3 out of 4 stars
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Addicted to Dimes by Catherine Townsend-Lyon is a memoir about the author’s personal battle with gambling addiction. The book explores the author’s past experiences and decisions which eventually culminated in a financially and emotionally devastating addiction and the difficult ordeal of the recovery process. The author is open and honest about her mistakes, her family drama and past abuse, and the long term consequences gambling has had on her marriage and friendships.
The first section of the book is an introduction to the author’s early life. She grew up in a dysfunctional family and suffered abuse at the hands of her parents as well as outsiders. As a teenager and young woman, the author felt stifled by her mother’s overbearing control, particularly in controlling her own hard-earned money. She outlines decisions she made and relationships she began while searching for a replacement “unconditional love” that she did not receive from her parents. The hardships of her early life may have made the author vulnerable to the lure of addiction, and the continuing dysfunction may have added fuel to the fire later in her life.
The author gives the description of her family dysfunction and past to illustrate the person she used to be before the addiction took over her life. The addiction began slowly, but over time grew and drove her to drastic actions. As stress piled on her, gambling became an outlet to her emotions. She also adopted the gambler's mentality of placing bets to win money she desperately needed to pay bills, but in the end would lose more money than she came in with. Over the years, the author would borrow money, steal from friends and workplaces, and jeopardize everything she and her husband worked for to maintain her gambling habit before fully committing to the recovery process.
Townsend-Lyon was inspired to write this book after hearing the news of a local woman’s suicide due to gambling addiction. She wrote this book to give hope to those caught in the addiction that recovery is possible as well as to inspire empathy and bring awareness to others. The recovery process took a long time for the author and she described the “rock bottom” situation that appears to have been necessary for her to fully commit to the recovery process. She describes her own missteps, triggers from family and stress, and aspects of therapy which were most and least helpful for her. In the end she appears to have been successful, if still in financial hardship.
I rate Addicted to Dimes 3 out of 4 stars. It is heart breaking to see a woman’s life in ruins and the impact on her husband and friendships. However, a sizeable portion of the book is dedicated more to her family drama than to the actual gambling addiction. While I enjoy the author’s honesty and self-awareness, sometimes it feels voyeuristic to see so much into her family life and affairs. The author explains, though, that her “war stories” from gambling were not shared because oftentimes they can be triggering to other people currently fighting the addiction. The book is instead focusing on the repercussions on her life. It is also worth bearing in mind that the author is not a professional writer and so sometimes the book reads as a private journal entry. The author includes phrases such as “OMG!” which can be somewhat distracting. It is also important to remember that this is not a self-help guidebook, but a personal memoir. This book may appeal to readers who are themselves battling a gambling addiction, or any addiction for that matter, or to those who have loved ones affected by the addiction. It may also be noteworthy for people who do not have any gamblers in their lives, but still wish to see how the addiction can be devastating and to see the victims as real people, rather than as statistics.
Addicted To Dimes
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