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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Many years ago when Overeaters Anonymous was in its infancy in Los Angeles, members of AA who had years of sobriety were invited to speak at OA meetings. They brought experience, strength and hope to a group struggling to get on its feet. Among the AA helpers was a wonderful woman named Dottie who was an inspiring speaker. Dottie was welcomed at the burgeoning OA meetings and became a friend and supporter of those wanting to be free of compulsive eating.

As the years went by and OA grew, other anonymous meetings sprang up for drug addicts and later spenders and sex addicts. Then word went around that Dottie was starting another new meeting that was different from all the rest. It was a meeting open to any and all people suffering from addictive or compulsive behaviors. No type of addiction was considered more serious than another. It was a meeting where all attendees were practicing the 12 steps.

Soon after this meeting got underway I moved away from Los Angeles so I never found out what happened to that group, but I never forgot it. We desperately need a new support system today that is like Dottie’s since we have become a society riddled with addictions and compulsions of all sorts. People switch from one to another but are never free of the cravings to feel good at all costs.

I recall Betty, the very first client I treated after I was licensed as an MFT. Betty was an overeating, drug-addicted alcoholic. She wanted me to help her stop her compulsive overeating. Then she met her husband, who was a drug dealer, and she dropped out of therapy. She eventually returned, having divorced her husband. She was not using drugs and was trying to stay off booze, but food was a constant battle.

I worked with Betty for quite a while as she tried to kick all three of her compulsions. She never managed to get rid of all three at the same time.  Finally she relocated to another city. I remember one of her letters in which she said that she went to an alcoholism counselor who told her, “I don’t care what you do, just DON”T DRINK!” She wrote that she stopped drinking and immediately gained 35 pounds!


Posted by on in Food Addiction

It happens far too often.  You read about some celebrity who has a new diet that is guaranteed to help you shed those pounds.  Or you talk to a friend who has lost a ton of weight by following a new plan.  You even hear the experts describe it not as a diet, but as a new way of life.  So you go on it.  Then the inevitable happens: you get bored, you get stuck, you cheat a little and then the cravings hit.  The next thing you know it’s a slip then a relapse.  Your choice is to try again, or head off to the next diet.  Atkins. South Beach.  Body for Life.  Paleo.  Is it going to work? In fact, research shows that dieting actually increases cravings.

What if the problem isn’t what you eat, but what you do when you are not eating?  For most people that’s exactly the issue: the problem is cravings.  Cravings are why you switched from one plan to another; cravings are why you feel you need to “cheat.”  And cravings will come no matter what diet or “way of life” you choose.

So instead of, yet again, changing what you eat, why not change you, by changing what you do when you’re not eating?  Here a 5 suggestions that will help you do just that and get those pesky cravings under control.

Write it down

“Wait… you want me to write down every single thing I eat or drink?”  Absolutely. Keeping a food diary greatly improves your chance of success.  Food diary users are more likely to lose weight, less likely to crave and more likely to stick to their plans.  If writing down your meals is too cumbersome, a number of smartphone apps like LoseIt! and MyFitnessPal make logging a snap, and even allow you to scan the barcodes of foods to automatically enter their nutritional information.  If you have issues with orthorexia, this may require some special modification/attention, but most people who struggle should take inventory. Many food diary users, however, will log their meals for a while and then stop, which leads to the next suggestion:


Posted by on in Gambling Addiction
Hello AddictionLand.
I'm a Newbie here and I find this site very helpful! I'm a recovering addicted compulsive gambler, and since there is not a whole lot of content here on this Addiction, I thought I'd share some from time to time to help grow and support your members here. Just like a GA meeting......IT ONLY TAKES ONE PERSON TO HAVE A MEETING....EVEN if your the Only one!....LOL....Here is a good *Relapse Prevention Guide I found and use Daily if needed!

*Relapse Prevention Guide*

If you find this post helpful to use, Please come back to “Copy” as needed for help with “Relapse Prevention” as you work your own Recovery. It is why we can never get complacent or TOO Comfortable. That can leave us open for relapse. 60% of people that come out of treatment will Relapse in the 1st 3 months of recovery. This does NOT have to be YOU. I hope many find this helpful. I did, even today. *Catherine* :-)

Relapse prevention is one of the most important aspects of treatment. In a study of many different addictions, approximately one/thirds of the patients relapsed within the first two weeks, sixty percent relapsed within the first three months, and sixty-seven within twelve months. (hunt et al., 1971).

Most patients relapse within three months of leaving treatment. This is the period of highest risk. Members of Gamblers Anonymous must be willing to do almost anything to prevent relapse. They need to see themselves as clinging to an ice- covered cliff with their recovery support group holding the only rope. The most important thing they can do is go to meetings. Members who are working a daily program of recovery will not relapse. These behaviors are incompatible. Relapse is a process that begins long before making the first bet. If the new tools of recovery are not used, and the problems begin to escalate, members reach a point where they think their only option is to gamble. The Relapse Prevention Exercise for Gamblers uses the work of Gorski and Miller (1986), and Marlatt and Gordon (1985), to develop a relapse prevention plan. Some of this work was done with alcohol or other addictions, but it is applicable for any compulsive behavior. Relapse prevention requires working a daily program of recovery.

The member must take his or her personal inventory at the end of every day. If any of the relapse symptoms become evident, immediate action must be taken. Miller and Gorski (1982), working with alcoholics, developed a list of thirty-seven warning signs. Members must check these signs every day for symptoms that they are having problems. Members must develop written plans detailing the exact things they are going to do if they get into trouble. Other people need to check each member daily for relapse warning signs. This can be done by family members, a sponsor, or someone from the workplace. This is a good reason for members to go to daily meetings and hang around other recovering people. Often other people can see what members are unable to see for themselves. The member needs to identify high risk situations that may trigger relapse, and to develop coping skills to deal with each situation. the more a member can practice these skills, the better off he or she will be in recovery. In meetings, members need to discuss high risk situations and help each other develop relapse prevention plans.

Each member will be different, but Marlatt and Gordon (1985) found that most relapses occur when patients are experiencing the following high risk situations:

Negative emotions: Particularly anger and frustration. This could also be negative emotions such as boredom, jealousy, depression, anxiety, ect..

Social pressure: Being in a social situation where people are gambling, or being directly encouraged to gamble by someone. Interpersonal conflict: This can be a conflict with the parent, spouse, child, boss, friend, ect.. Positive emotions: Something positive happens and the member want to celebrate. This can be a promotion, wedding, birth of a child, graduation, ect..

To test personal control:

The member gambles to find out if they can control the gambling.

Using the relapse exercise, members develop the skills necessary to deal with each of the high risk situations, then they practice the new skills until they become good at them. All members must role play gambling refusal situations, with an experienced member, until they can say no and feel relatively comfortable. They must examine and experience all their triggers, see through the first use, and learn how to deal with the euphoric recall.

Members must develop a plan for a slip. What are they going to do if they gamble again? Who are they going to contact? What are they going to say? This must be practiced again and again with other members.

The member must understand the behavior chain. They must also develop skills for changing their thoughts, feelings, and actions when they have problems. The members should know that gambling cravings will pass if they move away from the situation and use their new tools of recovery.


Relapse begins long before you gamble again. There are symptoms that precede gambling. This relapse prevention exercise teaches how to identify and control these symptoms before they lead to problems. If you allow these symptoms to go without acting on them, gambling will result.

The Relapse Warning Signs

All relapses begin with warning signs that will signal you or your loved ones that you are in trouble. If you do not recognize these signs, you will decompensate and finally return to gambling again. All of these signs are reactions to stress, and they are a reemergence of the disease. They are a means by which your body and mind are telling you that you are having problems. Gorski and Miller (1982) recognized thirty-seven warning signs in alcoholics who relapsed. You may not have all these symptoms before you begin gambling again, but you will have some of them long before you gamble. You must determine which symptoms are the most characteristic of you, and you must come up with coping skills for dealing with each symptom.

Listed below are the thirty-seven warning symptoms.

Circle the ones that you have experienced before you gambled.

1. Apprehension about well being.

2. Denial

3. Adamant commitment to stop gambling.

4. Compulsive behavior

5. Compulsive attempts to impose abstinence on others.

6. Defensiveness

7. Impulsive behavior.

8. Loneliness

9. Tunnel vision.

10. Minor depression

11. Loss of constructive planning.

12. Plans begin to fail.

13. Idle day dreaming & wishful thinking.

14. Feeling nothing can be solved.

15. Immature to be happy.

16. Periods of confusion.

17. Irritation with friends.

18. Easily angered.

19. Irregular eating habits.


21. Irregular sleeping habits.

22. Progressive loss of daily structure.

23. Periods of deep depression.

24. Irregular attendance at meeting.

25. Development of an “I don’t care” attitude.

26. Open rejection of help.

27. Dissatisfaction with life.

28. thoughts of social gambling.

29. Feeling of powerlessness or helplessness.

30. Self-pity

31. Conscious lying.

32. Complete loss of self-confidence.

33. Unreasonable resentments.

34. Discontinuing all treatment.

35. Start of controlled gambling.

36. Loss of control.

37. Overwhelming loneliness, frustration, anger, and tension.

What To Do When We Experience A Warning Sign:

When you recognize any of the above symptoms you need to take action. Make a list of coping skills you can use when you experience a symptom that is common for you. This will happen. You will have problems in recovery. Your task is to take affirmative action at he earliest possible moment. Remember, a symptom is a danger signal. You are in trouble. Make a list on what you are going to do. Are you going to call your sponsor, go to a meeting, call your counselor, call someone in G.A.. Now detail several plans of action.

Plan 1._______________________________________________________

Plan 2._______________________________________________________

Plan 3._______________________________________________________

Plan 4._______________________________________________________

Plan 5._______________________________________________________

Plan 6. _______________________________________________________

Plan 7.________________________________________________________

Plan 8.________________________________________________________

Plan 9.________________________________________________________

Plan 10._______________________________________________________

You need to check each warning symptom daily in your personal inventory. Also you need to have other people check you daily. You will not always pick up the symptoms yourself. You may be denying the problem again. Your spouse, sponsor, or fellow G.A. member can warn you when he or she feels you may be in trouble. Listen to these people. If they tell you they sense a problem, take action. You may need professional help in working the problem through. Don’t hesitate in calling and asking for help. Anything is better than relapsing. If you overreact to a warning sign you are not going to be in trouble, but if you underreact you may be headed for real trouble. Compulsive gambling is a deadly disease. Your life could be at stake.

The High Risk Situations

Marlatt and Gordon (1985)found that relapse is more likely to occur in certain situations. These situations can trigger relapse. They found that people relapsed when they couldn’t cope with life situations except by returning to their addictive behaviors.

Your job is to develop coping skills for dealing with each high-risk situation.

Negative Emotions

Thirty-five percent of the people who relapse do so when feeling a negative feeling that they can’t cope with. Most felt angry or frustrated, but some felt anxious, bored, lonely or depressed. Almost any negative feeling can lead to relapse if you don’t learn how to cope with the emotion. Feelings motivate you to take action. You must act to solve any problem.

Circle any of the following feelings that seem to lead you to gamble.

1. Loneliness

2. Anger

3. Rejection

4. Emptiness

5. Annoyed

6. Sad

7. Exasperated

8. Betrayed

9. Cheated

10. Frustrated

11. Envious

12. Exhausted

13. Bored

14. Anxious

15. Ashamed

16. Bitter

17. Burdened

18. Foolish

19. Jealous

20. Left out

21. Selfish

22. Testy


24. Sorry

25. Greedy

26. Aggravated

27. Expansive

28. Miserable

29. Unloved

30. Worried

31. Scared

32. Spiteful

33. Tearful

34. Helpless

35. Neglected

36. Grief

37. Confused

38. Crushed

39. Discontented

40. Aggravated

41. Irritated

42. overwhelmed

43. Panicked

44. Trapped

45. Unsure

46. Intimidated

47. Distraught

48. Uneasy

49. Guilty

50. Threatened

Develop A Plan To Deal With Negative Emotions

These are just a few of the feeling words. Add more if you need to. Develop coping skills for dealing with each feeling that makes you vulnerable to relapse. Exactly what are you going to do when you have this feeling? Detail your SPECIFIC plan of action. Some options are: Talk to my sponsor; call a friend in the program; go to a meeting; ect.. For each feeling, develop a specific plan of action.




Plan 3.______________________________









Continue to fill out these feeling forms until you have all the feelings that give you trouble and you have coping skills for dealing with each feeling.

Social Pressure:

Twenty percent of people relapse in a social situation. Social pressure can be direct, where someone directly encourages you to gamble, or it can be indirect, as in a social situation where people are gambling. Both of these situations can trigger intense craving, and this can lead to relapse. For example, over sixty percent of alcoholics relapse in a bar.

Certain friends are more likely to encourage you to gamble. These people don’t want to hurt you. They may want you to relax, and have a good time. They want their old friend back. They don’t understand the nature of your disease. Perhaps they are compulsive gamblers themselves and are in denial.

High-risk Friends

Make a list of friends who might encourage you to gamble.





What are you going to do when they suggest that you gamble? What are you going to say? Set up a group of G.A. where the whole group encourages you to gamble. Consider carefully how you are feeling when they are encouraging you. Listen to what you say. Have them help you develop appropriate ways to say no.

High-risk Social Situations

Certain social situations will trigger craving. These are the situations where you have gambled in the past. Certain bars or restaurants, a particular part of town, certain music, athletic events, parties, weddings, family get together. All of these situations can trigger intense cravings. Make a list of five social situations where you will be vulnerable to relapse.






In early recovery, you will need to avoid these situations and friends. To put yourself in a high-risk situation is asking for trouble. If you have to attend a function where there will be gambling, take someone with you who is in the program. Go with someone who will support you in recovery. Make sure that you have a way home. You do not have to stay and torture yourself. You can leave if you feel uncomfortable. Avoid all situations where your recovery feels shaky.

Interpersonal Conflict

Sixteen percent of people relapse when in conflict with some other person. They have a problem with someone, and they have no idea how to cope with the problem. The stress of the problem builds, and leads to gambling. This conflict usually happens with someone that you are closely involved with: wife, husband children, parents, siblings, friends, boss, ect..

You can have a serious problem with anyone, even strangers, so you must have a plan for dealing with interpersonal conflict. You will develop specific skills that will help you communicate, even when you are under stress.

You need to learn and repeatedly practice the following interpersonal skills.

1. Tell the truth all the time.

2. Share how you feel.

3. Ask for what you want.

4. Find some truth in what other people are saying.

5. Be willing to compromise.

If you can stay in the conflict and work it out, that’s great. But if you can’t, you have to leave the situation and get help. You may have to go for a walk, a run or a drive. You might need to cool down. You must stop the conflict. You can’t continue to try and deal with a situation that you feel is to much for you. Don’t feel bad about this. Interpersonal relationships are the hardest challenges we face. Carry a card with you that list people you can contact. You may want to call your sponsor, minister, counselor, fellow G.A. member, friend, family member, doctor, or anyone else that may support you.

In an interpersonal conflict you will fear abandonment. You need to get accurate and reassure yourself that you have many people who still care about you. Remember that your Higher Power cares about you. God created you and loves you perfectly. Remember the other people in life that love you. This is one of the main reasons for talking to someone else. When they listen to you, they give you the feeling that you are loved.

If you still feel afraid or angry, get with someone you trust and stay with that person until you feel safe. Do not struggle out there all by yourself! Every member of G.A. will understand how you are feeling. We have all had these kinds of problems. We have all felt lost, helpless, hopeless, and angry.

Make an emergency card that includes all of the people you call if you are having difficulty. Write their phone numbers down and carry this card with you at all times. Show this card to your sponsor. Practice asking someone for help in treatment once each day. Write the situation down and show it to another member. Get into the habit of asking for help. Call someone everyday just to stay in touch and keep the lines of communications open. Get use to it. Don’t wait to ask for help at the last minute, this makes asking more difficult.

Positive Feelings

Twelve percent of the people relapse when they are feeling positive emotions. Think of all the times you gambled to celebrate. That has gotten to be such a habit that when something good happens, you will immediately think about gambling. You need to be ready when you feel like a winner. This may be at a wedding, birth, promotion, or any event where you feel good. How are you going to celebrate without gambling? Make a celebration plan. You may have to take someone with you to celebrate, particularly in early recovery.

Positive feelings can also work when you are by yourself. A beautiful spring day can be enough to get you thinking about gambling. You need an action plan for when these thoughts pass through your mind. You must immediately get accurate and get real. In recovery we are committed to reality. Don’t sit there and imagine how wonderful you would feel if you gambled. Tell yourself the truth. Think about the pain that gambling has caused you. If you toy with positive feelings, you will ultimately gamble.

Circle the positive feelings that make you vulnerable to relapse.

1. Affection

2. Bold

3. Brave

4. Calm

5. Capable

6. Boisterous

7. Confident

8. Delightful

9. Desire

10. Enchanted

11. Joy

12. Free

13. Glad

14. Glee

15. Happy

16. Honored

17. Horny

18. Infatuated

19. Inspired

20. Kinky

21. Lazy

22. Loving

23. Peaceful

24. Pleasant

25. Pleased

26. Sexy

27. Wonderful

28. Cool

29. Relaxed

30. Reverent

31. Silly

32. Vivacious

33. Adequate

34. Efficient

35. Successful

36. Accomplished

37. Hopeful

38. Orgasmic

39. Elated

40. Merry

41. Ecstatic

42. Upbeat

43. Splendid

44. Yearning

45. Bliss

46. Excited

47. Exhilarated

48. Proud

49. Aroused

50. Festive

A Plan To Cope With Positive Feeling:

These are the feelings that may make you Vulnerable to relapse. You must be careful when you are feeling good. Make a action plan For dealing with each positive emotion that makes you vulnerable to gambling.

Feeling ________________________________________

Plan 1. ______________________________

Plan 2. ______________________________

Plan 3. ______________________________

Feeling ________________________________________

Plan 1. ______________________________

Plan 2. ______________________________

Plan 3._______________________________

Feeling ________________________________________

Plan 1. _______________________________

Plan 2. _______________________________

Plan 3.________________________________

Continue this planning until you develop an approach for each of the positive feeling that make you vulnerable.

Test Personal Control:

Five percent of the people relapse to test if they can gamble again. They fool themselves into thinking that they may be able to do so normally. This time they will only use a little. This time they will be able to control themselves. People who fool themselves this way are in for big trouble. From the first bet, most people are in full-blown relapse within thirty days.

Testing personal control begins with inaccurate thinking. It takes you back to Step One. You need to think accurately. You are powerless over gambling. If you use, you will lose. It’s as simple as that. You are physiologically, psychologically, and socially addicted to gambling. The cells of your body won’t suddenly change, no matter how long you are clean. You are gambling dependent in your cells. This will never change.

How To See Through The First Temptation

You need to look at how the illness part of yourself will try and convince you that you are not a problem gambler. The illness will flash on the screen of your consciousness all the good things that gambling did for you. Make a list of these things. In the first column, mark early gambling, Write down some of the good things you were getting out of gambling. Why were you gambling? What good came out of it? Did it make you feel social, smart, pretty, intelligent, brave, popular, desirable, relaxed, sexy? Did it help you sleep? Did it make you feel confident? Did it help you forget problems? Make a long list. These are the good things you were getting when you first started gambling.

Early gambling Late gambling

1.______________________ 1.______________________

2.______________________ 2.______________________

3.______________________ 3.______________________

4.______________________ 4.______________________

5.______________________ 5.______________________

6.______________________ 6.______________________

7.______________________ 7.______________________

8.______________________ 8.______________________

9.______________________ 9.______________________

10._____________________ 10._____________________

Now go back and place in the second column, marked late gambling, how you were doing in that area once you became dependent? How are you doing in that area right before you came into the program? Did you still feel social, or did you feel alone? Did you still feel intelligent, or did you feel stupid? You will find that a great change has taken place. The very things that you were gambling for in the early gambling, you get the opposite of in the late gambling. If you were gambling to be more popular, you felt more isolated and alone. If you were gambling to feel brave, you were feeling more afraid. If you were gambling to feel smart, you felt stupid. This is a major characteristic of compulsive gambling.

Take a long look at both these list and think about how the illness is going to try to work inside your thinking. The addicted part of yourself will present to you all the good things you got in early gambling. This is how the disease will encourage you to gamble. You must see through the first use of negative consequences that are dead ahead.

Look at the second list. You must be able to see the misery that is coming if you gamble. For most people who relapse there are only a few days of controlled gambling, at he most, before lost of control sets in. There are usually only a few days or hours before all the bad stuff begins to click back into place. Relapse is terrible. It is the most intense misery that you can imagine.

Lapse And Relapse:

A lapse is the first bet. This is the first step before a full blown relapse. A relapse is continuing to gamble until the full biological, psychological, and social disease is present. All of the complex biological, psychological, and social components of the of the disease become evident very quickly. For now lets call a lapse a slip even though G.A. does not use the word slip.

The Slip Plan:

You must have a plan in case you slip. It is foolish to think that you will never have a problem again. You must plan what you are going to do if you have problems. Hunt et al. (1971) found in a study of recovering addicts, that thirty-three percent of patients lapsed within two weeks of leaving treatment. Sixty percent lapsed within three months. At the end of eight months, sixty-three percent had used.

The worst thing you can do when you slip is to think that you completely failed in recovery. This is inaccurate thinking. You are not a total failure. You haven’t lost everything. You have made a mistake, and you need to learn from it. You let some part of your program go, and you are paying for it. You need to examine exactly what happened and get back into recovery.

A slip is an emergency. It is a matter of life and death. You must take immediate action to prevent the slip from becoming a full relapse. You must call someone in the program, preferably your sponsor, and tell that person what happened. You need to carefully examine why you slipped. You cannot gamble and use the tools of recovery at the same time. Something went wrong. You didn’t use your new skills. You must make a plan of action to recover from your slip. You cannot do this by yourself. You are in denial. You don’t know the whole truth. If you did, you wouldn’t have relapsed.

Call your sponsor or a professional counselor and have him or her develop a new treatment plan for you. You may need to attend more meetings. You may need to see a counselor. You may need a new sponsor. You may need outpatient treatment. You may need inpatient treatment. You have to get honest with yourself. You need to develop a plan and follow it. You need someone else to agree to keep an eye on you for a while. Do not try to do this alone. What we cannot do alone, we can do together.

The Behavior Chain:

All behavior occurs in a certain sequence. First there is the TRIGGER. This is the external event that starts the behavioral sequence. After the trigger, there comes THINKING. Much of this thinking comes very fast, and you
and you will not consciously pick it up unless you stop and focus on it. The thoughts trigger FEELINGS, which give you energy and direction for action. Next comes the BEHAVIOR, or the action initiated by the trigger. Lastly, there is always CONSEQUENCES for any action.

Diagrammed, the behavior chain looks like this:


Lets go through a behavior sequence and see how it works. On the way home from work, George, a recovering compulsive gambler, passes the convenience store (This is the trigger). He thinks “I’ve had a hard day. Maybe I’ll do a couple of scratch off lottery tickets to unwind” (The trigger initiates thinking). George craves gambling (The thinking initiates feeling). George turns into the convenience store and begins gambling (The feelings initiates behavior). George relapses (The behavior has a consequence).

Let’s work through another example. It’s is eleven o’clock at night and Betty is not asleep (Trigger). She thinks “I’ll never get to sleep tonight unless I gamble” (Thinking). She feels an increase in her anxiety about not sleeping (Feeling). She gets up and gambles (Behavior). She losses all her money and is so depressed she can’t work the next morning (Consequence).

How To Cope With Triggers:

At every point along the behavior chain you work on preventing relapse. First you need to examine your triggers carefully. What environmental events lead you to gambling? We have gone over some of these when we examined high-risk situations. Determined what people, places, or things make you vulnerable to relapse. Stay away from these triggers as much as possible. If a trigger occurs, use your new coping skills.

Don’t let the trigger initiate old behavior. Stop and think. Don’t let your thinking get out of control. Challenge your thinking and get accurate about what’s real. Let’s look at some inaccurate thoughts.

1. It’s not going to hurt.

2. No one’s going to Know.

3. I need to relax.

4. I’ve had a hard day.

5. I’m just going to spend a couple of bucks.

6. My friends want me to gamble.

7. It’s the only way I can sleep.

8. I never had a problem with sports gambling.

9. I can do anything I want.

10. I’m lonely.

All of these inaccurate thoughts can be used to fuel the craving that leads to relapse. You must stop and challenge your thinking until you are thinking accurately. You must replace inaccurate thoughts with accurate ones. You are a compulsive gambler. If you gamble you could die. That is the truth. Think through the first bet. Get honest with yourself.

How To Cope With Craving

If you think inaccurately you will begin craving. This is the powerful feeling that drives compulsive gambling. Craving is like an ocean wave. It will build and then, wash over you. Craving doesn’t last long if you move away from gambling. If you move closer to a gambling situation, The craving will increase until you gamble. Immediately on feeling a desire to gamble think this thought:


Now, what are your options? You are in trouble. You are craving. What are you going to do to prevent relapse? You must move away from the gambling situation. Perhaps you need to call your sponsor; go to a meeting; turn it over; call your counselor; or visit a friend. You must do something else other than thinking about gambling. Don’t sit there and ponder about gambling. You will lose that debate. This illness is called the great debater. If you leave it unchecked, it will seduce you into gambling.

The illness must lie to work. You must uncover the lie as quickly as possible and get it back to the truth. You must take the appropriate action necessary to maintain your recovery.

Develop A Daily relapse Prevention Program

If you work a daily program of recovery your chances of success greatly increase. You need to evaluate your recovery daily and keep a log. This is your daily inventory.

1. Assess all relapse warning signs.

A. What symptoms did I see in myself today?

B. What am I going to do about them?

2. Assess love of self.

A. What did I do to love myself today?

B. What am I going to do tomorrow?

3. Assess love of others.

A. What did I do to love others today?

B. What am I going to do tomorrow?

4. Assess love of God.

A. What did I do to love God today?

B. What am I going to do tomorrow?

5. Assess sleep pattern.

A. How am I sleeping?

6. Assess exercise.

A. Am I getting enough exercise?

7. Assess nutrition.

A. Am I eating right.

8. Review total recovery program.

A. How am I doing in recovery?

B. What is the next step in my recovery program?

9. Read the Combo Book, or other recovery literature.

A. Pray and meditate for a few minutes.

B. Relax completely.

Thanks to Ken and Ira who put this program together

Fill out this inventory every day and keep a journal about how you are doing. You will be amazed as, from time to time you read back over your journal. You will be amazed at how much you have grown.

Create a card that indicates on one side the names of people you will call in case of emergency. On the other side list the ten reasons you want to stay free from gambling. Never forget these reasons. read this list often and carry it with you at all times in your Combo Book. If you struggle in recovery take it out and read it to yourself. And remember take it one day at a time!

The next thing I’d like to add to this, is about GORSKI they kept referring to. It’s a “HE” Mr. Terry Gorski, who as expert on Relapse and has some wonderful, useful books and workbooks to also check out if you’d like. I have the pleasure of him following my Recovery Twitter, and we interact often :-)
He is full of info!…LOL…
Here is his website link: I really hope all this information will help many!! I can not tell you how many times I felt like recovery was to DAMN Hard, gave up, and talked myself right back out there continuing my suffering because I’d say, “It’s easier to Gamble then do all this work!!” BOY WAS I WRONG! These past years have been most REWARDING OF MY LIFE! The hard work was Worth It, and So ARE YOU!!

***Many people mistakenly believe that relapse is an inevitable part of recovery but they are wrong! Relapse can be prevented. Its as easy as adding some special skills to the recovery tool kit. Relapse prevention methods have become widely accepted and effective.
However, two mistaken beliefs about relapse prevention persist in the mind of people. The first is that relapse prevention needs to come at the end of initial treatment; and the second is that relapse prevention should be reserved only for people who have attempted recovery and returned to addictive use. This workbook is designed to challenge these mistaken beliefs. It will show how primary recovery skills and relapse prevention skills can be seamlessly brought together. Most recovering people experience early relapse warning signs and high-risk situations. They don’t know what’s happening or what to do. As a result, they feel powerless and confused. Their stress goes up. They start having craving and using drug-seeking behaviors. They get into a spiral of dysfunction and eventually ask themselves the question, If this is recovery, why bother? This is why so many people benefit from a custom-designed package of both primary recovery and relapse prevention that they can use from day one. Its not magic to avoid relapse, people just need to do the right things at the right time. This workbook shows them how through a daily planning process and a set of skills that can support them through the critical first days of recovery.

***I TRULY KNOW THIS SYSTEM & WORKBOOK HERE LAID OUT FOR YOU WORKS!! I've used all of it myself, but.....WE ALL KNOW.....The 1st & Hardest Step to take??.....IS the step of Admitting to yourself that Gambling is interfering in ALL Area's of your Life! YOU ARE WORTH MORE THEN THAT!! God Bless you on your Recovery Journey....... *Author, Catherine Lyon* Come by my Recovery Blog for MORE helpful information and good Recovery Reads!

Tagged in: addiction recovery
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Posted by on in Food Addiction

Over the last several years, nearly every new diet on the scene has addressed cravings by suggesting “cheat meals.”   Usually the hack formula goes something like this:

All the other diets you have tried have been wrong because they didn’t pay attention to the problem with food X.  Food X and those like it are a major problem.  You need to stop eating them.  Here is a plan to do that and some recipes to show you that eating without food X is possible and even enjoyable. This is not a diet; it’s a way of life. Here are a bunch of people who have successfully lost weight on this plan.  Oh and by the way, because the cravings will be intense, you should give yourself a break and cheat every once in a while.    Of course, one major problem with these diets is that they don’t adequately address the more important issue:  craving.  In fact, research shows that dieting actually increases cravings.

However, another even more important reason these diets fail is that they never really address what is really core to the weight gain, dieting, weight loss cycle:  shame.  Shame drives the cravings bus.  Shame is why you gain the weight back every time.  Shame is what tricks you into thinking you “deserve” that piece of chocolate cake.  Shame tells you that deserve to cheat every once in a while.  For most people on the roller-coaster of dieting and weight gain, the diet they are really on is the shame diet.  And they are bingeing and purging shame in a vicious cycle that no diet will ever adequately address.

Rather than a cheat meal, want to know what you really deserve?  (Hint: it’s not some deep awareness about the toxic effects of wheat or gluten).  It’s self-love, acceptance, peace, a sense of purpose, and connectedness. Shame destroys all of these basic human needs by tricking you into thinking that you deserve something that actually hurts you.  Just think about it: does it really make sense that either cheating or dieting could be a solution for shame?

Leaving aside the issue of dieting…could it ever make sense that a new way of eating could solve the shame problem?  And if you’re doing the cheating, who exactly is being cheated?


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. -- Helen Keller

Addiction is the cause of extreme suffering for many individuals and their families.  The use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol will often result in significant consequences for many Americans let alone the harm caused to our communities.   With the proliferation of the electronic age there is not a lack of information or awareness with the scope of the addiction challenge.

Pharmaceutical Opioid drugs such as Oxycodone has wreaked havoc in middle income neighborhoods that at one time seemed to be exempt of such mass damage.  The Crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s seemed to rear its ugly head in the inner cities of the country.  Methamphetamine played a huge role in the South and Southwest regions of the country.  But today the every region of the country seems to be impacted by this epidemic.  Alcohol issues continue to play a negative role in the country as well with little signs of letting up its strangle hold on millions of Americans.

Yet with all of that said, as bleak of a picture as it may seem to be, recovery works.  Millions of Americans seek treatment each year and many are successful.  Mutual support and recovery groups have strengthened the access to long-term community support and fellowship.  Groups that utilize the Twelve-Step process continue to grow as well as new science and psychological based groups that have emerged on the scene offering a wide variety of self-improvement options.  Yes, the world of addiction is full of suffering, but the recovery process helps those afflicted to overcome it!



Posted by on in Alcoholism

Many years before I found my way into a group room or sat in a chair before a client, I listened to a recording of Dr. King and his "I Have a Dream" speech.  Having listened to his speech I knew I wanted to help people in some way and I knew I wanted to affect change, I just didn't know how. I had a dream of supporting clients to find a way to exit addiction. I suspect I must have found a way to reach my goal as more than 28 years later I continue to support people to find a way to to achieve sobriety. When I was wandering about trying different careers, I tried selling cars for a bit.  The work didn't engage me, but in some way I latched on to the idea of sales.  In some way I sell sobriety.  I am able to highlight the various features of recovery and like car maintenance, I am able to show clients what they need to do to achieve lasting recovery.  Taking care of your car is a choice, much like recovery is a choice. To stay sober you need to do many little things on a regular basis that support you to abstain from chemicals or support you to make a decision to use in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary.  It's not much different than maintaining a car.  If you neglect the maintenance your vehicle will cease to run. To this end I think that everybody has the ability to make a choice and find sobriety.

Over 32 years ago I made a conscious decision to quit using chemicals.  I found a way that worked for me with the help of my grandparents.  The way they supported me to remain sober looks very similar to the way I have been able to help clients find sobriety.  Throughout my career I have seen various trends in the field of addiction recovery.  While the addiction treatment industry was borne out of the self-help movement, things have changed.  While I can see the benefit of attending support groups, most research has not affected the way support groups and the 12-step movement operate.  However,  great strides in modern science have brought many changes in the way addiction treatment and mental health services are delivered. We have seen the the advent of anti-craving medications, the creation of various cognitive behavioral therapies, motivational interviewing, the creation of the Transtheoretical Model (stages-of-change) short-term therapy, goal-based treatment, and the implementation of peer-led support.

While I think many changes in the addiction treatment industry have been helpful, I have seen an intensification in the negative attitudes from some folks in various support groups or clinicians in the recovery community suggesting the "new methods" are essentially harmful.  I don't think this is the case.  I think that many people who see the "new therapies" as harmful are misinformed and narrowly focused.  It seems to me that at times people forget that recovery looks different for everybody.  I am not sure how attending 12-step meetings gives a person special insight over someone who found recovery though a therapist and anti-craving medications.  It seems to me that recovery is a choice.  How we get there shouldn't matter - what matters is that we find a way and that we get there.

This might be a contentious statement for some folks, but my sense is that recovery alone is not a job qualification.  I don't think that being sober gives us any special insight into the addicted mind or the behavior of an addict.  In some ways we could suggest that a period of recovery without a professional and educational background to complement our experience could be seen as a hindrance and allow us to be less than objective?  Perhaps recovery alone positions us to be too close to the issue at hand and would serve as a deterrent for a sober person trying to run a group in a treatment facility.  I don't think that being sober makes us special, just different.

Many times I will hear someone in recovery suggest that 'only an addict or alcoholic can understand another addict or alcoholic'.  I don't think this is the case and is essentially an urban myth.  When I think of addiction I think of people feeling helpless, powerless, and being held captive by their dark side. My sense is that we don't need to be brilliant to understand the mind of an addict, just human.


Posted by on in Alcoholism

Developing skills to manage your emotional states is crucial if you want to develop long-term sobriety.  While the initial phase of recovery is often met with a 'Pink Cloud' or Honeymoon period, it is very likely that once the newness of recovery wears off the newly sober addict or alcoholic will encounter depression, mood swings, confusion, memory loss and an inability to regulate their emotions due to brain chemistry that has yet find homeostasis.  In this article I offer concrete and specific ways you can approach your "emotional mess" and posit solutions for managing feelings that are distressing to you.

If we take the position that addiction is largely the result of brain chemistry, it makes sense to me that we would approach a medical problem with a medical solution.  Make an appointment with your medical provider to discuss the possibility of being assessed for anti-depressants.  The effect of chemical use tends to create an experience where your world can feel very small.  I suspect this is due to your brain's inability to produce the required brain chemistry for normal cognitive and emotional functioning. A lack of the appropriate neurotransmitters can make you feel like you don't have the needed emotional bandwidth required to face the day-to-day challenges.  Utilizing the available pharmacology and today's research can go a long way in helping you develop a sense of ease in your recovery.

Developing skills to reframe what you are thinking is crucial if you want to stay sane.  One of the biggest lessons we learn in recovery is that we need to come to a place where we don’t personalize everything. There's a host of information available on the web if you'd like to do further study, but I would like you to consider the following ideas:

1) Take responsibility for your distress.  While negative events happen, it is important to realize that you are only responsible for your part in the situation.  Make an effort to talk to a trusted friend to get clarification on your part in a situation as well as where your responsibility ends.
2) Remind yourself that you cannot control the timing, the outcome, or how you, feel. You are only responsible for what you think.  By focusing on what you think you can change how you feel.
3) Try to see the good in every situation.  My grandparents lived through four years in a Nazi concentration camp.  When something negative happened to my grandmother after she and grandfather were released from Auschwitz, she would talk about "seeking the gift" in every situation.  She suggested there were three reasons people were unable to seek the gift: 1) the problem (or opportunity) doesn't come wrapped in the package you're used to seeing, 2) sometimes the opportunity doesn't happen on your time table, and 3) sometimes the problem doesn't happen for us, it happens for someone else, and we are merely the conduit.  My grandmother made sure that every time I was upset that I remembered that a gift existed in every situation

Realize that bad stuff happens.  My wife has Cancer. I do not see this as karma nor do I believe that 'everything happens for a reason'.  I see 'everything happens for a reason' as a trite way to wrap your brain around something you do not understand.  My wife has a family history of Cancer on both sides of her family.  It was very likely that no matter what she did, she would have contracted this horrible disease. I do not spend a lot of time thinking about why bad things happen, they just do.  Recognizing that bad stuff happens regardless of what we do or believe lets me remember that bad stuff happens, and it's okay


Posted by on in Alcoholism

If I’m to be honest answering this question, there will be no quick way through it. I could say I became a sober coach because I was tired of going to bed at 6am and sick of having to shout over loud music to be heard  - but that’s only part of it.

When I got clean in 1988, I placed all bets on my writing. This meant that instead of taking a job that would have career advancement, I stuck with freelance work, doing anything that could finance large chunks of uninterrupted writing time. I came up during the late 70s and 80s among a scene of underground artists, musicians, and filmmakers, many of whom went on to mainstream success. After I got clean, I became the go-to girl for anyone from my previous life wanting to get off drugs. This lead to my first coaching jobs inside the entertainment industry. The calls were so random that I never considered it a real employment source. In between coaching gigs, I continued to take on whatever work paid the bills. Coaching and sober companion work felt like the right fit but I never gave it much thought as a career. At the time it was controversial and renegade.

As the years passed, I continued to write and perform. Although my work was being published and optioned, I still hadn’t made it through the “big doors". It killed me to watch my friends’ lives successfully moving forward while mine seemed, at least outwardly, frozen in time. What was i doing wrong?  My moment of clarity came at fifteen years clean. It occurred to me that I had never stopped directing my romantic and financial affairs and those two areas were not changing. I needed to let go (as they say in 12 step programs) but I didn’t know how. I definitely couldn’t think my way into a new life. I suppose I needed a spiritual experience but being an atheist this was difficult to imagine.

Right as my screenplay was gaining momentum and I was being flown back and forth across the country, the writers’ strike happened. Out of money, I went back to working in bars. The loud music and crazy hours were killing me. Like my final days with drugs, I was absolutely miserable and hopeless. At seventeen years clean, I was back at square one. Then the most amazing thing happened - I ran out of ideas on how to run my life. I was having tea with an old friend from the music industry when I asked him “You know me really well – what do you think I should do for a living?” It didn’t take a minute before he said, “You’d be perfect as a sober companion.”  I had no idea that sober coaching had come into its own as a profession. The renegade rock and roll days had paved the way and now treatment facilities, therapists, and psychiatrists were seeing positive results from setting up clients with sober companions. My friend suggested I contact a couple LA friends to see if anyone had leads.

The stars aligned and within 24 hours I had my first client outside of the entertainment industry. What was interesting to me was how everything I’d ever learnt in my life came into play - not just my personal experience in recovery but the information I’d amassed on nutrition, exercise, meditation, dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Every aspect of my life had prepared me to do this work.

The real test came on day three when my client’s prominent psychotherapist called for an update. Until then I had been working intuitively and unlike managers, agents, and the people I was used to dealing with, the person on the other end of the phone was skilled in mental health work. If I was a fraud she was going to call me out. Nervous, I took a deep breath and told her honestly what I saw and what I was working on with the client. The phone went silent and my stomach flipped. “I have been working with ___ for three years and you nailed every single item on my list”. His words confirmed that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

For me, falling into coaching was a spiritual experience. When I finally “let go” sober coaching came into my life. I loved it and had great results with clients. From that point on, doors kept opening. One day I got a call from the producers of Intervention about a new mini-series they were casting. Over night, this semi-secret career of mine became very public.

The television series shifted the direction of my life yet again. I received many heartbreaking emails from addict viewers who were without financial resources for treatment. I decided to set up a website and share freely what I do with clients. Currently I’m in the process of writing several books on recovery. What started as a part-time job to finance my writing has become the subject of my writing. No one could be more surprised by this than me.

To read what I do with clients as a sober coach, visit


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Posted by on in Alcoholism


Long-term sobriety requires personal engagement in your recovery.  Real engagement goes beyond just attending meetings or calling your sponsor.  Engaged recovery requires that you constantly learn new, concrete skills which support long-term sobriety. When I think of concrete skills that support recovery, several things come to mind:

Resilience - This generally refers to a person’s ability to cope with adversity, or the ability to bounce back from problems and setbacks. Research has shown resiliency to be a dynamic process.  Resilient individuals adapt to changing and unexpected events even under the duress of adversity. You can develop your own resilience by establishing good problem-solving skills, or by seeking help and building social support.  Fostering a belief that there are things you can do to manage your feelings and cope, and finding positive meaning in trauma, are other strategies for building your resilience.

Delayed gratification – Usually, people who can abstain from alcohol or drugs, or people who have managed to stay out of prison, have found ways to delay their gratification. People use chemicals to change the way they feel, so if you learn skills to act on your emotions in healthy ways, including offseting a need for immediate gratification, you can manage to fulfill your needs through avenues other than chemical use.

Volunteer work - My experience has shown me that volunteer work is a great way to feel better about yourself, develop a community of peers who share similar interests, and be of service to others.  If you want to raise your self-esteem, do things you’d be proud to tell other people.


Posted by on in Alcoholism

Diane Cameron, author of the women's recovery blog "Out of the Woods," is Director of Development at Unity House in New York, as well as columnist and writer for Times Union and other newspapers.  She previously served as the Executive Director of Community Caregivers and as Director of Philanthropic Services for Community Foundation for the Capital Region.

Tagged in: recovery sobriety
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