this sound familiar? I did myself in early recovery, and trying to make that elusive 1 year in recovery, but failed because I kept thinking when I was feeling good that I could control my gambling. Doesn’t work folks. Many of you know the experiences I’m talking about right?
So, here is one tool & skill you can use to help SEE your growth in your recovery, and may help you see how the cycle of addicted gambling and your weak spots to be prepared for so you don’t relapse or get off track.

Start a JOURNAL . . . If you write a little of how your day was, any triggers, urges, stress, and everything through your day and night, later you can look back and will be able to pin point where you need more help or support in your recovery.

It’s the same with working your 12-steps. We don’t work our steps and think, “OK, I’m done with that”. . . oh no, we have to keep going back and reworking our steps to actually see how far we have come, and also see the area’s we need more help and support. You really can go and look back through your step work and see your growth in recovery.

I can tell you that it’s an amazing feeling when you do this, and yourself can pin point your weak area’s which helps you gain self-awareness as well. Self awareness with your feelings to are very important to your recovery. We have learned in our addiction to gambling to either run, hide, stuff, escape or cope from uncomfortable feelings. Feelings of maybe hurt, pain, or like me, I was trying to escape the pain and haunts of my past childhood trauma and abuse.

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So I used gambling to cope with my past childhood pain. Trust me, any negative things that have happened to you, and you try to stuff them away? Sooner or later they will come to bother you later in life if you don’t get help, or learn to process that and make peace with yourself. Yes, many people do turn to additions for many different reasons, but many times it’s because we are hurting from something inside, running from something, or just plain being immature. We don’t learn to grow up and be accountable and take ownership of our problems or stress in life.

The 12-steps will help you gain this and work through our human defects. Yes, we are only human after all, and no one person is perfect. ME? I will be “a work in progress” until my last breath in this world. So do yourself a favor, reclaim your life back from gambling addiction. We can recover & were worth it!

 

May God Bless and Guide you in your Recovery Journey,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of Addicted To Dimes, My Story. . .
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat/dp/B00CSUJI3A

 

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