Is this a climb, or a fall?

If you watch the short clip above, do you see a climb, or a fall? As a former athlete who knows the importance of finding new and healthy (and age appropriate!) ways to stay competitive, I’m drawn to the challenge of climbing. You reach up and grab that first hold, lift yourself up, find your next hold, your next step. You wonder if you’ll fall. You worry about how you’ll land if/when you do fall. After falling, you have to decide whether to even try again, and, if so, what to do the same and what to do differently.

Anyone seeking to make changes around gambling might find some of this familiar. What would the first step be? Deciding to quit? Cut back? How would I do it? What course would I take? What if I can’t do it? Who’s there to catch me if I fall? With addictive behaviors, it’s easy to take an all or nothing approach. A slip can cause someone to become disheartened, to think they just can’t do it. Finding the balance, the shades of gray, trusting the process (there was a note saying this very thing taped to the wall at the above indoor rock-climbing place!), can be difficult. And for athletes, maybe even more so. Have you heard the phrase “you’re either first or you’re last”? Making changes around gambling or any other addictive behavior requires cultivating a different mindset; demands finding and focusing on hope, getting up after every fall, and trying again.

We had a workshop yesterday as part of our Problem Gambling Awareness Month activities. Our guest speaker was Dr. Sandra Adell, professor, author, actor and former model, who read excerpts from her memoir “Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen” and from an upcoming publication “Black Women Speak Out About Casino Gambling.”

Dr. Adell’s talk was positive and empowering. It got me to thinking about the importance of hope and perseverance. Gambling problems can have devastating effects on all parts of one’s life; their relationships, finances, work, health, and emotional well-being. These areas can take a lot of time to address, even after gambling has stopped. For some, it may feel like an unbearable weight, an impossible climb. In telling her story, Dr. Adell emphasized the power of recovery, healing, of being in community. No one has to carry the weight alone. There is always someone willing to belay you, always support to cushion a fall. So, if you struggle to make changes around gambling, find your support network. You are not alone. Check out for 100’s of online support meetings. Call or text the National Gambling Hotline at 1-800-522-4700.

Above all, keep climbing. You may get scraped, bruised and sore, but I promise you the view is spectacular.

Want to learn more about how we work to raise awareness of problem gambling and the help that’s available? email us at

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