I’ve been on the Titanic Twice…and Lived to tell:) Actually in the Recovery Community, we call changing addictions “changing seats on the Titanic.” bottom line is, an addict is going to die if they don’t get help.
That was me.
But today is my 31st Anniversary of NOT DRINKING! Yay! I rarely even talk about that, but giving up alcohol is a pretty big deal. Especially if “one is too many and 20 is never enough”, as was the case with me. It’s the case with anyone who has a Substance Use Disorder. Mine substance was alcohol.
Like most addicts, I started drinking at a young age.I had my first drink at the age of twelve. Ever the over-achiever and went on to become the “Chung Queen” of my Sorority. That seemed pretty cool at the time. It wasn’t cool. Eventually I couldn’t go a day without drinking, albeit for many years I was told I was “so much fun” AKA “a happy drunk.” Ultimately, and predicatbly, the fun had long since stopped when I reached out for help and joined a 12-step support group. Thirty-One Years Ago today. Cool! And thanks God!
The “Changing seats on the Titanic” came about when I found or, more accurately, embraced, my love for video poker machines. I’m sure I was a compulsive gambler when I gave up alcohol. I just didn’t want to “give up everything.” Somehow I thought perhaps I would disappear. What if the only things that made me “me” were the activities I participated in, the parties I attended, the beer I consumed….the list goes on. What if I wasn’t fun anymore? And (even worse) what if I couldn’t have fun without these things?
Anyone who knows me today, l will not be surprised by the fact that “My name is Bea and I’m a woman in long-term recovery.” In fact, I’m an active and outspoken advocate for “social change in problem gambling” – how we deal with it, how we think of it and how we treat people impacted by it.
It’s weird to remember that, there was a time where I would freely tell folks that I was “in recovery from Alcoholism.” Their responses were kind and encouraging and always some venison of “Good For YOU!!” And “Way to GO!!”
Rarely did I ever mention gambling, or that it was a problem for me or….eventually when I “admitted defeat”, that I was a “Compulsive Gambler.” (GASP!) There was a bonafide reason for this. At first I thought the bias I felt when I did venture a toe in the water to mention my Gambling Disorder, was only in my head. It wasn’t. It isn’t. The bias still exists today.
Thank goodness society has evolved to a place where we witness far greater understanding of alcoholism and substance use disorder. People generally understand that these disorders are real. The people who struggle with them matter. AND society as a whole has a moral and fiscal responsibility to offer compassion, help, hope and TREATMENT for those who do struggle with these disorders.
Lanie’s Hope, my colleagues in gambling services field and my friends (whether they are personally in recovery or not) work daily to speak openly about this most hidden addiction of Gambling Disorder. I thank every person who speaks up and speaks out. I thank every person who strives to make a difference by changing their language around addiction and gambling disorder. Who no longer scoffs at “compulsive gambling” as a weakness or moral failing.
It is not. My Gambling Disorder is as real, as my Alcoholism. Today, on my 31st “birthday” of living life without Alcohol, lI celebrate my recovery. I thank God for letting me sit on the Titanic and not die! And I pray for those who are right this moment claiming another seat on the Titanic. People with Gambling Disorder have a very high propensity for what is called “dual addiction.” Some experts say as many as 70% of us have more than one addiction. What works?
The same thing that worked for my Alcoholism. Twelve Step meetings, therapy, l talking about it, coping skills and community and family support. We’ve got a long way to go before society at large understands that “addiction is addiction” And TREATMENT? YES – treatment works for Gambling Disorder too! But can you FIND it? In Nevada, professional treatment provided by Certified Problem Gambling Counselors can be found through Nevada Council on Problem Gambling or on their resource page at Nevada Problem Gambling Treatment Providers
If you or someone you love is on the Titanic, throw them a lifeline. Let them know that help is available and it works. Tell them you care about them. Hope and help are available One Day At a Time!
September is National Suicide Prevention month. Gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate of all addictions and the statistics do not reflect that many of these suicides are mistakenly reported as single-car accidents, wrong-way drivers, heart attacks, cerebral stem strokes (from an overdose of anti-depressants), and so forth. This is a true story of two friends of mine, who both planned their suicides down to the last detail and thankfully, both survived. The names and details have been changed to protect their identities, but the stories and devastation are true.
Mary, a 60 year old psychologist became so depressed with her inability to stop gambling, an activity that was consuming her every moment and thought, that she had to stop seeing patients because she no longer cared about their problems. Her husband, her one true love had become ill and diagnosed with dementia, as well as complications due to a congenital heart defect and diabetes. She had her own physical limitations due to severe crippling from rheumatoid arthritis. Mary had 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren- the light of her life. All that being said, Mary still could not tear herself away from the video poker machines to get home and check on her husband. She missed many of the grandchildren’s recitals and sporting events because she had hit another jackpot. Her children stopped telling the grandchildren that she would be there because of their disappointment and sadness of being let down, over and over. Mary found herself unable to concentrate and many times after hours of gambling could not recall how she actually drove home. Read more →
Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result” is often espoused by those recovering from a Gambling Addiction. For some of us, we’ve coined the phrase “forget-itis” as much the same thing and very similar to what Bill Murray experienced in his movie “Groundhog Day” (1993) doomed to repeat his day over and over with the same results. Having spent almost twelve years in a 12-step group for gambling addiction, if I had a nickel for every time I have heard someone share their experience of doing the same thing over and over again, well, I would be rich!!
I did search the Internet for a definition or explanation for the term ‘forgetitis’ and although I was unsuccessful in that quest, I did find in Wikipedia the following: Read more →
July 22, 2013
If one were to Google “Internet Cafe”, a consortium of choices will confront you. What are these Internet Cafes and what are they really selling? Some would describe them as storefronts conducting gambling operations (unlicensed, unregulated, untaxed, and illegal.) Proprietors of these cafes describe their operation as providing a service or product; phone cards and Internet time, as well as a chance to win prizes. In fact, they compare their operation to that of a sweepstakes such as the McDonald’s Monopoly game or one of the big companies (like Home Depot, Olive Garden, K-mart) that offer customers an opportunity to win a prize if they complete an online survey (after purchasing a product). Read more →
2013 Fall International Conference
“The Whole World of Recovery”
October 18-20, 2013
Conference details and registration available at Gambers Anonymous* gamblersanonymous.org/ga/
Hotel Information available at starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1162
Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort
12205 S. Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, Florida 34786
Excerpts from National Conference on Problem Gambling
“Please join us for the 27th National Conference on Problem Gambling July 19-20, 2013 in Seattle,Washington. The largest and oldest conference on problem gambling in the world, this event brings together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newcomer to gambling issues, you will find 60 presentations – from plenaries to posters – packed with high-quality information. Based on popular demand, we’ve added to full days of intensive skill-building Pre-Conference Workshops on July 17-18.”
For more information, or to register for the NCPG conference go to
May 22, 2013
Perhaps…HOPE, HELP and ultimately enhanced UNDERSTANDING and TREATMENT
Clinicians have long-awaited the release of the DSM-5, with the resultant recategorization and change in nomenclature for Gambling Addiction, from Pathological Gambling, Gambling Addiction, Compulsive Gambling and a variety of terms used to discern the varying degrees of severity of addiction, to the newly endorsed term of “Disordered Gambling.“
For those who suffer from a gambling addiction, or “Disordered Gambling” ….the name doesn’t matter. The category doesn’t matter. What matters is..access to treatment, being cared for with dignity as one who suffers from a serious illness versus an individual of weak morals and even weaker character. Gambling addiction is a progressive illness. By the time the afflicted individual reaches out for help, financial resources are decimated, familial relations are strained and help of any kind is hard to come by. There are a few low-cost outpatient treatment services available and, in most states, residential treatment, if available at all, is cost prohibitive and not underwritten by insurance or social services. Read more →
RECOGNIZING PROBLEM GAMBLING
In recognition of National Mental Health Month, Boulder City Hospital’s Mental Health: Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) staff will participate in a one-hour introductory course to understanding and recognizing Problem Gambling.
Lanie’s Hope Founder and Advocate for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, Bea Aikens will present a one hour presentation, providing a basic explanation of what happens when gambling becomes an addiction and review screening methods and resources available to identify and treat problem gamblers and their families.
Innovator and Trail Blazer in the field of Problem Gambling, Executive Director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, Carol O’Hare, sets the tone for this year’s conference with the Opening Keynote,
Problem Gambling in Nevada: Then, Now and in the Future
Conference Featured Presentations Include:
- Addiction and Recovery from an Atheists Perspective
- Youth Gambling Awareness in the Classroom
- Internet Use Disorder
- Understanding the Female Trajectory into Problem Gambling
- Changing the Game:Supportings Young People in Recovery
Known for innovation, this renowned conference concludes with the unique presentation Experiential Yoga and the 12 Steps.
Butler, PA continues to blaze new trails in Problem Gambling Education in Western Pennsylvania.
Friday, March 15 2013 12:30-3:30
Monarch Place, Red Chimney Hall
100 Brugh Avenue Butler, PA 16001
This Town Hall Meeting is open to the public. Clergy, Social Workers, Counselors, Attorneys, Financial Advisors and Family Support Services will find this information especially valuable, as Pennsylvanians struggle with a rise in gambling addiction.
Pennsylvania has the second highest gambling revenue in the Nation; second only to Nevada. While many people can gamble recreationally, those impacted by Problem Gambling face severe consequence. Compulsive Gambling is a serious public health issue.
Topics covered will include an overview of Butler County’s Problem Gambling Initiative, Assessment of Local and National data on compulsive gambling, an Educational Program on the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction and access to Available Resources for those impacted by problem gambling.
Lanie’s Hope Founder Bea Aikens will conclude the presentation with a personal story of Recovery and her mission to Advocate for Social Change in Problem Gambling.
In May psychiatrists will start referring to gambling addiction as a behavioral addiction, the first disorder in that newly created category of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the textbook for psychiatry that’s widely used by doctors, courts, and insurance companies. The latest edition of the DSM—DSM-5—will be published in May.
Gambling isn’t often thought of as a health issue, that perception needs to change.
My first bet was made at age 12. Since I am now 57, I will skip early years of gambling and get to what occurred in my life that got me to the wonderful place in my life called recovery.
I always lived on the edge craving excitement. Whether it was living like an outlaw and seeing if I could get away with it or betting on a 40 to 1 long shot, I enjoyed, and later found out I needed, the rush. The reason I needed it was I had an uncontrollable and an incurable disease. It is called compulsive gambling.
Like most compulsive gamblers, I won… at first. But over the years when it got to the point that there was not enough to win, my life became completely unmanageable. Becoming a great liar and rationalizer I hid my problem from my wife. I would also try to hide from my higher power, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. I surely couldn’t hide from him! Read more →