Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends and Hope Seekers,
So, within only 3 months apart, it happened again! It is pissing me off when those who have NO CLUE about any addiction or about recovery, let alone a gambling addiction nor have been “touched” by it, or know anyone with one or even a family member has. See, I happened to write about this before 3 or so months ago.
So I wanted to vent and share a little more about this as Gambling Addiction is a real disease, people! It does happen, and I am tired of others commented to me that when we advocate we are demeaning others who have real diseases like cancer, diabetes, and others. When will people wake up and see how bad addictions of any kind are running rampant and killing many each year.
“I surely didn’t wake up one day and choose to devastate my life and my husbands’ life and become an addicted gambler.” ~Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Recently I read a few comments on Twitter after I tweeted about my gambling addiction and maintaining recovery. It was also about living in the “now” and a well-balanced recovery journey. There are many myths and misconceptions about this disease, the silent killer, and underground addiction. One of which was I chose to become an addict. Really? Did I decide to devastate my life for a few hours of addicted gambling?
Did I choose to bankrupt my husband and me financially? Did I want to end my life by choice because I was hopelessly addicted? No! Gambling addiction is real and is a real disease. It is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide over all other addiction. Currently, 2.9% of the population are now Problem Gamblers. It is now “touching” our seniors, high school, and college-age kids.
When I began Gamblers Anonymous meetings, I’d hear others say; “Hate the addiction, not the addict.” We are dealing with an illness and tricky beast. That is true with all types of addictions. As Robin Williams was quoted back in the mid 80’s about addiction and recovery; “There’s no shame in failing. The only shame is not giving things your best shot.” That is what we need to do when coming out of treatment and begin our new path away from addiction. We need to look for other ways to replace the time spent gambling, using drugs and alcohol. Robin Williams also said; “It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there, It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.”
Now, this could not be truer when I look back at my early recovery. We are so broken and riddled with many triggers and urges starting the path called “recovery.” We have no way of knowing how to take charge and own it. Owning one’s recovery, in my opinion, is being real, being honest, and transparent of the good and mostly all the bad. Bad behaviors, choices, and habits we learned as an addict.
But when you “Own Your Recovery” and begin the process of learning why and begin the “inner work,” you begin to change. You begin to forgive yourself for those “poor choices” you had made. You start to accept the consequences, accountability, and responsibility for those choices and actions. You begin to learn and look for some of those “underlying roots” that had you in bondage and attached to your addiction.
Now, most 12-Step programs teach us we can recover without knowing why we turned to addiction in the first place. I am not a firm believer of this. WHY? Because, if we don’t know and learn to work through those issues, how do we begin a steady, healthy, and happy life maintaining recovery? How do we move forward and become fulfilled and productive people? See, we will be “a work in process” for the rest of our lives, many get scared or feel it will be an impossible task, and easier to be an addict than to have their lives back. That is a significant roadblock for many recovering. We are dealing with a “Disease.” So back to my Twitter comments. I have had a few remarks like “addicts make a choice to be addicts.
Other people commented – “I make a “choice” every day and to say it’s a disease minimizes people who suffer from real diseases like Alzheimer’s or cancer (WHAT? Really?).”
On the other hand, I know that when I gambled, I lost the control and ability to stop and kept gambling and gambling on slots! That is how gambling addiction is described by “The National Council on Problem Gambling” and knowing we have crossed the line into uncontrolled gambling. My friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling says; “Gambling addiction—is an impulse-control disorder.
“If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones.” And I know first hand that this is true as it happened to me. No, I didn’t come from a background or a family who were gamblers. I was a normal gambler until I began to use it as an “escape, to numb out, and not feel my past childhood trauma” which came back out of nowhere.
So was it “my choice” to become a gambling addict? No.
To begin and maintain recovery is not easy. The first thing to do is reach out for help. There is no shame in doing so. And you can remain anonymous. When you do, become educated about the “cycle” of this disease and learn ways to interrupt the cycle. A sponsor, counselor, therapist, or recovery coach can help you achieve this. Read as much as you can about this addiction and make and have a solid ‘relapse plan and phone list’ to use for those “triggers and urges” in early recovery.
The longer you refrain from gambling, the less they will become. Start a journal. Journaling helps to relieve stress and anxiety. These are just a few ideas on how to begin your recovery path. Make sure you visit my Resources page and The Relapse Prevention Guide I have listed on its own page here on my recovery blog. I am always here to help. You can email me anytime if your needing help or support and where and how to be Gamble Free! firstname.lastname@example.org
Read my E-book as well as it is now on sale for just $2.99 a download on Amazon Kindle. I share it all of my battle with gambling addiction and alcohol abuse. Giving in-depth insights and disclosing how I found and processed my underlying issues and roots to my becoming an addict. And again, “it was not a choice.” It happens …
Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
How does a good girl go bad? Based on a true story, told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, this haunting tale of addiction, family secrets, abuse, sexual misconduct, destruction, crime and…. recovery! One day at a time, one page at a time. Read and learn about this woman’s remarkable and brave story.