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Gripped By Gambling

Gripped By Gambling

We interviewed Marilyn Lancelot, a recovering gambling addict and alcoholic who took herself and her family through hell with her addictions. Lancelot is the author of two books, Gripped by Gambling and the recently published Switching Addictions. She recently appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss her addictions. You can find more about Marilyn at her websites Gripped by Gambling and Women Helping Women

AllTreatment: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Marilyn Lancelot: I was married to my first husband for 19 years, raised five children, and had two short marriages after the divorce. I spent the first 40 years in New England and then moved to Arizona where I began gambling. I visited my first casino at the age of 52 and never went back for three or four years. I believe I became compulsive immediately. I continued to gamble for seven years when I finally hit my bottom.

AllTreatment: Do you feel you have an addictive personality?
Marilyn Lancelot: I know I have an addictive compulsive personality. If anything tastes good, looks good, or feels good, I want to do it.

AllTreatment: When did you first start gambling? Were you ever concerned of your likelihood to become addicted?
Marilyn Lancelot: When I began gambling I had no idea what compulsive gambling meant. I didn't believe I was a compulsive gambler because 27 years ago when I started to gamble, only men became compulsive gamblers.

AllTreatment: What was your lifestyle like during your addiction?
Marilyn Lancelot: While I was in the throes of my gambling addiction, I missed birthday parties and holiday celebrations and I became a liar and a thief. I embezzled a large amount of money from my employer and was sentenced to two years in prison.

AllTreatment: How did your addiction affect your relationship with your friends and family?
Marilyn Lancelot: My family and friends knew nothing of my addiction or my crime, until I was caught. My life at that time just crumbled.

AllTreatment: Was your professional life affected?
Marilyn Lancelot: My job at that time was office manager of a company and I abused the trust my employer had in me.

AllTreatment: What was rock bottom like?
Marilyn Lancelot: My rock bottom was something I try to forget and at the same time, want to remember so I'll never go there again. Seeing the looks on the faces of my family was so very painful.

AllTreatment: Was there an intervention?
Marilyn Lancelot: My intervention came from my employer and from the legal system, when I was caught in my crime and sent to prison.

AllTreatment: With your gambling addiction, what was prison like?
Marilyn Lancelot: I have always been a survivor and had no problems with serving prison time. I minded my own business, worked outside the prison walls, read lots of books, and started writing a diary.

AllTreatment: How did you initially try to "cure" your addiction? What steps did you take for recovery?
Marilyn Lancelot: I never tried to cure myself of the gambling addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic and I knew that 12-step programs worked and I faithfully followed the GA guidelines.

AllTreatment: I noticed that you had said "only men were compulsive gamblers." How did it initially feel to admit that you were one?
Marilyn Lancelot: Twenty years ago when I visited my first GA meeting, the male members did not welcome the female gambler. The men thought we weren't real gamblers because we didn't bet on sports, horse races, or on card games. At my first meeting, the members suggested I join GamAnon which is for the wives of the male gamblers. It took a couple of years for the men to change their attitude towrd the female gambler. Today, most of the men around Arizona and throughout the United States, accept the female gambler. In Arizona the ratio between male and female gamblers is 50/50. Some groups even have more women members than men. The atmosphere in the GA meetings are held in a welcoming and non-judgemental tone, and include a sharing and supporting group of recovering gamblers. There are no musts but we make suggestions on how to recover.

AllTreatment: What was Gambler Anonymous like?
Marilyn Lancelot: GA has been good to me and if anyone asks me how GA works, I answer Just Fine!

AllTreatment: Tell us about how your book.
Marilyn Lancelot: My book, Gripped by Gambling, was started as a prison diary. One of my daughters encouraged me to write a diary while I served my time and I would write a couple of pages each week and mail them home to her, telling her to put them in a shoe box and when I got home I would look at them.

AllTreatment: Did you find writing the book to be therapeutic?
Marilyn Lancelot: Writing was very therapeutic and the best inventory I could have taken. Writing the book enabled me to see the mistakes I made in the past and gave me an opportunity to make adjustments and changes in my life. I have now published a second book, Switching Addictions, which takes the addict beyond their original problem.

AllTreatment: What advice do you have for people who are currently suffering from gambling addiction?
Marilyn Lancelot: I talk to many newcomers on the phone and through the computer and I always suggest they seek out a GA meeting and if there are none in their area, I suggest they look for a counselor who is trained to treat gamblers.

AllTreatment: Where do you think you will be in a year?
Marilyn Lancelot: I live my life today, One Day at A Time, and in one year I expect to be doing the same things I am doing today. I will try to be there when the hand of a newcomer reaches out for help and if I don't have answers to their questions I direct them to someone who will have the answer.


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