Thursday, November 16, 2017

Post 100

Giving-Thanks Screen: Model # 2

Six years ago, I came up with a Giving-Thanks Screen for the GRM Blog’s November 2011 Post.  There was very positive feedback from the recovering community.  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. 
As indicated originally, it is significant for persons in recovery to make note of mile markers that chart progress being made.  Screening tools such as GA’s and Gam-Anon’s sets of Twenty Questions, the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), and the DSM V Diagnostic Criteria prompted me to put together the 2011 model - in keeping with the season of thanks-giving.  Now, with Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaching, I offer a second Giving-Thanks Screen.  This time, the inspiration for such a model comes from the Gamblers Anonymous pamphlet Suggestions for Coping with Urges to Gamble (Gamblers Anonymous, ).  Once again, the following items are in the form of thankfulness questions.  Prayerfully, each will not only provide progress-assessments but also measurable reasons for giving thanks, notably in preventing urges from occurring!    

1.      Are you relieved and thankful that your mind is now comfortable with and has accepted the fact that you cannot gamble safely?

2.      Do you give thanks for those persons you can – and do – call for support when the urges to gamble come?

3.      Thankfully, do you leave cash, credit cards, and checks, etc., to go and meet with someone?

4.      Is your mindset throughout the waking hours thankful to be free of dwelling on any urges that may be coming?

5.      Do you feel thankful to be – proactively – of help to others?
6.  Are you grateful that you can now play the tape forward and see how any attempts at
          gambling can lead to uncontrolled devastation – rather than visioning, as before, big wins?

 7.   Do you give thanks for having multiple choices as to how you will spend your free time, instead of feeling compelled to gamble?

  8.   Are you thankful to know that you know that the individual urges to gamble will fade within minutes – and that you are able to wait out these times?

  9.  Are you grateful that you can meditate and experience the blessings of a quiet mind that will be able to dissipate and expel a gambling urge?

10.  Do you give thanks for the wisdom and strength offered through the words of The Serenity   Prayer?  (Reinhold Niebuhr)
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

 courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference ...

Happy and abundant  THANKS – GIVINGS!

            Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
            Founding Director
            Gambling Recovery Ministries

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



Monday, October 30, 2017

Post 99

Go and sin no more … ???

Once again, my mind returns to a recent bible study series on passages that are commonly quoted - but are often either misunderstood or possibly misrepresented.  The above instruction by Jesus, stated in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, is a frequent admonition in some religious circles.  Jesus had just saved a woman from a stoning death sentence, presumably because of adulterous behavior.   The proposed executioners brought the woman to Jesus and sought his opinion as to whether the Law of Moses should be, accordingly, carried out.  Jesus replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  (John 8:7, NKJV)  One by one, the people left; and there was no one to condemn her.  Jesus then said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  (John 8:11, NKJV)
There are many opinions about this passage – and questions:  were the potential executioners just testing Jesus as to His willingness to follow the Mosaic Law?  how would Roman Law be followed in this scenario … juxtaposed upon a subjugated people’s ancient law?  how, indeed, did the mob of executioners actually witness the claimed act of adultery?

Then the most challenging question arises from verse 11:  go and sin no more.  How does one never sin – period! ??  Is it possible to be perfect, thereafter?
Frankly, when this admonition comes to mind along with the enormity that sin can be, potentially, in the form of thought, word, and/or deed, I balk.  I know I strive not to sin … however, given human nature, yes, it is easy – and certainly possible – to fail in this quest.  We will sin … and God does forgive as we repent.

Recently though, a new realization on go-and-sin-no-more was brought to my attention.  A person, eighteen years abstinent from smoking, relapsed ... and it’s been more than a year now.  Old associations, habits, routines, and a sense of normalcy have set in.  Although thoughts of quitting are being entertained, the difficulties in breaking re-established patterns and fears of withdrawal are daunting and hard to face.  Suddenly, one afternoon, a revelation came:  Jesus was saying to the woman (in John 8:11) go and sin no more … because (and here is the revelation) if you do return to your old ways, you will face even greater difficulties trying to break from and leave yet again - this harmful way of living (i.e., particularly, the sin from which I have saved you from death). 
How true it is … relapse can happen … and when it does, quite often it returns with vengeance.  Another person - an ex-three-pack-a-day smoker – shared that if he ever relapsed, he would undoubtedly start back on four packs per day!

From the Gamblers Anonymous (Yellow Combo Book), the question of returning to gamble (after abstinence) is asked: “Can a compulsive gambler ever gamble normally again?”   Here is the GA answer:  “When it comes to gambling, we have known many compulsive gamblers who could abstain for long stretches, but caught off guard and under the right set of circumstances, they started gambling without thought of consequences …  some of our members have tried some small bet experimentation, always with disastrous results.  The old obsession inevitably returned.  Our Gamblers Anonymous experience seems to point to these alternatives: To gamble, risking progressive deterioration or not to gamble, and develop a better way of life.”

In closing, I say an AMEN! to the following good news from GA:
Most of us feel that a belief in a Power greater than ourselves is necessary in order for us to sustain a desire to refrain from gambling. 

Once more, the GOOD NEWS  is that there is recovery in addiction – and yes, even in relapse!

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries
For more information on problem gambling and recovery, visit:


Thursday, September 28, 2017



Sixteen years ago – September 2001 – is a time most people in America connect with the tragic attacks upon the United States: passenger planes became weapons of destruction and the victims were both in the air and on the ground.  Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, and Lower Manhattan became instant graveyards – the trauma of which has continued to challenge recovery within many hearts and minds.   

Sixteen years ago – September 2001 – is also a time those of us involved with Gambling Recovery Ministries remember well.  It was the official beginning month of a brand new initiative established by the South Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church.  With financial backing from the Conference, I (as designated Director) started from scratch: no governing Board, no office, no stated mission, no name.  A month later, with help from my District Superintendent, an Advisory Board of Directors was formed.  For several months, we worked on creating a mission statement – and a name.  We agreed: recovery was what we were all about.  While others thought we were formed to do away with gambling establishments, we saw our mission – rather - as one of offering help and hope to those affected, directly and/or indirectly, by problem gambling.  Gambling Recovery Ministries (GRM) was, indeed, the perfect description – and name – for this new outreach.  RECOVERY to a new life: for both the gambler and the loved ones effected by the dysfunction of compulsive gambling.

Over the years, GRM has witnessed many lives recovered and restored.  The testimonies are encouraging and very real.  That is why as each September approaches, the promises of recovery take on new and deeper meanings for me.  Moreover, I am grateful that this month of September is officially named “Recovery Month”.  The messages of hope, help, new life, and, yes, personal resurrection-recovery reassure millions across our nation of new beginnings - and an end to dependency and illness.  

A terrific and very helpful resource centering on the topic of personal recovery is SAMHSA – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  This month’s edition of the GRM Blog highlights material provided by SAMHSA.

The below information is found at the following website:

“Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (www.samhsa. gov), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (, sponsors National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to increase awareness of behavioral health conditions. This celebration promotes the message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover from mental and/or substance use disorders.

Mental and/or substance use disorders affect millions of Americans and directly touch the lives of individuals, family members, neighbors, and colleagues. Families often deal with the complex dynamics of supporting a loved one in recovery while at the same time learning how to take care of their own well-being. Given the widespread impact and societal cost of these behavioral health conditions, it’s important for communities to make prevention, treatment, and recovery support services available and accessible for all who need them.

The prevalence of mental and/or substance use disorders is high. Among adults aged 18 or older, 43.6 million (18.1 percent of adults) had any mental illness in the past year.1 Approximately 21.5 million people age 12 or older were classified with a substance use disorder in 2014.2 In spite of their high prevalence, most Americans believe that recovery from a mental illness3 or a substance use disorder is possible.  (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008). Summary report CARAVAN® survey for SAMHSA on addictions and recovery. Rockville, MD: Office of Communications, SAMHSA. 5 SAMHSA Blog. (2012))

The Recovery Month website (www. provides printable materials, web, television, audio, and social media resources to help communities encourage individuals to seek treatment and recovery services. § Share your recovery story and learn from others.

( § Find and post recovery events in the community

( § Watch the Road to Recovery television series

( § Download web banners and flyers to promote Recovery Month ( promote/banners-logos-flyers)

SAMHSA RESOURCES § SAMHSA’s Website ( Provides numerous resources and helpful information related to mental health and substance use issues. §

SAMHSA’s Find Help Webpage (www.samhsa. gov/find-help): Provides various links and numbers to mental and/or substance use disorder treatment and recovery services locators. §

 SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) – or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD) (www.samhsa. gov/find-help/national-helpline): Provides 24- hour, free, and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery in English and Spanish. §

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800- 273-TALK (8255) (www.suicidepreventionlifeline. org/): Provides a free, 24-hour helpline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. §

SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatments and Services Webpage ( Provides information on common mental illness and substance use disorders and how SAMHSA helps people access treatments and services. §

SAMHSA’s Homelessness Resource Center ( Provides resources about homelessness, mental illness, substance use, co-occurring disorders, and traumatic stress. §

SAMHSA’s Recovery and Recovery Support Page ( Provides information on how recovery-oriented care and recovery support systems help people with mental and/or substance use disorders manage their conditions. §

SAMHSA’s Veterans and Military Families Webpage ( Offers information about SAMHSA’s efforts to ensure that American service men and women and their families, can access behavioral health treatment and services. §

SAMHSA’s Wellness Page ( wellness-initiative): Promotes the improved wellness of people with mental and/or substance use disorders by engaging, educating, and training providers, consumers, and policy makers.

This list is not exhaustive of all available resources. Inclusion of websites and resources in this document and on the Recovery Month website does not constitute official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.”
One final note!

An excellent resource for family members of persons suffering from gambling addiction is from SAMSHA’s website.  This practical guide covers much of what loved ones need to know and prepare for as they deal with a family member/close friend who is a compulsive gambler.
This guide, Personal Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers, is downloadable at:

 May each month be a significant Recovery Month (in all kinds of ways) to you!

Rev. Janet Jacobs
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries

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


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Post 97

International Gambling Counselor Certification Board






The actual Certification Fee of $185 is now being waived through June 30, 2018, for those applicants who have completed the training sessions (4 Modules), and the additional requirements toward Certification (see Next Steps article).  On July 19, at the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board’s Annual Meeting, the decision was made to continue to extend the initial Certification Fee waiver through June 30, 2918, thus providing more time to fulfill the requirements toward Certification.

 Therefore, your opportunity to complete the required work and attain International Clergy/Lay Minister Certification, for only the Administrative Fee of $50, is still open.

Remember, the four Modules may be taken in any order!



·        Gary, Indiana Trainings:   Sept. 8-9  &  Sept. 15-16, 2017
       Contact the International Board:  (202) 547-9204 or
·        Baltimore, Maryland Area Trainings                                                                         

Module 3:  Sept. 30  and  Module 4:  Oct. 14
           Contact Information:                                        

·   Springfield, Massachusetts Trainings:  Oct.13-14  & Oct. 20-21                
          Contact the International Board:  (202)547-9204 or


COMING!! September 12 - 13  and October 24 - 25  

September 12-13:   9th Annual  IN ARMS!

Indiana Annual Recovery Month Symposium

Mariott East, 7202 East 21st Street, Indianapolis, IN  46219


Theme: Join the Voices for Recovery, Strengthen Families & Communities!

Offering:  a diverse arena of addiction, mental health, criminal justice, and community based organizations to meet the needs and interests of all attendees.  Topics will cover Treatment and Recovery, Co-occurring Issues, Peer Recovery & Support, Youth Prevention and Treatment,  Criminal Justice, and other hot topics!

October 24-25:  Mid-Central Annual Conference on Problem Gambling   

Hilton Garden Inn,  Greenwood … 5255 Noggle Way, Indianapolis, IN    

Information: or

An annual offering of gambling-specific topics … CEUs granted by the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board.  This FREE educational event is a super way to earn those “gambling-specific” continuing education credits to maintain Certification for Certified Counselors, Clergy/Lay Ministers, and Co-occurring Specialists (see below article).


VISIT:  for MORE Trainings: FREE!!



(IGCCB Certification:  Clergy/Lay Minister Certification in Gambling Addiction Prevention, Education, Awareness, and Spiritual Outreach Care)   

Notify any change of e-mail address, phone number, and postal address to the International Board:  Phone:  (202) 547-9204 OR  email:

·         Complete and submit Annual Accountability Attestation Form (This Form will be sent to you.)

·         Provide document(s) evidencing completion of 18 hours of gambling-specific CEU hours every three years

·         Re-certification is every three years.   

·         The Re-Certification Fee amount is $95.
Blessings as you continue to learn and grow ... to help others learn, grow, and recover!
Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries

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


Friday, August 4, 2017

Post 96 

SUMMER READING … AND LISTENING:   a collection of thoughts

Lightyears ago, when I was in elementary school, one of my favorite activities during those almost-three-months-long, summer vacations was to join the children’s reading program at the local library.  As soon as school was out, my brothers and I would sign up.  The librarian gave each of us an attractive, handmade, little notebook to keep track of the books we read.  At the end of the summer, there would be a large poster on display with the participants’ names and how many books each person read – most read were at the top of the page, of course!  How I read and read to be one of the top readers! 

This summer, I decided to create my own reading program – and stick to it despite many other goals and responsibilities.  Purposefully – knowing the kind of schedule ahead of me – the materials chosen were ones that could be interrupt-able and somewhat lighter in nature.  The categories are diverse, providing mental shifts from one to the next.  I designated four areas of reading in which to regularly indulge:  (1) historical fiction, (2) inspirational, (3) information on addiction, and  (4) devotional.  Gladly, I can share that it’s been a consistent read since early-June ... a rewarding and thought-provoking one.

For the July edition of the GRM Blog, I will share several of these thoughts associated with each piece of material.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines

·        American Slavery was an intricate system affecting/creating/perpetuating multiple impacts upon the culture:  economic, social, psychological, theological, an overall sense of fear/insecurity, and a general outlook of ongoing sameness with no reason/opportunity to change.  It’s a story of traveling through time (and eras) for a former young slave girl to a 100+ year old woman.  In many ways, the old-slavery-system impacts continued strongly throughout the book affecting a host of characters on both ends of slavery’s spectrum. 

Reading intimate details of being bound  thus reminded me, over and over, of the limited existence that is captured and held by addiction.  Whether the personal situation is substance or behavior driven, the addict and loved ones/associates are bound to the ruling effects of the addiction cycle.  Then too, the above mentioned, pervasive impacts are found repeatedly within individual true-life stories of addiction.

The Upside of Down by Christine Ostertag Timmins

·        By the title, you can tell this is of the inspirational category.  Written in first person, Chris Timmons chronicles the events of her life following a tragic accident leaving her quadriplegic.  She shares the frustrations and fears one can only experience with such tragedy in addition to unexpected divorce and Stage IV breast cancer later.  Her story is not Pollyanna … nor is it buried in deep depression.  Throughout are the bare bone basics of severe limits set free by a spirit of responses to God’s affirmations for her.  Quotations from scripture and many others punctuate the challenges-turned-victories that portray Timmons’ post-accident life.  This is a book about recovery – not as one would expect or initially hope for - but one upheld and surrounded by the grace and beauty of God.

If You Can’t / Won’t Stop Smoking by James Scala, Ph.D.

·        Dr. Scala begins by urging his readers to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.  The title, however, goes beyond this point.  Acknowledging that there are folks who won’t quit using, Scala directs his studies to how nicotine and  other harmful aspects of smoking/chewing/dipping affect the body - and what persons can do to try and strengthen their bodies bearing the effects of cigarettes, etc.  It’s a fascinating read (keep in mind that the copyright is1993) … and if the book is thoroughly read, whether one continues to use or not, the information is clear … there are areas of destruction throughout the body from tobacco/nicotine use.  Page after page, Scala’s recommendations spell out multiple (and I mean multiple) ways to try and lessen the resulting harm.  In fact, the exhaustive extent of information underscores his very first recommendation: quit! 

Essentially, this is a book about the effects of addiction.  Regardless of the source of addiction, the mind and the body are pervasively affected.  This is not a no, no message … rather once finished with this book, the reader will be able to see how much needs to be done to repair (and keep repairing) the body.  Perhaps then, the question will come to mind: is my addiction worth this high maintenance regime?

The Upper Room  and  Gamblers Anonymous A Day at a Time

·        Both publications are daily meditations filled with one page per day messages to encourage the reader’s spiritual growth.  The Upper Room is written by both lay and clergy from all over the world.  Additionally, there are weekly discussion questions for individual or group use. 

·        GA A Day at a Time is definitely meat-y!  Whether the person is a problem gambler, otherwise addiction-prone, or just wants to dig deeply for a personal examination of conscience, this devotional is a great aid in helping to peel back the layers of denial and/or self-reveal.  The questions are probing; and at the same time, there’s a message of a silver lining for each day.

This book is, also, a great resource for therapy groups, discussion classes, and even sermon series!

Throughout the past two months, summer reading has not only opened my mind to think more deeply … but to listen more carefully.  What are others saying?  What am I hearing from God?  Thoughts have been provoked and revoked.   There has been much reflection – and I’m still digging!  


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
          Founding Director
          Gambling Recovery Ministries

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