“I Did Not Choose to Become a Gambling Addict”…

“I Did Not Choose to Become a Gambling Addict”…

Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends and Hope Seekers,

So, within only 3 months apart, it happened again! It is pissing me off when those who have NO CLUE about any addiction or about recovery, let alone a gambling addiction nor have been “touched” by it, or know anyone with one or even a family member has. See, I happened to write about this before 3 or so months ago.

So I wanted to vent and share a little more about this as Gambling Addiction is a real disease, people! It does happen, and I am tired of others commented to me that when we advocate we are demeaning others who have real diseases like cancer, diabetes, and others.  When will people wake up and see how bad addictions of any kind are running rampant and killing many each year.

“I surely didn’t wake up one day and choose to devastate my life and my husbands’ life and become an addicted gambler.”   ~Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

Recently I read a few comments on Twitter after I tweeted about my gambling addiction and maintaining recovery. It was also about living in the “now” and a well-balanced recovery journey. There are many myths and misconceptions about this disease, the silent killer, and underground addiction. One of which was I chose to become an addict. Really? Did I decide to devastate my life for a few hours of addicted gambling?

Did I choose to bankrupt my husband and me financially? Did I want to end my life by choice because I was hopelessly addicted? No! Gambling addiction is real and is a real disease. It is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide over all other addiction. Currently, 2.9% of the population are now Problem Gamblers. It is now “touching” our seniors, high school, and college-age kids.

When I began Gamblers Anonymous meetings, I’d hear others say; “Hate the addiction, not the addict.” We are dealing with an illness and tricky beast. That is true with all types of addictions. As Robin Williams was quoted back in the mid 80’s about addiction and recovery; “There’s no shame in failing. The only shame is not giving things your best shot.” That is what we need to do when coming out of treatment and begin our new path away from addiction. We need to look for other ways to replace the time spent gambling, using drugs and alcohol. Robin Williams also said; “It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there, It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.”

Now, this could not be truer when I look back at my early recovery. We are so broken and riddled with many triggers and urges starting the path called “recovery.” We have no way of knowing how to take charge and own it. Owning one’s recovery, in my opinion, is being real, being honest, and transparent of the good and mostly all the bad. Bad behaviors, choices, and habits we learned as an addict.

But when you “Own Your Recovery” and begin the process of learning why and begin the “inner work,” you begin to change. You begin to forgive yourself for those “poor choices” you had made. You start to accept the consequences, accountability, and responsibility for those choices and actions. You begin to learn and look for some of those “underlying roots” that had you in bondage and attached to your addiction.

Now, most 12-Step programs teach us we can recover without knowing why we turned to addiction in the first place. I am not a firm believer of this. WHY? Because, if we don’t know and learn to work through those issues, how do we begin a steady, healthy, and happy life maintaining recovery? How do we move forward and become fulfilled and productive people? See, we will be “a work in process” for the rest of our lives, many get scared or feel it will be an impossible task, and easier to be an addict than to have their lives back. That is a significant roadblock for many recovering. We are dealing with a “Disease.” So back to my Twitter comments. I have had a few remarks like “addicts make a choice to be addicts.

Other people commented – “I make a “choice” every day and to say it’s a disease minimizes people who suffer from real diseases like Alzheimer’s or cancer (WHAT? Really?).”

On the other hand, I know that when I gambled, I lost the control and ability to stop and kept gambling and gambling on slots! That is how gambling addiction is described by “The National Council on Problem Gambling” and knowing we have crossed the line into uncontrolled gambling. My friends at The National Council on Problem Gambling says; “Gambling addiction—is an impulse-control disorder.

“If you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones.” And I know first hand that this is true as it happened to me. No, I didn’t come from a background or a family who were gamblers. I was a normal gambler until I began to use it as an “escape, to numb out, and not feel my past childhood trauma” which came back out of nowhere.

So was it “my choice” to become a gambling addict? No.

To begin and maintain recovery is not easy. The first thing to do is reach out for help. There is no shame in doing so. And you can remain anonymous. When you do, become educated about the “cycle” of this disease and learn ways to interrupt the cycle. A sponsor, counselor, therapist, or recovery coach can help you achieve this. Read as much as you can about this addiction and make and have a solid ‘relapse plan and phone list’ to use for those “triggers and urges” in early recovery.

The longer you refrain from gambling, the less they will become. Start a journal. Journaling helps to relieve stress and anxiety. These are just a few ideas on how to begin your recovery path. Make sure you visit my Resources page and The Relapse Prevention Guide I have listed on its own page here on my recovery blog. I am always here to help. You can email me anytime if your needing help or support and where and how to be Gamble Free! lyonmedia@aol.com

Read my E-book as well as it is now on sale for just $2.99 a download on Amazon Kindle.   I share it all of my battle with gambling addiction and alcohol abuse. Giving in-depth insights and disclosing how I found and processed my underlying issues and roots to my becoming an addict. And again, “it was not a choice.” It happens … 

Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) by [Townsend-Lyon, Catherine]

How does a good girl go bad? Based on a true story, told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, this haunting tale of addiction, family secrets, abuse, sexual misconduct, destruction, crime and…. recovery! One day at a time, one page at a time. Read and learn about this woman’s remarkable and brave story. 


Today Is The Last Day Of “Problem Gambling Awareness Month” Are You A Problem Gambler?

How does one know if they have a Gambling Problem?

One of the best ways you can find if you’re a “Problem Gambler” is to visit http://www.gamblersanonymous.org and take the “20 Questions Quiz”…

Gamblers Anonymous 20 Questions…

Please answer the following questions.

1. Did you ever lose time from work due to gambling?

__________yes__________ no

2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?

__________yes__________ no

3. Did gambling affect your reputation?

__________yes__________ no

4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?

__________yes__________ no

5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?

__________yes__________ no

6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?

__________yes__________ no

7. After losing, did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?

__________yes__________ no

8. After a win, did you ever have a strong urge to return and win more?

__________yes__________ no

9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?

__________yes__________ no

10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?

__________yes__________ no

11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?

__________yes__________ no

12. Were you reluctant to use gambling money for normal expenditures?

__________yes__________ no

13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?

__________yes__________ no

14. Did you ever gamble longer than you planned?

__________yes__________ no

15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?

__________yes__________ no

16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance your gambling?

__________yes__________ no

17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?

__________yes__________ no

18. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustration create within you an urge to gamble?

__________yes__________ no

19. Did you have an urge to celebrate good fortune by a few hours of gambling?

__________yes__________ no

20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

__________yes__________ no


*Most compulsive (problem) gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.

If client answers “yes” to at least seven of the 20 questions, the client may have a gambling problem.*
Here is the definition of ‘Problem Gambling’ by the helpful friends Of “The National Council Of Problem Gambling” http://www.ncpgambling.org/

Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term “Problem Gambling” includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as “Pathological”, or “Compulsive” Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.
Please note the statistics below are generally estimates on a national basis, and in most cases are based on compilations of various state or regional studies. Therefore, these figures should be taken as broad generalizations, and not specific scientific findings. It is the purpose of the NCPG to encourage the development of more and better research on this issue and to be able to provide the public, government, industry and decision makers with this type of information. Additional information may be found in the literature and links on our Resources page. For information specific to a state, contact our State Affiliate council members. To find a National Certified Gambling Counselor (NCGC), please search our counselor database.
Pathological Gambling Criteria:

 10 Questions About Gambling Behavior

1. You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
2. You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
3. Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
4. You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
5. You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
6. You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling.
7. You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
8. You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
9. You have been remorseful after gambling.
10. You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
AGAIN: If you or someone you know answers “Yes” to any of these questions, consider seeking help from a professional regarding this gambling behavior by calling the National Problem Gambling Help-Line Network (800.522.4700) toll-free and confidential throughout the U.S…..

Besides my OWN VOICE of the dangers of problem and addicted gambling, here are a few more “Real Voices” of those who have had gambling problems. Our stories can be “Powerful” to help others who may suffer and need to reach out for HELP!
In order to get beyond the statistics and provide a more personal and individual picture of this issue, this section features the stories of individuals who have been affected by problem gambling, including problem gamblers and their family members, friends, colleagues and employers; treatment providers; advocates; and any others….

Roger is a gambling addict. Once he starts gambling, his repeated experience is that he can’t stop. His addiction takes over. He cannot gamble sensibly. He is a compulsive gambler, an addict.

His gambling problems do not begin with a  bookmaker or in a casino. His gambling addiction is part of him. He has a compulsive nature.

He is highly talented. In the rag trade, he had made a million by the age of 25. He had a trophy wife, a fine home, a posh car and loads a money to spend on ‘toys’, the ‘must have’ trinkets that made him feel special.

Roulette WheelBut then he discovered casinos and bookmakers and his gambling problem took off. He tried to control his betting but his stakes increased. He was soon clearly addicted to gambling, and possibly to alcohol and cigarette smoking as well, although he would not admit it. He complained that he was stressed.

Playing poker online started to take over from other gambling experiences. He hoped he would be safe, out of the clutches of the bookies and croupiers, but the amount he lost grew with each game. His problems increased.

He lost the support of his wife when he emptied their joint account at the bank. It had been intended to be used for school fees and holidays.
He then gambled with cash taken from his work. But soon he would lose more than he could earn. So he began to steal. As an addicted gambler who had lost control, he could not stop.

Sheila was an alcoholic for many years and had discovered Alcoholics Anonymous. She met other addicts who also dealt with other addictions through similar anonymous groups. She began to see that anything can be addictive. Using a drug or alcohol, primarily to change feelings, was no less dangerous than eating excessively or using obsessive sex or other compulsive relationships.


online gamblingShe began to gamble on the Internet, just an occasional punt here or there. But, for her, a card was a drug. She went from two bets a week to two bets a day and then, later, to twenty bets a day. She knew that this was problem gambling. Now she recoganized that she was a problem gambler.


She had legal problems when she couldn’t pay her bills and she got further into debt.


Like any other addict, she was eventually in so much pain, emotionally, financially and socially, that she asked for counciling. She wanted advice on how she could learn to gamble, or drink or use other addictive substances, sensibly.


I explained that there was no way back. She had crossed the line. She felt under attack and said that all she wanted was to be able to have the occasional tipple or flutter. I said that her own experience showed that this had not been possible in the past and was unlikely to be possible in the future.


Her parents allowed her to borrow money so she could get the help she needed, or she would continue to switch one addiction for another……

*These are just a couple of stories from those who became addicted to gambling. It’s truly why I published my book of my own story od addicted gambling. So others can know that you can recover from this “destructive disease.” There is NO SHAME in asking for help! Your first step is just picking up the phone and call for help. That’s really HALF the BATTLE of your RECOVERY!*
*National Gambling Help Line ~ 1-800-522-4700
*National Suicide Hotline ~ 1-800-273-8255
May God Bless You All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
REMEMBER, It’s Not about “Perfection” in Recovery….it’s about “Progress”!! ODAAT Recovery Friends…