Monday, December 05, 2005

Day 1108 - Updates?

Hello there...sorry I havent been to diligent about updating this blog, but one of the benefits of remaining abstinent from gambling is that I have become very busy with all the other areas of life!

But, a short update. I am still doing well...recently celebrated my 3 year anniversary of not gambling and we had a great meeting. I was touched by all those who attended, many from significant distance.

Work is busier..(good thing...get to pay off the bills faster!), personal life still kindof on hold...but given where I was 3 short years ago...I have nothing to complain about!! The quality of my problems has definetely improved!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Day 1004 - Yes, I am still alive..!

Hello anyone here reading. I know it has been a few weeks since I have added any content to this site. I am doing well, no I am not gambling!! As a matter of fact, my abstinence from the bet is allowing me to have a very BUSY life both personally and professionally which is helping to have the blogging slowed down.

I am thinking I need to move this back into my priority list as I found it to be a good tool, so check back and hopefully I will be back to a more frequent posting schedule!

Thank you for all the e mails I have recieved asking where I have been. They mean alot.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Study Ties Risk of Problem Gambling with Proximity to Casinos

No big surpirse to me here, but this article highlights a recently published study that shows a marked increase in problem gamblers, the closer people live to a casino. The study also showed an increased prevelance to those in poorer neighborhoods also. The researchers did point out that geography is NOT as much of a factor as other indicators, but if a person is pre-dipsosed to have problems they will be increased if the person is close to gambling.

I think that is likely what happened in my case. I had never gambled much at all, and definetely did not have a problem, UNTIL the Indian casinos moved to town. That gave me access I didn't have before and I took advantage. Remember, I do not blame the casinos for my addiction, but we do need to realize that there will be social consequences to our legalized gambling expansion and those need to be addressed.


Problem Gambling In Utah?

Utah newspaper, the "Deseret News" has been running a special series on the effects of gambling in Utah, where "officially" there is no legalized gambling but where the bordering states each offer plenty of gambling to those willing to make the 2 hour drive, of which there are many.

Todays article is completely focused on the problem gambling problem and how it may impact Utah.

Read more here:

Gambling Spurs Social, Legal Woes

I have always found the paradox interesting as there is a VERY large Mormon population in Las Vegas in addition to Utah, yet somehow the two cultures seem able to co-exist.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Canadian Memorial Service Remembering Compulsive Gambler Suicides Held

HALIFAX – As Phyllis Vineberg stood and began to shuffle between the pews in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Brunswick Street, she couldn’t go on. Hunched over, she broke silently into tears.

Vineberg was one of about 75 people attending a vigil for families and friends of people who had committed suicide because of an addiction to VLTs.


This article appeared in the Halifax Daily News. The article goes onto to describe the social costs of legalized gambling and in particular the addictive Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Day 952 - Still Making Difficult Choices

Hello All,

First I would like to take a quick moment and thank all the nice e-mails and comments from you regarding my post of a couple of days ago regarding my lack of "personal journaling" here of late. It does have an impact. Thanks.

So, I am one the oldest of six brothers in my family. This weekend one of them got married. The wedding took place in Boston, MA and of course I live in San Diego, CA. Attending would realistically mean taking almost a week off from work, and the cost of a plane ticket, hotel, and food for a few days. Probably about a thousand dollars.

Thankfully, I actually have this kind of money in the bank now. Since I placed my last bet 2 1/2 years ago things of course get better all the time financially. I mean when I am not spending my very last dollar at the blackjack table thinking I was "going to come back" and then "leave when I got back up", money problems are lessened. I also somehow actually have a few thousands dollars worth of credit cards available to me again with ZERO balances on them. I live pretty much cash in hand type of life these days. I still am amazed that I can go from homeless shelter to having credit again in the time it took...about a year before I got my first one, and then 6 months later another even bigger one.

BUT, the cash in the bank is there for emergencies, and I already owe enough money so I try not to use my cards except for gas etc. and then I pay them every month. Also, even though money problems are lessened now, I still owe A LOT of money to people.

Hence my dilemma about my brother's wedding. This would have been the first time in approximately 10 years that all six boys would have been in the same place at the same time, something VERY important to my mother. Also, one of the things about not gambling anymore is that I am INVITED to these family functions again. For a long time they could have cared less where I was. After all, they were tired of the lying and stealing I was doing back then.

So, in the end I had to weigh several factors. In the mix was that when I don't work I don't get commissions. I make most of my money off those commissions, so the cost of the trip itself would have then had lost wages on top of it. Also, I am committed to spending about $400.00 this fall for my attendance at the National Gamblers Anonymous Conference in October (details on the right by the way!). I justify this by the realization that if I don't make my recovery priority number one, NONE of the other stuff matters because at some point I will go back to gambling. That is what a compulsive gambler does when one gets complacent. So, the money is a good investment, even for those I still owe. It makes it more likely they will see there money at some point.

In the end I decided I could not afford to go to the wedding. I did send a gift, and I spoke to my brother and bride on the phone. Not ideal, but I think the family understands.

I hope so at least.


Louisian Program Treats Gambling Addiction

Reprinted from "The Advocate" 6/25/05.

NEW ORLEANS -- A fledgling state program that offers treatment rather than jail to some gambling addicts who commit certain nonviolent crimes is helping to put Louisiana at the "forefront" of efforts to deal with problem gambling, Attorney General Charles Foti said Friday.

"They can keep their families together. They can deal with their addiction," Foti, touting two of the benefits of the new "Gambling Treatment Referral Program," said at the 19th annual Conference on Prevention, Research and Treatment of Problem Gambling.

"We're attempting to reach the root of the problem," he said.

The referral program is a joint effort of Foti's office, the state Department of Health and Hospitals' Office for Addictive Disorders, the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling and local district attorneys.

It is designed to help first or second offenders who have committed nonviolent crimes that are directly related to compulsive gambling receive treatment instead of prison time. The crimes can include theft, forgery, issuing worthless checks, credit-card fraud, insurance fraud and failure to pay child support. Addicts sometimes resort to those crimes to fuel their gambling habits.

I have always thought that the issue of criminal activity related to compulsive gambling is behind the times when compared to drugs or alcohol in our society. I am glad to see this starting to change. I hope the program is successful and other states begin to follow suit.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Nice Article Featuring My Friend Carol O.

The Las Vegas Business Press did a nice article about the recently approved state funding to expand compulsive gambler treatment in Nevada. The article even has a picture and several quotes from my good friend Carol O'hare, Executive Director of the Nevada Council On Problem Gambling.

Some may remember that Carol is the woman who was thre for me that first morning that I finally began my abstinence and eventual recovery. (See "Remembering Day One" on the right.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Day 949 - Where Have I Been?

Evening all,

Well, some of you that return here daily may be wondering where I have been? NO, I was not gambling and I am grateful for that! I continue to work other areas of my recovery to ensure I am always aware that I am a compulsive gambler and to place that first bet would almost assuredly lead to disaster for me.

But, I have not been applying myself to the continuous updates to the blog here as I used to. No real special reason...just busy with other life and sort of in a "nothing much to say" phase.

As the compulsive/impulsive person I am though, as I thought about the fact that I have not been journaling here every single day as I was, and some days not adding anything to the site at all, my first reaction was of course....TO QUIT! To shut it down.... The easy way out still lives inside me in many ways even though I am not gambling anymore.

Thankfully however, I have learned to wait beyond my initial reaction in most situations and this one was no different. After some thought, I realized it was really the journaling that is the most difficult for me to add each and every day since there are really a lot of days I don't have much to say? But, adding the news articles and the saying of the day etc. is not very difficult.

Also, I continue to be amazed at the number of new people that get to this site. Most are searching on "gamblers anonymous" or "gambling addiction" etc. Once they get here MANY of the visitors read through 10-15 pages including the "My Story" section and others. The average time a new visitor spends on my blog is over 15 minutes....that's amazing! Of course all of you who visit often spend considerably less since I believe you are just getting updated with news etc...

So, for now at least I will make a better effort to at least post news every day. I cannot guarantee any personal commentary every day, but I am sure I will write something a few times a week. After all, that part of the blog is really for my own benefit rather than anyone else's. I am not even sure that part ever gets read....

Enough for tonight.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

PBS Show Explores Teenage Compulsive Gambling

"DUSTIN WAGGONER: I had $1,000 in my son's bank. And I took that out and spent it. I don't know why I did it. As I was drawing the money out of the bank, I felt like a bullet was going through me, but I wasn't smart enough to put it back. I remember I lost that $1,000. I remember leaving the casino at about 2:00 in the morning. I was just bawling my eyes out. And I usually don't cry, but I mean, I cried and cried."

The paragraph above is an excerpt from a TV story done on PBS in Washington State recently. The transcribed version of the story can be viewed online here.

It is a well done story focusing more on the actual risks teenagers face with the current poker craze including statistics and interviews.