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 Gamblinglook up your State Here: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/help-by-state/.
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.
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.
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!
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. https://www.allaboutinterventions.com/test-yourself/gambling-self-assessment/
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.
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.
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? It worked.
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.
AND? 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.
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.
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”. . .
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.
Gambler’s Annonymous “Relection For The Day” on my Happy Birthday…
NOVEMBER 26 Reflection for the Day
“During our first days in Gamblers Anonymous, we got rid of the trappings and environments of gambling. We had to get rid of these, for we knew they surely would have killed us. We got rid of the situation, but we could not get rid of our addiction until we took further action. So we also had to learn to toss self-pity, self-justification, self-righteousness, and self-will straight out the window.
We had to get off the rickety ladder that supposedly was the easy way to money, property, and prestige. And we had to take personal responsibility. To gain enough humility and self-respect to stay alive at all, we had to give up our most familiar possessions, and our driven ambition, and our unrealistic pride”
Am I well rid of the weights and chains that once bound me?
Today I Pray
May I give credit to my Higher Power not only for removing my gamblingimpulses but for teaching me to remove my old pushy, demanding, selfishness from all my spiritual and earthly relationships, and for all the things I have learned and unlearned within my “faith and for the grace of God,” I am fully and heartily thankful and blessed today.
Today I Will Remember. . . “Gratitude for the grace of God.”
***** ***** ***** ****** *****
For those who know my full story of addictions and where I am today, it truly is a MIRACLE I am still today to share my recovery with you for all these amazing year’s on my website. I appreciate all of you who support me and all those whom will come after you.
It has always been my intention and passion to help those who may be suffering in silence that recovery is possible and to never give HOPE. Youe are worth an amazing life as I have had maintaining my recovery for almost 15-years come Jan. 20th, 2022. “But For The Grace” of God, we all have that opportunity to do so.
May God Bless You, Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate
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…
********** *** ************
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!
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – TheNational 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.
Courtesy of The National Council on Problem Gambling
HELP IS AVAILABLE 24/7
Funded by Donors and Members …No Federal funding…Please Support Us Today!
USE THE LINKS BELOW TO QUICKLY NAVIGATE TO RESOURCES SECTIONS OF INTEREST
Please readthe 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
“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!
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.
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/
In no way shape or form am I endorsing or encouraging others to gamble. But for those who can for the right reasons of a few hours of fun and entertainment, and share Responsible Gambling and my story when you don’t? That to me is progress! We know gambling will never be banned or prohibited, that wouldn’t be fair to those who can for enjoyment. Having a direct source to share my story on a gambling watch dog site is Ground Breaking…
~Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
A few weeks ago I had been approached with an invitation to be interviewed by an overseas company that is a gambling watch dog for gamblers of all types to keep them safe. They have a blacklist of venues who may use bad practices when it comes to online gambling options at all types of casinos.
Now, I know many who come to visit here may be maintaining recovery like myself, so I won’t mention the site by name. They wanted to do a interview as they are revamping their website and they are hosting new pages of resources and raising awareness about problem gambling and patrons to practice responsible gambling.
At first I thought? Hell No! I would NOT be willing to be on a site like this where people come to look for the best places to gamble. Because I thought it would be like endorsing GAMBLING! Then, I went and explored the website and seen that “The National Council On Problem Gambling” is listed as a resource and I do a lot of networking with them and am a member as an advocate.
So I thought, what an amazing way to reach people who may need help and these resources and be able to help them before they get way to deep into full blown addicted gambling?
In no way shape or form am I endorsing or encouraging others to gamble. But for those who can for the right reasons of a few hours of fun and entertainment, and share Responsible Gambling and my story when you don’t? That to me is progress! We know gambling will never be banned or prohibited, that wouldn’t be fair to those who can for enjoyment. Having a direct source to share my story on a gambling watch dog site is Ground Breaking…
It would be right at the source and where the people are who may need to hear MY STORY, Raise Awareness, and help Shatter Stigma by letting them no there is NO SHAMEreaching out for help if gambling begins to interrupt any areas of their daily lives.
So I wanted to share the interview questions they asked of me and how I answered them. This really is an awesome opportunity and a ground breaking idea to also help break the stigma of those who may or do have a gambling problem know that it’s OK to reach out for help! ~Catherine
INTERVIEW WITH A RECOVERING GAMBLER~ Champion of Awareness
When did you first start gambling? What got you into it?
Answer: I had always enjoyed gambling with my girlfriends as we would go to Reno or the Indian Casino a couple of times a year and never had a problem. It used to be a fun thing to do for an hour or so with friends. Have lunch at the deli and play a little.
I don’t come from a family background or parents who were gamblers. For me, it began around age 30 when I noticed I began gambling a little more than an average person. Now, with 14+years of being bet free and maintaining my recovery, it started after a life event, when my brother-in-law passed away in 1992.
At the same time, I was living in the Oregon, (USA) and they had introduced video poker machines, later in the 2000s they slot style games to the machines. But when my brother-in-law passed away, I began to notice I was gambling more. By 1996, gambling became a problem and I was going more and more often. See, some of the reasons I used gambling was for an escape or trying to cope with the grief.
On top of this, I experienced childhood sexual trauma and abuse. When that pain came back and the grief of loss, I started gambling more. Those roots and underlying issues are why I used gambling to numb out. Sadly, once you lose control over your gambling and get sucked into the “cycle,” you can never gamble normally again. My gambling became a full-blown addiction.
One area stood out to me. Having a lot of access can bring gambling excess. I could walk across the street and gamble, or walk a block or two and gamble. Not only did we have Indian Casinos not too far, but the lottery video machines where in all our restaurants, deli’s, bars, and taverns. Very accessible.
Did you ever gamble online? What kind of sites?
Answer: Believe it or not, at that time, I never gambled online. First, because we did not have internet at that time. Second, I was lover of all the lights, bells, and noises of a casino or playing the lottery sponsored machines. Even today, the online casinos really don’t cross my mind. I will be honest and transparent and share I have been to Casino.org and tried your free play games to see what is new for research for my advocacy work to stay updated on the trends, but I don’t play or buy anything! I don’t even play Facebook games. Even though there are games like trivia or scrabble type games, still, I avoid them.
Which games did you play most?
Answer: When I did play back then be it at a casino or the lottery machines, I mostly played the slots or video poker. I loved slots that had fun bonus rounds like video poker called “Flush Fever” …But most times I’d play slots.
When did you notice it was becoming a problem?What were the signs?
Answer: Again, I have to say it started in 1992, but really ramped up and crossed the line into full-blown gambling addiction around 1998. I had begun gambling more, higher betting, playing more money until I attempted suicide and my first addiction Crisis Center stay an began treatment for addicted gambling in November of 2002.
That is how bad my problem gambling became. It was a slow progressive climb to where I ended up a statistic of 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try suicide. Looking back now, some of the warning signs were gambling for longer periods of time, lie about why I was gone so long. Stop doing things I enjoyed, missing family get togethers, call in sick to work if I was winning, ignored medical or dental appointments, work, began having money problems and arguments over money with my husband, etc.
How did gambling negatively affect you? E.g. financially, in relationships Answer: Some of the above and eventually when you have no money to gamble with? I began selling or pawning things of value, took out credit cards and payday loans my husband had no idea about. Dug us in a huge financial hole and lost my friendships with most of my friends. Would argue with co-workers, lost jobs over my gambling until it became NOT gambling with money any longer, I was gambling with my life and had two failed suicide attempts. Those were just some of the negative impacts I had from my gambling addiction. It was a never ending battle if I won or lost. When you lose control, when you win? You think you will win all the time. When you lose? You go back out and chase the money you lost. It become a sick “cycle” you can’t seem to get out of.
What did you do to overcome your addiction?
Answer: I did ANY and EVERYTHING I could get my hands on to recover!
After my second failed suicide attempt in Jan. 2006, I started gambling treatment, again, and in the Addiction Crisis Center again and I guess you can call it a “do-over”… I finally surrendered to the fact that I can never gamble again like regular people who don’t have a problem. I had lost all control over my gambling to the point that it almost cost me my life. See, it is NOT about the money lost or won, it became life or death for me.
Here I was again, I began in-patient treatment for 30-days and transitioned into out-patient for the next 6-months, attended Gamblers Anonymous for many years as a source of support, treatment therapy, worked with an addiction specialist for a year to help me process and overcome the childhood trauma I endured, learn the process of forgiving and making my amends where needed. And began to slowly work through my financial inventory and slowly paying all my debts. I attend “Celebrate Recovery “virtually.
In 2010 to 2011, I wrote my memoirs to see everything gambling addiction had taken from me and my family and was published in book form in 2013 by “The Kodel Empire Publishing group.” In it I share the Why and How I became a gambling addict. It’s titled “Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Lair and a Cheat” available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online bookstores.
What advice do you have for someone else who may be struggling?
Answer: First, don’t wait to get help or suffer in silence like I did for many years from problem gambling. There is help available in all states in the USA and in many countries around the world. There is no shame in reaching out for confidential help. If you’re not sure where to look for help, I founded and run my website called “Bet Free Recovery Now (Dot Com)” and have a page of resources of places I trust and have advocated alongside the work they do and the treatment services offered to those with a gambling problem or a full-blown gambling addiction.
No matter what type or your preference of gambling problem you may have, be it online gambling, casinos, lottery, bingo etc., there are many options for treatment and help to gain your life back. I need to be real and honest about gambling triggers, cravings, and urges to gamble, they will only subside when you refrain from gambling, and you’ll learn the skills and tools to help you refrain from gambling when you chose to get help.
realistically gambling of all types will never be banned or prohibited, and in some world countries, gambling is still illegal. And in the USA, there are still some states that sports betting online gambling is also illegal. Banning gambling would not be fair to those who can do it with no problems what so ever.
However, the public needs to be aware of the dangers and pitfalls and if or when it becomes a problem within there lives.
As Tony shared in his first book titled, “I invite the public, family, and friends into my secret hell of despair, depression, racism, stardom, a look at gambling addiction, and my self-destruction” I feel it was a possible way to share his addiction and try making amends to those he may have hurt through his addiction.
Today, Tony is so much more than his past addiction. He is a living MIRACLE that recovery is possible and it can work. But you need to be willing to QUIT to WIN! Recovering addicts know full well that our PAST doesn’t define who we are today while doing the hard work within recovery to gain our lives back from this cunning addiction, disorder, and disease. I have had the pleasure of knowing this man for several years when his first book released titled “Red Card: The Soccer Star Who Lost It All To Gambling.”
That book really moved me to know that being honest, transparent, and in having the audacity to share ones story of addiction like Tony had in that book, it made me want to know more and we connected through social media and have been BUDDIES ever since. Now I am being of “Recovery Service” and helping share his new book just released on Amazon online in both the UK and USA.
He has turned his life around and now is the Founder and Acting CEO/Director of his organization he started in 2015 called “RED CARD Gambling Support Project, LTD a non-profit in London, England that has resources of one on one therapy through the consulting side and also has prevention and awareness events like workshops, speaking at schools and much more here>>>> https://kellysredcardconsultancy.co.uk/.
Here is more about Tony and his new book just released at the end of April 2021…
RED CARD GAMBLING SUPPORT PROJECT is all about promoting gambling awareness/prevention/education in our COMMUNITIES. We now know how serious gambling addiction is in the UK and how the numbers of addicts are increasing day by day, so we intend to work with all mental health/substance abuse/social impact projects in order to make a difference.
“I am from Coventry, but now reside in London. I suffered from gambling addiction in my 9-year pro soccer career and lost everything. I had to write my story in the hopes it will help others get help for this evil cunning addiction. My story is sad, tragic yet uplifting as it shows you can come out the other side.”
Founder & Director of Red Card ~Tony Kelly
ABOUT THE BOOK
Former professional soccer star (footballer) Tony Kelly lost it all, but he stands today as someone who is unbreakable!
Having lost his wealth, his house, and eventually, his partner, Tony, refused to be broken and fought back. Through years of pain and suffering, somehow, Tony managed to turn his life around in a positive way, and his journey from disaster to redemption and triumph is nothing short of amazing.
Tony has literally been to hell and back, but through family and friend’s support, professional help, his renewed faith, and sheer courage, he is now in a position to help others, and that is something he could never have envisaged six years ago. A tragic yet uplifting and inspiring tale of one man’s journey through gambling addiction.
It’s a must-read for those who feel lost, broken, and without hope, as Tony’s story is testimony that all is not lost and that this is a bet you can win!
Who Is Tony Kelly Today?
Best-selling author Tony Kelly is a former professional (footballer) soccer star who played for six teams within his nine-year career. He is also a recovering gambling addict. In his first book, Tony wrote and shared this story, “Red Card: The Soccer Star Who Lost It All To Gambling,” in 2013. He now released his much anticipated second book titled “Red Card: A Bet You Can Win!” in April 2021 and is available on Amazon Kindle, Amazon Books, Barnes & Noble, and other fine online book stores in both the UK and USA.
Tony was crazy about (UK Football) soccer from the age of seven. At sixteen, he was the youngest player ever on the first team at Bristol City, UK. In his twenties, Tony turned professional and went on to play for clubs such as Stoke City, Cardiff City, Leyton Orient, and Bury in the second and third divisions of the Soccer (Football) League. He also enjoyed a spell playing for a team in Sweden.
His soccer career was cut short and ruined by a gambling addiction. He continued to gamble addictively and lost jobs, the rest of his soccer career, his partner, and his financial wealth he worked hard to gain.
Today, Tony is the Founder and Managing Director of ‘Red Card Gambling Consultancy and Gambling Support Project’ (Non-Profit) in 2015 and has been sharing prevention of problem gambling and addiction with individual one on one therapy, awareness, prevention, educational workshops, visiting and speaking at schools, and much more in and around London, UK.
Tony has helped and worked with the UK Gambling Commission in an advisory role on regulations. A tireless advocate of recovery, Tonys’ work has grown to become well-respected within the gambling harm reduction and prevention sector throughout the United Kingdom. His work has been endorsed both by the UK media and the UK parliament.
As a recovering addict, his wish for the book release is to help to continue to raise awareness and educate the public about this crippling gambling disorder. Born Nyrere Anthony Kelly in England, Tony resides in London; his books are his journey of ‘Redemption and Recovery’ as he is living proof that this is a Bet You Can Win!
He died for our sins so we can have eternal life with Him. Have you accepted His free Gift of salvation? He loves you unconditionally… Have a Blessed Easter!
~Lydia Brady Grimes
I have been sharing and writing for over 14+years as a form of advocacy but also as a healing process to share my past of how far I have come within my recovery journey thus far. And through my redemption of my HP (God), he continues to have me grow and overcome challenges too. It’s a view into a life and journey from a cunning disease and what addicted gambling looks like. There is the GOOD, the BAD, and the very UGLY when deep in our addictions.
Today, I enjoy sharing all theGOOD and within the present, in the moment, and have built a new beautiful life with my amazing husband who, BTW, stuck with me all these years of CHAOS. I think he would agree that the past 14+years have been the best thus far! I have the blessings and honor of helping others, being of recovery service, speaking about the pitfalls of problem gambling, and I am proof recovery works.
I enjoy sharing my experiences, strength, and HOPE to others so they know they are not alone with addicted gambling problems and they can recover. It wasn’t always this way. Even though my past doesn’t define who I am, those years were rough and heart-breaking when I look back to this past addicted woman I was.
Many who have never been touched by any addictions or lived with an addict may not comprehend how much chaos and devastation that goes on with an addict and the people around them become caught in the cross hairs. It’s why we share are stories of addiction and what it takes to recover. It can be tools to help those reaching out for help.
When it comes to my side of the family, I had not hurt anyone when I was gambling addict. I lived in a different state at the time. And we had many beautiful memories of the years when my family came to visit us, we made sure we did lots of fun things and take my parents to many places in Oregon and have experiences they other wise may never had. And healing I have learned that full healing will most likely take a lifetime for me. That is the roots and the issues that sometimes I feel I still have more work to do around the old pain and hurt.
And it is why I hold firm to my faith and belief in GOD.
See, my father recently passed away on Jan. 29th, 2021, of COVID, which was the same day I made 14th-years celebrating my recovery. He lived in Southern California in the home I was raised and where horrible memories of my past childhood still lay. When I first began my recovery journey, I wasn’t ready to dive into my past childhood trauma, abuse, and haunting memories. Most this began and resurfaced when I turned 30, I lost my brother-in-law to cancer. He was the real brother I never had, and I would tell him everything.
After Mike’s passing, it took me a few years to get over his death with a lot of therapy to even begin to process it. Shortly after, is when all the haunting pain and memories flooded back. I had to learn to process them and forgive and lay those haunting memories away. It was some of the roots and underlying issues of how I got sucked into gambling addiction. I was using gambling as a coping skill, an escape, and numbing the pain of my childhood trauma and abuse until I finally could not stuff away any longer.
Then in 2003, my mom passed away. By then, I had about nine months of recovery when I began writing and journaling. The next few years were pretty rough. We seem to think our parents will always be with us. Still, more painful memories, and I was not ready to share that part of my past. Now that my mom and dad have passed on, here I go again; it has again begun to surface slightly. Even when I started to write my book all of 2010 into early 2011 to see all that gambling addiction had taken from me, was when I began a deep dive into all the sexual trauma and abuse I’d endured.
One of the many amazing things about truly working through my childhood was the act of taking every single thought and terrible memory that held me captive; I began to watch Christ redeem them, helping me face them, and feel them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. Finally, today the abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories. That is how God works in your life!
So, now with the passing of my dad, even though we had not spoken in almost 15-years, I was able to still forgive him for it, accept and respect his choice. It still stung, but I have the comfort of knowing God and (my mom) has told him the truth about all that I went through as a little girl, was telling the truth, and that if he knew? I’m pretty sure he would have protected me. He would have understood the WHY I also sought his unconditional love and validation. I have the comfort of knowing he is now with our father above and at peace with my mom.
I will continue to live and build a beautiful and amazing life within my recovery!
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and other sources note the following statistics. 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week. Approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling. That’s around 6 million adults and about a half million teens.
Courtesy of The National Council on Problem Gambling
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and other sources note the following statistics.
• 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week.
• Approximately two to three percent of Americans meet the criteria for problem gambling. That’s around 6 million adults and about a half million teens.
• Youth risk developing a gambling problem at a rate of about two to three times that of adults, and approximately 6 percent of college students in America have a gambling problem.
• About 40 percent of people with a gambling problem started gambling before the age of 17.
• Nevada has the highest prevalence of problem gambling in the country, at about 6.4 percent.
Effects of Problem Gambling
• There are an array of harmful effects arising from problem gambling, including:
• NCPG notes the annual cost associated with gambling (crime, addiction, and bankruptcy) is $17 billion.
• Approximately 76 percent of problem gamblers are likely to have a major depressive disorder, according to the NCPG.
• The NPCG also says children of problem gamblers are at higher risk for a number of behaviors including problem gambling, tobacco use, and drug use.
• Oregon Problem Gambling Resource states that about 10 to 17 percent of children of problem gamblers and about 25 to 50 percent of spouses of problem gamblers have been abused.
• Georgia State University (GSU) estimates that about 50 percent of problem gamblers commit crimes, and about 2/3 of those crimes were directly related to the gambling.
• GSU also notes that 73 percent of people who are incarcerated are identified as problem gamblers.
• An Australian study found that one in five suicidal patients had a gambling problem.
WHAT IS PROBLEM GAMBLING?
Gambling addiction—also known aspathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder—is an impulse-control disorder. If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You’ll gamble whether you’re up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed, and you’ll keep gambling regardless of the consequences—even when you know that the odds are against you or you can’t afford to lose.
Of course, you can also have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life. If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.
A gambling addiction or problem is often associated with other behavior or mood disorders. Many problem gamblers also suffer with substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. To overcome your gambling problems, you’ll also need to address these and any other underlying causes as well. The first step is to separate the myths from the facts and what are the implications?
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following risk factors for developing a gambling problem.
• Behavior or mood disorders
• Age – the problem develops more frequently in young people
• Family influence – whether parents and other close adults were gamblers
• Personality characteristics such as high level of being competitive, or easily bored
Online gambling casinos earned $29.3 billion in 2010, an increase of 12 percent. Morgan-Stanley projects that online gaming in the United States will be worth $9.3 billion by 2020. Currently, some states allow online gaming, including Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
COLLEGE STUDENTS AND ONLINE GAMBLING
The fastest growing segment of the population involved in online gambling are college students. A University of Connecticut study showed:
• 23 percent of college students had gambled online
• 6.3 percent did so weekly
• In the group that gambled frequently online, 61 percent were pathological gamblers.
• In comparison, only 5 percent of non-internet gamblers were considered to have a gambling problem.
Another report on online gambling noted that the easy accessibility and frequency of play of online gambling present a significant risk of problem gambling.
OTHER INTERNET GAMBLING STATISTICS
Other statistics about online problem gambling include:
• A 2013 Australian survey showed 30 percent of online gamblers were at risk of problem gambling. Only 15 percent of offline gamblers risked developing a problem.
• BBC reports a rise in problem gambling in the 18 to 35 year old demographic in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
• Another report links smartphone gaming to an increase in problem gambling.
You can RISE above gambling and other addictions!
Some of the life’s greatest milestones are threatened by problem gambling and other addictive behaviors. Addiction affects not only the addicted person, but the entire family and can cause a tremendous amount of wreckage and problems in all areas of life for everyone in the family.
RISE believes in the power of family recovery, and is passionate about providing help for both the individual and the family members. We aim to provide compassionate quality treatment for you and your loved ones on the journey to recovery and healing. Recovery starts with you. Rise has great resouces too!
Here are just of few of the resources that can STOP GAMBLING Your Life Away!
Every year in March, I share the helpful resources of my #1 resource and organization I support, The National Council on Problem Gambling. They have helped many become “BET-FREE” and begin to help families heal from the devastation of gambling addiction and problems gambling causes. It will be my 8th year doing so on my blog here and I know the resources they provide are there for anyone who has a gambling problem.
This year the spotlight is on “March Madness and the time of year when we see an increase in problem gambling and more demand for the council’s services.” Since the pandemic started, I have also seen “Online Gambling” explode with mandates of mask-wearing and social distancing, with many casinos and gambling venues still closed or limited capacity. The latest stat says online gambling has gone up almost 41% since the Coronavirus hit last year. And, parents, keep in mind this can include your teens and young adults.
One area is sports betting on college basketball games all March long. So I wanted to share some of the National Council’s declarations and permit me each year about their March campaign and how you can get help for a loved one if you think they may have a problem with gambling. Never underestimate this addiction. It requires no substance and it doesn’t discrimanate who it tries to take next. 1 in 5 will try suicide like I did. Parents, when you have “The Talk” with their kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, please include problem gambling. . .
Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
03.01.21 By: JOHN NORTON
Awareness Plus Action Needed as Sports Betting Explodes
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month
Washington, DC – The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) designates March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament that sees over $8 billion wagered on its games, is the backdrop that NCPG and its partners across the country leverage to help raise awareness and create action for those suffering from gambling problems.
With the campaign now in its nineteenth year, contacts to the National Problem Gambling Helpline typically spike during March. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that states could allow sports betting, the proverbial floodgates opened. As we go to press, sports betting is now legal and operational in 20 states plus the District of Columbia, with many more considering it – an unprecedented expansion of gambling in the U.S. Unfortunately, services to mitigate the inevitable increase in harms associated with gambling have not kept pace.
“March Madness is a time of year when we see an increase in gambling and more demand for our services,” said Keith Whyte, Executive Director of NCPG. “Too many people still don’t recognize they are exhibiting signs of this addictive behavior and are unaware of the help that is available to them.”
The PGAM grassroots campaign brings together a wide range of stakeholders, among them public health organizations, advocacy groups including NCPG state affiliates, and even gambling operators. NCPG provides a special web page to give information on local state activities and events – participants may share them via a link on our main webpage: https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/programs/pgam/
Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) is designed to achieve two goals:
To increase public awareness of problem gambling; and
To encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for gambling problems.
On NCPG’s PGAM webpage visitors are provided with materials and special graphics in the PGAM Toolkit, which can be used without charge by any organization that wants to hold advocacy and awareness activities this March. Each year, hundreds of organizations do. The social media hashtags for this initiative are #AwarenessPlusAction and #PGAM2021.
NCPG also collaborates with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) on Gambling Disorder Screening Day, which occurs on March 9, 2021. CHA, a nonprofit health organization headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosts the international event that has been held annually on the second Tuesday in March since 2014. It is designed to encourage health care providers to screen for gambling problems in the same way they do for alcohol and drug use disorder or domestic abuse, and to provide the tools to recognize gambling disorder for both the public and health care providers. All too often, this disorder leads to financial, emotional, social, occupational and physical harms, yet many cases go undetected due to the limited availability of accessible assessments to identify this problem. The Screening Day addresses the issue and provides tools to identify gambling-related problems as early as possible.
Whyte said, “Problem gambling is certainly not confined to sports betting. We want anyone who may have a problem with any form of gambling to know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.” NCPG’s National Helpline, which is the only helpline for gambling that works in all 50 states, is tollfree, confidential, available 24/7, and offers translation services in 178 languages. It receives no federal funding and is supported only by NCPG’s members and donors.
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. If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without stigma or shame. Call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat. Help is available 24/7 – it is free and confidential.
It is not every day you are invited and featured in a national and international womens magazine, this is what happened to me recently. I am not only honored but humbled to share my story and voice to other women around the world who just might be suffering in silence from addicted gambling like I was 14-years ago and had no clue how to STOP… The rest of that story I am about to share, the same article that is currently being read now in ADIVA Magazine –issue #3 for our Fall/Winter 2020.
You may check it out and learn all about on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/StellaDamasusOfficial/videos/adiva-magazine/385566179159699/ I want to thank Stella Damasus for the invite and I have received amazing feedback and some emails too! When we share HOPE and our experiences with others? THAT is what helps me going forward in my recovery. I may never know who it may impact or “touch” but even if it is only one person? It worth IT!
My name is Catherine Townsend-Lyon, and I’m a recovering gambling addict…
My addiction didn’t require any substances—no pill, needles, liquids, or smoke Yet, every one in five gambling addicts will try suicide from it as I had tried, twice. I will celebrate my 13th-year, maintaining recovery come Jan. 2020. When most people talk about addiction, they often focus on substance abuse. In truth, there are people addicted to behaviors and habits that can cause just as much damage to their lives as drugs or alcohol.
“Catherine Townsend-Lyon understands this all too well. For years, she was addicted to gambling and what she calls “a silent addiction.”
ADIVA Magazine Feature
Catherine shares her story of how she freed herself from this crippling addiction and how she uses this experience to help others get on the path to recovery, even when all hope seems lost. From an addiction that is now the #1 addiction taking lives by suicide…
My disease is called addicted gambling, a silent addiction.
“How did a good girl go bad? By crossing a fine line from a “once in a while gambler to a full-blown addicted one.” Well, I began gambling with money. In the end, I was gambling with my life.
This addiction is progressive in nature, so I began pawning or selling valuables. Finally, I ended up committing a crime because the money ran out. Toward the end and before treatment, I began to abuse alcohol as just gambling alone wasn’t “doing it for me,” as I was stuck in a cunning sick cycle. I was sick, broke, broken, spiritually lost. Then, hopelessness and darkness took over.
As statistics now show, more then 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers, and one in every five addicted gambler’s attempting suicide as I did, twice, these numbers will continue to rise as the expansion of for-profit gambling options, including online legalized online internet gambling like sports betting in many states, just as state lotteries are expanding. It seems gambling is just about everywhere from my experiences.
So, it is no wonder I became addicted to it. I became one of the 1 in 5 who tried suicide while still residing in Southern Oregon for over 26+years and where my gambling addiction journey began. I, too, had two failed suicide attempts before I knew there was help available.
I was gambling two to four times a day playing the Oregon lottery video poker/slot machines introduced in the early 90s. By 1998, the Oregon Lottery had licensed more than 9,000 video gambling machines in some 1,800 outlets, and I got hooked! Gambling on slot and poker machines has now become the second-biggest revenue raiser for the Oregon government, behind income taxes.
My recovery journey started in 2002 after my first suicide attempt. But again, in April 2006, I woke up in a hospital for a second time due to another failed suicide attempt and again admitted into an addiction and mental health crisis center for another 30-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; it was due to not taking my psych medications for my mental health. I thought I didn’t need nor want to take them any longer and thinking 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.
Hell, being normal is a bit overrated (Lol).
No excuses as we faced a few severe financial crises simultaneously as I stopped taking my medications for my mental health. My husband and I had worked through all of our savings; I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! They pressed charges, I was arrested, went through the court process, and was sentenced to many community service hours, two years of probation, and paid restitution that I am still paying on today. If I don’t? I will most likely die a felon.
My Point and Wisdom From an Older Diva
You have to do all the recovery work in all areas that include your finances (financial inventory). I had not done the work in this area and necessary for a steady recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to work and maybe with a gambling addiction specialist. After my problems occurred, I did choose to work with a specialist for over a year while I went through the legal mess I created.
Why am I sharing?
Our recovery stories and experiences are powerful tools to help others and to give them hope! Even after my second suicide attempt and crisis center stay from the hospital, I learned I did not have a well-rounded recovery plan and had a lot more work to do. I also knew 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 addicted compulsive gambling.
After I was released from the crisis center in 2006, I began working with a gambling addiction specialist and got my mental health under control; I began to see the enormous stigma around those who maintain recovery and those who may have a mental illness. And since I am a dual-diagnosed person, this can make obtaining recovery a bit more work, as I discovered. The habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking we use within our addiction needed more correcting.
Working with the specialist was eye-opening. He made me revisit and helped me break down ‘the cycle’ of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while maintaining recovery. I found a relapse prevention workbook that helped and was a game-changer for me. Although I never did relapse into gambling, this workbook had helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event crisis that may arise during my recovery journey.
Another tool was journaling each day. I’ve enjoyed writing at a young age and kept a journal, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. I later used my writings to write my book, a memoir titled ‘Addicted To Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.’ It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many fine book stores and online. It is written in memoir form and is not how to recover, but the Why and the roots to how I became addicted to this cunning addiction… https://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A/
I didn’t start writing and journaling for a book; that was all God’s intervention and came later on. Writing down my story and experiences in notebooks for a year toward the end of 2010 was a very healing process for me. I shared in the book my gambling addiction, my past childhood abuse, and sexual trauma, and what it is like living with mental illness.
“I needed to see on paper and in between the lines what gambling addiction had taken from me”…
Today I never dreamed I would be a published author and recovery advocate. That began my recovery advocacy of writing for many publications like formerly InRecovery magazine, now a columnist for “Keys To Recovery” newspaper, recovery blogging, many radio shows, podcasts, and speaking. These are only a few of my recovery blessings I have received within my path thus far. By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter the stigma around gambling addiction, those maintaining recovery, and those with mental and emotional health challenges.
I have also, recently began to share my voice and story as one who also suffered childhood sexual abuse and trauma with others as well. Why? Because I learned these are the underlying issues and roots that had me turn to addiction came from that pain from my to overcome it and not use gambling to escape, cope, or hide from all those haunting memories.
Through my book, I have chosen not to be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real silent disease and illness that requires no substances, is just as destructive as any other addiction, and still #1 in claiming lives by suicide than any other addiction. Through my advocacy work, I help others be informed and educated as I raise awareness and prove the impacts problem gambling has on your communities’ as it shatters families. The expansion of casinos, state lottery, and online gambling contributes to more accessibility as it now is touching our youth.
I’m often asked what I do to keep my long-term recovery. Work a steady recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit, finances, and personal inventory. There are many ways and choices to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12-Step meetings, addiction specialists, and more. Anything and everything you can find? Just do it. Only one option may not be enough to reach success in long-term recovery.
Today it is my recovery duty to share hope to those reaching out to recover and need support. I continue my advocacy work as an article writer and columnist for ‘Keys To Recovery newspaper’ out of Southern California. I run and write a blog called https://BetFreeRecoveryNow.wordpress.com and share my experiences and recovery throughout media and social media. Have done so on in many publications, podcasts, radio shows, and in a global ADIVA Mag.
My husband Tom and I just celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary as we live outside Phoenix, Arizona. We live a quiet life with our three kitty fur babies. Soon, I will celebrate my 14th year maintaining recovery on Jan. 29th, 2021… It has been a long road to get to where I am today. The rest our/my amazing life has been GOD GIVEN and I am blessed and humbled with a life that has been beyond a one I could have ever hoped for in so many ways.
I have gained wisdom, have learned life lessons, and the best part? I get to help others who may still be suffering in silence like I had for many year’s from gambling and into recovery. Everyone deserves a second chance as I did when God showed my my real true purpose in life.
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence”… ~Robert Louis Stevenson
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” … ~Maya Angelou
When I first entered treatment and began my journey to healing? The first few things I learned right away? We never give up, never give in, and yes, I had many struggles staying on my path of recovery with a few slips here and there. I do know how difficult it can be beginning early recovery.
We are expected to change, be open to change, and begin the hard work of reclaiming our lives back from a cunning and insidious addiction. That requires much work to be done. See, next month I will be maintaining recovery for 14-years, and I can tell you two things…
It won’t always be hard, and your life will become not just better, it will become AMAZING! It will become a blessing, fulfilled, happy, and peaceful, much better than you could imagine or dream of. That, I can promise you.
This is why I got permission to share many other stories and real struggles and the determination many have who made it within recovery, and some who are figuring it out. See, we always need to know where we came from, never become complacent.
It is why I make many visits to gambling addiction websites and read what people share and hope to give constructive advice that will hopefully help those who search for that successful place within recovery. There several sites that offer Chat rooms and Posting Wall to interact and engage like minded folks recovering from gambling addiction. One is called Safe Harbor http://www.sfcghub.com/cgsf1.html and they offer meetings, chat, and much more. Also, GamTalk https://www.gamtalk.org/groups/community/ who offers an active forum, chats, and a community posting wall too.
Both offer exceptional Recovery Resources and can be found on each front page of their websites. And you can do so on both being anonymous. Here are some anonymous voices of those recovering or beginning the journey. Yes, we are “works in progress”… ~Catherine Lyon, Advocate
* * * * * * *
GAMBLERS VOICES RECOVERING:
Gambler: “I am understanding alot and feeling some hope by reading these posts… I am a gambler… I must stop… I want to stop…
But then I decide to continue…Why, why asked myself! Why do you do this?? Why do you sink yourself hopelessly into this addiction”…
Someone Replied: “We have all had false starts so do not lose heart, like a smoker it is rare to stop smoking at the first attempt but the important thing is to keep the goal of stopping in mind. Do not be too hard on yourself for lapsing, just say to yourself, ok next time I will succeed. For me it took time and education (and Gamcare Counselling), the more I learned about the gambling industry the more it’s appeal diminished.”
Once something loses it’s appeal the easier it is to let go of it. I don’t like words like ‘addiction’ and ‘illness’ as I think this encourages ‘victim’ mode. We are not victims we have choices but we need to retrain our brains so that we can change the choices that we make. For me learning about the gambling industry online did a few things, it occupied my time instead of gambling, it opened my eyes to what a well constructed industry it is with one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY, it changed my perception of what gambling actually had to offer.
A good example is smokers, why is it that some stop with relative ease whilst others will have withdrawal symptoms for years (and more likely start again). It is all to do with our approach and perception, if we anticipate difficulties we will have difficulties, if we can re-educate our brains to really accept the damage we are doing then smoking becomes something that no longer appeals and is no longer desired. For me the approach with gambling was the same as the smoker, make your new hobby educating yourself as to the construction of an industry that has one sole purpose TO RELIEVE YOU OF ALL OF YOUR MONEY.
I actually found it all quite interesting, quite an education and the more I learned the more pointless gambling became. For me there was no epithany moment, no praying to a god or a higher power hoping for that lightbulb moment when my life would change it was a methodical deconstruction through gaining knowledge. I do recommend counselling with Gamcare, they will not judge you but they do help you find your own answers within yourself. I can only speak for myself but I am not unique and if this method helped me then it might help you. I hope it does.”
A GAMBLER: “Gamcare (https://www.gamcare.org.uk/ counselling helped me to take responsibility and own my habit without being judgemental. I am a very logical person in every aspect of my life, with the exception of gambling. I soon realised that when I gambled (online slots, one in particular) that winning was not actually the goal, playing was the goal. If I won it merely served as more playing time.
This made me realise that gambling was a way to lose myself for a few hours, ignore the responsibilty of being an adult. There were times when I would win early on and it was futile to stay on so I would stop, I would then feel agitated and unfulfilled. I read somewhere that the first time you have a decent win that the adrenalin rush to the brain is so great that the brain puts up a barrier to protect itself, same as a fuse works in a plug. Once that barrier goes up the intensity of the win is never equalled again, yet still we try to acheive it.
It’s the same reason that an adrenalin junkie increases the danger of their extreme sport pursuits. I think that the slots are very much geared around transporting us to our childhood with their cartoon characters, bright colours and music, back to a time of being carefree and irresponsible. The more logic I can apply to what I do the less appealing gambling is. Are brains are capable of many things and continues to learn througout our lives, it is our job to grasp that opportunity to learn how to control our illogical urges. I removed guilt and shame from my agenda and decided to own my problem instead of seeing myself as a victim with an ‘illness’.
I can only speak for myself and from my own experiences and my logic may not apply to all but so long as you are dealing with your problem then you are on the right track, I just hope that my logic strikes a chord with some of you and helps you as it has helped me. There is no wrong way to stop but if we share our experiences then maybe we can all help each other”… They also have resouces and blog: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/ “
A GAMBLER: “Here’s to a new day, making a decision to turn my will over to my higher power. Doing my best to stay connected to Him. Hoping to turn this ship around. Great advice everyone, especially on researching the cunningness of the Casino.
They know what they are doing. They make millions and billions doing it. Let’s stop giving them our money! They are rigged and we won’t catch our losses. Time to bury that chapter!”
A GAMBLER: “I told my husband about my addiction and now he hates me and says he doubts everything about our relationship!!”
SOME REPLIES: “Normal reaction. Hurt people hurt people.”
“I can relate CJ. It is going to take time for me to get my husband to trust me again. I have lied to him so many times. I am very manipulative. I don’t like the person I am right now. I definitely want to change. I also want to be able to tell the truth again, nothing but the truth.”
“He doesn’t hate you, he’s shocked and hopefully when he has had time to process the information he will be supportive. I find gambling the most misunderstood of addictions, it seems to carry the most blame because non addicts associate gambling as playing or having fun. I found counselling with Gamcare very helpful. They do not judge you but help you to understand yourself.”
A GAMBLER: “I feel so ashamed and feel like I have let my family down. I am just disgusted with myself. I have wasted so much money that could have been put towards something other then wasting it”…
SOME REPLIES: “Hi did you read my post?” — “No, I am new here.”
“I feel as you do but if we are just posting and reading everyones sorrows, how is this going to help us? Are we to do self-interflection and draw for the post that we are not alone? What about the next urge to gamble? I need something more tangible, more intervention with human conversation”…
“D” I understand the need for a plan. I find myself being scared and sometimes encourages me by reading but you’re right, we need more of an action plan.”
MY REPLYWAS: “I was given an awesome Relapse Prevention Guide years ago when I began my recovery path and I have it listed on my gambling recovery blog for anyone who needs it. You can copy and paste where ever you need. It truly helped me make and KEEP a relapse plan and did help me get out of the loop of relapses. Especially helps during the holiday season when we may have more stress or life events.
Reading and learning from others experiences can be tools to know we are not alone, we all have similar struggles from this cunning addiction, and you have the action and choices that can also be your solution… Like we learn, “keep doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result”? Never happens with this disease.”
A GAMBLER: “Today I made a payment plan. This feels like a good step as I work at being steady and not rushing through.. Slow progress is still progress. Better than continuing to dig a bigger financial hole. Today has been a good gamble free day!”
REPLY: “Well done! Recovery is about progress not perfection. Keep it up ODAAT (One Day At A Time)…
LASTLY, A GAMBLER: “Good morning! I am looking forward to talking with you as I work the twelve steps and start the recovery process. I recently admitted I am powerless over gambling and my life has become unmanageable. I don’t like the feeling of being hyjacked when it comes to gambling but that will always be the case. I want to abstain. I do believe my only hope lies with surrendering to my higher power. I will seek my higher power today.”
REPLIES: WELL DONE! The first 3 Steps of the Gamblers Anonymous Program 1) We admitted we were powerless over gambling – that our lives had become unmanageable. 2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living. 3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding. “K”
* * * * * * *
A Recovering Gamblers Poem of Hope
Fellow gambler, take my hand; I’m your friend, I understand. I’ve known your guilt, your shame, remorse; I’ve borne the burden of your cross. I found a friend who offered ease; He suffered, too, with this disease. Although he had no magic cure, He showed how we could endure. We walked together side by side; We spoke of things we had to hide. We told of sleepless nights and debts, Of broken homes and lies and threats. And so my weary gambler friend, Please take this hand that I extend. Take one more chance on something new, Another gambler helping you.
It dosen’t matter the preference or choice of staying in action with gambling like slots, poker, lotto or scratch tickets …It is about learning to interrupt “The Cycle” and use the tools and skills we learn in our choice and path to recover from gambling addiction.
Advocate, Catherine Lyon
I’m Bernie and I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler. My Last bet was November 21, 2007.
I grew up on a farm not too far from what is now known as Soaring Eagle Casino. I was not attracted to casinos because to me they were represented by a pole barn. The reason I say that, is because growing up that is what Soaring Eagle was. It wasn’t until much later that it became the place it is now. I found myself being a bit of a loner when I was really young but that only goes to the way I felt.
It wasn’t until High School in the fall of 1979 that I was introduced to what would become my chosen form of gambling (scratch-off tickets). Back then, it was just one now and then with friends from school. I went to a Christian High school a half hour away from where I lived, so the first 2 years I lived with a family in another town during the week. But most of this has little to do with the active part of my addiction.
I was however exposed to functional alcoholism during this time. When I started driving I started smoking and on occasion buying scratch-offs. The smoking became a problem when I was diagnosed with clergies and lost interest due to how it was affecting my breathing, but the gambling was still just a ‘once in a while’ activity.
While in college I met and married my first wife. It was at this time that I saw my first look at what a compulsive gambler looked like. My mother-in-law had a room filled with losing tickets of every sort and was always getting them. I swore at that moment that I would never be like that. She was a nice person most of the time, but the things I saw with her gambling was not very pleasant. Over the years, I would begin to gravitate toward doing exactly what I said I would never do.
My marriage became a stress point for me. We had two sons and I was still getting my degree several years into the marriage. We argued more and more as I went from low paying job to low paying job. By the time 2000 rolled around, I had had a good job with the state, but it was not enough because we were both driving insane distances for work. I left there due to failing a training process, to try and get closer to home and returned to lower paying jobs. I tried to start a business or two and failed to ‘make enough’. This led me to wanting to stay away from home more.
With me working at convenience store and as a direct care worker, I was able to do that but needed to ‘kill time’ to avoid her (my wife). My addiction became worse and gave me a way to stay away during times we were both awake and home more. I’d get home after she had gone to sleep and she would be off to work by the time I woke up. Gambling had become an escape from the problem.
In 2007, my world began to come apart! My mom died and later I would almost lose my job as a result of someone stealing from my till. That resulted in a big argument and fighting to get my job back. Then would come my suicidal feelings (they had always been under the surface but this brought them out in spades). I ended up spending time in an adult psychiatric hospital for 10 days which gave my then wife time to discover just how bad my gambling had become.
This led to more fights and after several years of arguing came the separation. Then came divorce and the realization that all these years I had actually had Asthma and Sleep Apnea. Ultimately the divorce made recovery better for me and in 2013 I remarried a wonderful woman who has been my rock.
Back to 2007, November 21, 2007 to be exact. I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting that night and after it I bought what would be my last scratch-off ticket. That action sent me into tears as I realized I had a problem. It was $1 but it was after hearing stories of people who went to prison and experienced losing everything. How could I buy a ticket after that?
Since that time, I have focused on using my background to help others who are in recovery. It took some time to get my feet under me and deal with my addiction, but once that began I was writing and even speaking about the addiction. That is how I got to where I am today and doing what I do today.
My background is as a Bachelors Level Social Worker with the following added pieces: I started out studying to be a Lutheran Minister, focused on knowing my faith. I studied informally, as well as formally, many world religions. I studied to be a teacher for a short time. I studied Psychology (which became my minor). As I started recovery, I studied everything I could to understand addiction and combined what I learned with every experience and educational aspect of my life.
That said, I am disabled because of health issues today, but I still push forward with writing and creating materials. My first 3 years of recovery were my hardest as I continued to sell my addiction to others while figuring out how to stay clean in this environment.
Today, I am living proof that we can stop our addicted gambling and be successful maintaining long-term recovery and why I continue to SHARE HOPE, so others with a problem will reach out for help like I did. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a recovering compulsive gambler.
A little bit about my background. My mother passed away when I was 8 years old. It turned my whole world upside down in an instant. I was separated from my family and was sent to live with my father whom I did not know, down in Georgia. I went to live at a children’s home when I was 11.
Looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Went through routine teenager stuff for the most part. Met my now ex-husband and we were married for 26 years. I have twin boys who will soon be 30 and a beautiful granddaughter. I should mention here that my ex was in the military, we moved around a lot and I raised our boys mostly on my own. I have always relied on myself to handle things, not always the best decision. I never learned to ask for help or truly trust anyone.
When my ex got ready for retirement we finally moved back home to Washington, who says you can never go home again? It was a very difficult transition. Funny when I think of it now, how when I lived here before, I had the most traumatic experience of my life when my mom died, now back home I had to deal with the second most traumatic experience, my kids going through some very trying stuff (law breaking/possible prison) and a divorce that was a long time coming.
I couldn’t deal with it at all and I went off the deep end and down the dark rabbit hole which is known to a lot of us as the casino. My kids were off on their own, my ex was living the high life, I had disposable income and low self-esteem and nowhere to go, no place safe, no way to stop all the screaming, crying voices in my head. I had been to the casino socially and it was no big deal, had dinner, would play $20 and I could call it good. At least for a while.
My gambling career lasted for about 6 years. I knew things where changing about half way in and couldn’t stop myself. It was a place to go any time of day or night, didn’t matter what I looked like, I could smoke all I wanted and no one to bother me. It was my safe place, what a joke that turned out to be. Then I turned the corner and lied to my son, of course by then I was lying to everyone about where I was and what I was doing and no one ever understood why I never had any money. I was a closet gambler, no one knew.
I finally started writing bad checks and covered my last one with my son’s money by telling him I needed it to cover one from the grocery store and I was getting paid the next day. He loaned me the money and I did pay it back the next day but that was it for me, I couldn’t do this to my child, for me, I had crossed some line. Of course, there is more to my story, but to go forward …
I finally broke down and went to a local GA group in town. Whew, what a monumental life changing experience. I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, began to work the steps and eventually I found peace. I could look myself in the eye, I had goals. I had money again and was eventually able to buy my first home all by myself. I stayed bet free for 3-years until about a month ago. That is what has prompted me to share my story, my relapse. Working Step 4 all over again. I would never recommend a relapse but for me, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. During my 3-years bet free, I always had this “what if” thing hanging over my head. Asking myself, what would it be like, could I gamble socially, am I really and truly a compulsive gambler…
I think subconsciously I planned it all along and now that it is over and done with I am good. All questions answered. YES, I am a compulsive gambler without a doubt. I started right where I left off. So how did I get to that point and what did I do about it. Well first off, I had quit going to my GA meetings. For several reasons, the group is small and became toxic, it became harder and harder to put principals before personalities. It was no longer a safe place for me to go.
So, I resigned my chairing and treasury positions and quit. Are there other meetings yes, but I was burned out. Now to back up a bit, I live in my little house which I absolutely love. Nothing special, but it’s all mine and I now share it with 2 of my younger brothers whom I have gotten reunited with over the years after having moved back home. For the most part it is working out wonderfully, but mind you I did not grow up with siblings. I did not grow up learning the art of conflict or arguing. I avoid confrontation on all fronts. Be invisible, keep your head down and keep going, I should note here that I have changed that way of thinking in a big way thanks to what I have learned in GA.
So long story short, had a huge argument with my brother that lasted for weeks, my home was no longer my emotionally safe place. I avoided it as much as I could. I knew I was about to go off the edge. I had many options, I could have called someone, could have looked for this website (GamTalk), could have gone to one of the other meetings, I knew exactly what I was doing and did it anyway. I wanted to, I am a risk taker, I wanted the questions answered, truth is, I already knew the answer.
So off to the casino I went. I purposefully went out of town so as to hopefully not be seen by anyone I knew. Sneaky behavior…I lied about where I was…old habits coming back never skipping a beat. So off I went ready and excited… I won, left with money and all the way home I kept telling myself it can’t end this way, so I went back the next day fully intent on losing it all. I did and then some, per usually gamblers behavior.
I did enough damage to hurt but not wipe me out. It’s a control thing and I fully recognize how I had subconsciously planned for this. What surprised me the most is how I have handled the relapse. First thing I did was to beat myself up on the long drive home, but I got home early and it was still day light, normally after a loss I would crawl in bed for days, even miss work.
Instead I put in my earphones started listening to gamblers stories and went for a 2 hour walk. I spent the next two days outside, hiking and driving through some of our beautiful state parks, totally outside the box of a normal day in my life. I wrote in my journal. I wrote my gratitude list, I prayed, I chatted a bit on this site. I feel relieved. I feel peace. I am renewed and ready to continue my recovery. I know that in GA I have to start over but I am not letting 9 hours of my relapse time to wipe out over a 1000 days of recovery. At least that is where my mind is at and I have had the best weeks in my life since.
I had to cleared the air with my brother and my home is my safe place again and I will never give that up again. I believe and completely trust my higher power. The nagging questions in the back of my mind are answered and put to rest. I have bounced back financially. I have left out a lot of details, but the bulk of it is now written, step 4, part of it anyway, sharing with you is step 5 for me. Thank you for being here, I intend to continue here as part of my ongoing recovery. This is just one more chapter in the book of my life, it had its twists and turns, but it’s not the end by far… Bless you!
* * * * *
This story is courtesy of a great place to be for those trying to stay in or maintain recovery from problem or addicted gambling. A resource called GAMTALK and free to JOIN: https://www.gamtalk.org/join/ They have several resources and you can chat with like minded people in the Chat Forum or The Community Wall and is run by the Founder, Dr. Richard Wood and they support all things GA. (Gamblers Anonymous) and more.
Please, stop by there GAMTALK’s website and see for yourself how helpful it is or if you know anyone with a gambling problem. They are sponsored by many who care about those who may become addicted to gambling… ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon
Dr. Wood has published numerous gambling related articles, presented his findings at conferences and seminars around the world, and undertaken many responsible gaming consultations for both the gaming industry and regulatory sectors. His research focuses on both the individual causes of problem gambling, as well as the structural characteristics of games that can influence the gambling behaviour of vulnerable players.
Specialties: Designing effective responsible gambling strategies. Examining the structural and situational characteristics of game design and gaming environments to minimise any negative consequences for ‘vulnerable’ players.
Understanding the psychology of gaming in order to promote healthy gaming attitudes and behaviours, investigating problem gambling and evaluating treatment and intervention programs.
He provides online support for people with gambling issues on GAMTALK. He resides in Ontario, Canada