I am a recovering compulsive gambler … My last bet was Jan. 29th, 2007 which was also my court and sentencing date from a crime I committed. Crazy thing was? I wasn’t even gambling at this time. Lesson learned? I learned I had more work to do on my “financial inventory” and recovery as I committed the crime due to financial stress still from my past gambling addiction as I felt I needed to start over again even though I had not gambled. If we don’t work all areas of maintaining recovery and have balance? The diseased thinking can still get us into troubled waters and that to me is still being in the “disease” of addiction. And? Gambling cost me way more than the years of wasting money, it almost cost me my life twice by suicide.
See, I am on of the “millions’ of Americans that gambling addiction lead to hopeless pain and misery and almost lead me to death twice. I advocate to let others know that SUICIDE is NOT an Option to stop gambling addiction! Again, my recovery “do over” started in April of 2006 as I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt and back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 20-day stay. The problem wasn’t that I gambled again and relapsed; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks. I thought I didn’t need them; that I could be normal like everyone else around me, but as you read my story, you’ll see that didn’t work out too well. I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the court processs but no trial and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I’m still paying today. My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances. I was unaware of this and needed to do all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed more work and chose to work with a gambling addiction specialist. After my troubles occurred, I worked with a specialist for a year while I went through the legal mess I created.
Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others. After this second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a well-balanced recovery and had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, has bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for help and HOPE from this cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and started working with a gambling specialist, I began to also get my mental health issues under control and managed. I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who maintain recovery. Those of us who suffer from a mental illness too and have a huge hurdle in our path.
I am a dually-diagnosed person who maintains recovery and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The nasty habits, behaviors and diseased thinking needed more correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye opening. He helped me break down the “cycle” of the addiction and areas I needed more help with and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t relapse into gambling, this workbook has helped me develop a “Relapse Prevention Plan” for any financial or life event that may arise during my journey. You need a plan before life events come. Because life happens, we have no control over it and we need to be ready before they happen, not during or after!
Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. Those journals were used for help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me. I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. All roots and some underlying issues as to WHY I turned to addictions. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, recovery writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery and God given blessings I have received in my journey thus far. By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery and mental and emotional health.
I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen to not be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. While gambling expands and more options available to those who enjoy it as a fun past time, there are many like me who can not. Currently, One in 5 problem gamblers will try suicide. Since Feb 2016 – Present, Suicides from Hopelessness from Problem and Addicted Gambling has risen by 213 percent of people of ages 24 to 75 … It truly is a real disease and illness that requires No Substance. I want others to be informed and educated as I continue to raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives.
The expansion of Indian casinos, State Lotteries, and legal online sports betting options are making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently 2.6% of our population are problem gamblers. Through my advocacy work I have learned a lot The best advice I can give? When entering and maintaining recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn about the “cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.” Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and groups available, 12-step meetings and programs. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success to long-term recovery. I learned this the hard way. Now that I have reached 12-years maintaining my recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we can weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. Sharing our experiences, strength, and hope through our recovery stories with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recovery. My last piece of advice? Do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent within your recovery journey.