Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and New Ones!
A while back I had received an exciting opportunity and invite from a major organization to “share” one of my most important times within a downfall or relapse during my recovery and what I had learned from it being in early recovery. Of course, looking back, one had always stood out to me and it was from my second failed suicide attempt and I was wasn’t even ACTIVE in addiction. No, not trying to shock anyone about suicide, but currently, one in five people gambling addictively will try suicide once as one can get in a state of feeling financially bankrupt and emotionally hopeless …
Since the Holidays are just around the corner, I will be, for the 6th year, be at home blogging, advocating, checking my email closely, and will BE available by phone for anyone who needs Recovery Support or struggling with gambling beginning the day before Thanksgiving 2018. WHY?
Because even though I am years in my journey of recovery, I know and remember how difficult the holiday season can be when you have a problem or are addicted to gambling. Not enough money to buy gifts or even buy things to celebrate or decorate the season. I had many years of this and know how it felt.
I Hope that by sharing this article I wrote and sharing, that it finds its way to even just “one person,” it may help and let them know there is HOPE and much HELP with gambling addiction. You are not alone. I have been through the “battle” and I am here to listen, read your comments, answer any questions, and here to HELP.
“My recovery journey started again in 2006. Not from gambling but from being dually diagnosed with addiction and mental health challenges. I woke up in a hospital as the result of a second failed suicide attempt and was back into an addiction and mental health crisis center for another 15-day stay.”
The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well. We are hearing more recovering gamblers and other types of addictions where the addict has mental illness as well. That was me! And the “why’s” to writing my memoir titled; Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat and that is was what my gambling addiction had turned me into, a liar and a cheat …
This time around I had a severe financial crisis happen and since I had not taken mental health meds and already worked through all our savings and retirement money, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. “Old addiction thinking and diseased habits.” What a mess I got into! The person pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the process and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I finally paid off recently. My point?
We must do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded rehabilitation. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and now legal troubles told me I still had more work to do. I needed to work with an addiction specialist. After my problems had occurred, I did get help with an expert for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others, and those still suffering the cycle of gambling addiction.
After this second suicide attempt, I also learned that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with the gambling/behavioral specialist and got my mental health under control, I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live in recovery with mental illness. Those of us who have a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.
Being a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. Many of the negative habits, behaviors and diseased thinking on my part needed correcting. Working with the specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down the cycle of the addiction, as we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Even though I didn’t relapse into gambling, the workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my journey. You need a plan before life events come.
Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. My journals were a help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me.
I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse, and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. They were all direct links to the roots of why I had turned to gamble and became addicted. I also never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the blessings I have received in my journey thus far.
By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter the stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are child sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen not to be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how quickly one can become addicted.
It truly is a real disease and illness. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has on families’ lives and the impact in our communities. The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth.
Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Again, 1 in every 5 will attempt suicide from this addiction. And now, gambling addiction IS the 3 addiction claiming lives by suicide. This has to change! Hopefully, through my recovery advocacy, my book, and my blogging, I can help change this. I have learned many lessons, so the best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about the addiction.
Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it. Work a reliable recovery that encompasses inner reflection and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. I happen to learn this the hard way.
Now that I have reached eleven plus years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we could weather any storm together as he stayed with me through all of this. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned on many platforms and in publications.
And I share as much as I can with others who still suffer. As I write my next book, it will be about how to make the first year in recovery and beyond as it seems readers have been asking me to do. With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted to share how to attain the first year of recovery. It IS WHY I continue my recovery as an online journal in blog format here on Recovery Starts Here!
All I can do is urge others who have a gambling problem is never give up. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story with others is just as important as the ‘professional or clinical’ side of this disease and how to recover. Sharing our story is a powerful tool for others to listen and learn from and break the power of stigma.
My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent.
Besides, this is about reclaiming your life from gambling addiction!
About The Advocate:
Catherine Townsend-Lyon is the best-selling author of her shocking debut Memoir; “Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Walmart Online. Born in New Jersey, lived in So. Oregon over 25 years, she and her husband reside in Glendale, Arizona. Catherine is well known in many addiction and recovery online communities for her voice of realism, raw, and honesty about her battles with gambling addiction and now 11+yrs in recovery, living with mental illness, and her past childhood trauma and abuse.
She is finishing her third book and currently co-writing a memoir with former NFL pro of the Denver Broncos, Vance Johnson. She is a former ‘In Recovery Magazine Columnist of The Authors’ Café, and ow writes a column called “Quit to Win” for the recovery newspaper “Keys to Recovery.” Catherine advocates and sponsors many today. Her articles have been published in “Time and Nautilus online, In Recovery Magazine, Facing Addiction, and Keys to Recovery, as well as media from Columbia University.”