“WHAT? The Holidays Are Here Already? ~What To Do In Recovery Around The Holidays …

Hello Recovery Friends and New Friends & Visitors,

 

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Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a rough time around this time of the year. I know I have in the past ‘self sabotaged’ my own Christmas season. WHAT?
You want to know how I did that?

Well, I hate telling “gambling war stories” of my past “Compulsive Addicted Gambling”, but we all know we can learn a lot from others stories and personal experiences, so here goes! …

It was back around Christmas 2005, and we had almost lost our home to foreclosure, but a good friend of ours got a “short sale” done just before it did in late September. I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, and low self-worth that I knew it was because of my past gambling is how we got into this mess in the first place! Of course, no excuse’s, just insights.
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Well, that and were we lived was the first area hit hard at the very beginning of the financial & housing markets starting to collapse,  jobs going away, and we were having a rough go of it trying to get past the financial devastation from my past years of addicted gambling, along with my husband loosing his County job due to the Oregon timber funds no longer being given to Oregon communities.
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So the house sold, we rented a place to live and moved. But we didn’t get enough for the house to pay much off. And the rest of the money, and around Christmas? I had a bad Gambling Relapse. NO, not a one time slip, a bad relapse and binge. That was toward my final ROCK BOTTOM. It was so bad, that at the end, I tried to commit suicide for the 2nd time!! That’s how bad a binge it was. AND? I actually committed a crime. But that is a whole other blog post, or, you can read my full memoir of all I have been through with gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, living at that time with mental and emotional illness/disorders, thanks to all the years of compulsive addictive gambling, and all the cunning bad habits & behaviors we pick up along the way.
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It was at this time as I was in this relapse that I went through much of the money left over from the house, that was supposed to pay a chunk of a small balance on a private held 2nd mortgage. WELL. that never happened. I would gamble at two different types of places. The first was an Indian Casino North 42 miles from my home in Oregon. Then, I also gambled at many places that the Oregon Lottery had retail stores, with 6 video and slot style casino games on them. I could walk across the street to a bar and gamble AND drink! I could go up another few blogs and there were 4 other places I could go gamble too! Gambling through the Oregon Lottery is everywhere in Oregon.

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I had done well in my recovery, and had about 6 months gamble free at the time. But something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter the addiction, it’s ‘always waiting’ for us. Like the holidays for instance, and the point of this post, we can have a lot of temptations around us at this time of year. There are holiday parties for both personal and work related, we may have had fall outs, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9…make amends where ever possible) with friends and family, many different reasons that can wind up as a trigger or bring on urges. Stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads!
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OK, where was I? OH, … if we are never shown, or work on “The Cycle” of addiction, we will always be one drinks, one pill, one needle, and one BET away form relapse. I know I talk about the “cycle” of addiction a lot because I never really was told, taught, or broke it down until way later in my recovery. Hard to believe, as I had gone to Gamblers Anonymous, and been in the rooms of AA for years, been in and out of out-patient gambling treatment programs, and in-patient treatment, therapy, AND, … treatment groups, and never was sat down and taught the full cycle of addiction, and broken down part by part.
And the ironic part? My treatment and crisis stays were paid for by profits from the Oregon Lottery!!

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Now there is always an event, thoughts, or even a feelings that triggers us. Then the build up, then we end up giving in and gamble, drink, or use that drug. After we feel guilt, shame, and remorse for being weak, and on and on. But if we are not shown or taught to break each section apart of the CYCLE, and learn to have awareness and feel when things are not right BEFORE you have that slip or relapse, then you will be forever stuck on that wheel of the addiction cycle. It needs to be interrupted and changed.
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Now here are some things I had to learn to get out of that ‘cycle’ and stay safe! Oh, and my other gambling war story? Make that long story short, I blew 8,000.00 in 2 1/2 months!!! That’s how cunning and insane addicted compulsive gambling really IS!! Yes, I had a choice, but when your sick, in the middle of an addiction, you don’t make health choices. I was gambling at the Oregon lottery places two and three times a day.
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And yes, I look back on those days and think, “what a frigging waste of money”.  But, you lose all sense of value of money, well, actually you don’t FEEL anything. And if you win? You’ll gamble every penny, and if you lose?, you’ll be out chasing the money you lost!  I was so zoned out when I crossed that line into addicted gambling, and one reason I take one of my meds for mental illness. Because all the years of addicted gambling depleted my brains ‘pleasure and reward’ feelings and chemicals to the point that I got no pleasure out of anything, yes, … even sex. I knew you all where thinking that right? LOL.
It’s been almost 8 years in recovery and I still don’t have a bank ATM/Debit card. It could be a trigger.
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That is one of the things I did. Well, my husband did to safe guard himself and our money. Not that now he doesn’t trust me, I don’t still trust MYSELF, because my addiction and I are always ONE BET AWAY from disaster. Another thing to tie all this up in a Big Christmas Recovery Bow, is to have a “Relapse Plan” ready to use when this time of year rolls around. Actually, for anytime. We face life events all the time in our recovery. It’s one of the ways our addiction can tempt us. When were vulnerable. Also with HALT…
H-Hungry … A-Angry … L-Lonely … T-Tired ….
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Some of my relapses happened that I talk about in my current published book, Addicted To Dimes. When I attempted suicide the first time, it was from addicted gambling and undiagnosed Bipolar.
Spent 19 days in a Mental & Addiction crisis center, with the first 4 days on suicide watch. Not Fun! Second time, like I shared earlier, a bad gambling relapse/binge, and some of my Bipolar and severe depression meds stopped working to, but not the reason for me relapsing.
That’s on me. And I have taken accountability and ownership for all my misdeeds I did within my addiction. I have done much of the deep recovery work to learn about my addiction, how to stay in recovery, the inner work of my character defects, and more.
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I still have a sponsor today, and she says I’m her model recovery student! LOL.
So do yourself a favor this Holiday Season, and give yourself a Christmas gift. Go to my resource pages here on my blog, and copy & paste my “Relapse Prevention Guide” I have posted here. It has all you need to know about keeping you and your families money SAFE. I had to copy and paste the whole work book myself to put it here for all to use.
It will save you through life events and the holidays!
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OR A PROBLEM GAMBLER.
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Yes, I still have had moments when life throws way to much your way in life, and no matter how hard, and how much recovery work you do, you still need a relapse plan.
When I lost my mom and my best friend from cancer in 2002? I had a huge relapse. It was not pretty!!
And some of my triggers? Paydays, and paychecks! If I had no money to gamble with, I would obsess until it was payday! And off I went! Can’t tell how many times I spent a whole paycheck in just an HOUR of addicted gambling! Does this sound familiar anyone?
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The other thing you need to do in your recovery, again, learn and break down the “Cycle” of addiction.
The last gambling specialist I had, and I talk about him to in my book, worked with me for a whole year on the cycle of gambling addiction. He would not release me until I could tell him how to interrupt the cycle and tell him each part of addiction cycle. HE drove me crazy! But, he is a big part of why I’m a success in my recovery today. I call him my ANGEL. Thanks to Boyd I will celebrate 8 years in recovery on Jan 29th. 2015. He helped me get my Life Back!
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So I wish you all a Fabulous Holiday Season! And if you know anyone who may be a problem gambler, please share my recovery blog link with them. It just might save their life …
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Good Resources about Problem and Addicted Gambling can be found at
Gamblers Anonymous: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/  and a great place to is The National Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/
And the National Hotline for Gambling Addiction ~ 1-800-522-4700. And of course you can buy and mail my book or e-book of my personal story of Gambling Addiction as a Christmas Gift too!
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A

May God Bless You All,
Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

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“And The OSCAR Goes To?”~Recovery Relapse Prevention” Part 1

WELCOME Recovery Friends, Seekers and New Visitors,

My 2nd blog post of “Problem Gambling Awareness Week” is all things relapse prevention. Yes boys and girls it’s time to take notes and open your “Skills” tool box and fill it with a few more tips on how to stay away from the “Relapse”…..
For those of you who are new, I have “pledged” my gambling recovery blog here to “The National Council Of Problem Gambling” all month-long for Gambling Awareness Week. http://www.ncpgambling.org …
In yesterday’s blog post I spoke about the importance of Step one, (if you follow & work the 12 Steps) and how it truly is the first HONEST step to starting recovery. You need to be willing to admit YOU are an addict as that it IS half the battle of your work.

We also know about “Phone Lists” that You should have one and USE it. I can not tell you how many times  calling another in recovery helped talk me out of my “trigger or urge” to go gamble. Most all the time the person can talk you out of it by reminding you the “HELL” of going out and having to start your time all over again. So lets talk a little about how to not have relapses while in recovery. As you can have none in yours, and if someone tells you otherwise they are full of SHIT! Relapse does NOT have to happen, nor “Be The Norm” as some councilors, therapists,, and specialists tell you. Many recover without a “binge or relapse.”

I have an excellent “Recovery Relapse Prevention Guide” work-book here on my blog on my recovery resources pages that was given to me when I started my long-term recovery 7 years ago. YES, it took me a few tries, 2 binges that almost killed me, and ended up in the hospital twice and in an Addiction/Mental Crisis Center twice, that’s why I rely on a STRONG Relapse Guide. I’ll be sharing from this guide snippets to help you so you won’t have to go through what I did! Here is a little from the guide;

RELAPSE PREVENTION
Relapse prevention is one of the most important aspects of treatment. In a study of many different addictions, approximately one/thirds of the patients relapsed within the first two weeks, sixty percent relapsed within the first three months, and sixty-seven within twelve months. (hunt et al., 1971).
 Most patients relapse within three months of leaving treatment. This is the period of highest risk. Members of Gamblers Anonymous must be willing to do almost anything to prevent relapse. They need to see themselves as clinging to an ice- covered cliff with their recovery support group holding the only rope. The most important thing they can do is go to meetings. Members who are working a daily program of recovery will not relapse. These behaviors are incompatible. Relapse is a process that begins long before making the first bet….
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Now I think we can all agree that those are lousy odds of recovery when we first start out, or if you’re coming out of treatment. But I learned the hard way that IT’S TRUE. The 2nd most important thing after admitting you are Powerless over your addiction is to find a Treatment program. There are many websites that offer Good Treatment Options. A couple that come to mind are, My Addiction http://www.myaddiction.com  and http://gambling.supportgroups.com/ on support groups, set yourself up with a user & password and your enter a world of support, some Free treatment options for addicted gambling, and it’s confidential and anonymous! And also Gamblers Anonymous is an excellent resource too: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org …*Here is a little more from the relapse guide, and feel free to “Copy & Paste” the guide for yourself to use, and it can be used for all types of Addictions*:
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The Relapse Prevention Exercise for Gamblers is prevention, and requires working a daily program of recovery. The member must take his or her personal inventory at the end of every day. If any of the relapse symptoms become clear, immediate action must be taken.
Members must develop written plans detailing the exact things they are going to do if they get into trouble. Other people need to check each member daily for relapse warning signs. This can be done by family members, a sponsor, or someone from the workplace. This is a good reason for members to go to daily meetings and hang around other recovering people. Often other people can see what members are unable to see for themselves. The member needs to identify high risk situations that may trigger relapse, and to develop coping skills to deal with each situation. the more a member can practice these skills, the better off he or she will be in recovery. In meetings, members need to discuss high risk situations and help each other develop relapse prevention plans….
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Each member will be different, most relapses occur when patients are experiencing the following high risk situations:
Negative emotions: Particularly anger and frustration. This could also be negative emotions such as boredom, jealousy, depression, anxiety, ect..
Social pressure: Being in a social situation where people are gambling, or being directly encouraged to gamble by someone. Interpersonal conflict: This can be a conflict with the parent, spouse, child, boss, friend, ect.. Positive emotions: Something positive happens and the member want to celebrate. This can be a promotion, wedding, birth of a child, graduation, ect..
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Here are some things YOU can do to be more aware and have a PLAN of action to keep YOU safe!;
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RELAPSE PREVENTION EXERCISE:
“DON’T TEMPT yourself, test your personal control and use an Exercise Plan”!!Using the relapse exercise, members develop the skills necessary to deal with each of the high risk situations, then they practice the new skills until they become good at them. All members must role play gambling refusal situations, with an experienced member, until they can say no and feel relatively comfortable. They must examine and experience all their triggers, see through the first use, and learn how to deal with the euphoric recall.

Members must develop a plan for a slip. What are they going to do if they gamble again? Who are they going to contact? What are they going to say? This must be practiced again and again with other members.
The member must understand the behavior chain. They must also develop skills for changing their thoughts, feelings, and actions when they have problems. The members should know that gambling cravings will pass if they move away from the situation and use their new tools of recovery.
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The Relapse Warning Signs
All relapses begin with warning signs that will signal you or your loved ones that you are in trouble. If you do not recognize these signs, you will decompensate and finally return to gambling again. All of these signs are reactions to stress, and they are a re-emergence of the disease. They are a means by which your body and mind are telling you that you are having problems. You need to recognize thirty-seven warning signs of relapse. You may not have all these symptoms before you begin gambling again, but you will have some of them long before you gamble. You must find which Symptoms are the most characteristic of you, and you must come up with COPING SKILLS for dealing with each symptom…..
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Listed below are the thirty-seven warning symptoms.
*Circle the ones that you have experienced before you gambled.*
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1. Apprehension about well-being.
2. Denial
3. Adamant commitment to stop gambling.
4. Compulsive behavior
5. Compulsive attempts to impose abstinence on others.
6. Defensiveness
7. Impulsive behavior.
8. Loneliness
9. Tunnel vision.
10. Minor depression
11. Loss of constructive planning.
12. Plans begin to fail.
13. Idle day dreaming & wishful thinking.
14. Feeling nothing can be solved.
15. Immature to be happy.
16. Periods of confusion.
17. Irritation with friends.
18. Easily angered.
19. Irregular eating habits.
20.Listlessness.
21. Irregular sleeping habits.
22. Progressive loss of daily structure.
23. Periods of deep depression.
24. Irregular attendance at meeting.
25. Development of an “I don’t care” attitude.
26. Open rejection of help.
27. Dissatisfaction with life.
28. thoughts of social gambling.
29. Feeling of powerlessness or helplessness.
30. Self-pity
31. Conscious lying.
32. Complete loss of self-confidence.
33. Unreasonable resentments.
34. Discontinuing all treatment.
35. Start of controlled gambling.
36. Loss of control.
37. Overwhelming loneliness, frustration, anger, and tension.
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NOW, here is the “Fun and interacting” part of my recovery blog! I hope you will make this list, then how about you all leave a comment what # warning sign is the most difficult for YOU, and how YOU would handle or what skills would you use to help get you through one of the 37 Warning Symptoms? And since there is a lot to “Relapse Prevention” and I want you to get the MOST out of my blog posts to aid your recovery from addicted gambling, let do this blog post as a 2 or 3 part exercise? So this concludes the 1st part of relapse prevention, and I’ll give you a couple of days to “Comment” your answers. I’ll blog post PART 2 on Wen March 5th mid day!
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I think this will be a fun idea so we can ALL LEARN a little something new together! And again, please feel free to copy and paste the full guide workbook listed on my Resources Page List! Together WE CAN RECOVER! If your interested, my current book is out NOW as e-book on Amazon Kindle! “Addicted To Dimes” (Confessions of a liar and a cheat) http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485  My true story of my life battling compulsive gambling addiction, living with Undiagnosed Bipolar, my childhood trauma, dark family secrets and Recovery!
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I Thank You all for taking time to come visit my recovery blog, and I appreciate all LUV & Support!
GOD BLESS ALL,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon