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!