Monday, November 12, 2018


Post 111

GIVING - THANKS  SCREEN:  MODEL # 3



As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, my reviewing-the-year-thoughts have started in earnest.  Asking myself what progress has been made on personal goals and new year’s resolutions (made months ago), the idea to reformat a diagnostic tool into a Giving-Thanks Screen began to take shape.

That was seven years ago – 2011 – and there was very positive feedback from the recovering community.  Last fall, in Post 100, I wrote, “Recently, it has crossed my mind that being thankful, as well as proactively looking for reasons to be thankful, provide very effective antidotes for maintaining recovery-strength and serenity.”  Indeed, gratitude is recognizing both the little (immediate) and the big (wider range) pictures.  Being thankful keeps us balanced between an ever-present search for satisfaction/comfort/happiness and a perpetual sense of fear/anger/hopelessness. 

At the Mid-Central Disordered Gambling Symposium held last month in Indiana, the focus was on the family.  Over two days, we continued to hear not only recovery testimonies from gamblers but also from family members, who have their own recovery journeys. Now with Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaching, I offer a third Giving-Thanks Screen. 

This time, the inspiration for such a model comes from lessons-learned and wisdom-gained by veteran Gam-Anon members.  Definitely, the loved ones, friends, and associates of persons with disordered gambling are impacted, as well, by the controls of a world caught in and ruled by another’s addiction.  Obviously, finances need to be addressed and restructured.  However, self-image, lifestyle, and personal responses can, also, become severely affected.  Still, the good news is that there is hope and there is real help for recovery too! 

Thus Model #3 of the Giving-Thanks Screen tests the responses of those impacted by another’s gambling addiction.  Realistically, being co-dependent with a disordered gambler calls for serious recovery work … but it is do-able!  Gam-Anon members share encouragement and ways to find strength, peace, confidence - and yes, security and stability. 

Once more, the following items are formatted as thankfulness questions.  As I have said before: prayerfully, each will not only provide progress-assessments, but also measurable reasons to give  thanks!

1.      Do you give thanks for having recognizable – and do-able – priorities?

2.      Are you thankful for days and nights not controlled by fear?

3.      Are you grateful for Gam-Anon Meetings wherein you can learn from others and share your own lessons-learned, as well?

4.      Do you, thankfully, practice letting go of the things you cannot change?

5.      Are you thankful for the growing relationship you have with your Higher Power? 

6.      Is your day spent in a mode of thanks-living now that you are experiencing a better sense of balance and control in your life?

7.      Do you experience thankfulness for new-found ways of honestly expressing yourself and having the assurance and courage to speak your own opinions?

8.      Are you grateful for ways in which you are caring for yourself in body, mind, and spirit?

9.      Do you feel thankful for active experiences in new involvements outside of your home?

10.  Do you give thanks for moments of humor,  times of glass-full  optimism, and a growing sense of peace?

11.  Are you grateful for being able to accept the acceptance of what you can change and  what you cannot?



Once again, do you tell yourself THANK YOU!

for saying

YES to RECOVERY?

MAY YOUR THANKSGIVING

BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED!!!



Blessings, 

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries






For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                      






























Friday, October 26, 2018


Post 110



WORDS MATTER!

 to mask or not to mask

 to stigmatize or to bring hope



My favorite elementary school holiday was Halloween.  Why??  At lunch time, we would leave school – as our own selves - go home to eat, and then return to school as a completely different person/character/animal or thing.  We were to sit at any desk we desired – especially not our own!  That was the best part of the afternoon for me … my last name at the end of the alphabet no longer dictated a seat at the back of the classroom – for once!  
Then too, there was something liberating about being someone (or thing) other than ourselves.  For a short time (before the guess-who-this-is contest), we were, somehow, on a different planet; and there was a quasi-sense of equality among us.  Words and names do matter!

Recently, I have heard much about how words do matter … the choice of wording does, indeed, have power!  For worse, one can minimalize, magnetize, or characterize; however, for better, one can maximize care and understanding … and help others to realize, more clearly, the reality of conditions and actions taken.

The following is a list of contrasting terms – realistic and understanding as compared to inaccurate and/or demeaning.  


·       Person in active addiction or person with a gambling disorder

         not  addict, junkie, user, degenerate, addicted gambler, hopeless ____

·       Substance use disorder

not habit  (minimizes / ignores the medical nature of the condition)

·       Dependence, dependent

not abuse

·       Addiction free, substance free, or in remission

not clean, sober (clean may imply that the person active-in-addiction is dirty)

·       Person in long-term recovery, person in recovery, non-smoker

not ex-addict, former-smoker, ex-drug addict

·       Medication-assisted treatmenttreatment

not  on-methadone, Suboxone addict, replacement addiction

·       Recurrence, resumed

not lapse, relapse, slip



Once more, let us remember: 
                                             the choice of wording does matter –

      words can help and convey hope

 but stigma hurts and destroys.


Blessings, 

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries




For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                       
www.indianaproblemgambling.org






www.pgnohio.org






Sunday, September 9, 2018


Post 109



September is Recovery Month … for the others too!



Why do I need to attend a meeting?  I’m not the one who lost our savings.  I don’t keep all hours of the night in unknown places.  I go to family gatherings and certainly don’t miss important events!  Lies, lies, lies: that’s all I hear!  Commonly, these are the thoughts and words spoken by the others – family members and friends impacted by a love one’s disordered gambling.  They are often expressed when a person attends their first few meetings of Gam-Anon – the support organization for family and friends of problem gamblers.

Of course!  Anger, fear, anxiety, denial and even guilt, sadly, have taken over those highly impacted by the addiction of a loved one or close associate.  Most likely, reality in their world is deeply changed from what it had been.  A stranger has now entered the relationship.  Communication is strained, guarded, and often filled with two-way accusations.  Addiction’s illness orchestrates their lives.  The gambler’s compulsion has to bet.  The others obsess over the known and unknown dangers of instability and distrust.  Will their lives ever return to “normal” again?

The others upon first attending the fellowship of Gam-Anon may be shocked to hear folks talking about their individual recoveries: that is, recovery from living a life filled with fear, anger, denial, and guilt.  The members speak, instead, of serenity, faith in their High Power’s wisdom, and trusting themselves.  There’s acceptance of reality – and courage to forge ahead following the 12 Steps to Recovery. Instead of denying the dangers of ever present addiction, they make tough decisions to preserve their family and their own sanity.  The “what ifs” of an anxiety-ridden world no longer reign in a new one-day-at-a-time present.  The compulsive gambler may live a secret life of addiction; but the Gam-Anon member works his/her program of serenity to deal with the concrete realities of survival and recovery.     

Gam-Anon International Service Office has a treasure trove of great reads for persons impacted by a loved one’s disordered gambling; and their 52 Gam-Anon Meditations is superb!   Check out www.gam-anon.org, email at gamanonoffice@gam-anon.org, or call (718) 352-1671.

One more recommendation:  the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling will be presenting the INDIANA FALL DISORDERED GAMBLING TRAINING EVENT  FOCUSING  ON THE FAMILY on October 24-25 at the Lawrenceburg (Indiana) Event Center.  This is a FREE event offering up to 13 CEU’s.  Keynote speaker is Bea Aikens, founder of  Lanie’s Hope, a national advocacy group dedicated to illuminating and humanizing the disease of disordered gambling.  For registration information, call (317) 632-1364 or e-mail  christinagray@indianaproblemgambling.org.  Registration will be open soon and space is limited for this excellent conference!

May this month of September be RECOVERY month for ALL!

Blessings,



Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries






For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                       
































    

Wednesday, August 15, 2018



POST 108


For release from the National Council on Problem Gambling:

The [United States of America] Department of Defense generates $100 million each year from the 3,141 slot machines on overseas bases. Slot machines have been outlawed on domestic military installations since 1951. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that as many as 56,000 active duty members of the Armed Forces meet criteria for gambling disorder.



The following article details information about the H.R. 5515: John S. McCain


National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019   and the new provision that allows for Gambling Disorder screening.  I am including this for the August 2018 edition of the GRM Blog. 



Gambling Disorder Screening Provision Included in the National Defense Authorization Act 2019



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2018

CONTACT:  Cait Huble
202-360-4560



WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, August 13, 2018 President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) that includes a provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction. This has been a top legislative priority for the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) for the past 16 years. Gambling disorder screening questions were included in large scale surveys of active duty personnel throughout the 1990’s until 2002, when the questions were removed. 

Section 733 of the House Armed Services Committee Report 115-874 requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to incorporate medical screening questions specific to gambling disorder in the next annual periodic health assessment conducted by the Department as well as in the Health Related Behaviors Surveys of Active-Duty and reserve component service members. The Secretary of Defense is required to submit a report to Congress on the findings of the assessment and surveys in connection with the prevalence of gambling disorder among service members.

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said “Previous DoD surveys have found active duty personnel are two to three times more likely to have gambling problems than civilians. Better detection of gambling problems improves overall health and reduces social costs. Undetected gambling addiction exacerbates substance use disorders, depression and suicidal behavior.”

Whyte continued “NCPG strongly believes military personnel need and deserve effective gambling addiction prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research, responsible gaming and recovery services. With the provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, we take a vital step to improving the lives of service members and their families.”

The DoD generates $100 million each year from the 3,141 slot machines on overseas bases. Slot machines have been outlawed on domestic military installations since 1951. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that as many as 56,000 active duty members of the Armed Forces meet criteria for gambling disorder.



About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gaming. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 or visit  www.ncpgambling.org/chat  for confidential help.

To schedule an interview with Keith Whyte, please contact Cait Huble at 202-360-4560 or CaitH@ncpgambling.org .
                                                                ###

After reviewing this information, I have one very basic question: If gambling disorder is indicated [and obviously from previous statistics, it will be], what are the next  nonpunitive  steps to be taken by the Department of Defense?
In other words, what responsibility/obligation will the DoD assume and implement to care for and assist personnel into recovery?  

Blessings,

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries


For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                      

















Tuesday, July 31, 2018


POST 107

ARE WE FORGIVEN?



Doing a bit of de-cluttering this summer, I ran across a one-week devotional that I had written for a Vacation Bible School event many years ago.  Topics explored covered Trust, Giving, Serving, Hope, and Forgiving.  One continued to keep my attention for a number of days: forgiveness.  It’s a common element within the entire recovery process.  Within the 12 Steps program, forgiving speaks loud and clear during Step 5: making amends.  Perhaps, certain others may never forgive us … but we can explore, find, and experience the relief that comes when we make room in our minds and emotions to process hurts and harms in order to attain more peace within.  The following is this devotional … it’s as fresh to me today as it was decades ago!

“I’m mad!  I’m mad too!  My mommy’s going to beat up your mommy!  No, she isn’t, ‘cause my mommy’s going to beat up your mommy first!  The two four-year old girls took one more angry look at one another and then each ran home crying. 

Do these words sound comical to us?  Well, how about the following statements?  I’ll never forget what (s)he did. (S)he hurt me too much.  I’ll never forgive him (her).  Sound familiar?  These are words often used by adults.  Sometimes, I’ll hear snatches of similar conversations in restaurants, meetings, or doctors’ offices.  Always there’s a firmness in the voice – an air of finality: that’s it; subject is over!

The act of forgiving is good for us – Jesus had clear advice about it.  Forgiveness ends grudges [at least, from one person’s perspective].  It gives us another chance to add happier [and healthier] thoughts to our minds.  It helps reduce the negative feelings we may have lived with continuously. 

Sometimes, forgiveness takes awhile to achieve – possibly many years.  When we remember that God forgives us, then it can be easier for us to forgive others.  If we continue to work on this, we will find that – over time – blessings will come with forgiving.”

Reflecting on what I wrote years ago, I ponder the original title.  Are we  forgiven?  At times, there seems to be a block in the way, even to approach the idea of forgiving someone in our lives.  Possibly, we have, knowingly or unknowingly, placed ourselves in the permanent seat of blame within a certain situation.  Yes, perhaps, we truly are/were at fault.  Then too, we might never have been to blame; but our being victimized has played tricks on the memories - and we point the shame finger at ourselves.  This is where Step 2 can enter:  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living. (Gamblers Anonymous)  This struggle to forgive, sometimes blanketed by shame and blame, somehow gets relegated only to us.  Instead, these are the circumstances to call upon the greater Power to grant us insight and wisdom - and patience with ourselves to grow and learn from the negative experiences. It is essential that we realize – and accept – that we do not have to rely solely on our own power to enter into the process of forgiveness.

As we turn our will and our lives over to the care of his Power greater than ourselves (Step 3: Gamblers Anonymous), we become prepared to face our individual selves and make a moral and financial inventory (Step 4: Gamblers Anonymous)  Whether the offense(s) was/were truly ours OR brought upon us, the task of forgiveness invites and challenges us to see beyond the present. 

Are we forgiven?

How is the Power greater than ourselves leading you in this process?

For what help have you asked this Power?



Blessings,



Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries


For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit: