Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

 

“THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES IN AMERICA TODAY THAT NO ONE HAS BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO. GAMBLING!”

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” recovering gambling addict Kitty Martz told the Oregonian. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

“Gamblers exhibit many of the same problems as other addicts. “Everything you see with substance abuse you can make an analogy to gambling problems,” Martins says, citing family strife, financial hardship, and struggles with depression or anxiety.”

“IF I WERE THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY, I WOULD WANT TO FUND PEOPLE WHO HAD THE DISEASE POINT-OF-VIEW … BECAUSE [THEY ARE] PUTTING THE SOURCE OF PROBLEM GAMBLING BETWEEN THE EARS OF THE GAMBLER.”

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catherine-townsend-lyon

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HERE IS WHERE I WALK IN I was honored to be interviewed, and at the time was written and released by Elaine for ‘Columbia University and The Epidemiology Dept.’ I was happy to help contribute an “inside look” of what addicted gambling, the diseased side looks like deep within my addiction.

As an advocate of addicted or problem gambling and now almost 12-yrs “BET FREE,”  I aim to change the way the public is seeing only ONE SIDE to this so-called activity of  “Fun and Entertainment.”  Because for those who lose control and become addicted?  There is a nasty sinister side to this thing called “gambling” … 

LITTLE HELP AVAILABLE

People with gambling problems tend to elicit little sympathy. They are seen typically as exercising bad judgment when it is known that the “house always wins.” They have often hurt people they are closest to, both financially and emotionally.

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“Former gambling addicts readily admit to their flaws. But, like most people, they typically started gambling because it was available, entertaining, and provided a potential if unlikely monetary reward. However, unlike most people who gamble, they became “hooked.” That’s how Catherine Townsend-Lyon speaks of her gambling addiction. “
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Catherine began playing video lottery terminals at delis and restaurants near her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, at the time, now living in Glendale, AZ. Catherine explains, “sometime after they were introduced in the 1990s, she became obsessed with a game called Flush Fever and soon began playing before and after work and during her lunch hour.” She lied to her husband about her whereabouts and started secretly gambling their mortgage payments.

She stole from the collection company she worked for.  Even when gambling at an Indian casino, sometimes wore bladder control underwear so she wouldn’t have to get up to use the restroom while playing. When she lost money, she played to win it back, and when she won, she played to win more. In an extreme moment, she skipped the funeral of a close friend to drive 40 miles to that Indian casino so she could win enough money to prevent her home from being foreclosed. Instead, she lost everything. She drove home in tears and attempted suicide by trying to slit her wrists but kept blacking out.
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“YOU DON’T HAVE TO EVEN BE IN ‘ACTION OR SITTING BEHIND A MACHINE’ BECAUSE YOU’RE CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT: WHEN AM I GOING TO GAMBLE? WHEN AM I GOING TO WIN OR LOSE? IT JUST COMPOUNDS.”

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“It’s like a battle you have with yourself with the triggers and the urges and the obsessiveness. You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds. It’s exhausting. It’s never-ending,” says Townsend-Lyon, who, after seeking treatment several times, has managed to stay away from gambling for the last seven-and-a-half years.

Catherine says she turned to gambling at a difficult time in her life. She had childhood trauma of sexual abuse, verbal, and her parents were heavy handed with discipline. Those memories kept haunting her and then, with her husband frequently traveling out of town for weeks for work, she found herself bored and looking for a way to fill the time and escape the “old pain” that resurfaced.  She had undiagnosed bipolar II disorder and on top of that had been sexually abused when she was younger, she had not been raised to know to seek therapy.


“I wasn’t a drug person or an alcoholic or anything like that, although I did drink more when I gambled. And because I was gambling, that was my coping skill. That’s what I was using to escape it, those feelings. I couldn’t stuff them away anymore. I would just use gambling to escape, not feel, zone out, you know what I mean?”
she said.

She published a book in 2013 about her former life, called Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) “A Liar and Cheat” is what gambling addiction, this cunning disease turned me into.”  What troubles her is how easy it is for people in her position to gamble. She didn’t have to fly to Nevada or even drive to an Indian casino in her state. The video poker and slot machines she played, which are sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery, are allowed at bars, restaurants, and delis.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)
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“[I]f these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me,” says a 33-year-old man quoted in a recent series on the state lottery by the Oregonian. He estimates he has lost $15,000 over 12 years from gambling. “That may sound like an excuse, but ‘out of sight is out of mind.’”

For people who are trying to recover from gambling addiction, it can be difficult to find help. Calls per month to the National Problem Gambling hotline are over two-and-a-half times what they were 14 years ago, from 9,642 in 2000 to 24,475 in 2013, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Yet funding for treatment centers, hotlines, and programs to prevent gambling addiction is minimal, says Martins. Funding for substance abuse treatment is about 281 times greater at $17 billion then public funding for problem gambling, at $60.6 million, although substance use disorders are only 3.6 times more common than gambling disorders, according to a 2013 survey by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and Problem Gambling Solutions.

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I urge everyone who visits to take some time and go read the full article written by Elaine R Meyer as the ‘Costs to Health Care from Legal Gambling’ on Pacific Standard Magazine as it will surprise you. Yes, it a bit long but well worth it!  You will read how drug and alcohol funding for treatment is far ahead of gambling addiction treatment and even options available for gambling treatment and resources.

Again, I am aiming to change this by advocacy, writing, and sharing my own recovery from this cunning addiction … ~Advocate/Writer/Author, Catherine Lyon

 

 

 

 

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“Yes it’s Recovery Ramblings Time As I Need To Purge Some Important Feelings About Gambling and Suicide”

Hello and Thank You for Visiting Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

I can tell you I’m not surprised at all that another major casino is closing down, are YOU?

Looks like the expansion of Indian casinos and State Lotteries, and Online offshore gambling is finally changing the Gambling Game!

– Another Atlantic City Casino goes Bust, Trump Casino is Closing …

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed its doors early Tuesday, the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly up so far this year.
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Image: Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ (© Mel Evans/AP)
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I think they call it, ‘Karma” as the growing expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lotteries seems from my point of view, catching up with all the big ‘Mega-Casinos’ in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Laughlin, and even Reno & Riverboat Casinos in the south. As a compulsive addicted gambler in long-term recovery, why fly to Vegas or drive to the Indian Casino 35 miles away, when I can just go across the street to my local bar and play the Oregon Lottery Video & Slot style machines? Or now, living in Arizona, to a local Indian casino just a few miles away. It won’t also surprise me if more Vegas casinos become the next in line to suffer a lot more closures.
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It’s why they keep change their marketing and business plans to keep enticing people to come for a visit.
Here is a current list courtesy of CasinoCity.com of how many States have casinos in them.
States with Gambling ~ Order by: State

Alabama (8)
Alaska (7)
Arizona (35)
Arkansas (2)
California (172)
Colorado (41)
Connecticut (3)
Delaware (3)
Florida (133)
Georgia (2)
Idaho (18)
Illinois (18)
Indiana (13)
Iowa (21)
Kansas (8)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (50)
Maine (14)
Maryland (11)
Massachusetts (3)
Michigan (31)
Minnesota (41)
Mississippi (32)
Missouri (13)
Montana (142)
Nebraska (9)
Nevada (383)
New Hampshire (10)
New Jersey (13)
New Mexico (29)
New York (23)
North Carolina (2)
North Dakota (35)
Ohio (11)
Oklahoma (121)
Oregon (27)
Pennsylvania (12)
Rhode Island (2)
South Carolina (3)
South Dakota (51)
Texas (9)
Virginia (1)
Washington (141)
West Virginia (5)
Wisconsin (31)
Wyoming (6)
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And we need to keep in mind, this doesn’t take in all the states that offer State Lottery gambling too.
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Photo: #RecoveryMonth #Inspiration
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So you can understand that for those of us who try to be successful in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling, it can be very challenging. I happened to be talking to my nephew last night, and here in Arizona, there are many casinos around us. We talked a bit about “Self-Banning” yourself from casinos, and he said he tried to do this a couple of times here at the casinos, but he would eventually go gamble anyway, and it took the casino months before they caught him.
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Part of it he says, is you have to be careful not to win a big jackpot, but what he did to get around this little problem is take a friend with him to the casino, and if he did win a big jackpot over $1,500.00, he would just let his friend switch places with him, he would go to the restroom, and let his buddy collect the money. Then my nephew would calculate what the amount of State & Federal tax would be on the amount, and just give it to his buddy. Sad thing is, my hubby’s nephew is a problem gambler and he would most likely play most all the money he won back in the damn machines! AGAIN, that’s called a problem or addicted gambler. And as the article I’m in currently, a study and research done by Columbia University, and The Dept. of Public Health & Epidemiology, Elaine Meyer mentioned that gambling addiction has currently the highest Suicide rate then any other addiction.
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Which brings me to my next topic of ramblings. As you see, I changed my blog background & profile photo to advocate Suicide Prevention. Even though this month I’m Celebrating with many other organizations, September is The 25th Anniversary of Recovery Month, these past few weeks I have been touched by others attempting, and one was successful of Suicide!
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NRM Logo
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It started with a good friend and fellow author, advocate, and blogger, Rhonda Sellers Elkins, who took he life on August 29th, 2014. I have an earlier blog post here as a “Tribute” to her, and all the parents she helped with her new book, and her experiences of the loss of her own daughter, yes, to suicide. This happened right after Actor, Robin Williams. She blogged tirelessly about the how she was trying to cope, and helping other parents was helping her stay the course a little.

A couple of days after Rhonda’s passing, my next door neighbor Sean attempted suicide. He is still in a crisis center, via the hospital. Then just this past weekend, my other friend and neighbor across the way did THE SAME!! She and Sean suffer like me with bipolar ll with manic depression, sometimes severe, as they too are in recovery from drugs & alcohol. Brittany is a mom of 4 kids, and only 28 years old. Sean is single, doing a 28 day program, so he is not home yet. Brittany just came home yesterday. For Sean it must be hard to not have anyone to be accountable to. I have my husband to be accountable to, to stay in recovery, and many times it does make a difference. Support is dire in recovery.
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THEN, we got a call from my hubby’s sister on Sunday, and his other nephew Ricky was also in the hospital in South Carolina due to attempted Suicide!! He also suffers Bipolar severe depression and PTSD. He took the whole bottles of 2 psych meds. He was just transferred to a Mental/Behavioral crisis center as well, and will be there for 30 days. So I’m thinking to myself, WTF??!! Is there something in the water or something? Is something in the air that people are having such a hard time with LIFE? And with managing their Mental Health issues? This all really hits me very hard. It’s why I need to write and share my own feelings around all of this. It really, really bothers me. WHY? I myself will be going through psych med changes early next month because 2 of my psych meds I take now, which I have been on to long, are now effecting my liver and cholesterol levels. So this means it’s going to be guinea pig time again.
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It really makes me sad, and just breaks my heart when others, and especially those of us who have dual diagnosis of Mental health issues and live in recovery from addictions are having a rough patch. Just like both my neighbors who are both in recovery from drug & alcohol use, many like them with mental illness can misuse and self-medicate with their psych meds. My husband’s nephew almost succeeded in his suicide attempt, as he took a whole bottle of his Cymbalta and another psych drug. He was very lucky EMT’s got to him in time and to the hospital to pump his stomach. And so again, this so hurts and bothers me in the way of understanding the level of Hopelessness & Darkness a person can get to when you feel like a burden to others, or feeling tired of life and just want to go away forever, not feel pain or hurt anymore, and deep depression. Just to have SILENCE …
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He, (Ricky) is still having a hard time, like all of us in my husband’s family from the death of his oldest sister, Ricky’s mother who also committed intentional Suicide by taking all her psych meds. She didn’t cope well after her husband suddenly passed of a heart attack at 54 years old. So, Ricky is trying to still overcome, as we all are, loosing not only his father 2 years ago next month, but also his mother a year ago next month.
One thing I can add to this is I’m very blessed in having been through all the recovery treatment, therapy, and currently still being under a psychiatrist’s care. I also have the life skills and tools learned to help cope when life throws those nasty rough patches in our lives.
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BUT, we have to take those tools out of the toolbox and use them! It’s why I do, because I REFUSE to be another Statistic of Suicide from Addictions and/or Mental Illness!! Two failed suicide attempts were enough for me to choose LIFE over any addiction or mental illness challenges and disabilities. I’m very aware many people may find these kind of ramblings of mine hard to read.
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But look, if I or others like me don’t share our feelings and personal experiences about Addiction, Suicide, and our Mental Health challenges, and innermost thoughts, then how can we promote and advocate for change, inform, raise awareness, and educate the public? If I, and others don’t Speak-up and Speak-out about Suicide, and these other issues, then who will?
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Yes, there are many fantastic, helpful, and informative organizations out here who do a great job in giving the public help, information, facts and Resources, but I also feel a Personal perspective is just as important to share to help shatter Stigma around these very important topics.| It shows others who are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and suffer mental health challenges that they are not alone! That there is NO SHAME with having Mental or Emotional health problems, or live life in recovery from any addiction, and to let them know they have a voice and are heard!
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I still feel very lucky, (no pun intended) that my gambling actually brought out my own mental and emotional health problems, as I was suffering and didn’t know I was. I used gambling to escape, become numb to all feelings and emotions, and just zone out because I wasn’t able to stuff all my garbage in life, all the hurt and pain through the years, starting as a little girl anymore.
Eventually, all this unhealthy stuff can only be stuffed, hidden, and tucked away behind a HAPPY MASK for so long. It’s not healthy or good for you. Eventually you’ll have to process it, walk through all the fear, and learn from it. Because if you don’t get the help, and don’t push through all that pain, hurt, and your fears? That is when unhealthy things begin to invade your life.
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It’s when addictions will come knocking and teach you to self medicate with drugs, alcohol, and many other addictions out there. My life was also effected in the relationships I had with men. From the sex abuse I endured seemed to give me a false impression when I got into adulthood, and made me think if I had sex in a relationship? Then I would get that unconditional love from men that I chased to get from my parents for years. Yes, I was a pretty screwed up girl.
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WHY, because most of the relationships and marriages never worked because I was being co-dependent in many of those relationships.
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If someone in your family has a mental illness, you may be feeling frustration, anger, resentment and more. What can you do to help yourself, and by doing so your loved one as well”?
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Mental illness brings doubt, confusion and chaos to a family. But a family can heal when it moves beyond their loved one’s illness—not away from their loved one” …


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I used these relationships as trying to fix or change others. Or I relied on the man to make my happiness, and be the center of my world. Smothering them away. Looking back, I was SO needy. Because I never got any of that from my parents. so I chased it in all my relationships with men. I didn’t have barely an ounce of self-worth, because I was always demeaned, verbally abused, and accused of things by my parents that I never was or DID! Then in adulthood, I wasted years of trying to prove and to show my parents that I was a good person, that I was successful,  happy, and took care of myself, but they didn’t care or bother see it. Was I to dumb, or so uneducated in life lessons because of the way I was raised, to even know what a normal and healthy relationship is? What a healthy relationship looks like? Because looking back my own family was so dysfunctional. You don’t see or grasp that until your out of the dynamic. Which is what happened to me as I was the only one in the family that moved out-of-state, and far from my family for many of those reasons. And of course I became the the black sheep of the family for that.
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So all that really affected the way I seen and looked at relationships. And the GOOD relationships I did have with a man? The more they treated me like a queen? I would end up sabotaging the relationship some how, because I felt I was not worthy of there love, gifts, compliments. I felt that way when I was using gambling addiction to cope and try to navigate through life. When I became an addicted gambler, and feeling shame and guilt, it didn’t matter, because I was hurting all of them BACK for all the pain I went through, for all the times they had hurt me deeply.
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The diseased thoughts gave me a sense of entitlement to do what I did within my gambling addiction, because I felt I became a victim because of the way my parents had treated us kids, plus then the sex abuse and trauma on top of that, believe me, I did a lot of damage, but I was only hurting myself and others around me, especially what I put my husband through. That is why you must have good people around you who will support you no matter what. And I had to learn the hard way that gambling wasn’t hurting anyone but ME. It wasn’t going to change my past, and it was destroying my FUTURE! See I never got that from my family. Even to this day.
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I think they are in the mind-set that if I’m not around, then there is no problem. They don’t have to acknowledge that our family was and still is dysfunctional. Is it ignorance? Or is it continuing the unhealthy habits and behaviors we seen from our parents? My mom was one of a kind in this aspect of the family dynamic that went on in our house. And when she passed, my youngest sister continued the poor behaviors my mom passed on to us all those years. So was I doomed? Maybe, but I think I’m the only one in our family that tried to interrupt and stop this cycle. I surely didn’t want the same things repeating down to my nieces and nephews. I’m think I’m also the only one who has been in therapy, in recovery, and have taken control of my mental disabilities by seeking professional help. But I guess I won’t really know since I haven’t talked to any of them for over 8 years.
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So, family sometimes may not understand if no else is suffering from mental health issues. Which was my experience with my side of the family after they saw me take my psych meds one time when my mom passed, and we were down for the funeral. That’s when they started treating me different. Even though my older sister was still an alcoholic, my other sister was still EVIL and had anger issues, my dad was oblivious to all it, and my brother is still estranged from the rest of the family like I am.
So, just because we may share the same family blood? Doesn’t give them the right to mistreat you. No family should.
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Having boundaries sure is a beautiful thing …
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God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485/