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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

I happen to be reading an article the other day in my AARP magazine I receive each quarter. Now I know you are thinking? What does Gambling have to do with AARP right? Well, there was a fantastic article that called slot machines "The New Electronic Crack." It got me thinking about my old days past within my gambling addiction. What was the draw to slot machines for me? Was it all the lights, bells, and whistles? Or was it the disease itself with the constant racing thoughts and triggers and urges abound? Do casinos really pump in oxygen to keep players alert? Well, I'm not sure, but anyone can become a gambling addict. 

Through the years of my 10 and half years in recovery, I remember when I first started advocating, blogging and talking loudly about this illness. I actually had people leave comments on "How Stupid" it was for a person to become addicted to slot machines and not horses, cards, or sports betting. Now, in their favor, back in the day, the most common gambling problems talked about was sports and horse betting. Sometimes you'd hear talk about "rolling bones" which is dice games. I took offense to some of the comments as it proved to me first, how ignorant people can be when they are misinformed or have no education about this addiction. And second, that STIGMA was wide spread within this dependency.  

Since moving here to Arizona from So. Oregon a few years ago, I was shocked to see how many Indian Casinos are all over this State. Now I know Oregon and California have casinos every as well, but here? IT IS LIKE Drug Addiction! Being the Indian Casinos are selling “Electronic Crack.” But I feel it is time for this "drug, " and the dark side of this addiction be exposed. It is time for the conversation and awareness of the personal and financial hardship this addiction causes. Not only is it attacking our seniors, but it also has reached our kids. There are currently 17+million problem gamblers in just the US alone, HALF of this number are high school and college kids. Another addiction parents have to talk to their children about along with drugs and alcohol. WAKE UP, PEOPLE! Gambling addiction is the #1 addiction killing people by suicide. True! That is over drug and alcohol deaths. Anyone can become addicted to gambling.

When a person walks into a casino? They have YOU. It's why there are no windows or clocks around inside. Ever notice that? And they offer you free drinks and some free alcohol. They send you coupons for free play and discount hotel rooms and meals to keep you there longer. Marketing for casinos is a ploy to get you there and keep your money. Slot machines have the highest odds to the house as well. Which means, you rarely win. And seniors are taking the hit. As the gambling industry booms, aggressive marketing tactics are targeting older patrons. Now, to be fair, not everyone is a problem gambler or becomes addicted. But the expansion and more access can make staying in recovery much harder for those who are. 

Some of the past research I did when I wrote a post on my blog, I learned how seniors we becoming the target of predatory casino tactics. I read recently, of the 101 million visitors to America’s casinos in 2014 (the last year for which information was available), nearly half were age 55 or older, according to data from the gambling industry. In 2014, American casinos reported over $66 billion in gambling revenue, and much of that profit came from these older gamblers. 

Shared in my AARP article I read, that a study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies revealed that many older adults viewed the casino as a place where they can socialize and escape from loneliness or grief. When we retire, we seem to have more time on our hands.  And long gone are the days that you had to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to gamble thanks to the boom of the Indian Gambling offerings as of 1988 when the 'Indian Gaming Regulatory Act' which legalized casino development on Indian lands. 


That sparked an untightening of state prohibitions on gambling and a nationwide casino building boom. Today, 1,400 casinos are open across 40 states so far. In those states, casinos are especially attractive to seniors who prefer to drive themselves. States with bigger populations of adults over 55, include Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and where I lived Oregon previously. All of these states now have expanded Indian Casino gambling in recent years and now State Lottery offerings on top of that. 


For myself, I know I felt when I would first walk into a casino seeing the lights flashing and the noise and music. I got so excited that I was going to win, let alone what my brain chemicals were doing as I got so euphoric as if I did pop a pill, or stuck a needle in my arm. NOPE. IT WAS ALL Brain and Body doing an inside dance of excitement! So anyone can become addicted to gambling and for many reasons. 

BUT?

"Not All Addictions Are Substance Use Anymore."

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

Don’t you love inspirational books that seem pointedly written just for you? There’s something oddly magical and not at all creepy when reading words you felt sure the author wrote after spying on you in your darkest hour.

I love those kinds of books as I never tire of their uplifting, reassuring, and thought course-correcting messages.  Better still is the opportunity to share them with those I believe might feel the same.

Most of my days include time spent with those who battled or are still fighting the insidious disease of alcoholism and the endless mental trap of an eating disorder. Often I find myself talking about how these personally touching and hope-filled books awaken my spirit and provide me courage to believe I'm not alone in my thoughts and actions.

One such day I received a comment I found rather interesting. In so many words my friend said, “I used that same book during my early recovery and found it very helpful back then.” While I understood the intention of the comment, I shudder to think I’d come to the point in my life where I'd find no need for inspiration just because I’ve overcome that which held me hostage in mind, body, and spirit.

Some messages simply never grow old.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

I recently called a friend to talk with her about a choice I needed to make. I've learned through the program of recovery how valuable perspective beyond my own helps assure I’ll do the next right thing.

However there are times, like this one, when I already know what I want to do yet I go through the motions anyway.

Bad idea.

Sure enough things didn't pan out the way I had wanted. When I ran into my friend, I had to fess up about the result. This is pretty much how that conversation went:

FRIEND:  So how did everything work out?

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I'm sure that many of you can relate to coincidences like when you learn about a new word, you find that you hear it more, but when in reality it's just something new that has come into your awareness, it was really there all along.  This is of course something that happens to me often, but has certainly been my experience since I have been writing this blog, as it is now always in my awareness to look for opportunities for what to discuss next and they just keep popping into my life!

Working in the addiction field, and the job I have in particular, keeps me very focused but also very isolated.  Working in addiction also creates a sort of bubble, being that my clients are all trying to get out of their active addiction, my co-workers are all in recovery, and the doctors are addictionologists.  I had been in California for four or five years and didn’t realize that I was protecting myself in a way, by not branching out of my comfort zone.  So it wasn’t until about two years ago, that I started to go out to new places and interact with new people that have never struggled with an addiction.  (People that experience temporary stress instead of chronic anxiety are still a wonder to me!)

The benefit, however, of the bubble realization was that all of that prep work that I had been doing (working with a sponsor, doing the steps, going to multiple types of therapy to figure out the core issues as to why I was using inhalants, then working on those core issues) was in preparation for returning to the real world and all its challenges and this time having a more positive impact, on myself and on those around me, and it was time to use them!  The tools I have learned (especially emotional regulation, coping skills, and trigger identification) and the resources I have developed have been crucial in my relapse prevention, because life sure does throw me some curveballs and when I did come out of hiding, I found that some of my wreckage from my past was still there waiting for me.  I am definitely grateful that I was given the opportunity to have a second chance, to get to be the same person, but a better version.  By doing the footwork, it allows me to look at the same situations but have different reactions and therefore different outcomes than I would have in the past.

I feel that in order to be effective in communicating with people who are also struggling and/or looking for solutions or education, I need to write about things that truly affect me emotionally, because if what I'm writing doesn't induce some sort of feelings for me, how could it in someone else?  So full disclosure in the hopes that someone can relate and hopefully allowing me to be of service.

The reason that the ability to have different reactions that produce different and better outcomes is on my mind is due to some events that occurred in my week.  I felt discouraged this week for two reasons, and I feel like they have happened while I have volunteered to write this blog for a reason.  I am a person that falls victim to a certain type of mental trap, where your brain immediately jumps into negative thinking or disaster mode when you hear certain things that are not ideal.  In the treatment facilities I work with, we refer to it as addict brain.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Even when I was in the absolute worst stage of unabashed drinking and irregular, unhealthy eating habits, very little if anything could have pushed me to seek recovery any sooner than I did.

Those who love me worked tirelessly in the effort to convince me I needed help.  Each gesture or suggestion was met with resistance, denial and deflection.  Those caring and compassionate individuals had all but prepared themselves to receive the dreaded phone call I’d finally succumbed to the disease of addiction.

The more people tried to persuade me of my destruction, the more my distance from them widened.  I wasn’t ready to stop.  I liked being able to decide for myself when, where and how much I engaged in what I believed was pure merriment.  I’d perfected my silent rationalization to slip into the haze of too much alcohol with little food. When I was in the state of nothingness, life’s emotional ups and downs didn’t matter anymore. I cherished my ability firmly and sternly control what I put my mental energy into and what was erased. As long as I kept my booze supply up and my weight down, all was well in the world.  And oh boy, did I love the “high” I felt when the deception, manipulation and lies all fell into place.

Until they didn’t.

When I finally found myself sitting across the desk of an intake counselor at a substance abuse treatment center I still was clinging to the belief I could one day drink again and eat as I saw fit.  I vividly remember the woman asking me how much alcohol I drank each day and my response of “oh, not that much” was quickly deflected when she held up my liver count report. I just wasn’t ready to stop believing I could run the show and direct the participants.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I am honored to be the December Expert particularly because this first day happens to be my birthday. Yet the date does not mark the only time I was shifted from a place of comfort to a visceral shock to the system.

I’ve been given the most precious gift of life three times. I was physically born in December of 1961, almost died in 2001 and then tested fate again in 2008. The 46-year journey was a roller coaster of addiction, emotional chaos and nonstop searching for a way out.

Although I can't remember the first few celebrations of the date I entered this world, all accounts indicated they were joyous, happy and fun. I’ve been told people poured attention on me with beautifully wrapped boxes to open and cards read by others with messages for a future far better than their own.

 

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

In the past, I have allowed addiction to run my life. Addiction chose which friends I surrounded myself with, the activities I chose to be a part of and how successful I was. Addiction created conflicts with my friends and family and drove me into multiple depressions. Addiction also skewed my perception and judgment so much; it led to some horrible decisions that I will forever have to live with.

It is easy to say that all of this was merely ‘the addiction’s’ fault, but I am the kind of person that likes to take responsibility for my own actions. In many ways I feel like I am a much different person today than who I was a few years ago. I have chosen to use this struggle in my life as a (cheesy as it sounds) springboard. I am not saying that this decision to get clean was easy or overnight. It was a long process with many setbacks. To this day, I still struggle with sobriety.

However, I have found my silver lining in my addiction. I am now a Senior Psychology student working on my undergraduate thesis. I am researching the comparative effectiveness of substance abuse programs, either mixed gender or all- female groups. It is my personal goal to help other women dealing with addiction. I feel that the best way to improve treatment groups is to ask the members themselves, we know what works and what doesn’t.

If you are a woman that has participated in an alcohol or substance abuse group at one time (inpatient or outpatient) and would like to participate in my short survey, I would greatly appreciate it. Of course it is completely anonymous, no personal information is asked of you.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Women_and_Substance_Abuse_Treatment

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

In some ways the Law of Attraction is Positive Psychology meets Metaphysics.  Positive Psychology states if you have a positive outlook, you will have a happier and more fulfilling life.  Studies in Positive Psychology report certain strengths and virtues enable individuals to thrive.  For example, emotions such as zest, gratitude, hope, and love are the most strongly associated with a satisfying life.

The Law of Sobriety is a program of seven steps that can be combined with twelve step programs or utilized on their own not only to assist in living a life clean and sober, but to live a life that has purpose and meaning.  It is about being called forth to do what you were put on this planet to do.  The seven steps include:

Finding Your Purpose with Intention

Living a life that is true to your Values

Living a Life of Authenticity

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