This was originally written as a feature article for Keys to Recovery Newspaper in 2018.
This article addresses how 12 step recovery treats the emotional disorder which underpins the “spiritual malady” that drives alcoholism....
Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
This was originally written as a feature article for Keys to Recovery Newspaper in 2018.
Brighton Recovery posted an incredible and true story today of a an inspiring woman who spent over a decade addicted to self harm. She also struggled with codependency and drug addiction. After years of battle, she was able to find recovery and now helps others do the same through recreational therapy.
"I had never seen or heard of anyone self harming, but it became my first addiction at the age of 13. I remember the first time I made the decision to do it, not knowing where I got the idea from. I had learned at a young age that I shouldn’t cry, yet I had all of this pain built up inside of me. I got to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore, but I also didn’t know how to die. Cutting became a way for me to release the pain. I couldn’t control my emotional pain, but I could control the physical pain. The moment I pressed a dull multi-tool blade against my skin, I became instantly addicted to pain.
The self harm was never about attention. I didn’t want anyone to know I was cutting, but because I was doing it on my arms, one of my peers noticed during gym class one afternoon and told the school counselor. As if the rumors from the trip weren’t enough, now I was some crazy attention-seeker cutting herself. I remember coming home from school one day and my mother was sitting in the living room crying. All she said was, “Why would you do this?” She didn’t even ask if I was okay, or try to talk to me about what was going on. Being addicted to pain became a way for me to survive. It was the only tool I had. Releasing the pain"
The story continues to talk about her childhood but eventually her life turns to sex and drugs as she moves to young adult and adult life.
"I walked into the treatment center thinking that I’d be out of there in three months because I knew what therapists wanted to hear and how to work the system. I made a good friend name Emily and we worked our way through the program, quickly becoming two of the leaders in the house. This awarded us extra responsibilities and privileges. We’d do all sorts of sneaky things to rebel against the program. We’d huff nail polish remover, one time we tried to smoke incense, we even drank toner. All of these were horrible ideas, of course, but we just wanted to get fucked up by any means. I was still addicted to pain and the self-harming continued, too. About 4 months into the program Emily and I made a plan to run. Of course, we failed in our attempt, which lead me into a deep depression....
Early in the process it can be frustrating to figure out what a boundary is, how to create boundaries that will be effective, and most importantly, how to reinforce our boundaries when they are threatened or violated. Like any new skill, it may take several clumsy but well-meaning attempts before we begin to learn how to apply even the most basic principles. The important thing to remember is, as with any skill, the more we practice, the easier it gets and the more proficient we become.
A common misconception, which often goes unchallenged, relates to the idea that boundaries are meant to somehow teach a lesson to the one with the addiction. We mistakenly believe that the more harsh our consequences and the more strict our expectations, the more they will see how serious we are and “snap out of it.” It doesn’t take long to realize that, sadly, the monster which is controlling them has no interest in learning anything from us at all. Therefore, our efforts must be turned towards protecting ourselves and those in the path of their destruction.
Do not try to go about establishing boundaries in recovery on your own for the first time. Let those who specialize in this deadly disease guide you through the process until you feel comfortable enough to stand on your own.
For more on setting boundaries, check out this great resource https://brightonrecoverycenter.com/boundaries-in-recovery/
One thing I have found to be common among recovering addicts is that, when their primary coping source (drugs) is taken away, they turn immediately to physical intimacy for coping. This can lead manifest itself in sex and love addiction along with codependency. Recently I had the chance to film two wonderful podcast/vodcast episodes on both the topic of sex and love addiction and the topic of codependency and addiction. Both are a great source of information, but I wanted to include some of the highlights here for this amazing community at Addiction Land.
I didn't exactly understand codependency until author, therapist, and recovering addict D.J. Burr put it in these simple words.
“Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship with yourself that is typically manifested with other people.” – D.J. Burr, LMHC, NCC, S-PSB
He gave an example of being in a conversation with someone you just met, but in the back of your mind you are only thinking of all the negative things this person might be thinking about you. Of course, that person is probably not thinking anything of the sort, but that's a codependent behavior. D.J. is a great resource for more information on this topic and I highly recommend hearing what he has to say on the podcast.
On thing that really stood out to me about sex and love addiction was something that John Taylor said in his podcast episode....
I recently had the honor of interviewing a brave recovering addict, who was sold to the cartel and only recently escaped. Her story was so amazing and is a testament to what a person can overcome. Now she is in recovery and has made great strides in her individual improvement and self-care. Fighting addiction is no easy matter, but it can be done, and you can win.
You can read the full story of her capture, escape, rehab treatment, and addiction recovery here
Here are some more memorable quotes from the story:
“I WOKE UP SOMETIME AFTER, TIED UP WITH A REVOLVER TO MY CHEST.”
“THEY ATTEMPTED TO STRANGLE ME TO DEATH AND DROVE 45 MINUTES AWAY TO DUMP MY BODY IN A FIELD.”...
“My first and foremost thoughts before I write this are to send love, prayers, and condolences to all of those victims and the families suffering a loss of loved ones by another senseless shooting. I wish a speedy recovery for all those who were injured. To those wounded? I want to say, PLEASE, if you begin to experience any delayed trauma or symptoms of PTSD, do not hesitate to reach out for help. There is NO SHAME in doing so. Know you are loved and not alone.
The world and I have you in our prayers,"
~Author, Catherine Lyon
"I will only use the word "shooter" as I write this article as I can not bring myself to write or say the shooters name in respect to all who got caught in this senseless mass shooting. I was sent a link to an article by a friend written courtesy of 'The New York Times.' I also read a couple more about the shooters gambling patterns, habits, and behaviors and had been risking money for years. As I have shared through social media, the more I read and heard coming from news reports, my gut feeling was telling me that this disgusting man may have had a gambling problem.
For the regular person who is not educated or informed about gambling addiction may not see the same warning signs and red flags I did or others who have or recovering from this deadly habit. While detectives and FBI profilers grapple with finding the motive or the "WHY" the shooter had killed, I think his gambling played a role in some way. Even CNN and MSNBC happen to make a few remarks ‘off the cuff’ about the shooters gambling, but not in a way that would link it to be a factor in what this disturbed man carried out.
Oh, they mentioned he was a multimillionaire and a "high stakes" recognized in the casinos in Nevada. A gambler who made many trips to gambling destinations like Reno, Vegas, and gamble on cruise lines. He liked playing $100 dollar a hand on video poker machines. But even millionaires can run out of money when addicted. Millionaires also carry out crimes and murder. One particular article recalled one time in 2007 the shooter stayed at the Mandalay Bay and entered a video poker machine contest....
I started with lines of Meth but quickly wanted to try shooting it. I asked one of my friends who was shooting Meth and he said to me, “This will change your life.” I thought he was being dramatic, but in all honesty, it did change my life, because I got just as addicted to that needle as anything. It was all in the ritual and the process. Getting it, burning it, making it, pulling that cloud of blood, and pushing it back in. You get the taste of it in your mouth before it’s even in your body. I loved the ritual so much that if I had drugs but no needle, I’d hold onto the drugs until I could get one. It’s overwhelming what that needle did to me and how it controlled my life for the next ten years.
My drug addiction overtook my life and I started doing crazy things. I’d go to Las Vegas to score a bunch of dope get loaded for days on end. I’d sell drugs to support my habit, I began ripping off everyone I knew, and started to get into a little bit of trouble with the law.
Because of my hookups, I could get pills for around $5 each, then turn around and sell them for $40. I’d use the money to purchase Meth and Heroine. If I didn’t have the money, I’d steal, manipulate, and hustle to get the drugs. I’d even walk into convenience stores, grab two cases of beer, and walk right out like I owned the place. I wasn’t even stealing the good beer either, I’d take two 30-packs of Stroh’s because that’s as much as I could carry. One time a big Polynesian lady gave chase and, being 130 pounds, I couldn’t outrun her with a case in each hand. I was running as fast as I could but she was catching up to me, so I had to ditch one of the 30s. It must have looked really interesting to the bystanders as I ran down the road, hugging a case of 30s while a big Polynesian lady chased me.
I made it back to the hotel and was out on the front porch smoking a cigarette when I saw a police car pull up to the building. I knew that police car was coming for me, but I just didn’t have it in me to run anymore. That was a moment of clarity and serenity for me. I could have taken off and probably got away, because I would have had a huge head start, but I just sat there and smoked that cigarette. I watched them go to the lobby, come up the stairs, walk towards me, and I just surrendered right there. I wanted to be done using but I didn’t know how. I wanted to be sober, but I didn’t think it was possible for me, because once I got sober, that’s when the true pain would begin. They took me to the Utah county jail where I detoxed over the next few days. Detoxing in jail was terrible but I also think it might be the best way to do it. Nobody is going to come and check on you, see how you’re doing or what they can do for you. You just have to suffer and you can’t act like a little bitch about it because you’re in jail. I appeared before the same judge I had to present to many times before, and this judge had given me every chance in the past, but this time he was finally fed up with me and sentenced me to serve a year in jail.
This is a portion of an incredibly moving story I wrote about my friend. Please check out the rest of it at https://brightonrecoverycenter.com/needles-new-life-matts-story-rehab-recovery/
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.
"Not All Addictions Are Substance Use Anymore."...
I just wanted to let people know about this amazing Podcast about addiction and alcoholism. It's been a great help to me and many of my friends. You can subscribe on all the regular podcast distributors, but you can also watch it as a Vodcast on the recovery soapbox site.
Recovery Soapbox was started as a place to openly discuss drug addiction, alcoholism and recovery. It's put on by a rehab center in Utah, but it's in no way a commercial for them. This clip is just a short preview, the full episodes are free and about an hour long on average. They are on their 9th episode. Withing the podcast, they do a Women in Recovery series that has been amazing. There are now three episode of Women in Recovery.
The guests on the podcast really know what they are talking about when it comes to alcoholism, drugs, addiction, rehab and recovery. Check it out if you get a chance or pass it along to someone who may be in need of some extra help.
This was an episode with a recovering addict named Sarah Kappos. It's one of my favorites....
Hello and Welcome Addictionland Friends,
It has again been awhile since my last update and post, so I wanted to share an update on what's been happening in my life and recovery. Last time I shared about a new DVD series I had been working on with a friend and it is going well. It will be to help others in early recovery and after treatment to learn how to begin the "inner work" needed and address underlying issues that arise when we begin our recovery journey. Recovery is not a race it is a sober, clean, or bet free lifestyle. It will be a lifelong work in progress. It means you get to have a beautiful life and do the things you love without addictions. If you need an aid to help you prevent relapse and start living a well-balanced recovery, make sure you check out this DVD Series by David McCauley here at Oak Valley Productions and Foundation...
Now it seems the Lord has another calling for me! Not only keep on my mission to help others in recovery from gambling addiction but now he has steered my ship back to writing. Back in late 2012 after my first book was published, I began to help other authors by offering book promoting services after I found hope hard it is for to promote one's book and the hours, days, and months before it catches fire with readers. I was very successful and met loads of wonderful authors who became friends and did for almost 3 years. Then In Recovery Magazine came calling with an offer to write my own column in the mag, interview high profile clients who had new books was AWESOME! I did it for 2 years and meet many more new friends NOW?
I am back in the writing saddle and putting the finishing touches finally on my 2nd book, wrote a piece for Author, Emily Hayworth for here book on Amazon called; The Little Book Of SOBRIETY.
I am now co-writing a former NFL pro's Memoir with him! It has been awesome so far! I will keep you posted on the release. He is full of Sobriety and Recovery Wisdom besides his life story and NFL career.
"What Does it Mean to be "Recovered" from Gambling Addiction"?
It is interesting to me the lingo, words, and slogans used by others to describe their "recovery." But what does it mean to be recovered? Do we get to a point in our recovery from this cunning addiction and we are miraculously done? We stop having to go to meetings or support groups. That can not be further from the truth. Let's look at the meaning of Recover; it means to "return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength and find or regain possession of (something stolen or lost). For me, recovery from addiction is an experience and journey, so it is hard to put it into words.
We know our life was stolen as we became lost in our gambling addiction. At least it did for me. And as far as; "return to a normal state"? That takes a lot of recovery work. Besides, is there really a "Normal State"? Not in the state of our society we live in today. Gambling has always been a form of entertainment and fun, and the offerings are ever expanding in both Indian Casinos, and State Lotteries, those trying to stay in recovery will never be totally "recovered" because of the temptations of these offerings are all around us, and It is why relapse is so high.