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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

Are You a problem gambler?…Riddle Me This? Posted on September 21, 2013 by Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon WELL, ARE YOU?Well, it is another weekend……which means many in Recovery from Addiction have a pretty tough time in recovery on the weekends. I know I did when I still gambled. Weekends were to Blow Off Stress of the work week, not be bored, or…..when you gross that line into addicted gambling, your DISEASED mind would take you there if you wanted to or NOT! SO I POSE THIS QUESTION……ARE YOU A PROBLEM GAMBLER?As a support member of GA, (Gamblers Anonymous) gambling is defined as Follows,“Any betting or wagering for money or not, for yourself or others, and it depends on skill or chance constitutes gambling.”*RIDDLE ME THIS*  Want to know if you’re a Problem Gambler? Answer these 20 Questions HONESTLY…..and you’ll know if you are or not….20 Questions…*If you answer YES to 7 out of 20….You maybe a problem gambler*1.Did you ever lose time from work or school due to    gambling?YesNo2.Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?YesNo3.Did gambling affect your reputation?YesNo4.Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?YesNo5.Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts    or otherwise solve financial difficulties?YesNo6.Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or    efficiency?YesNo7.After losing did you feel you must return as soon as    possible and win back your losses?YesNo8.After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win    more?YesNo9.Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?YesNo10.Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?YesNo11.Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?YesNo12.Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal    expenditures?YesNo13.Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of  yourself    or your family?YesNo14.Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?YesNo15.Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?YesNo16.Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an    illegal act to finance gambling?YesNo17.Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?YesNo18.Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create    within you an urge to gamble?YesNo19.Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by    a few hours of gambling?YesNo20.Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a    result of your gambling?YesNo **IF YOU ANSWERED *YES* TO 7 out of 20….YOU MAYBE A PROBLEM GAMBLER** I know after a while crossing that line into addicted compulsive gambling, the ACT became more like being held hostage to those damn SLOT & VIDEO POKER machines! You start to lose yourself, just ZONE OUT because I used gambling as a form of *ESCAPE* from stress, tension, old hauntings of my past childhood abuse, grief from the loss of my mom in 2003, my best friend in 2002, and having OCD brought out *HIGH MANIA* from my Undiagnosed Bipolar 2 disorder.I had NO CONTROL over my gambling. It just about destroyed my life, and myself along with it!  This Cunning Disease took everything that was GOOD in my LIFE, including me with 2 failed Suicide attempts. It was no fun anymore, and when I gambled, I had no control. I’d win thousands in one day, but that just meant I’d be held HOSTAGE Longer until I gambled every single penny away, and MORE of my own money.Winning can be an UGLIER BEAST then losing. They BOTH will keep you in the CYCLE of the addiction. Winning makes you think that you’ll WIN ALL THE TIME….Losing will also keep you in the cycle, because you’ll keep going BACK TO CHASE WHAT you LOST!That’s why we call it a *CUNNING* disease & illness.One PROFOUND MOMENT I can share is the DAY I learned about the Oregon Lottery Video Poker/Slot Machines. My best friend and I went to a little Deli for lunch on Saturdays. In Oregon, these type of places were allowed to have 6 video poker machines in their stores.So, as we ate lunch, I’d play Keno,….as the Oregon Lottery also offered this. We met some nice retired guys that I’d seen there before, and we got to talking to them. One of the gentleman went on the other side where the machines were. I was watching him play a Video Poker Game called: “FlushFever”… So, I sat down next to him on an open machine, and I put $5.00 dollars in and won $50!….He explained how the game works, so I gave it try. He had racked up $178 dollars already in just 15 minutes!! I thought WOW!, this is awesome!! SO,….as I was playing, the sweet retired man cashed out his winning ticket from his machine, and went to the cashier and got his winnings.Before he left,…..he came over to me, bent down near my ear and SAID, “Be smart, always cash out and leave with THEIR  MONEY, don’t play it all out, I’d feel bad if you got addicted to these damn Machines”……You know what?,  I never saw that man again after that day. If HE ONLY KNEW what I had been through with addicted gambling!!The other thing about this disease is what it can make you do in the addicted moment….It makes you LIE, CHEAT, BLAME, STEAL, become a THIEF, and SO MUCH MORE. But that is another blog post in its self!  I can not tell you HOW much I hated WHO I’D BECOME within my Compulsive Gambling Addiction!! Towards the end, after my 2nd failed SUICIDE attempt in 2006…..(I stopped taking my meds for Bipolar & had a bad Gambling Relapse because I just wanted to BE NORMAL)…I stopped looking in the bathroom mirror at myself because, I HATED WHAT GAMBLING ADDICTION had done to ME!So, I guess my POINT in all this DISCLOSURE, is to ask a SIMPLE QUESTION….ARE

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

For alll of us that have had an addiction to alcohol for many years, we are so frighten to change our life, and live that life of sobriety.  For myself, I wanted to live sober, but I was so frightened of how I would be able to get along in life without my crutch of alcohol.

Our first step is to want to get sober and stay sober for the rest of our lives.  That is the number one thing, at least it was it was for myself.  You need to want sober and not be forced, threatened into changing your life.

For many alcoholics that want to change their and get sober, I would advise you to get the Professional Help needed to detox in a safe and healthy manner.

For myself, I did not take that approach, and to tell you the truth once I made up my mind to surrender to my demons and get sober, I was so afraid of what would happen to me over the period of time in the beginning of my sobriety.  I truly took a huge change on my life by not getting sober in a safe and healthy manner.

I was one of the lucky people that nothing happened bad to me, although I was a nervous wreck for weeks, but I stood my grounds and never broke my promise to myself that no matter how I felt and how bad I wanted to have drink I would NOT pick up an alcoholic drink for the rest of my life.


Posted by on in Alcoholism

A post from The Easier Softer Way's newest team member, Natasha!


Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

My name is Natasha and I’m an alcoholic and an addict. When I came into the program I was willing to do anything my sponsor told me. Until I got to the Ninth Step. Make amends to people? Seriously!????!!!!!!

My sponsor must have been crazy if she thought I was going to make amends to my father!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by on in Alcoholism

volunteers needed1. Get a commitment at a meeting you regularly attend.

2. Use a phone list from a meeting to reach out to strangers.

3. Call a fellow addict and focus on how they are doing.

4. Call your local Central Office; there are often opportunities to help... Phone shifts often need covering.

5. Go to your local Hospitals and Institutions meeting; get a panel, or volunteer to speak on one.


Posted by on in Alcoholism

keepingsecretsWhen I was newly sober, I was told that we are as sick as our secrets. I incorrectly dismissed this as another cliché, like “one day at a time” or “keep it simple” (both of which turned out to also be true). As I look back on my drug addiction and early sobriety, I can see pretty clearly how my honesty is proportional to my happiness.

Before getting sober, my entire life was a secret. There were superficial things such as the clandestine drug use or the stealing. There were also deeper secrets such as my immense fear, insecurity, and shame. Together, my secrets drove me, creating a person that I didn’t even want to be around myself. I lied to myself more frequently than I even had lied to others, I pushed down every unpleasant thought and emotion, and I had absolutely no genuine feeling of who I was.

Getting sober, I was given the opportunity to come clean; both to myself and to others. Part of the recovery process was to write down these things that I had done wrong, things that I had assumed I would take to the grave out of shame. With some help, I was able to be just partly open about my life. As I shared what I had done with a trusted loved one, I found that he had done many of the same things in his addiction as well. As this reassured me, I began speaking with more people about my faults and mistakes, only to find that my community of sober people knew from their own personal experience exactly how I felt after keeping so many secrets.

As I grew more comfortable, I became able to truly address the secrets I had kept. The deeper secrets came out, and I even gained knowledge of some secrets I had kept from myself. As I opened up, I began to experience a new level of joy and happiness.

Today, I keep a close eye on the secrets I am keeping. I try to be open with the right people. I have found that as I am trying to let my secrets free, I also do not create as many secrets. Not only do I practice honesty, I also practice behavior that I would not be ashamed of.


Posted by on in Uncategorized
Hello Friends,
I'm looking forward to being a Guest Expert Blogger come October 2013. But right now my Life has been turned Upside Down.....We are in the middle of having to relocate from So. Oregon to Glendale Arizona! *YUK*! I don't DO HOT weather! So that is why I have not posted in w while. I do however have a *Dear Diary-Life change at 50 in Recovery* going on my Recovery Blog, so if you want the latest SCOOP, I have my first 6 page entries up Now. My Recovery Link is: So come on by anytime and see what the past 4weeks have been like for ME!! BUT.....MY RECOVERY and MY SENSE OF HUMOR IS IN TACT!!...LOL....I'll see ya all on the FLIP SIDE from ARIZONA! God Bless! Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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Posted by on in Alcoholism

When I was newly sober, I heard the cliche that "alcoholism has very little to do with alcohol" many times. As I have stayed sober longer, I have found this statement to be extremely true. Alcoholism comes in a person, not in a bottle.

Prayer in Alcoholics AnonymousThe First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous has two distinct parts. The first part states that we are powerless over alcohol (and drugs), and the second part states that our lives had become unmanageable. When I first saw this, I read it as "our alcohol abuse had become unmanageable." The truth is that our lives are unmanageable without alcohol as well. In my experience and opinion, my life became even more unmanageable without alcohol than it was with alcohol.

Alcohol was the solution. It worked. It helped me manage. Getting sober and admitting I was powerless over alcohol, I no longer had my chief form of comfort. Alcohol allowed me to not feel, and I wasn't sober frequently enough to fully experience the path of my unpleasant emotions. Suddenly I found myself in a world where I had no buffer between me and my emotions.

This unmanageability to me means that I cannot healthily and safely manage my life sober or drunk. My mind does not by default know how to appropriately respond to life. Alcoholism carries on just as well without the alcohol. As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, we have a physical allergy, mental craving, and spiritual malady. When I stop drinking, the physical allergy is no longer an issue. The mental craving is caused by my spiritual malady. It is for this reason that the focus of eleven of the Twelve Steps is on this spiritual malady.

As I work on my spiritual malady and get in conscious contact with my Higher Power, the mental cravings begin to dissipate. However, if I am not working on my spiritual malady, the mental cravings overpower me. The unmanageability is a direct result of my lack of a contact with a power greater than myself.


Posted by on in Alcoholism

When I am suffering, my tendency is to blame something outside of myself. As a first reaction, I look to external phenomena to put the responsibility on. As I practice more and more, I am able to look inward for the causes of my suffering with less resistance. My reaction of blaming an external circumstance or person is more easily brought into my awareness, and I am able to look deeper at my suffering.

In his book Essence of the Heart Sutra, the Dalai Lama states, "In truth, it is always and only the mental afflictions that agitate our minds, yet we tend to blame our agitation on external conditions, imagining that encountering unpleasant people or adverse circumstances make us unhappy." This insight is something that I have understood intellectually for quite some time. However, I have only had the experiential understanding recently, although I have been practicing for years.

maraI have had this experience on retreat, but also in simple 30 minute sits. When I am sitting, all of my basic needs are met. Generally, I am in a safe and comfortable position both in relation to the outside world and with my own posture. However, I can still experience great suffering. Things that happened weeks or months ago may arise. Thoughts of my own actions arise. Thoughts of craving, delusion, and aversion arise. Emotions arise that are clearly based on my own MENTAL afflictions, not any physical afflictions.

In meditation, I have found that the root of all of my suffering is within my own head. A teacher of mine often tells the story of the Buddha's encounters with Mara in which the Buddha simply says, "I see you Mara." I have a tattoo on my forearm to remind myself of this story and its lesson: that by simply bringing attention in a compassionate manner to our suffering, clinging, aversion, and delusion, our ability to let it go is greatly increased.

The other day, after a sit with my girlfriend, I opened my eyes and simply said. "Mara is in my head." I had a painful sit with many unpleasant emotions arising, but I did not suffer greatly. As the unpleasant emotions and thoughts arose, I looked at them and simply stated repeatedly, "I see you Mara."


Posted by on in Drug Addiction

May Peace Prevail on Earth Buddhist Meditation GardensWhen we think of meditation in relation to the Twelve Steps, we often think of the Eleventh Step. However, I have found that my meditation practice has much to do with my Tenth Step. Step ten encourages us to continue to take personal inventory. People do this in a number of ways: writing, talking to a sponsor every night, or by honest self-reflection.

I have found that meditation is crucial for me in my personal inventory. As I meditate sometime during the day, I try to be mindful of whatever is arising. When I feel a tension in my body, I look for the cause of it. It often is anxiety, fear, or worry about the future. My meditation practice has helped me become more in touch with my body, allowing me to use it as a barometer of where my mind is.

Furthermore, when an emotion arises, I am able to deeply touch the root of this emotion. Rather than run from my feelings or wonder why I am feeling a certain way, meditation has allowed me to meet my emotions head on. I am not perfect with this, nor am I able to do it every time I sit. In general, my meditation practice has allowed me to greatly increase my awareness of what is going on within, of taking an inventory.

As emotions arise, I try to take an objective look at them (as difficult as this may be). When I investigate my emotions, I often find that they are dependent upon my karma, my actions. When I don't make my bed, don't call someone back, or tell a small white lie, I often feel slightly off. Before I began meditating, I did not truly notice how these actions affected me. I may have understood the effects intellectually, but had not truly experienced them. Similarly, I notice the way I feel when I act wisely and wholesomely during my day.

Meditation has been a crucial tool in my recovery. I recognize everybody works the steps in his or her own way, but I do share from my experience that meditation is a great way to check in with ourselves.

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Posted by on in Food Addiction

Food has been a problem for mankind since Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The word forbidden conjures up thoughts about sin, punishment, guilt and shame. Food is still an emotionally charged area of life for many. If you have been on diet after diet after diet I bet that you want to be free to eat what you want without looking over your shoulder at the ghosts of the “diet police.”

Sometimes the “diet police” are real people, a parent or spouse who stays on your case and judges you or makes remarks about your looks or what you are about to put in your mouth. Sometimes you hire a policeman in the form of a doctor or nutritionist to tell you what to do. I once met a woman who wanted me to help her with her food cravings. After the first session she called to cancel. She explained, “I want someone to tell me what to do, so I am going to Weight Watchers because they weigh you, and if you don’t lose weight, they kick your ass!”

It is a fact that diets often lead to full blown eating disorders. When we hear someone tell us that certain foods must never pass our lips again it can cause a harmful reaction. The first Overeaters Anonymous meeting I ever went to scared me so much that I didn’t go back for four years!

The speaker, a slim woman, reminded us that we were allergic to sugar and if it passed our lips we would be certain to go into uncontrollable eating binges. She proudly announced that she hadn’t had a piece of cherry pie for umpteen years. Although I wanted to look like her and have the peace of mind she seemed to have, I went home and ate up a storm. Even though I hated cherry pie, the thought of never having it again, or any pie was more than my deprived inner self could accept.

What is a “bad” food? One person’s mayonnaise is another person’s ice cream. Carla told me that she had to stay away from mayonnaise because she liked to eat it with a spoon. I felt like gagging when she said this because mayonnaise is not one of my favorite foods so I have never felt a craving for it. Yet in my past I often ate peanut butter with a spoon and even had to hide it from myself. How can you hide it from yourself when you know where it is? This is crazy making!


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