But finally, in his 50s, in the midst of an emotional breakdown over a shattered relationship, and after “smoking his breakfast, drinking his lunch and snorting his dinner” for many years, Buschel checked himself into the Betty Ford Center. It was hitting the lowest of the lows that so many addicts experience.
It was time to see what a month would be like without vodka, weed, or ecstasy. For Buschel, it was a revelation! Every moment he was struck by how alive he felt when not under the influence. For him, the power of the program there and at AA worked wonders. He has now been clean and sober for more than two decades. And while he tinkered with several careers to replace his successful but illegal profession, he finally found himself drawn to helping other addicts kick the habit and find a stable, healthy, robust sober life.
Inspired by the work, he launched the eBulletin, film festival, and organization Writers in Treatment, which he cofounded with Robert Downey Sr, which has made him a leader in the recovery field. HIGH is a fascinating read, a lively romp through a very vivid life, but it is also a cautionary tale and one that inspires. If anyone as committed to the drug life as Leonard Buschel, and can find sobriety beyond 25 years of active addiction and drug dealing, then there is hope for those who are inspired by his message that there is a better life waiting—and that they can achieve it, too.
‘ HIGH: Confessions of a Cannabis Addict is now out and available on Amazon.com in paperback and e-book formats. Available within Kindle Unlimited too! https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/
I enjoy sharing some of my supportive friends and the resources they offer to help those who might be problem gamblers or may have a full-blown addiction to it.
My fine friends at GamTalk – https://www.gamtalk.org/ have many resources anyone can tap into to get help from gambling. Dr. Richard Wood is the founder and Ken L. is an administrator of this awesome website as they have given many a safe place and platform to share and give support to those looking to stop suffering in silence from this cunning and insidious disease.
I would encourage anyone who has a gambling problem to go join free and be with other like-minded people so you know you are NOT ALONE. I also try to share my thoughts on their community wall with empathy and inspiration to those who may be having a tough time trying to quit and how vital having an open willingness for CHANGE.
In order to change you much follow it up with ACTION. Willing to make changes within your actions is what will help you become BET FREE. Willing to change your addicted thinking, choices, bad habits, and behaviors that come with problem gambling.
It needs and takes action to work and you’ll begin a path of recovery that will be successful and gain a much better life. I’d like to share some anonymous voices so others can see just how difficult it is to change and stop gambling addictively.
“We need to be able to survive a bad day. No matter how hard we try to live right, bad days will happen. It is wise to pray to be tough, fight through it, and believe that tomorrow will be better. When bad days happen get into your activities list and get active. Plan and prepare for war against this addiction. Have a journal and fill it with tips and articles about how to quit. Every day, add a bit more. Every day, study the key tips for you. Every day, do what you need to do to renew your mind and habits. It works.”
Pete E. posted:
“New here and this day shall be known as day 1 for me…I have come to grips that I need help to stop gambling.”
Cindy R. posted:
“My first post …I suppose my entry here will be quite usual. Anxiety way up, making deals with payments, and have noticed that when I’m chasing losses now for the last two months I’ve been noticeably hyper-frustrated when a scratch ticket doesn’t win.
Since I really need the win. Noticing this has prompted me to begin looking to stop or slow down. My mind is as tense as if I’ve Jenn up all night for New Year even with 5 hrs of sleep. Getting help locally is awkward since I’m a neighborhood professional. Thanks for letting me vent here…looking for a therapist whom I can trust locally here in Canada.“
Sally K. posted:
“I’ve been gambling for over 12 years and it’s ruined my life. I have no hope for the future. It’s like I can’t feel anything unless I’m sitting in front of a slot machine. I’m scared to go to Gamblers Anonymous as I’m not a faith-based person. I want to find a support group; to be able to talk to and listen to other people like me. Does anyone have any recommendations on where to start?”
Kleaner31 posted: “I recently found out my 29-year-old son has a gambling problem. I’m looking for how I can help him the best.”
Ken L. answered: “Hi Kleaner,
The best way to help him is to suggest that he visit this site, find some counseling, and start attending GA meetings. And maybe suggest he turn his finances over to you until is finds solid recovery.
I have included a link to Gam-Anon which is a Program for family and friends of the gambler.
Wish you both well. https://www.gam-anon.org/meeting-directory
Dee M. posted:
“Well, now, because of my undisciplined actions i.e. gambling every day, my car is being repossessed on July 8th unless I come up with the money, which I gambled away….I’m an idiot. I seriously have reached out to many agencies, but cannot find help with this. Unfortunately, I NEED my car for work, but I’m pretty much screwed.” Steve answered: “Sometimes churches have funds to help ask them for counseling and for them to take you and the payment to the bank with you.”
(I ) Cat L. answered, “It is what happens when you continue to gamble and then chase your losses… You need to break the “cycle” and start also taking your financial inventory. Give your money and all cards, debit, and credit cards to your spouse or a trustworthy person to handle your money. There are many treatment options if you are ready for change.”
“I’m so very happy I stumbled on this forum today. Day #2 of working to make a positive change in my life. It is amazing how (1) simple activity can take over a life. It hurts my insides that I cannot gamble today. But I have no choice but to push through. It will get easier I know, but wow. So happy I am here to read these stories. I am not alone in this and that is a good thing. Have a great day everyone!”
C Marie posted:
“Day #3 Thanks everyone for your help. The suggested podcasts are really helping me. Little victories. Today will be a good day. If not, we will make it one. Take care out there guys!”
Cat Lyon – (Me) posted ( I wanted to share my recent amazing NEWS and Accomplishment)
“Hello, Group and friends,
Happy Belated Canada Day to those who live in Canada!
I’m in the USA, and we are celebrating Independence Day tomorrow, but as I write this, I hear fireworks outside. I guess some wanted to start it EARLY… Awe, just the little things. I say this because I sure know I had a lot of crappy 4th of Julys when I was still deeply in my gambling addiction.
This brings me to Thanking Ken for the “Thoughts of the Day” today and tomorrow, depending on where you live. (what country) …As Ken shared, “Change is a part of the flow of life. Sometimes we’re frustrated because change seems slow in coming. Sometimes, too, we’re resistant to a change that seems to have been thrust upon us.”
For those who may be having a rough time, struggling to maintain recovery from this awful and insane addiction, CHANGE is a vital part of our humble beginnings within our recovery path and the willingness to make it.
To have a much better life for you, your spouses, your family, etc. CHANGE doesn’t have to be feared or scary. Wouldn’t it be great to have a life without this addiction dictating it? Or it sucking the life out of you. It is possible. I have been doing it BET FREE for over 15 years. I know it is possible. Was it a rocky road at first? Heck yes. But I truly was sick of being sick and tired.
It took me two failed (thank GOD) suicide attempts and two times through a crisis center and gambling recovery treatment program. No kidding. But? I NEVER GAVE UP.
Because I knew I was living one bet away from death. True. I knew if stayed out there gambling I’m sure another suicide attempt would be looming and as they say, “third times a charm,” and I know I would not be here today if I kept gambling addictively. It is true that every 1 in 5 gamblers WILL try suicide. It’s a fact. And even though at that point I lost just about everything, almost my marriage, and my life, I was one HOT MESS!
Today I live a much better life than the one had before I became a gambling addict. I am very proud that I just completed and graduated from my Freedom Debit Relief program! I finally have paid off all the old debts and collections I had and it was a lot of $$$$$$… I feel so proud of myself for not only getting my financial inventory in order but being accountable for paying all those old debts off.
It IS an amazing feeling!
So, never give up trying to stop if you have a gambling problem or it is a full-blown addiction. Your life is worth more than that. And you deserve to be happy and have peace in your life.
Our past doesn’t have to define us so don’t let it dictate YOUR future!
I think this gives some examples of how tough it can be to maintain recovery or just reach out for help and have a start somewhere and somehow. When you visit GamTalk’s website, I would also encourage you to read the “The Stories of Hope.”
My story is now there as “Book Writer of Hope.” https://www.gamtalk.org/stories-of-hope/ …This one story of Mary’s really resonated with me as a woman because I too was addicted to Slot Machines… https://www.gamtalk.org/mary-ms-story/
If it can help just one person to get help and stop suffering in silence like may have, it is well worth recovering OUT LOAD! Catherine Lyon 🤗
We are only given one life to live while helping others along our journey. After years of addicted gambling, wasting a portion of my life, I will never again take for granted the beautiful life I have been given by GOD and will continue soar to heights I never dreamed possible from the work I have done within my recovery. . .Author and Advocate Catherine Lyon
My recovery journey started in 2002, and again in 2006 from my mental health challenges.
I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt and then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 20-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well.
I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, she pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the courts, and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation, and paid restitution that I’m still paying today.
You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. I chose to not do all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work with a gambling addiction specialist. After my troubles occurred, I worked with a specialist for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others.
After this second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a well-balanced recovery and had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with a gambling specialist and got my mental health under control, I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who maintaining recovery, and those of us who suffer from a mental illness, and we have a huge hurdle in our path.
I am a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The nasty habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking needed more correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening.
He helped me break down the cycle of the addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t relapse into gambling, this workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.
Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. Those journals were used for help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me. I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse, and sexual trauma, and what it is like living with mental illness. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer, and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.
By writing my book, and memoirs, and sharing it with the world, I hope to help shatter the stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen to not be anonymous or silent any longer.
I want others and the public to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real disease and illness. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives.
The expansion of casinos, state lotteries, and now legal sports betting and online gambling venues are making gambling more and more accessible today and are now touching our youth. Currently, 1.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Through my own recovery and by writing my book, I have learned a lot. The best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.
Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit, and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. Sadly, I learned this the hard way.
Now that I have reached and maintained 15+years of recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my purpose, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good!
My husband and I learned that we can weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I share as much as I can with others. I do this in many ways. My second book is almost finished, and I hope to release it in early 2023.
It will be more of a “how-to” for reaching that elusive first year of recovery. With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted, and my readers asked me, to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share my recovery and experiences in blog form here. All I can do is urge others to never give up. You are worth a better life in recovery. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover. Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen to and learn from.
My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you within your recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent on your journey.
Thank you for reading my story.
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 9 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us “Bet Free Recovery Now!”
Keep up the good blogging.
NEWS FROM THE FOUNDER OF “STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING” ~ Catherine, 6 things to know about the fight from Stop Predatory Gambling. . .
We’re working on three key priorities in 2022. Priority #1 is to move beyond the coalition model that focused on our own individual states and regions and build a vibrant national organization with a national focus in its place.
A national focus requires that we dramatically grow our organizational capacity and build a team committed to that national focus. For the first time in our history, we filled three critical roles on our team.
The first major addition was hiring part-time Director of Development, Kate Rozzi, to help us build a growing, financially-sustainable organization in the long term. Our second key addition was the addition of part-time Director of Education, Harry Levant, whose primary focus is to create high-quality content about the seriousness and urgency of our nation’s problem with commercialized gambling, which we can then widely distribute using both digital and traditional communication mediums. The third critical hire was our part-time Digital Communications Director, Eric Stamps, who will improve the way we are educating people using 21st-century technology now used to gather and absorb information.
These three new team members join Debbie Blank, our Financial Manager for the past twelve years, who has wisely and carefully managed our small budget. Her work has earned us the annual GuideStar Exchange Seal awarded to organizations that have demonstrated nonprofit transparency and accountability.
Priority #2 is to change how we measure our impact. Instead of looking at it from a lens of preventing predatory gambling expansion like we’ve done historically, we’re focused on “gaining traction” as an organization over the next 12 months. Traction is a sign that something is working. Simply put, “traction” equals growth. The way we are measuring our traction is by focusing on how many people we are reaching across the United States. Everything we’ve done over the past five months, and everything we do going forward through the end of 2022, will be guided by this mindset.
Priority #3 is to spotlight how gambling advertising is out-of-control, and at the same time, invite Americans to join us who want to protect people from these predatory business practices. This is why we’re leading a national campaign targeting commercialized gambling advertising and marketing, with a special focus on how it is affecting kids. As part of the campaign, we’re creating and distributing high-quality content such as webinars, short videos, and op-eds, to educate the public about how gambling advertising is out-of-control and millions of kids are being hurt as a result.
Our campaign also provides an opportunity for us to attract concerned citizens to engage with our organization by signing an online petition on our website calling for Congress to implement restrictions on commercialized gambling advertising to protect the public from further harm. It’s only because of the selfless financial generosity of our members that we are able to fund our work.
Thanks for making our mission one of your priorities in your life.
Sincerely, Les Bernal, National Director
Next Up Is A Man On A Mission:
My name is Alex Iler and I am a new Board Member of Stop Predatory Gambling. I would like to share the story of why I have become involved with this organization. I was a successful practicing criminal defense attorney in New Jersey for more than a decade when I first became an addicted gambler. My path toward destruction began with a big win at the blackjack table at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City.
Very quickly the Harrah’s staff went out of their way to lure me back with extremely generous comps and perks, the likes of which would make your head spin. I’ll save those details for a future story! As my gambling increased so did the depths of the oftentimes illegal perks they were using to get me to stay and return, including feeding back to me 30% of my losses on a daily basis.
As my gambling addiction grew, my personal life spun out of control and I eventually engaged in a series of thefts from my attorney trust account to try to chase and recover my losses. I was eventually arrested. I lost my law license, was divorced and sent to State Prison where I served approximately 18 months. All this while I had a six-year-old and two-year-old at home.
I am happy to say that despite this devastation I have nearly 10 years of recovery under my belt and have rebuilt or repaired my family relationships and most of my friendships. It is a difficult and dark disease to conquer. I don’t think the general public is aware of how insidious this disease is. My hopes are that through my work with Stop Predatory Gambling I can get this message out and help save at least one life before it’s too late. I look forward to serving.
-Alex Iler, Rhode Island
Notes From The Front Lines
Thanks to the support of our donors, members, and successful collaborations across the country, we have accomplished much in our efforts to continue to reveal the truth about predatory gambling so far in 2022: We generated national headlines from our webinar we held with prominent experts to reveal the truth about commercialized gambling advertising.
We joined with a coalition of leading national organizations working on behalf of America’s youth and their families to send a letter to Congress calling for policy safeguards to protect children and teens online. One of our members launched a Stop Predatory Gambling Chicago chapter to oppose a casino project in that city.
We traveled to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville to educate thousands about the damage that commercialized gambling is having on families and communities across this country. We presented testimony on online gambling and commercialized sports gambling before the Minnesota legislature four times. Traveled to Philadelphia to do an interview with NBC National News about online gambling and sports gambling. Traveled to Chicago, Illinois to film an interview for a national documentary series on electronic gambling machines.
Traveled to Kentucky to speak before public officials at all levels of government about the impacts that predatory gambling is inflicting upon the citizens of the state. Met with leaders in Tennessee to help build a standing coalition in the state against predatory gambling.
“We are looking forward to working with more of our committed advocates to offer support and guidance as you fight to protect our communities. Through this work as well as working with the media, we will continue to reveal the truth behind commercialized gambling operators.”
New To Our Team Harry Levant is a public health advocate from Philadelphia who serves as Director of Education. A gambling addict in recovery who made his last bet on April 27, 2014, Levant is determined to fight for a public health response to the dangerous expansion of commercialized gambling in America.
He is specifically concerned about the risk presented by the unprecedented partnerships between gambling companies, professional and collegiate sports, media titans, and state government. Eric Stamps joins the team as Digital Communications Director with many years of experience in digital advocacy. He has degrees in Media Design from the Academy of Art University and Full Sail University.
Eric has worked on numerous political campaigns over the past 6 years and has been a former candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates. He has been actively involved in efforts in Virginia to stop casinos and the expansion of gambling across the state.
Kate Rozzi joins the team bringing over 20 years of communications, development, and advocacy experience with her as the Director of Development. She most recently served as the Vice President of Development at the Merrimack Valley YMCA. Prior to that role, she served as the Director of Development and Communication at the YMCA. She previously worked as a District Director at the Massachusetts House of Representatives and in numerous communications and marketing roles in the private sector.
WHY CONGRESS MUST ACT TO RESTRICT GAMBLING ADVERTISING
Throughout the country, families gather to watch their favorite teams battle it out for wins and championships. Instead of being bombarded with three-pointers, grand slams, and touchdowns, fans are bombarded with flashy ads promising easy access to free bets. Access is immediate and as simple as scanning the QR code flashing across the screen. The ads focus on the free bets but not on the fine print that says your free money is a credit given to you after you spend thousands and thousands of dollars.
Read More About Why Congress Must Act & How You Can Help
Why Support Stop Predatory Gambling?
By choosing to support Stop Predatory Gambling today, you’re taking an active role in efforts to protect your community and its children from the poverty, addiction, and human suffering caused by the greed of big gambling operators.
Please visit www.stoppredatorygambling.org to make a donation and learn about how you can get involved. You can join with our members who are revealing the truth behind gambling operators and take action to prevent more victims.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to educate, inform and take action! DONATE NOW
MAY GRATITUDE UPDATE
Welcome, and hello to my groovy gratitude tribe!
I couldn’t be more grateful for the surprise rain (and even one day of snow!) in Southern Oregon, USA where I live that came in April. So much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing drought conditions. Lots of drenching rain will help!
The rivers are filling up, and our seasonal creek and waterfall started to rush again. This was a big demonstration of April Showers bringing May Flowers. Gratitude fills my heart! In June, I will probably put in a photo of this year’s pond lily flowers which are almost unreal-looking they are so absolutely gorgeous.
For those of you who are brand new, I thank you for joining my list. Let me introduce you to myself. My name is Deborah Perdue, I am an author and teacher, and I am a big promoter of finding gratitude every day in every way. It is my mission to share what I have learned with others, and to that aim, I have written five books on the topic of Gratitude – two beautiful Journals and three books with inspiring passages, artwork, and photographs.
May Gratitude Gifts for You… Karen Drucker is definitely the Gratitude Queen of music!
Here are a few links to her songs on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?…https://www.youtube.com/watch?…
And enjoy the soulful Jami Lula and Gary Lynn Floyd singing this beautiful song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?…
This page gives you many songs about gratitude by pop singers and spiritual musicians. One of my favorites on this list is Natalie Marchant’s song “Kind and Generous”, and there are many more: https://www.joincake.com/blog/…
You are also invited to receive Daily Gratitude Reflections, emailed to your inbox Mon-Fri. You can click on the offer on the home page of my website to sign up. www.GraceofGratitude.com
You can also purchase my books at https://www.graceofgratitude.c…
When you order my newest book Daily Gratitude Reflections Vol. 2, type in the code Gratitude25% to receive a 25% discount.
In May 2022, the monthly Daily Guides for the Center for Spiritual Living magazine are written by me. It was an honor to be asked! Writing the Daily Guides has been on my Bucket List for years, and it was both a little nerve-wracking and most exciting.
Thousands read this magazine every morning, meditating on the Daily Guides for each month. Emotions were the topic for May. This subject was perfect for me to explore and share because I have always been a very sensitive soul. To see the May issue, go to https://scienceofmind.com/
May 2022 – Grace of Gratitude
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched— they must be felt with the heart. So much has been given me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” ~Helen Keller
Feeling grateful is a grand emotion. It truly raises us up from anger, sadness, or upset. A minister gifted her congregants with journals at Thanksgiving in 2010 and encouraged us to write five things we were grateful for each day for 40 days, promising our lives would improve wondrously. It worked for me, and I have continued ever since.
The biggest gratitude I can embrace is when I think about the grandeur of this Universe, the infinity of Divinity. When I was a young girl, I used to imagine infinity before I went to sleep – stretching my mind farther and farther into the outer edges of our universe, until I grew afraid, and had to stop!
Nowadays, I am in awe of Life expanding to infinity. It intrigues and thrills me instead of frightening me. I marvel at the zillions of life forms that have been created by God, including us. And I am in deep gratitude for the unseen – the miracles of love, joy, peace, abundance, other realms, those who have passed from this earth yet live on, grace, kindness, inspiration, and creativity. These beautiful qualities manifest into the seen, but they start out invisible.
How wondrous is that?!
I invite you to embrace your grateful heart. If you already have a gratitude practice, expand on it. As a practitioner used to say about our Science of Mind philosophy and I now proclaim about gratitude: “This stuff works!”
Affirmation: In great gratitude, I celebrate all the wonder and magic of the Universe!
Savor the May flowers and sublime beauty of Mother Nature.
“I am grateful to each of you.” ~Deborah L. Perdue
“A Special Gift For My Recovery Readers!… Download a FREE COPY of Deborah’s New Release to enhance your recovery journey today from book funnel link for people to get the free ebook and be added to Deb’s subscriber list. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/3vx8hrqu7f …
Connect With Deb! Website, Join Author’s Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Linkedin
Bottoming out for good. Scott’s story.
Apr 14, 2022 | https://macgh.org/8376-2/
Here’s Scott’s story.
If you’ve ever been to Atlantic City, you know it’s an exciting place. High-rise hotels, famous nightclubs, and glitzy casinos line the boardwalk. As a young guy, Atlantic City had all the appeal of a fun spot to spend an evening and unwind.
At the casinos, these thrills were more enticing than I realized. That evening, I found myself glued to the gaming tables. I couldn’t get up and walk back to my room. I ended up gambling all night long.
When I visited Atlantic City, I’d been sober for about a year. Growing up, I had problems with drinking and drugs, but fortunately, the effects of these addictions hit me early and hard. I got into recovery programs and by all accounts, was doing well.
That night triggered another addiction that I’d fight for years: problem gambling.
Deep down, I knew that as a recovering alcoholic and drug user, finding and chasing other highs wasn’t a good idea. I swore to my girlfriend that I’d never gamble again.
Except I did. I started to chase, even sprint after the high of gambling. I started buying scratch tickets and visiting more casinos. And unlike my drinking or drug use, I didn’t seek recovery.
Several years later, I fell on tough times. That’s when my gambling got out of control. I didn’t have any close family or friends I could turn to, and instead, I turned to slot machines. I started going to casinos to play high-limit slot machines. Gambling became an escape and winning felt ecstatic. And like my night in Atlantic City, I found it harder and harder to walk away from the machines and the tables.
My life began to revolve around weekends at the casino. I drifted away from participating in 12-step recovery programs. I started spending money like it didn’t matter and racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. When I maxed out my credit cards, I sold personal possessions, trying to pay off the surging debts from each weekend’s worth of gambling. My relationships took a toll, too. I pushed many people away.
No wake-up call seemed to shake my habit. One day, I ended up hitting the slots and winning a huge jackpot but left the casino with only a few thousand in my pocket. Even refinancing my home to pay off my debts didn’t deter my gambling. The addiction had me by the throat, and I was powerless, unable to look past the upcoming weekend and my next bets.
The real jolt to the system was when I started thinking of doing something illegal to continue gambling. I realized I was helpless and hopeless. I was contemplating suicide.
Just 20 minutes later, one of my sisters called me. A friend of mine from one of the 12-step programs was worried about my wellbeing. He had called my family.
That was May 2008. I was in rough shape mentally and emotionally, but I got help. Through the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, I found a counselor. I’ve been fortunate to find some really important people in my life and got back on track with the 12-step programs for my addictions.
Since then, gambling has been a monkey on my shoulder. I’ve stayed as vigilant around gambling as I need to be around drinking or drugs. From the high highs to the low lows, I didn’t want to look at my gambling honestly until I reached a point of sheer desperation. When I got honest with myself, it became a weight lifted off my shoulders. My advice? Help yourself before you bottom out!
********* ********* ********** **********
If you or a loved one needs help and you live in the MA., Call Council’s Live-Chat or call the GamLine at
1-800-GAM-1234, 24/7. For everyone in the United States, visit The National Council on Problem Gambling look up your State Here: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/help-by-state/.
Or Call 24 Hour Confidential National Helpline
Self-Exclusion or self-banning yourself from gambling and casinos can be a tricky thing to do. There has been much controversy over it. So does it really work for the gambler to ban themselves from the temptation to try and stop one from gambling? Well, I can only speak for myself that it didn’t work. But I was far too deep into full-blown addicted gambling.
If we have a positive mindset and attitude about self-exclusion and try it when we’re beginning to feel like gambling is becoming a problem and interfering in our daily lives? Then for those who are aware and looking to curb or nix this habit before it does become a full-blown addiction, it just may work for them.
I began to think more about this after I read this article I’m going to share with you by the fine folks of The Massachusetts Council On Gaming & Health. It made me see a different side to self-exclusion. I hope you can learn a little more after you give it a read. ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon
For some casino patrons, Voluntary Self-Exclusions are the real home run.
Apr 7, 2022 | Blog
For some casino patrons, ‘Voluntary Self-Exclusions’ is a real home run...
Knowing our limits is part of maintaining a safe, healthy lifestyle.
It’s what naturally encourages our bodies and minds to crave breaks. Whether powering off our laptop after a few hours of work or pausing to stretch when we get a muscle cramp exercising, breaks help us reassess and recharge. Even our favorites on the Sox and Celtics take timeouts to breathe and strategize their next play.
You may not know that you can take breaks from gambling activities, too. With Massachusetts sports betting legalization emerging as a real possibility, more Bay Staters could be at risk of developing a gambling disorder. About two percent of the population has a gambling disorder today. And up to 488,000 adults in Massachusetts are at-risk gamblers, meaning they show an increasing preoccupation with gambling.
As Opening Day kicks off this week, these statistics should serve as a vital reminder to policymakers. The passage of sports betting legislation without robust consumer protections such as Voluntary Self-Exclusion (VSE) programs would prove to be a massive oversight and undermine our Commonwealth’s pro-public health reputation.
Gambling can be tough to see or sniff out, literally. Unlike some alcohol or drug use addictions, problem gambling or at-risk gambling can be easily concealed. However, keep a lookout for signs and symptoms. Perhaps you or someone you care about is placing higher bets to try to reach the same adrenaline rushes.
Others find themselves driving to the casino or instinctively pulling up a gambling app whenever they are down or stressed. Individuals are increasingly chasing sports betting thrills on flashy apps and websites. So be mindful of more-than-usual screen time. The sheer accessibility of sports betting poses concerns to public health — and a potentially greater need for self-exclusion programs.
Like anything in excess, gambling can wreak havoc on relationships, workplaces, finances, and your wellbeing. As a former competitive hockey player turned gaming services professional, I have seen countless sports bettors jeopardize their careers and families. And in working as a table games dealer for many years, I’ve seen what happens when gambling no longer feels like a game.
It isn’t only about the damage to your wallet. Even when they pay off their debts, individuals still have a gambling disorder. A break — sometimes for a year, sometimes for good — might be the best thing to do.
In my current role as a Senior GameSense Advisor, I have a unique opportunity to help patrons create limits around their gambling. Our team staffs info centers at the state casinos, educating patrons on responsible gambling. Conversations can range from understanding the odds in a game of craps to helping folks take a break and enroll in a Voluntary Self-Exclusion program.
By enrolling in VSE, participants voluntarily exclude themselves from the gaming floors of all Massachusetts casinos. Participants can choose how long they would like to exclude. And just like if Xander Bogaerts tried to belt a line drive between innings, any money wagered, lost, or won during VSE enrollment is forfeited and does not count. Like Bogaerts, you also get a coach. Trained staff, including GameSense Advisors like myself, conduct regular check-ins throughout the term and connect you to local resources.
Some patrons have shared that heading to a casino to enroll in a VSE poses too much of a temptation. That’s a valid point, and it’s one of the reasons why we created remote VSE enrollment, which is the first of its kind in the nation. Patrons can still self-exclude in person or through confidential, online platforms. The program has created hundreds of success stories: over 1,000 Bay Staters are enrolled in a VSE. This is solely because Massachusetts lawmakers prioritized public health in crafting the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011.
One of the Boston greats, Pedro Martinez, said, “If you’re healthy, you’re capable of doing everything.” VSEs serve as an innovative, critical resource and keep countless Bay Staters healthy and safe. As such, making sure that these resources are within reach for all should remain paramount in future sports gambling legislation.
The health of thousands of Bay Staters — and the health of gaming in Massachusetts — is at stake.
Ken Averill is a Senior GameSense Advisor with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and The Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health. He has over 24 years of experience in the gaming industry and previously worked as a table games dealer and operations manager.
For gambling-related questions, chat with a member of the GameSense team 24/7 via LiveChat at MACGH.org by calling the GamLine at 1-800-GAM-1234.
Article Courtesy of Dr. Louise Stanger who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW, BBS #4581) for over 35 years, and specializes in substance abuse disorders, process addictions, mental health disorders, sudden death, trauma, grief, and loss. She is a great resource and offers interventions and helps heal not just the addict, but the family as she focuses on strength-based solutions and invitational change.
Wanna make a bet?
Gambling Shatters Records, Takes Hold Of America
The gambling industry shattered records in 2021, taking in over $53 Billion. That’s a 21% increase over the previous record, set in 2019. With sports gambling now publicly embraced by and partnered with the major sports leagues, gambling is more popular and more acceptable than ever.
The Super Bowl had the highest TV rating of any sports media event in history. That one game alone was expected to bring in 31.4 million gamblers and $7.4 billion in bets. Is it a coincidence that the highest year in Super Bowl TV ratings happens during the same year that gambling is breaking records? To a lesser extent, this kind of gambling happens at every sports event, in every league, throughout the year.
Do you have a smartphone? Then you can gamble in real-time on just about any event (not just sports) you can think of. Quick access and instant results also come with another price (not just money lost). It reminds of me the video games that lure you into a new world and the only way to continue to advance in the game is to continue to play. If you set down the controller and stop playing, you lose ground in the competition.
It is not only just sports enthusiasts who are addicted to gambling or feeding the industry’s record year in 2021. Casinos continue to lead all revenue sources, with large amounts of walk-in traffic. Seniors make up as much as 50% of casino visitors, and casinos prey on them in order to increase revenue. And continues into 2022!
What do Americans think of gambling? If you believe that people’s votes tell the story, then this ABCNews headline from the 2020 elections says it all: Jackpot! Expansion of gambling in the US wins big at polls
So, gambling will become more pervasive, more impulsive, and easier to access. This can lead many to an unhealthy relationship with gambling — ruining relationships, costing families their fortunes, and leading to other addictions. The link between gambling and substance abuse is well-known, and most casinos still offer a free drink (or many) while you play.
If you know someone who is addicted to gambling, there is hope. It is a process addiction that can be addressed before it’s too late. I sure encourage you to visit Dr. Stanger’s website for more information and resources on she can help. You can take her “Gambling Self-Assessment Survey” while you visit and you may contact her on her site as well. An intervention is a great place to start if you have a loved one who has a gambling problem or needs serious help.
Here are a few additional stories you may want to take the time to read.
More About Dr. Stanger:
Dr. Louise is no stranger to adversity. Born on a fault line of trauma, she knows what it is like to grow up in a family beset with anxiety, depression, substance misuse, and death by suicide. She brings her own years of experience working with families in bespoke fashion as well as her ability to work alongside talented professionals to ensure you get the best possible care. In doing so she and her team are collaborative, strength-based, and invitational.
Dr. Louise Stanger received her doctorate in education from the University of San Diego, a master’s degree in social work from San Diego State University, and a BA in English Literature and Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Louise is an Ivy League Award winner (2019 Interventionist of the Year from DB Resources in London and McLean Hospital – an affiliate of Harvard), educated social worker, popular author, internationally renowned clinician, interventionist and speaker, and an expert on mental health, addiction, process disorders, and chronic pain. She gets to the heart of the matter in helping families because she’s passionate about bringing hope and healing to loved ones.
“When you call, you won’t have to go through any intermediaries. She will pick up the phone and talk directly with you.“
Dr. Louise developed and refined her invitational method of mental health and substance abuse interventions using the well-established research methodology of portraiture. She has performed thousands of family interventions throughout the United States and abroad.
She has received numerous awards for her years of dedication to the fields of intervention & recovery. In addition to her years of experience, Dr. Louise is a published author whose work covers a range of topics including mental health, substance abuse, and well-being, the opioid epidemic, marijuana, and other drugs, parenting, high wealth clients, finding happiness, spirituality, failure to launch, chronic pain and pain management, family and many more.
Her latest book titled Addiction in the Family: Helping Families Navigate Challenges, Emotions, and Recovery (2020) is a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Her book Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal is available on Amazon. and The Definitive Guide to Addiction Intervention-A Collective Strategy is available on Amazon and University Bookstores.
Addiction in the Family: Helping Families Navigate Challenges, Emotions, and Recovery
Dr. Louise is also known for lively, informative, customized, and invigorating training for staff, families, and clients. Foundations Recovery Network’s Moments of Change Conference proclaimed Dr. Stanger the “Fan Favorite Speaker.” In addition, the San Diego Business Journal listed her as one of the top 10 “Women Who Mean Business” and she was ranked as one of the top 10 Interventionists in the Country.
In 2017, she received the Dr. Joseph P. Galleta Spirit of Recovery Award and the DB Resources in London Journalism Award. In 2018, she was honored by the Forgiving Foundation and spoke in London on World Drug Day in June. She also received the 2018 Friendly House Excellence In Service Award.
Presented and Shared By Advocate/Author Catherine Townsend- Lyon – Let’s Raise Awareness!
Internet Gambling Among Teens and College Students
Gambling is a popular pastime for adults, whether it is purchasing lotto tickets, betting on sports games, or casino-style gambling. Unsurprisingly, internet gambling has also become popular; it is so popular that in the fall of 2011, comScore found that online gambling was the fastest growing online category, with almost 10 million U.S. users.
Global online gambling is now worth an estimated $30 billion and rising. 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.
Just how open online gambling will become with this change of ruling has yet to be seen, but it is interesting to note that Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino and one of the world’s richest men, responded to the ruling with concern, saying that:
“loosening the reins on online gambling will take a heavy toll on young people, especially because current technology isn’t robust enough to keep children from betting real money using computers .”
He’s right. Internet gambling takes little more than acquiring or “borrowing” a credit card.
Internet gambling sites already have teens and young adult users on their sites. A whopping 20% of college students play online poker at least once a month according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, an organization that has tracked young people’s use of gambling sites for over 10 years.
In 2010 the Annenberg Public Policy Center surveyed students and compared the results to their 2008 survey. They found that monthly use of internet gambling sites among college-age males shot up from 4.4% in 2008 to 16.0% in 2010. In spite of the sharp increase in participants, their frequency of use did not increase, remaining at about 3% on a weekly basis.
“The dramatic increase in the use of online gambling by college-age male youth indicates that payment restrictions on such sites are no longer a barrier to young people,” said Dan Romer, director of the Annenberg Adolescent Communication Institute, which conducts the annual survey. Projected on a national basis, more than 400,000 male youth in the college-age range (18 to 22) gamble for money at least once a week on the Internet, and over 1.7 million do so at least once a month.
The researchers noted that high school-aged males showed only a small and statistically insignificant increase in monthly use of Internet gambling sites between 2008 and 2010 (from 2.7% to 6.2%), but this still represents over 530,000 high school-aged male students visiting gambling sites per month.
Among high school females, the study found that females continue to gamble less than males, but the latest survey shows a sharp rise in some types of offline gambling, primarily related to sports.
While only 9.5% of high school girls reported engaging in sports betting on a monthly basis in 2008, fully 22% reported doing so in 2010. Sports betting was the main reason for the overall increase in total gambling for high school-aged females, going from 18.9% in 2008 to 28.2% in 2011.
The frequency of betting also showed a dramatic increase, from less than 1% in 2008 to 8.3% in 2021. Contributing to this trend are the availability of online venues and the expansion and acceptance of offline gambling.
Why youth gamble
Today’s teens are living in a society where legalized gambling is not only socially acceptable; it is widely promoted and highly visible. 48 states now allow some form of gambling. Casinos advertise heavily on TV, radio, online, and billboard ads. Poker tournaments complete with expert commentary, interesting filming angles, and million-dollar prizes have become “hot ticket” reality TV on cable & broadband networks.
Given the prevalence, visibility, and glamour now afforded to gambling, it is not surprising that many teens are drawn to the instant gratification, thrill, and hope of fast money. The three predominant reasons reported by teens for gambling are (a) the excitement it brings, (b) enjoyment, and (c) to win money. Other reasons adolescents gamble include peer pressure, to relieve boredom, and to relieve feelings of depression. This is particularly the case on college campuses where students play poker in dorm rooms and local bars.
Columbia University Medical Center’s research indicates that teenagers make up half of the 16 million people in the United States with gambling addictions. At a time when youth are struggling and searching for their identity, gambling can appeal both because of its excitement, fun, and entertaining value and its ability to rapidly boost a youth’s self-image. This can dramatically switch, however, when losses inevitably increase and trigger a drop in self-esteem, financial anxiety, and depression. Youth may begin stealing or selling possessions to pay off debts, or to continue gambling in the hopes of winning big.
Columbia’s research also indicates that youth who begin gambling at an early age are at increased risk of addiction and that gambling-addicted youths’ perceptions become altered into believing they have a higher than 50% chance of winning. Parents that gamble, give lottery tickets to youth or show approval of gambling are often a key contributing factor in teens with problem gambling. Teens succumb to gambling addiction at rates between two and four times the rate of adults.
Complicating efforts to protect minors from online gambling is the ever-present access to computers and mobile phones (several online casinos and card rooms offer mobile options) that make gambling just a click away. Another factor is the anonymity of online interactions: ID verification checks that serve as barriers to underage gambling in brick-and-mortar casinos are practically non-existent in the world of online gambling.
Identifying gambling addiction
If you suspect that you or your child has a gambling problem, review the following list of questions created by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling that helps identify if gambling has become an addiction:
- Is gambling the most exciting activity in your life?
- Do you miss school, activities, or other events due to gambling?
- Has anyone expressed concern about your gambling?
- Do you lie to your friends or family about your gambling?
- Do you borrow money to gamble?
- Have you sold personal belongings to get money to gamble?
- Have you stolen from your family, friends, or employer to gamble or to pay back gambling debts?
- After losing, do you try to win your money back by gambling?
- Are you preoccupied with thoughts of gambling?
- Have you tried to stop gambling but can’t?
Recovery from online gambling addictions is particularly challenging because in a moment of weakness a relapse is still only one click away.
Several states and organizations offer assistance for people struggling with gambling addictions and can provide referral services to counselors and programs in your area. To find help in your area, ask your doctor, or search online for “Internet Gambling addiction help” (plus the name of your state or city). You may also choose to contact Gamblers Anonymous and see their local listings for your area.
Talk about online gambling
Given the ease of access and the allure that online gambling (and real-world gambling) has on teens and college-age students, it is critical that youth (particularly males) and parents understand and discuss the risks to minors surrounding this activity.
After gaining a basic understanding of the issues around internet gambling through this article, you may be prepared for this discussion. If you believe the problems you are facing require more assistance you may want to contact your primary care physician or review additional online material through the links embedded within this document and in the additional links below.
More resources on online gambling:
- Lane County 2007 College Gambling Survey
- Online Gambling Resources
- Statistics address the who, what and why not of gambling
- Caught in the gambling Web
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created those problems,” and Earl Nightingale also said, “Don’t wait for change, you change!” This is great advice for those in early recovery. It has been solid advice I continue to follow to this day.
Some of this post may sound like rambling recovery thoughts, but they are my thoughts, and I want to share them with you.
Change. I remember how resentful and angry I felt in my early recovery journey. I would get pissed off when I was being told to change, and it seemed I was hounded about change all the time!
When I got told, I had to make changes within my inner-self to get better and begin the healing process. It was always like a song in my head saying, “keep making those changes, or change your thinking, change your life!”
But you know what?
For example, I would hear others at GA meetings during our smoke break. They would chat about moving to a new location or a new state because they felt they would not have the problems with addicted gambling if only they lived somewhere else. HA!
I learned pretty quickly that is NOT the case, and you can change wherever you want to live, but your problems will go with you. If only beating addicted gambling was that easy.
You have to change your thinking and do the workaround CHANGE to change your life.
Believe it or not, most people never do much about changing their lives. Most people wish their lives away and talk boringly about things they will do, but lack of change and doing the work within recovery seems too much of a burden. That is also why relapse happens.
They feel doing the recovery work is too complex and much easier to continue down the same road with addiction and gambling.
Again, this happens a lot in early recovery. I did this myself. Maybe I had not hit my “rock bottom.” Most times, it was several things that kept me gambling. Like stress, triggers, and those darn constant urges to gamble.
My poor husband got so tired of hearing me say, “why is it me that has to do all the changing? These people aren’t perfect!” (I was referring to my counselor and my treatment therapists.) And I had a group night, and all of them gave out homework.
Look, I’m not going to lie! All of this in the first few years into my recovery was hard work. As I began each night, I would journal. Then, I would make a list to help me be honest with myself, learning what I did right and what thinking or old behaviors I fell back on that day. While doing this, it aided me to be accountable and honest with myself and to change those areas that needed correcting. It helped me to accept those things I have no control over.
Soon, I began to change my negative thoughts and thinking…but I was learning self-validation instead of looking for it from others. When we practice these changes and work The Steps in our early years of maintaining recovery while doing the work, we begin to make healthier choices that will automatically come.
With all of the above?
That is what helps; you let go of the anger and resentments and know you are not the only one making CHANGES. Anyone who begins recovery will need to do the same work I have done, you will do, and it WILL be worth it. I have learned it was necessary while looking for true happiness, peace, and serenity while on this journey within recovery. Along the way, I found my worth and value in this LIFE.
It seemed the only way for me to CHANGE MY LIFE WITHIN RECOVERY was to CHANGE ME.
Thoughts From A Recovering Gambling Addict For The Coming New Year and The After Holiday Season Ending. . .
WHAT WILL YOUR RECOVERY BOOK and PAGES SHARE?
Some of My Thoughts for The Next Weeks Into The New Year…
The Holidays and The Incoming New Year
Sometimes, the holidays are filled with the joy we associate with that time of year. The season flows. Magic is in the air.
Sometimes, the holidays can be difficult and lonely.
Here are some ideas I’ve learned through personal experience, and practice, to help us get through difficult holidays:
Deal with feelings, but try not to dwell unduly on them. Put the holidays in perspective: A holiday is one day out of 365. We can get through any 24-hour period.
Get through the day, but be aware that there may be a post-holiday backlash. Sometimes, if we use our survival behaviors to get through the day, the feelings will catch up to us the next day. Deal with them too.
Get back on track as quickly as possible.
Find and cherish the available love, even if it’s not exactly what we want. Is there someone we can give love to and receive love from? Recovering friends? Is there a family who would enjoy sharing their holiday with us? Don’t be a martyr – go. There may be those who would appreciate our offer to share our day with them.
We are not in the minority if we find ourselves experiencing a less-than-perfect holiday. How easy but untrue to tell ourselves the rest of the world is experiencing the best holiday, and we’re alone in conflict.
The beauty of Recovery is we can and get to choose to create our own holiday agenda. Buy yourself a present. Find someone to whom you can give. Unleash your loving, nurturing self and give in to the holiday spirit.
Maybe past holidays haven’t been terrific. Perhaps this year wasn’t perfect. Perhaps this next new year can be better, and the next one even a little better. Work toward a better life – one that meets your needs. Before long, you’ll have it.
“God, help me enjoy and cherish these holidays and the coming new year. If my situation is less than ideal, help me take what’s good and let go of the rest.”
DID YOU KNOW THAT SOMEONE CALLS The NCPGambling HOTLINE EVERY TWO MINUTES SEEKING HELP and HOPE FROM PROBLEM GAMBLING? It Is a VITAL RESOURCE!
And this is why I support them every Holiday Season!
YES, Someone Calls for Help Every 2 Minutes!
So We ALL NEED to Support the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network…
When you give to the National Council on Problem Gambling you support vital programs and services to assist people and families impacted by problem gambling.
One of these vital programs is our National Problem Gambling Helpline Network, the only nationwide safety net for problem gambling and in some places the only access to gambling help of any kind.
The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network has already received over 219,000 contacts this year and is on track to have the highest number of calls since 2015. Similar to 9-1-1, callers are connected to a network of call centers operated by NCPG state affiliates and other partners, with translation services available.
Calls go up during the holidays as people experience additional stress. No gift is too small – your tax-deductible donation makes a big difference to support NCPG and the Helpline Network – help answer the call!
Our goal this holiday season is $5,000 to cover the costs of our Helpline Network services through the end of Christmas weekend. NCPG’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board members have generously pledged half of this amount as a Matching Challenge – they will match your donation 1:1 so your money goes twice as far!
Please make your generous gift today to support NCPG and help the 12,275 people who will call our Helpline between now and December 26.
Donation Levels: bit.ly/givingNCPG
“My Own GA Reflection for the Week”
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit, Aristotle.
By repeating my gambling acts, I became progressively more likely to do them again and again. By repeatedly attending meetings, talking with my Higher Power, sharing my feelings, and keeping connected with Gamblers Anonymous members between meetings, I become what I am doing: part of the GA Fellowship and being of service to others. If I continue to repeat these acts, I will become progressively more likely to do them again and again.”
Do I recognize that any small contribution I make at a meeting, in a blog post, or speaking event has a much greater return on investment than any bet I ever made, even my biggest hit?
Today I Pray
May the acts that I repeat today be according to the will of my Higher Power. May I understand that, although perfection is not my goal, progress is possible, and I can achieve excellence at what I am doing for my recovery? It can be attainable to help me rid myself of my self-destructive habits and replace them with ones that will aid my recovery and to continue to share hope and support with others.
Today I Will Remember,
Recovery is not an act; it is a habit through ACTIONS”. . .
My Thanksgiving Day Spent in AA
By Flower B
I’m not sure how this season feels for you, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are two holiday sore spots for me. There’s so much emphasis on family and connection, and everything is supposed to be all warm and fuzzy. My family has never been close-knit, except for my mother and me. I’m single, and I don’t have any children. I’m also a Midwest native who lives in Los Angeles. Yet, when it comes to this time of year, I still find myself full of expectations.
My first Thanksgiving in recovery was difficult because I didn’t have any relatives to spend the day with like so many of my other friends. Sure, I got invites, but it’s just not the same when it’s someone else’s family dinner. Not having a husband or family to call my own, I just found myself missing my mother.
Due to my lack of familial ties, I made it a point to stay especially close to Alcoholics Anonymous.
I had a close group of friends who were also newly sober, and we planned to stay connected during the Thanksgiving holiday. We conveniently also found two nearby main meeting halls that were having marathon meetings over the course of several days.
Consequently, Thanksgiving Day began with me and my cohorts visiting AA meeting halls in Altadena and Hawthorne. To my surprise, every group we visited was packed. People were coming in from all over, which was both exciting and inspirational to see.
When we returned to our home group, people were out back playing some board games. A gentleman named Craig, who has since passed to the big meeting in the sky, was in a corner barbequing. It definitely wasn’t your typical meeting atmosphere—there was a social aspect to it all that reminded me almost of a family reunion.
Boogie on Down
On Saturday night, there was even a dance known as the “crème de la crème.” The hall was transformed into a club with a DJ booth, dark lights, and a dance floor. Getting ready for it was as much fun as attending. I must have danced all night, which was weird in a sense. Rarely had I gone dancing—or did anything fun for that matter—that didn’t involve drinking, sprinkled in with some drugs here and there, or any gambling.
I won’t lie; I was shy at first. But once the first guy asked me to dance, all inhibition went out the window. Who knew I could have so much fun without alcohol or drugs? There was beautiful energy over the entire room as people danced, laughed, and let loose. All while being clean and sober.
The last day of the marathon ended with what’s called “the old-timer’s slot,” where people with at least 20 years of sobriety took turns sharing their recovery stories. The oldest person there had 50 years of sobriety under his belt. The stories made me cry, laugh and rejoice. It brought me back to a time when I used to be at home listening to my mom, aunts and uncles reminisce.
Once the old-timer slot ended, it was time for the countdown. The person with the most years of sobriety was asked to stand, and everyone clapped and cheered for them. And so, the countdown began. Then, every time a group stood up for the following year, there was a round of applause. The procession continued like falling dominoes.
Though I had a while to wait, I was so proud when my turn finally came around, and I got to stand up for five months. The excitement of the moment only made me look forward to the following year when I would get to stand again. By the time we got to the sober person for only a few hours, the room had exploded. It was awesome.
At the very end of the day, while sitting down to eat my meal at the potluck, a crucial fact occurred to me that I was missing all week long—I was finally home, and these people were the family I was looking for all along and never thought I’d find.
CELEBRATE YOUR RECOVERY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
It has been quite some time since my last honest personal share about my recovery journey. It has been too long since sharing my thoughts, feelings, and what has been lying in my heart. What I mean is some real random recovery ramblings of living life while maintaining my recovery.
Maybe it is because the holiday season and a new year are approaching, and looking back over this last year, not realizing what and how much I dealt with some life events that I felt I handled ok, but there always seems to be some lingering feelings left. Thoughts constantly swirl in my mind and tug on my heart. Just when I think I have processed them and tried to move forward, here they come.
See, I lost my father on Jan. 29th, 2021, as COVID took his life, and many who know me or my story had a very up-and-down relationship. He had not spoken to me in almost 15 1/2-years. My nephew informed me of his passing and told me that he died alone at the hospital in Southern Calif., where he had been amitted. Kaiser Hospital would not let anyone go in his room to be with him due to COVID rules, nor they didn’t bother to tell me until five weeks after his passing.
Then more drama over who was getting what that I didn’t care about any of that. I wasn’t going to get stuck in all the drama, especially since I had not talked to any of my family for years. I knew this day would come soon. Was this cruel or Karma that my father ended up passing away all alone? Just because he chose not to speak to me or have a relationship with one of his daughters? I hope not. Family, we don’t get to choose them. And my siblings?
Well, that’s my siblings for you. Need I say more?
My feelings were/are that they were the ones missing out. All the years I and my husband had lived in Oregon and through the years’ most of the family would come to visit, spend time with us, we’d have so much fun. Even after my mom passed in 2003, my dad came the following summer and we had a blast! We would also take my dad and nephews rafting, many 4th of July’s and Labor days, trips to the coast, Jetboat dinner rides on the Rogue River, and again many fantastic rafting trips. So many good memories.
And for all of it to end up like this?
It still breaks my heart today…
I choose to remember ALL the good memories!
Also, after my mom passed in 2003, we all could have stayed together and in each other’s lives. That didn’t last very long. There are four of us—my only older brother, my older sister, then me, and then my younger sister. So when we laid my mom to eternal rest, that was the last time all four of us siblings had been together. I have often said we don’t get to pick or choose the family we are born into; however, we can choose to have healthy boundaries and have done so when I began my recovery journey.
So those are some of the points I wanted to share. Recovery makes that possible. It gives us the freedom to start making better choices in our lives. I will add in their defense, when I was young, I became very hyper-sensitive to teasing and ridicule, but they had no clue what I had been through from the sexual trauma until I finally disclosed it to my parents at age 32. Then, the teasing got worse in adulthood when they learned I had been diagnosed with PTSD and a few other mental health disorders.
When we get to a point where we try to make amends with those, we may have hurt while being sick and deep within addiction; not everyone may be willing to accept it or willing to forgive. They might even take it, forgive you, but still not want a relationship. And that is truly their choice. We, then, need to accept that choice, as I had to take and honor my father’s choice some 15-years ago. So yes, it stung, but I moved on from it.
There are times when we need to look back to connect what was to see how far we have grown within our recovery. For example, when I spent a year or so writing and journaling in early recovery, that was what ended up as a book—my memoirs of what gambling had taken from me. My fault for becoming an addict? YES, but more critical is the WHY and HOW I became addicted. (Available on Amazon Kindle)
by Catherine Townsend-Lyon
“A heart-wrenching read that ends with a great light of hope. Read “Addicted to Dimes” now.”
That is some of what those memoirs are and what my book truly is. It is not how to recover. That is what I’m working on now. The writing was healing for me, but it also helped me start to connect different events, the childhood trauma and abuse that happened as a little girl, and how it affected me going into adulthood. So I began to question my worth, my self-sabotage as if I wasn’t worth being loved, others being kind or treated well by others, including men.
Today I chose life. I live each day to the best of my abilities. I use self-care and self-love. I continue to mentor others who reach out needing support, help, and some hope from this insidious addiction. It is my passion and honor to do so. I’ll close by saying to those who never give gambling a thought, but those who have a problem with it will understand this. Gambling is all about Risk and Chance. And those who gamble a lot as I did or become addicted and gamble all the time will know what I mean. So the more you bet, the higher your odds are of losing.
So, where do you think the catchphrase came from of “The House Always Wins?”
And is why gambling addiction is so devastating…
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Writers Note –This year, I have signed up with ‘The National Council on Problem Gambling’ for the new ‘Gift Responsible’ Lottery Campaign as a social media assistant and blogger for the council through the holiday season and share Awareness of Not Gifting Lottery Products to Children and Minors. I hope you will join me by using this image on all your social media platforms in support!
POSTED ON BY MARILYNLDAVIS
Books: The Way We’ve Always Learned
“I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.” – Emma Thompson
I’m old enough to remember when books, either from a library or book store, and where how we escaped, found comfort, got an education, or discovered ways to improve our lives. Books bring the world to us.
Today, that world is smaller with online booksellers, reviewers, and sites dedicated to types of books. One of these is Shepherd.com. I enjoyed writing reviews on five books about addiction and recovery. Each of those books helped me see that addiction has common themes. Yet, each of the authors admitted their addictions and found recovery in different ways.
Easy Access to Information
It may just be me, but the first time I read Alcoholics Anonymous, or as we call it, The Big Book, I cried. There were so many passages that I could relate to in that first reading. I felt that the writers in 1939 were doing a “Letter to your future self – me.”
When we find a book that resonates with us, we cherish it. The second, third, fourth, and fifth times I read the book while in treatment, I was shocked at how much I’d missed in a previous reading. I got out my trusty highlighter and started marking practically every page. I realized that meant that eventually, I would highlight every passage, so I stopped that practice. That was 33 years ago.
I still have my original Big Book, tattered and worn with margin notes, highlighted passages, and phone numbers from people in treatment. It needs rebinding, but I’d lose those notes and numbers, and I don’t want to do that, so it stays together in its case when I’m not reading it.
I still read it; antiquated and stilted language doesn’t matter. That’s why there’s another book, a dictionary for the seldom-used words. These 100 men and women who wrote The Big Book were the founders and pioneers who admitted their problems and gave us solutions. We can’t ask for more than that in any book.
When we read a book and see ourselves on the pages, we pay attention. Sure, the names, places, ages, or genders might differ, but it’s us. How does an author do that – by relating feelings and thoughts, which transcend ages, genders, races, and places.
I’ve gotten emails and messages from men who’ve read my book, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, who’ve asked if we’re twins. Or the email from a twenty-year-old who could relate. Believe me, those are the best validation an author can get. To know that you’ve written an inclusive book.
Books Help Us Understand Ourselves
When I first got into recovery, I went weekly to the Unity Bookstore in Gainesville, GA. They had the largest selection on recovery, codependency, spirituality, and Native American beliefs. I’d “sacrifice” a steak to get a new book.
Some of my earliest books were:
No, I’m not their spokesperson, nor do I get a commission for anything I’ve listed or from Thriftbooks; it’s about following through on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s second bit of advice, “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
Any of these will help you in your recovery and perhaps lessen your suffering. Plus buying a used book makes economic sense.
Addicted to Dimes ~ THIS ONE IS MY BOOK!
Today’s books differ only slightly from my original listing. Today, we’ve got more people writing about addiction and recovery who don’t necessarily work in the field. Some are famous, and coming out and stating that they are addicts and alcoholics is commendable.
Here’s a list of three I’ve read because I was a concert promotor and managed bands and maybe understand some of the temptations and availability of drugs backstage.
Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood
When You’re Ready to Write About Your Recovery
I believe in diaries and journals. They help us record our thoughts and feelings and can be a way to discover patterns in our lives. Here are two journals that work:
And when you’re ready to write your story, consider getting Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook to help you remember, reflect, and write an excellent memoir about addiction and recovery to help someone else.
Are you ready to lessen someone else’s suffering? Then consider a guest post.
About Marilyn L. Davis
Marilyn Davis is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist who opened and operated an award-winning residential facility between 1990 and 2011, called North House. She also facilitated men’s, women’s, and HIV-positive groups.
She recently celebrated 32+ years of abstinence-based recovery.
Davis is the author of “Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System.” In 2008, Brenau University created the Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award. This ongoing award honors individuals working in recovery and mental health. In 2010, Marilyn received the Liberty Bell award. This award is given to non-judges and attorneys for contributions to the criminal justice system and communities.
Before the Blogs and Book
Before finding recovery in 1988, Davis was a desperate woman on drugs, managing bands at night, giving up her children, having her house foreclosed, and running to Georgia. After an intervention by Brenau University, she attended two 12-Step meetings a day. A chance encounter with a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk showed her that healing would include meetings and Steps. He had searched for her and wanted her to open a house of healing for other women. This encounter with Gray Hawk helped her realize that opening North House was her purpose.
She recently published her memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate.
Writing and Recovery Heals the Heart
Davis is also Editor-in-Chief at twodropsofink.com, a literary blog, where she continues to encourage collaborative writing.
The site’s writers are poets, problem-solvers for writers, and bloggers. Prose and essays educate, entertain, and enchant readers with the written word. The writers represent different countries, viewpoints, and opinions from around the world.
NCPG’s Partnership with NFL Takes Problem and Responsible Gambling Services to the Next Level
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ October 27, 2021
Washington, DC – The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has received the largest grant in the organization’s nearly 50-year history as part of a transformative partnership with the National Football League Foundation (NFLF).
The three-year grant, totaling $6.2 million over three years, will enable NCPG to significantly upgrade their National Problem Gambling Helpline, provide grants to nonprofit organizations across the country for problem gambling prevention programs, and launch communications initiatives that focus on responsible gambling and where to get help for gambling addiction, including public service announcement and their new website, www.responsibleplay.org.
“NCPG’s Board of Directors looks forward to working with NCPG staff to maximize the opportunities this partnership with the NFL provides,” said NCPG Board President Maureen Greeley. “Broadening our awareness, outreach, and innovative prevention efforts with partners across the country allows us to help people understand that gambling is a recreation with risks.
Understanding the risks is key to keeping gambling fun. When gambling becomes a problem, knowing the resources for help is crucial. This support from the NFL helps us elevate our responsible gambling programs and meet our goals to reach those we serve.” The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 allowed states to legalize sports betting, which previously was limited to Las Vegas and New Jersey.
Now more than 30 states allow sports betting and more will likely follow in the future. Couple this with the pandemic and recent public opinion surveys, and the need to do more in responsible gambling and problem gambling is clear. For instance, earlier this year NCPG released results from The National Survey on Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences (NGAGE) 1.0, which can be found at www.ncpgsurvey.org.
Among the findings were:
Sports bettors exhibit far more “problematic play” indicators than non-sports bettors, including ‘lied to hide gambling’ and ‘relied on others to pay debts or bills.’·
Younger players (under age 35) appear to be at higher risk for gambling problems.·
Many people who gamble do not understand the way gambling works.
“The National Council on Problem Gambling advocates for the strongest possible responsible gambling and problem gambling measures to be enacted,” said Keith Whyte, NCPG Executive Director.
“However, because the federal government doesn’t use any of the more than $7 billion in federal taxes from gambling operators to treat or study this hidden addiction, our capabilities have been somewhat constrained. Thanks to our groundbreaking relationship with the NFL, we now have more resources to significantly boost our efforts.”
In addition to the NFL’s grant to NCPG, the league is launching an integrated campaign that encourages people to play responsibly by sticking to a game plan, including setting a budget to know their limits, using licensed, regulated operators, and asking for help if they need it.
The core message of the campaign’s creative is “Stick to Your Game Plan. Always Bet Responsibly.” The advertising will encourage sports betters to visit NCPG’s www.responsibleplay.org site. In addition, the NFL has agreements with their official sports betting partners (Caesars Entertainment, Draft Kings, and FanDuel) to collaborate on information sharing and support the NFL’s responsible gaming efforts, which include developing their own robust responsible gambling programs. https://www.nflfoundation.org/
“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling to advance responsible betting support and prevention across the country,” said Anna Isaacson, NFL Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility. “The NFL has a long history of community engagement and advocating for issues that impact the NFL family and the broader society at large.
It is critical that we use the NFL’s platform and resources to support the NCPG’s mission as they expand and upgrade their impactful, nationwide services.” The NFL funding that is earmarked for the National Problem Gambling Helpline (call or text 1-800-522-4700 or go online at ncpgambling.org/chat) will help modernize operations by improving call center technology, data collection, reporting, training, and certifications.
The application process for Agility Grants for problem gambling prevention programs is under development. The goal is to fill in gaps for areas that currently have no such services, as well as bolster promising efforts in existing programs. The resources for communications include www.responsibleplay.org, which provides a series of tips for visitors to keep gambling fun, offers basic facts about problem gambling that everyone should know, and explains where people can get help for problem gambling whether they are directly or indirectly affected by it. NCPG’s public service announcements are still in the creative development stage.
However, NCPG plans to be able to push a national message over the television, radio, and streaming airwaves, which has traditionally been done on a limited basis in local markets. Last week’s announcement about this new stage in the relationship between the NCPG and the NFL Foundation is the culmination of more than a decade of a growing bond between the two organizations, recognizing their mutual goals and working together to achieve them…
About the National Council on Problem Gambling:
Based in Washington DC, the National Council on Problem Gambling is the only national nonprofit organization that seeks to minimize the economic and social costs associated with gambling addiction by working with all stakeholders. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling.
If gambling becomes a problem, NCPG urges people who gamble, as well as their loved ones, to contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without judgment or shame. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat.
Help is available 24/7 – it is free, anonymous, and confidential.
HELP IS AVAILABLE 24/7
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Welcome Recovery Friends,
I am urgently sharing this emailed message from Les Bernal, the Founder and National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling.
One of the nation’s top law schools has issued a series of articles exposing the truth behind gambling operators, including a spotlight on the issue of commercialized sports gambling.
– “Casinos- An Addiction Industry in the Mold of Tobacco and Opioid Drugs” authored by Northeastern Law Professor Richard Daynard, considered by many as the key legal architect behind the tobacco litigation movement, and his colleagues at the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law;
– “Black Youths Lost, White Fortunes Found: Sports Betting and the Commodification and Criminalization of Black Collegiate Athletes” authored by Frank Vandalla and Tallulah Lanier of Emory University School of Law;
– “Bans on Sports Gambling and Lotteries Would Pump-Prime the U.S. Economic System in the New Age of Covid” authored by John Kindt, Professor Emeritus of Business and Legal Policy at the University of Illinois and one of the nation’s most distinguished scholars on the economic consequences of commercialized gambling.
Please read the entire series of articles to expand your own knowledge about the truth behind gambling operators. The series is one of the few examples of independent scholarship being done on commercialized gambling because nearly all the research is presently funded by gambling operators.
Please stop by the website of Stop Predatory Gambling https://www.stoppredatorygambling.org/what-is-predatory-gambling/ to see what is happening in your state with Problem Gambling and check out all their helpful Resources.
***** ***** ****** ******
FOR MANY, GAMBLING WAS NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES. IT BECAME OUR WORST NIGHTMARE. . .
Welcome Recovery Warriors, Friends, and Visitors!
If there is one topic I get a little passionate about, it is the topic of gambling and kids. Minors, those under the ages of 18.
Now, I am aware that all STATES have different gambling ages, most states the legal age is 21. There are a few like Oregon, where I used to live will let you gamble at age 18.
Here is my MAIN point, and why I wanted to share this special ‘Holiday Campaign’ and news by the National Council.
PARENTS NEED to understand you don’t buy or give Lottery Scratch Tickets to your children as a GIFT or Stocking Stuffer! Not only is it illegal? You are teaching your young kids to GAMBLE.
YES, I know, not everyone has or will have a problem with gambling, or when they get older. BUT? I feel if you start now and teach them to be responsible just as you council them about drugs, alcohol, or even smoking, you will help them in the long run.
Lottery tickets of any kind are not an appropriate thing to give to kids.
Let’s raise awareness together so we can save your kids from harm when they get older. If you know friends who do give Lottery Products to minors, let them know it can be as dangerous later on for them just as you talk and council your kids, again, about drugs and alcohol. Here are some of the warning signs of problem gambling below.
Stop by the council and read a few of the real stories by real families of how gambling had devastated them and learn more about the Gift Responsibly Campaign and how you can help… https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/programs/gift-responsibly-campaign-2021/
Thanks Everyone! ~Advocate Catherine Lyon
NEW NAME, NEW LOOK
FOR HOLIDAY 2021
Make a difference for your clients and customers – join your colleagues across the country and around the world in our responsible gambling campaign to raise awareness regarding the risks of underage lottery use. Lottery products are appropriate for gifting only to adults, from adults.
Research shows why: the earlier a person’s participation or even exposure to gambling in childhood, the more likely they are to develop gambling problems later in life. And gambling in childhood is frequently some kind of lottery product, given through lack of awareness by a well-meaning adult.
This public-private campaign was previously known as the Holiday Lottery Responsible Gambling Campaign. The name was changed in response to requests from lottery organizations and feedback from our global stakeholders.
The new name enables lotteries all over the world to participate. It avoids the word ‘holiday,’ which in many global cultures describes what American English-speakers might call ‘vacation.’ It provides flexibility to expand the responsible giving message for all the occasions where children and minor teens might receive lottery tickets as gifts throughout the year. And it is a short name, which is easier to use in social media and advertising.
Whether or not it is legal for minors to participate in lottery games in your area, a responsible gambling message is always appropriate. The campaign continues to be endorsed and receives support from the World Lottery Association (WLA), European Lotteries (EL), and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL).
(*The images provided are free to use without license or restrictions, but we ask that you sign up as a participant before downloading them.*)
100% of Canadian and U.S. lotteries participated again last year in the campaign
along with numerous international lotteries, non-lottery organizations, and many NCPG members.
During December and the winter holidays season, participating lottery organizations may choose to engage in different levels of public engagement classified as Lottery level 1, 2 or 3. These levels are intended to assist lotteries in planning their participation as well as to provide metrics that can be used in acknowledgment programs by NCPG, NASPL, WLA, and other organizations. Non-lottery organizations are welcome to join the Campaign and are encouraged to partner with their state lottery (where applicable) to support this important message.
Participants are also encouraged to become NCPG members (either as individuals or organizations) in order to receive updates on the campaign and to broaden their knowledge in problem gambling and responsible gambling. As members, they may also nominate themselves or others for the annual NCPG National Award for this campaign.
The campaign is sponsored by NCPG and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University.
LET’S ALL BE MORE RESPONSIBLE THIS HOLIDAY GIFTING SEASON WITH LOTTERY PRODUCTS!
ABOUT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING
MISSION & VALUES
Purpose: To serve as the national advocate for programs and services to assist people and families affected by problem gambling.
Vision: To improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social and economic costs of problem gambling.
Mission: To lead state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for all those affected by problem gambling.
Neutrality: We do not take a position for or against legalized gambling. We advocate solely for those affected by problem gambling.
Collaboration: We believe that our mission is best served by the collaborative action of a broad range of people and organizations.
Respect: We will treat all those affected by problem gambling and all stakeholders with respect.
Credibility: We will strive to be an objective, accurate and reliable source of information for all those concerned with problem gambling.
NCPG 2020 Statement:
Respect is one of our core values. Racism and bigotry are unacceptable. We stand united with Black communities throughout our country and share in their pain, anger and frustration. Recent events remind us of the need to address fundamental problems of systemic racial inequality.
As we deal with the devastating health and financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on people with gambling problems, we are preparing new strategies to be of greater service to people of color. We will listen and reach out even more to our stakeholders of color, to learn how our services can better address their needs. We will strive to make our work more accessible, break down barriers and increase our advocacy. We will continue to emphasize our organization’s core values, and to treat all people with respect — with actions as well as words.
The organization was founded in 1972 by Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne and Dr. Robert Custer, among others. From the outset the Council established two principles that remain in effect today: that the organization would be the advocate for problem gamblers and their families, and that it would take no position for or against legalized gambling. This stance is encompassed today in our vision and mission statements above. A history of the NCPG from 1972 to 1985 by Msgr. Dunne was published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1.
NCPG was conceived as the national representative of the problem gambling field and is organized with 3 classes of members: state affiliate, corporate and individual. The NCPG concentrates efforts on the national level, while the state affiliates work at the state and local level.
Three years ago I lost a very dear friend who was an avid advocate and a big support to me. She was an advocate of mental health, addiction, a fellow author, and had spent many years in the Jacksonville, FL., men and women’s jails & correctional system as a “Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist.” Her name was Marilyn Fowler. She was an amazing woman, strong, smart as a whip, and bursting with caring for others.
Marilyn and I worked together since 2014 as I helped her promote her books. I learned so much from her and she always would tell me; “when I leave earth, just know you will have a powerful angel in heaven watching over you, that’s me!” I loved her to pieces! I had started a new blog here on WordPress for her to share many self-help posts and has left us a beautiful legacy of life advice.
This post https://selfhelpbymarilyn.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/how-to-use-difficult-situations-to-enrich-your-life-journey/ I’ll be sharing is informative, and can help everyone maintaining recovery or may have mental health challenges like I do. I hope you will stop by her blog as we decided to leave it LIVE to continue to help others who happen to be lucky enough to stumble upon it.
I Miss You Marilyn, Mucho Mucho! ✨💝✝💖😇😇
About Marilyn Fowler Author & Advocate
“I’m a retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist. My professional experience includes Mental Health Team Leader, then Director of Mental Health Services in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Florida; coordinating Mental Health Services in nursing homes, working on inpatient units, and in private practice for a number of years. I teach a class at the University of North Florida on The Influence of Childhood Messages on Adult Life, I belong to Chat Noir Writers Circle, and I write a self-help blog posts to help others live a better well balanced life!
My memoir, Silent Echoes, was published in 2010. My stories have appeared in several magazines and a book entitled When God Spoke To Me. I’m active in my church, and I believe that a sense of humor is a blessing to be used often. Life should be”…
How To Use Difficult Situations To Enrich Your Life Journey ~ By Marilyn Fowler
Imagine that when you wake up each morning a familiar feeling of dread reaches your mind, and your stomach immediately tightens with stress. You fold your hands over your chest and calm yourself enough to get up and go to a job where you have to face the monster who supervises you with criticism, insults, and anything his sick mind conjures up. You would have left long ago, but you love your work, and you keep thinking things will change. But they don’t. What would you do in such a situation?
On our journey through life, we each experience painful situations that hold us hostage with no visible way out. These situations can involve health, work, financial issues, damaging relationships, losses, various addictions, whatever causes us pain. We bring some on ourselves, and others invade our orderly world without explanation.
And we usually view each one as our all-powerful enemy. We may fight back, or leave the situation. Then another one is sure to come. And we move through life never really free to be who we are. Maybe we need to take a closer look and see what’s really happening.
“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” ~Lee Iacocca
Obstacles in your life are not enemies. They’re opportunities to learn, overcome, and grow into more of the person you’re meant to be. Without these opportunities, you may never realize the depth of how wonderful you are.
At times, the road is painful, but if you meet each encounter with faith and determination, life can be rewarding and meaningful.
Years ago I worked as a Mental Health Therapist in a Psychiatrist’s office, and I suffered the same experience as in my opening example. I awoke each morning with dread about going to work. I went to my Minister for help, and she carefully listened, then said, “This man is probably one of the most important teachers you will ever have. Pay attention, learn and grow, and you will be guided to the next plateau in your life.” She was right. I saw myself and my situation with new vision, and I finally left for a new rewarding position, as a wiser and happier me.
“If you can learn from the worst times of your life, you’ll be ready to go into the best times of your life.” ~Author Unknown
Methods For Change:
Meet each difficult situation as an opportunity with a willingness to learn and grow from it.
Analyze the situation and your response to it. You can learn a lot about yourself in the way you respond to a negative, even hurtful, situation in your life. The more you learn, the more powerful you become. And your situation’s power over you weakens.
“Keep asking yourself: What am I supposed to learn from this?” ~ Unknown
Go within and examine your attitude and feelings, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Do you feel stressed with worry, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, forsaken, etc.? How immersed are you in your feelings?
How clear is your mind?
Where is your focus…on the situation, your inner response, or both?
Do you view the situation as more than you can handle?
Can you call on your Higher Power for help? Question and learn.
You’re stronger than you think.
Uncover your strengths, and let them shine.
Use denials and affirmations ie: “I deny that this situation has any power over me. I am strong and unbeatable.” This process will reinforce your power.
Create a plan to deal with your situation. Then choose techniques that would work best for you…confronting, accepting, or getting away from it. As you go along, monitor your situation and your response, and know you have a right to the life you want. And make it so. Each time you pass a hurdle, you can look back with a grateful heart to where you were, compared to where you are now.
And what you learn now will lift you to a higher place for future encounters.
I wish you happy discoveries on your journey.
There are certain situations that people find themselves, that it is only the hand of God that can bring them out. Divine intervention is the sudden movement of God upon your situation and challenges and when God is fighting for you as no one can harm you when under the covering of God…
Let me share how I work my recovery and some of my backstory, if you will, about my recovery journey within my faith.
Now, I’m not going to preach a ‘Sunday Gospel Sermon’ to you all… lol.
These are just some of my personal experiences of why I believe my recovery wouldn’t work doing so all by myself. I believe in a higher power greater and my higher power happens to be God and his Son, our Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ.
In November of 2002, my mother had passed, and then my best friend due to cancer, and my addiction at that time got so severe I tried suicide. My gambling addiction was raging out of control. My 40th birthday was in a week, and there I was, suffering in an addictions/mental health crisis center. I became one of the gambling addiction statistics OF 1 in 5 will try suicide.
Thankfully God stepped in and helped me when I could not help myself. I ended up at a Indian Casino for hours on a bad gambling binge when I was supposed to be at my best friend’s memorial service.
All of these events and loss was too much for me to handle!
See, I had turned my back on God when I became a gambling addict. Sounds kind of corny, but I would tell myself, “how can Jesus love me when I hate myself and deep into my addiction?” I felt he probably gave up on me anyway. I learned this was not true. But I kept on within my addiction and was deep in selfishness. I was lost, broken, and spiritually gone. Not knowing God had been with me every step of the way!
Within almost 30-days in this crisis center, I began a gambling treatment program. I was also diagnosed with several mental health disorders and started a medication treatment plan as well. I became a dually diagnosed person and beginning recovery. It was way more than I could handle or wrap my mind around at that time. I had a tough time accepting the fact that I had several mental disorders. And, yes, I did have another failed suicide in 2006, but that was all from my two of the medications I was on had stopped working. And, well, that is another post for another time.
Soon after my release from the crisis center, and while I was in the center, my husband started attended Church with his friends from work. It was where he drew his strength from as all this chaos I created with my addicted gambling. Faith helped me shed the guilt and pain of knowing what I put my husband through. Because now I had even MORE GUILT of scaring our families and my husband with my failed suicide! My husband kept going to Church and didn’t push me to go.
See, we were both raised Catholics, but a few years into our marriage, we stopped attending mass as we both felt disappointed about all the media and news coming out about the abuse of many children at the hands of priests. We also didn’t feel right or agree any longer about “giving confession ” as it felt like it was an intrusion of our relationship, our personal relationship with God.
I finally decided to go with him to Church and we attended Calvary Chapel in late December 2002. By August of 2003, we rededicated our lives and faith to Christ by being rebaptized, still living in Grants Pass, Oregon at that time, and within the Famous Rogue River.
This was a miracle for me as I had my husband on one side and the Pastor on the other. When they lifted me out of the water? I honestly felt feelings I had never had before. It was like all the bad in my life and within addiction had slipped away and replaced by what I felt: God’s love, grace, and mercy, and I haven’t looked back since!
I still have and feel those same feelings today.
Without my faith in my higher power, GOD, I know that I would not be sharing this with you. I genuinely am a living, breathing, walking MIRACLE of God, his power greater than myself. It has enabled me to reach over 14+years maintaining my recovery path and counting.
Do I go to Church every Sunday?
No, because as God tells us in Matthew 18:20 – – “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
So, long story short, never underestimate the power of your higher power. It is where all your MIRACLES within recovery come from!
~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate
Congratulations on getting 1,000 total followers on Bet Free Recovery Now Shares Hope, Support, & Resources From Problem Gambling & Recovery.!
Your current tally is 1,001.
This would never have happened without all my recovery friends, supporters, and the recovery COURIOUS! I hope I have been of help and a source of HOPE to those who visit that may have a Gambling Problem and looking for resources or just come to read some of my recovery experiences, strength, and hope!
I know recovery is not an easy road to travel, especially early recovery, but if I can help you in away, do not be afraid to reach out to me by email to email@example.com and I’ll be there for you!
There could be thousands of reasons why people adopt gambling, and even psychologists don’t know why people gamble? It started as fun for some persons, and for some, it was meant to escape their sorrows. But in the end, the result was always the same; Gambling Stops Being a Diversion and Becomes an Addiction.
~Catherine Townsend-Lyon Author and Experienced Gambling Advocate of Recovery
A while back I came across what looked like a new Gambling Addiction and Recovery blog that seemed to really never transpire. I happened to visit again and the same original first post was still up, but not much activity after. That is the “nature of the beast” when it comes to addicted gambling. It seems sometimes the addiction may win over just trying to “will it away” and it won’t work very well.
But then? EUREKA! More New Posts Began To Be Posted! And many of Uri’s posts are not only informative? They are very revealing to the facts that Gambling Addiction truly is the hardest addiction to KICK! So, my deepest hope for all who visit me will take some time and go visit Uri and read a few of his posts about his recovery journey.
He speaks very openly as he shares his gambling and his recovery hopes and challenges. One that is really difficult and will share a little of his post is about LYING to his partner. For me? That was all about being in DENIAL.
Denial is like lying to ourselves that we do have a gambling problem, and why true surrender is so hard to come to that place. So here is a little of Uri’s post about “LYING” to his partner, and then you can finish reading his new post… https://gambling-addictions.com/2021/06/05/why-i-cant-stop-lying/
“I am not upset that you lied to me; I am upset that from now on I can never believe you” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
After being more than 2 years free from gambling activities, I noticed that I still have a huge problem with lying to my partner. It became a habit and somehow I can’t stop lying to my partner. Someone once said to me that for as long as you lied to your partner, expect them not to believe you for the same time after you stop lying. It will hurt when they question you when you are telling the truth, you will be surprised because you never even thought to lie.
This advice helped me to think that did I achieve anything worthwhile by lying or cheating. I started thinking that what I am hiding from her? Why I am so insecure? Why my self-respect is at rock bottom? Why I am addicted to lying? Sooner I realized that lying is like a slippery dangerous slope with nothing good at the bottom but misery and empty life.
We all lie in different situations in our lives. We all have our reasons for lying, it may be to escape punishment in our childhood. When we grow up, we lie to get attention or sympathies and some even create stories to set friends against each other or get others in trouble. It is an expression of being afraid, what others will think, afraid of facing the reality. We want to show people that we are better than others and reflect the weakness of our character. This could be the result of low self-esteem, fear of rejection, desire to please, or any other nuanced reasons.
A liar justifies or makes stories to cover up something he has done wrong. To cover the first lie, another lie is required and this leads to an endless chain of lies. I had no idea about my case, why I was manipulating different situations to lie with my partner. Sooner I realized that I am a habitual liar, I tried to discover the root of my behavior, why I am doing and what I am avoiding. I thought that if I want to spend the rest of my life with my partner, I must avoid this habit of lying to restore the level of trust in our relationship.
If you are constantly lying to your dear ones and you are not able to do anything about it, then you don’t want to change. You cannot change what has developed in you for years. If someone matters to you in your life then you have to be truthful or else you will end up losing not only that person but your importance, your respect and the likeness you were trying to create will go away in a moment and will never come back.
All the lies which are still covered can come crashing down on your head at any time. You will live in constant fear of the truth being discovered and expose you which creates a bad effect on your nerves. Stop living in dream world with a fake identity. Get out of your unreal world and start living in present rather than the past or future.
A person who often tells fibs will never have trustworthy friends and will not be loved by anyone. Life is not only judged by a rich lifestyle, fluent language ability, or branded clothes. It is measured by the number of faces who simile when they hear your name. Analyze your life and try to find how it has impacted your life and others around you. Somewhere or somehow it has broken a lot of innocent hearts or brought tears to the eyes of your loved ones.
Do you think you feel happy about it?
How To Stop Lying?
Start thinking, why you want to quit lying, think about the bad things associated with being a liar. I am not an expert by any means but you must ask yourself why you are lying? Why are you not comfortable with the truth? Learn to appreciate things you have in life and be satisfied with your family, friends, and your surroundings.
But what makes sense to me is that instead of trying “not to lie anymore” which is difficult to achieve in one day, try to focus on making little but sturdy progress. Think to yourself why you’re lying? Why are you not comfortable with the truth? Is it because you are not confident? Or on the other hand you fear reality?
You can’t change the past, the past is immutable. But as long as you understand that the time of yore was something that you’ve learned, and then it won’t haunt you as much.
Few imperative things to consider while struggling to come out of this habit:
- Never give up! People have thrived in breaking the nastiest & most addictive habits, you can do the same!
- Change is going on in little- often not noticeable steps. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t observe changes immediately, YOU ARE CHANGING!
- There will be setbacks. There is no way to accomplish a goal without failing on the way. Remember: failing doesn’t mean to stop struggling and starting all over again; you rewired your brain by fighting your habit & it will become easier & easier until it will go away!
- NOW I hope you’ll go and read “The Rest Of The Story” by Uri… https://gambling-addictions.com/2021/06/05/why-i-cant-stop-lying/
More Informative Articles and Posts:
My dear friend Mark has been running this gambling recovery website since I began my own journey of recovery and shortly after my book had released. It sometimes is not as active as it should be, because just like gambling addiction itself? It is still a hush, hush, silent taboo topic to be open and talk about due to the heavy shame and guilt. Those who become problem gamblers or have lost control of their gambling, don’t want to admit they have a problem.
And that can come from denial or blame others, or they are just not ready to get help.
So I wanted share some from Mark’s website here as he shares that gambling addiction doesn’t care who you are or where you are from, it will touch even your teens! But there is help available and HOPE. I am living proof that recovery is possible, it does work if your are willing, and you don’t have to get to dire straights to gain your life back from this cunning addiction. Now, I will tell you that Mark and his website leans in heavy for Gamblers Anonymous and the 12-Step program. But, I can tell you it didn’t work for me alone.
My addiction was so bad I had to do ANY and EVERYTHING I could find, including a treatment in-patient program (NOT BY CHOICE) but it saved my life! Then I transitioned to out-patient treatment with therapy and group. It doesn’t matter what you choose to get back to a life without a “Monkey on your BACK,” just pick something and stick with it! So, here is the areas I wanted to share from Mark’s website as it is very informative as gambling addiction becomes a FAMILY addiction. Everyone becomes effected by the addict. Support is the KEY. . .
Help With Gambling Addiction – A Guide for Impacted Families
Are you looking for help with gambling addiction?
Do you have a loved one who’s a problem gambler? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet if they have a gambling problem, and you’re starting to research? Or maybe you’re already certain that there’s a problem, and are looking for help? Wherever you are in this process, this website focuses on all types of gambling problem recovery topics for the loved ones of problem gamblers. While there’s information on the site that problem gamblers themselves may also find helpful, the focus is to provide help to the loved ones of gamblers impacted by the gambling problem.
It’s important to understand that I’m not a professional in the field of problem gambling or addictions, nor I am even in the medical field. I am, however, someone with first-hand experience discovering that my spouse is a problem gambler, and living with the hardship and turmoil that comes from the progressive disease of gambling.
Fortunately, I also have experience working through the addiction recovery process with my spouse, and for myself. So while I’m not a expert in the field, and have no professional qualifications to give advice, I can speak from personal experience, and straight from my heart to yours to hopefully help you and your family start down the road to recovery.
Through my own research, including Internet searches, books, and individual therapy, I came to realize that while resources gamblers to get help with gambling addiction is plentiful, help for the spouses and loved ones is few and far between. Hence, seeing this gap, I became motivated to put together this website as a free resource.
If I can help even one person, or one family find the right path for helping your gambler and/or yourself, then it will have been worthwhile. Essentially, this site contains information that is from my personal experience, as well as concepts and techniques that I’ve compiled over the years, including talking with my individual therapist, talking with others with problem gamblers in their lives, as well as what I learned through the intervention experience that myself and my loved one went through.
What to look for if you think a loved or partner has a gambling problem
- Your spouse disappears for long periods of time during the day and/or night, and doesn’t provide adequate reasons when questioned, or is obviously lying.
- You know your spouse is gambling and money continually goes missing, and this is either creating financial strain in terms of paying for bills and activities, or you have already begun defaulting on loans and other payments.
- When you discuss the topic of problem gambling, they either dismiss it as not an issue, or acknowledge that things have gotten out of hand, but that they can stop if they want to.
- You’ve found yourself making significant financial adjustments, whether it’s moving (whether due to a foreclosure or voluntarily selling your home), downsizing cars (or repossessions), etc.
- You’re credit cards have consistently higher balances due to cash advances, or are over limit, and you’re getting calls from collectors.
- Money from your bank accounts is disappearing due to unexpected/unaccounted for withdrawals.
- Large unexplained sums of money are deposited to your bank account.
- Communication with your spouse is difficult, stressful, or generally ineffective or non-existent.
- They’ve attended Gamblers Anonymous and either continue to gamble or have discontinued attending meetings.
- They tried individual therapy and/or couples therapy with you, and they continue to gamble.
- You generally feel that your life is out of control and unmanageable.
In addition to sharing experiences, ideas, and techniques in dealing with a loved one who’s a problem gambler, this site is also meant to provide information about problem gambling itself. What is it? How do you know your loved one is a problem gambler? Can it be cured? What’s Gamblers Anonymous? What’s Gam-Anon?
Other questions that you might be asking yourself at this point might include:
- What can I do to help?
- Should I do something to help or leave it be?
- Should I stay with, or leave my gambler?
- How should I handle finances?
- Is gambling really a disease?
Although I’ve used the word “should” liberally, inferring that you’ll find all of THE answers here, that’s not going to be the case. Everyone’s situation is so unique, personal, and complex that no one could possibly tell you exactly what to do. The reality is that there’s truly no one right answer for your situation.
There are different paths you can take, each one with its pros and cons. Ultimately you’ll need to decide what’s best for you and your personal situation. In fact, I would venture to say that if someone purports to KNOW exactly what you should do, I would caution you, as nothing is that simple, even for a problem gambling professional or addiction specialist.
Unlike other resources available to you, it not only provides the background information regarding getting help with gambling addiction all in one place, but also provides a forum for people to share their experiences, as well as ask and answer questions. While hopefully you’ll come to believe that there’s no one right answer to your problems, it can often be very helpful to ask a question and have a direct dialog about possible answers/solutions. I’ve found that this type of forum is not readily available for loved ones of problem gamblers.
If you’ve read this far, it’s highly likely that you’re feeling overwhelmed by the gambling problem in your life, and you need help. While this site won’t cure your problems, you can rest assured that you’ve found a place to learn, share, and dialog with people who understands what you’re experiencing, and who can help guide you to the tools you’ll need for the learning process. As the site grows, it will become even more valuable for you as you read about others who have experienced similar situations, and learn about what they did to work towards rebuilding a healthy way of life.
Learn more about the Effects of Gambling Addiction
About, My Gambling Addiction Story Learn about MY story!
Help for Gambling Addiction, Options for Getting Help
Is a problem gambler impacting your life? Learn different ways to get help for gambling addiction.
Gambling Addiction Help, Stories of Addiction YOUR Stories! Gambling addiction help includes sharing stories with others affected by the gambling problem.
Share YOUR story! Gambling Addiction Blog
The Gambling Addiction Blog keeps you up-to-date with all additions and changes to the Help With Gambling Addiction site. . . https://www.help-with-gambling-addiction.com/
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I URGE All My Friends and Visitors to My Website Here of “Bet Free Recovery Now” take some time to visit Mark at his site and share your comments of hope and inspire those who may be needing it over this long 4th of July Holiday Weekend. https://www.help-with-gambling-addiction.com/
~Advocate/Author, Catherine Lyon
Who was William Cowper? William was born 26 November 1731 (My Birthday Too) – and passed 25 April 1800) known as an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. William was also considered one of the best letter writers in English, and some of his hymns, such as “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” and “Oh! For a Closer Walk with God,” have become part of the folk heritage of Protestant England.
GUEST POST BY Author Tony Roberts of Delight in Disorder Ministries
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)
The Longing of William Cowper in “Heal Us, Emmanuel”
Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are
We wait to feel Thy touch;
Deep wounded souls to Thee repair,
And Savior, we are such.
Our faith is feeble, we confess
We faintly trust Thy Word;
But wilt Thou pity us the less?
Be that far from Thee, Lord!
Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried;
“O help my unbelief!”
She, too, who touched Thee in the press
And healing virtue stole,
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace;
Thy faith has made thee whole.”
Concealed amid the gathering throng,
She would have shunned Thy view;
And if her faith was firm and strong,
Had strong misgivings too.
Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch Thee if we may;
O send us not despairing home;
Send none unhealed away.
Poet and hymn writer William Cowper (1731-1800) was a man of deep longing that greatly affected his mind as well as his spirit. In his thirties, while battling some political factions in his work, he was afflicted with “madness” (as it was then called called) and admitted to Nathaniel Cotton’s Collegium Insanorum at St. Albans. He recovered and moved to the town of Olney in 1768 where he co-authored a book of hymns with the well-respected pastor and hymn-writer John Newton (who wrote “Amazing Grace”).
But all was not well. One biographic source tells it this way –
In 1773, Cowper became engaged to Mary Unwin, but he suffered another attack of madness. He had terrible nightmares, believing that God [had] rejected him. Cowper would never again enter a church or say a prayer. When he recovered his health, he kept busy by gardening, carpentry, and keeping animals. In spite of periods of acute depression, Cowper’s twenty-six years in Olney and later at Weston Underwood were marked by great achievement as poet, hymn-writer, and letter-writer.
Certainly, Cowper continued to fight back despair and may well have stepped aside from public prayer and worship, but the depth of his prayer life and relationship to God in Christ is abundantly evident in hymns that live on through the ages.
Which brings me back to the theme of longing. The longing expressed in this hymn, and also in Cowper’s life, is not evidence of a lack of faith. In fact, faith prompts us to recognize that all is not right within us, among us, or around us. Our faith, though feeble, keeps us crying out in prayer for our children who are hurting, for our bodies that need healing, for our world that is on the brink of collapse.
We come to God not only with “positive thoughts”, but with hopes and fears – hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst and humbly requesting that the Great Healer would touch us, would send not of us away unhealed.
(for an inspiring reflection on the life of William Cowper, link to “Insanity and Spiritual Songs in the Soul of a Saint” by John Piper)
About the Author: tonyroberts
“I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.”
Tony Roberts is a graduate of Hanover College (Bachelor of Arts; English and theology), and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity). He served as pastor for churches in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York, while battling bipolar disorder. He is the author of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission and is the founder and Chief Shepherd of Delight in Disorder Ministries. These ministries include A Way With Words publishing, Revealing Voices podcast, and Faithful Friends mental health support group.
Tony is available to virtually consult ministry leaders on issues of faith and mental illness. You may reach out to him on the contact page or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org