AllBetter

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner with Zach Cole

September 03, 2023 Joe Van Wie / Zach Cole Season 3 Episode 63
AllBetter
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner with Zach Cole
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What happens when a musical business owner wins the lottery twice, wades through the throes of addiction, and then finds his way back to sobriety? How does one navigate the intricate relationship between early patterns of insecurity, substance use, and gambling addiction? Join us as we unravel the extraordinary journey of Zach Cole, who now works in the field of SUD. Witness the power of resilience in the face of adversity and the strength of the human spirit through his vivid narrative.

In a captivating conversation with Zach, we discuss his early exposure to jazz music and how it laid the groundwork for his music career. As we peel back the layers of his life, we delve into his deep-seated insecurities, how they led to substance use, and his subsequent struggle with addiction. The narrative takes a tense turn when a handgun incident propels Zach onto the path to recovery and rehabilitation. 

As we traverse through Zach's recovery process, we explore his astounding lottery wins, the descent into a gambling addiction, and his bold decision to ban himself from all forms of gambling in Pennsylvania. We round off our engaging dialogue by reflecting on Zach's resilience, hope, and gratitude for his journey thus far. Tune in for this discerning exploration of addiction, recovery, and the indomitable human spirit. Don’t miss out on this remarkable testament of survival and triumph.

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Speaker 1:

Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of All Better. I'm your host, joe Van Wee. Today's guest is my friend Zach Cole Zach from Clark Summit. He's currently a Substance Use Disorder Clinician at Little Creek Lodge. Zach comes in today to talk about a remarkable story of a couple periods of sobriety which we shared together how he was able to keep his wonderful wife with his incredible wife, danielle Cole, his four-chairs daughters, his silver journey. But Zach's story is really distinct. He started a second process addiction in the middle of a period of sobriety and it began by winning $50,000. And with a lottery ticket. And then a couple weeks later winning another $60,000 with a lottery ticket and by the end of this journey he's been going up anywhere from $300,000 back down to zero. This is just unbelievable. I mean, I almost didn't believe it and how this made his life almost impossible and how he escaped the clutches of the dread is caused. I'm, zach's a great guy. We talk about his musical background with his family and some other interesting things on therapy right now. So let's meet Zach. So we're here with Zach Cole Zach. A little mic check. We just left off on a plot and I want to pick up right there, let's just get right into it. Sure, what were you just explaining to me?

Speaker 2:

So, asmr, when I put the headphones on and I started speaking to the mic, it reminded me of these videos I'll watch on YouTube, where you know people have these like high condenser mics and they some people make, they make millions off of doing really weird things. They'll scratch the mic and it'll pan from ear to ear so you can kind of lay there and listen to like people like grab books, just like do weird things into the microphone and it likes yeah, and it'll like start to like give you a tingly sensation. Yeah, it always so, but there's a dark side to it too. So you have to be careful. If you're doing research, people start doing really weird things.

Speaker 1:

Let's start there, because that's where I'd probably be more comfortable with. Where's the dark stories of the? Well, I do, I have an ASMR, asmr.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I haven't. I haven't gone down that rabbit hole, to be honest with you, but I see the pictures on the YouTube when I'm scrolling, you know, so I'll stare clear. Typically I'll type in something specific like guided meditation, asmr, because I like to hear someone like this, like super clear. You're doing it to me now, I feel in my forehead tingle.

Speaker 1:

I've always liked that. So when you say you're typing it in so someone understands, is this Google YouTube? Yeah?

Speaker 2:

yeah, either way, it's a huge. It's becoming more and more popular. What's the keywords? Just ASMR. I'm going to check that out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I felt, if I'm going total novice when you brought it up, I'm like what's?

Speaker 2:

on it. I was really surprised that you had no clue.

Speaker 1:

Dude, I'm surprised at what I never know. Yeah, so Wow, did you ever have tubes?

Speaker 2:

when you were a kid in your ear. I can't even believe you're asking me this right now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I've had many sets of two to set well many, but I had two sets of tubes. But currently my one of my daughters I have four daughters, yeah, and one of them has two really bad ear infections right now and she had, you know, not too long ago, had gotten tubes, yeah, and I've been wondering if they're not working properly.

Speaker 1:

Why would you? So, what do you think they? What do tubes do?

Speaker 2:

Typically they, you know they kind of keep your ear drum open slightly so that when you do get fluid in there it drains easily and you don't keep getting ear infections, but she currently has like two really bad ear infections and I'm thinking like and is there a tube in there now? Yeah, in both her ears. Yeah, although she went to the doctor yesterday and her ear was so like filled with gunk they weren't able to even see the ear drum. Yeah, so they couldn't tell if the sometimes the tube could fall out and they don't know. And they fall out eventually. All tubes, typically All tubes. The reason I am the way I am is that my tube went inward Really yeah Instead of falling out, and then it bounced around in my head.

Speaker 1:

What does that say about you, until I became an alcoholic? What does that say about you, zach? What does that say? What was your ear trying to tell the rest of you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was trying to warn me. You know from a young age.

Speaker 1:

So the reason I asked why you have tubes, I had tubes, Okay, and I have dreamlike memories of the testing. Wow, and I think one of the testing sites I was young Most people are when they get the tubes Was this center. It might have been in Wilkesbury and they need to have the headphones and the sound test left, right, hot dog baseball, right or left and you touch your ear. Where did you hear it? Is this your attraction? Is there some kind of maybe?

Speaker 2:

childhood. What I remember is the then you're like this Because I keep getting. They turn it lower, you can get ghost sounds too, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So what is the sound you can? Can you replicate a sound Like if you get so effective, does your eardrum vibrate when you're having audible hallucinations? It's a really interesting idea. Just you know not to go totally on a caveat. So the mind is that powerful, can it generate a manifestation of a sound? And is it coming from the ear, the? Where is it? The auditory cortex? Where it'd be at the back of your brain?

Speaker 2:

Sounds right.

Speaker 1:

It could be stimulated as if you heard a real sound and there is no sound perceived. And this happens with that condition. Yes, what you're describing. When you said the and I raised my hand, I could feel it in the front of my forehead. I wonder if there is a soothing quality for guys like us that is more more intense with this. You would ASMR? I might have to. I'm going to explore this. Do it tight. We'll start a survivors meeting of tubes. Tube survivors You're saying look at that, were you an alcoholic, was it?

Speaker 2:

because of tubes. It was the tubes. I just we're onto something. It's like well, my name is Zach, right, my entire life people that have known me have mistakenly called me Josh, right, josh. So people that have known forever, or my boss at work right, that was my name. He says it all the time, but then randomly every now and then, and it's not like a any other name, it's always Josh. So this now this still happens. Up until like two months ago, someone randomly called me Josh and I decided to go on Reddit to see if there was other Zach's out there, and there's a whole page dedicated to Zach's who are called Josh.

Speaker 1:

What is this? Is this like an indelifact for Zach's and Josh's?

Speaker 2:

But it's only happens to certain people, so it's the people. What I'm wondering is what's wrong with the people that when they hear the word Zach, when they're not really paying attention, or maybe their unconscious is like working more. Yeah, I'll tell you what it is Please?

Speaker 1:

Um, they're anti-Semites. Here's my, here's my theory right now. Yes, they have co-mongled the idea of Zachariah and Joshua. Zachariah. Yeah, the book of judges have just left a stain in their mind that all names are. These are Israeli names Josh and Zach, don't matter.

Speaker 2:

They're the same name. They're the same name.

Speaker 1:

You've just found yourself an anti-Semite. Confront them immediately. Wow, what's they say, josh?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm not confrontational, I'll let it be Zach.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let's get started. You're here today.

Speaker 2:

Right. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

We've known each other for some years and we've always had a nice, funny, casual relationship. We've helped each other. You've helped me with my home. You come from a family of artists and musicians speaking of tubes in the year. You guys have great ears and I want to tell this story a little bit. What was it like? What would you summarize your life like? Growing up in a house that had a creative flair, music, and why, maybe by adolescence, drugs and alcohol were something that made you feel normal?

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, growing up I could remember, you know maybe this doesn't happen to everyone who doesn't grow up in a musical household or maybe a specific type of music, since my father he's classical and jazz, so he's, like you know, trained in both of those genres of music. And I can remember some of my earliest memories of going downstairs and my dad putting the stereo on and putting a record out of a guy named Woody Herman who was a trumpet player. If I got that wrong, my father will disown me.

Speaker 1:

It sounds right. I'm pretty sure he was a trumpet player.

Speaker 2:

And it was fun, you know, and listen to this scattered bebop style jazz music at a very young age, which is not fun for most people. Yeah, you know, when I I'll play jazz for my children and they don't they're not into it yet, you know, but I can remember wanting to like the things my father liked you know, and my brothers were the same way.

Speaker 1:

And let's, let's just put a caveat there for a young listener there wasn't other many media choices. Maybe a kid would be attracted to cartoons, right? Maybe there was a more focal attention to the, even a stereo.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, we sat in front of the stereo and it was like this nice elaborate stereo, probably really expensive or nice for the time, you know, and my dad was had pride involved in that. So after dinner we'd go downstairs and he'd put Woody Herman on. And can even remember the melody in my head, you know, yeah. And so eventually my, my father, bought us a drum set. That was like the first thing and I can remember my neighbor, chip, right? Chip was older than us and he knew how to drum a little bit and he'd come over and he taught us the we will rock you beat. Right, which is really simple, right, yeah. But what he did was he said all right, so do that, beat the doom, doom, doom, doom, doom, doom, but add rhythm on your ride symbol or high hat, a steady rhythm, you know. So it was like doom, doom, doom, doom, doom, doom, doom, doom. So right there, that's when I first started to once I learned that keeping a steady beat over the we will rock you beat, my brain started to split, it started to become coordinated, you know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, because that's a significant thing that happens.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it must happen if you're going to be a musician.

Speaker 1:

you know especially in the drums, in the drums beater, and just sort of curious, did you have to count? Did you keep a four count to get this? Because I dabbled with drums. I could dance, I could feel rhythm. I can see that Drumming was hard and I could get it. I could get a few beats, but I can't count. Like I lose. I can't play with other people. I'd never trained enough. It's so hard for me.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure that you know. Chip probably didn't tell us to count. But, when my father came in. He's very A thotical, yeah, and you know, theory oriented, so I'm sure he tried to get us to count the different time signatures, whether it was two, four, four, four, three, four, whatever it's, six, eight, whatever it might have been.

Speaker 1:

But I never did.

Speaker 2:

I just started to feel it.

Speaker 1:

I know I like to feel and I would ever would like that's an American.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You could feel it, do it. The reason I asked for a county? Because I probably couldn't, even at the age you're talking about. There's so much noise in my head, like they say. You know, a mental health test is to say the alphabet backwards or count backwards from 100. Where you stop is how much noise interference, how many voices are going on in your head.

Speaker 2:

If you can't do that, I quit before I even I was going to try mentally just now and I didn't even try.

Speaker 1:

So music. That's it. It's in the fiber of that house.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so it was a feel. And my mother also a great vocalist. I didn't know that. I'm giving you a shout out. She never got enough credit. I feel Dad being like in the spotlight of the music at least you know he was. He's a adjunct theory jazz theory teacher at Marywood. Still yeah, he played in you know many different bands and ensembles. He would do orchestra stuff for classical. He was a bass player. He played the upright double bass.

Speaker 1:

I've seen him play.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, An electric bass, you know, with different groups such as like the exact change and other dark seed. That was his rock band when he that's a great name. Yeah, Well, before you know, he had really long hair and the John Lennon glasses and dark seed dark star.

Speaker 1:

It's like a kick to cross.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Are the dead right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So we started playing. My older brother, you know, we went through during school. We were in the drum line together and he got really good and I started to feel like I was competing with him. And that's when I decided that I was going to move away from the drums and try my hand at the piano. And it was easy for me because I had already split my brain right, so my left and right hand were pretty coordinated individually.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I was able to just like kind of improvise and make stuff up rhythmically on the piano and then I started taking piano lessons to learn the theory. I studied with Marco Marcin Cofril, a little bit jazz and some other teachers and, yeah, just kind of evolved from there, you know yeah.

Speaker 1:

Your brother's doing some interesting things with percussion now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

He was at the house. He did a sound. He called a sound bath. I don't know if he was calling it that, but that's a good way to describe it. It's people are doing it therapeutically. The name's escaping me to exact drums, but it's just, I've never heard anything like that.

Speaker 2:

Well, his big thing, I feel, is like the hand pan. Now the hand pan yeah. Which is like that UFO looking.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's what he had. He had six of them. They all had their own chords. Yeah, it was wild. I felt like I was in a. This is what the future is. This is what the music future is.

Speaker 2:

And he was on that before it blew up. You know, like he was the trend, I feel like he was the trend starter of that.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And just like I feel like I started a yo-yo trend when I was in high school. I swear I brought a yo-yo in and then it spread like the fidget spinner.

Speaker 1:

You know what prompted you? Were you a Smothers Brothers fan?

Speaker 2:

It was like the Duncan butterfly, you know.

Speaker 1:

I was always like the pendulum, the.

Speaker 2:

Eiffel Tower. You know? Yeah, I knew a couple. I was walking the dog.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, walking the dog, that's your expert level. Yeah, what do you think? What would you describe, kind of the climate of your personality, that no-transcript, that you would be a candidate for someone to have an addiction or substance use disorder? And what I mean is, before you drink, what do you? Think was going on that you would bond with the chemical.

Speaker 2:

So this is a question I've thought about a lot, you know, specifically when, like working through the steps, when I did my fourth and fifth step for the first time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I'll just put let me put a note that's taken an inventory of your life. A lot of people are sure, and and having a long discussion about this. What are these patterns? Why are my relationships just falling apart? I don't feel present in them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, patterns is the key word there and that's what I saw when I did my. When I wrote down my inventory and I started to review it with my sponsor at the time, I saw this pattern right and the pattern started with my first romantic relationship, even like before I was actually romantic. You know I was so young that, like there wasn't any sexual activity, sure, it was just, like you know calling from the house phone crush, crush, saying I love you, waiting for it to be said back or right. This happened often. I'd get home from school, I'd pick up the house line call and it'd be busy, oh my God. And then I call again, and then again and I would just keep calling it's busy, and then my brain would start spinning she likes someone else. Yeah, it's me, right. So from a very young age, I saw this pattern of I don't know where it came from, but like an insecurity that I wasn't going to be, I wasn't going to receive love back. You know, I was always very sensitive, emotional, creative and I had this fear that I wasn't going to, I wasn't going to get validated.

Speaker 1:

You just said that it's funny. We're just a little insert here. Yeah, we watched a video yesterday after our mindfulness group we were doing. It was called it's Anthony D'Amello and he wrote a book, popular book, spiritual book, awareness. Background Jesuit was raised in Hindu culture, so he's really interesting. And then he kind of just has these almost secular talks about spirituality. The first drug he says every person's addicted to is validation, something either is good or bad. If this kid knows that by two, you've already roamed them Culture's already roamed them. Yeah, yeah. So that's interesting. I relate to that. Validation is the first thing someone could be addicted to. Can I be part of everything that's going on? Tell me I am, yeah, and that's how I was too.

Speaker 2:

When I was in high school I was the guy I didn't have one specific clique or group of friends. I was friends with all the different cliques, or I guess you could describe it as that the skaters, the jocks, the hippies. I fit in everywhere and I liked it. You still do, Thanks. So, yeah, I was searching for that validation. And then, as I got older and then I got into my first like romantical series relationship and it ended in a way where there was infidelity. Forget it, yeah, it was done. Crushed Right, you know, write my name on the alcoholic book of life. You know I was. Before I even picked up a drug I was. I can remember that feeling of being so crushed and I could actually remember my best friend at the time, Russ. Another thing happened to him and he did not act the way I did. You know he didn't, he moved right on it's like nothing ever happened. And I remember thinking, actually, even at a young age, like is he not experiencing life the way I am? Yeah, you know, no.

Speaker 1:

No, he wasn't. What's it like to be a bat? That's like you ever read that essay. You'll never know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so you know, and then we started smoking pot and you know that kind of stuff and what was it about?

Speaker 1:

pot, euphorically like, where you could still keep a sense of self. You're high, yeah, but you still knew it was you. What describe it?

Speaker 2:

You know it's hard to describe. I guess I can remember the first time I got high in my basement. It was probably like the second or third time that I smoked, though because, as I don't know if you remember, but I, a lot of people don't experience the high the first time.

Speaker 1:

I always forgot that they tell you that I know You're wherever you're with Don't worry if you don't get high. I was just getting exhausted from trying to smoke a joint. I didn't know if I was even doing it right. I'm used to Marlboro stuff.

Speaker 2:

So I can remember, I was probably like 15, 14 or 15 years old and I got high and then we went inside and played this game called extreme G. Extreme G, yeah, like Nintendo 64. It's like this, you know, super trippy racing game, like a futuristic racing game, where you're in these like hovering motorcycle type entity things. Okay, man, it was like, yeah, I couldn't believe what I was experiencing, you know this association yeah. Exactly. Yeah, I'm happy you mentioned that because I didn't even realize, but, like that's probably why I loved it so much, because I, finally, I didn't even know at that time that I was experiencing a level of pain because I'm I'm young and I'm just living my life. But I must have been because the effect that had on me was obviously greater than others.

Speaker 1:

It's very complex. If we could pause there. I mean, think of what's happening in a disassociation. You're playing an immersive game, immersive for the time Well beyond 16 bit. We're like 32 bit by then. It's a moving graphic, yeah 64.

Speaker 2:

64.

Speaker 1:

64 exactly, well, haha. Well, you're playing that. That's a. That's a high speed game. You're stoned, so a different part of your brain's active it's maybe even muting your prefrontal cortex, where you can lose a little kind of feeling, a self. Yeah, this lens, that reality has to go through that. I'm Zach, and now I'll tell you what reality is. Let me edit it so it's my version of reality that gets muted. And so now you're playing this game. People like myself, you could be so uncomfortable in your body the fact that you could now project yourself into the character, the avatar of the game. That's dangerous, dangerous. Yeah, you will never have to solve your problem. You'll just have to become something else. That's it.

Speaker 2:

Exactly what happened.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know and cause. It's funny, I saw that that Eckhart book right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I sure, totally yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I mentioned to you before we started how I love Eckhart and I do a lot of stuff. I even try and incorporate a lot of his teachings into the group sessions I do at the rehab I work at. Yeah, that's how it relates to substance use disorder, and one I did recently was like the ego and how it creates this identity in us. And when something is taken away from our ego, there's pain. You know, when we remove something and Eckhart describes it as like when a young child gets a toy they identify with that toy and if you take it away from them, they cry, even though they might get bored of it in one minute anyway and not care. But the taking away right. So I feel like my identity was wrapped up in some of these relationships. I was in right, my ego, in the sense that it was me, right, I was this, and when she left, there was this void, this pain. Who am I now? Yeah, who am I without her Right? So when I smoked pot and all that was forgotten and I was just enjoying being present, yeah. I think I fell in love with that feeling. Overall, it didn't matter what I was using, because over time it progressed to you know, narcotics and alcohol and gambling. So it didn't matter what. I was using. It was the feeling of not feeling pain from losing those self-made, egoic identities. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's a pretty clear description. Yeah, what's happening? And I guess you know your addiction proceeds like balls.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

It gets painful, there's loss consequences.

Speaker 2:

Right, and then obviously it progressed to. You know, for a while it was just smoking and playing music and I got it. I was into fish and not that that has anything to do with smoking, but it seemed to be Fish is good as suicide.

Speaker 1:

I love fish. Yeah Me and my wife we went last year even to Bethel. That's a community.

Speaker 2:

Yeah so. But you know, at the time it was like, you know, a big pot smoking thing for me. You know I love to go to these festivals and smoke pot. Then I got into the hallucinogens a little bit and then I was playing a poker game in one of my buddy's basements I was like 17 probably at this time and he like slid over a Vicodin, right. I was like, okay, yeah, like we're smoking pot, maybe a beer or two or a couple of the tables forward, just playing a friendly game of poker. Hold them, I ate the Vicodin and I arrived, yeah it was it, it was it, it was the opioid. Yeah, I wanted to experience that feeling every minute of every second of my life, forever.

Speaker 1:

And that's. That's a different drug, it's a different relationship with your brain. It's the opioid, opioid reward system. Yeah, you were treating a pain that pot wasn't reaching, it wasn't reaching that pain.

Speaker 2:

I didn't realize it, wow, and nor did I realize that there was still any pain. Yeah, you know, I didn't have that ability to see it from the perspective I have now. At that time it was I just like this feeling. Yeah, I'm going to try and do this every day. I didn't know that there was addiction. I didn't know that there was withdrawal associated with it.

Speaker 1:

How about, even knowing this, identifying an emotion? Say you're 17. I mean, most 17 year olds would struggle with this. But how are you feeling? I don't know. I didn't know how to answer that outside of okay, I'm angry. I would never say I was afraid, right, right, if I was afraid, it would only last for seconds before I would give it the agency of anger, so I didn't have to.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I wouldn't know how to answer those questions. One of the many branches of fear, you know which? Which branch is my fear going to manifest into today? You know?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I don't know, but wow this, this high powered opiate answered it for you. Answer, I'll find it. I'll find where it's at.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he's like I got you boy, All right, you know. And then so instantly, I became a daily uh pillow user and I wasn't prescribed. So I'm, it's fast Having to try and find it and eventually I realized that, oh no, if I don't have it I'm going to be physically ill. So now, not only emotionally and cognitively am I seeking it, but physically I need it.

Speaker 1:

How much are? How much are pills back then? A single pill, what would it be?

Speaker 2:

Five, five dollars. I feel like five to $10.

Speaker 1:

How long does a pill last?

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, as the tolerance bill, it's a scale, it's a scale, you know, so it keeps getting. You know, I'm I'm eating one to two a day at first and at the end I'm eating 30 a day, if not more, and I can remember like it's starting to interfere with my life, like my you're 17, 18, you've got to produce $150 a day just for the pill.

Speaker 1:

No other activities. Yeah, no pizza, no pizza.

Speaker 2:

I'm working full time at this point, you know, must have been 18, because I was already out of high school and I'm working at a restaurant and I'm working to support my pill habit. I'm still living at home. I have a serious girlfriend, of course, that I've been with now, at this point, since, like my sophomore year, and we're talking about getting an apartment together and I'm I'm going to, you know, just keep hiding this addiction and living my life because I needed it to function, you know. And then eventually, like most opiodic story goes, you know, one day, well, first the oxy cotton started to come into the picture, you know, with a market was flooded with them, and I tried one and wow, you know what an amazing, high powered opiod this is. You know, I think I'm going to ride this train. And then I did, you know. And then I rode that until they became too expensive. And that's when someone said well, you could have the same effect, or even greater, for half the price, you know, if you try this bag of heroin, and eventually I convinced myself that that's what I would do.

Speaker 1:

So you use pharmaceuticals first, pharmaceuticals becoming two. It was an economic decision, and addicts addict economics. It sounds moral too, Like there's some self care there. Wow.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, it started to use the heroin by snorting it.

Speaker 1:

Yep.

Speaker 2:

Okay, yeah, I started snorting it and that continued for a while until, you know, I had drained. You know a significant amount of money. And, funny enough, my mother approached me. Not funny she won't find this funny but she approached me and said where'd all your money go? You know, I got a gambling problem. It's a Red Cross, I can't stop giving blood. So I, yeah, I told her I had this gambling problem, which I didn't have at the time. Later, on, much later on gambling came into my life in a severe way, but at this point I just need an excuse, and so I started to see this psychiatrist for my gambling problem, and I wouldn't it doesn't exist. It didn't exist, so I would go there.

Speaker 1:

So you're protecting your addiction by creating a second false narrative.

Speaker 2:

I created a false narrative addiction to protect my real addiction, and I even sought medical help for my fake addiction.

Speaker 1:

You're a genius, not the real one.

Speaker 2:

It's brilliant, Brilliant, but that obviously you know. The gig eventually came to an end the day I passed down and fired a handgun off in my small apartment with my wife. I was cleaning a handgun.

Speaker 1:

My God. And now it didn't go off because you were compromised.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you were in your read. I'm sure it had something to do with it. You know, like it. Like the young kid I was, I was into handguns and I didn't shoot them.

Speaker 1:

It's. It's not uncommon in northeastern PA. I like to buy. I was boy weapon owner.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I liked handguns. I just bought this beautiful 1911 Kimber target to. Yeah, beautiful gun. I ever fired it before, but I was gonna clean it even though I didn't fight a serious weapon too, that's and I actually saw I'm cleaning it. I'm sitting in my apartment I'm cleaning the gun. My girlfriend at the time has taken a bath. We have a little dog. I'm sitting on the couch and you know I just snorted a couple bags heroin. I'm enjoying myself polishing the gun and I Must have like put the clip back in and didn't really realize it, and then I'm, like you know, sliding the, sliding it chamber cleaning it and I cocked the hammer back and and Pulled the trigger and not knowing, I figured it was gonna be a dry fire and it went off.

Speaker 1:

Is this a full metal jacket or you have hollow?

Speaker 2:

points. It was a full metal jacket like the travel, yeah, and it went through my wall, sure, into the back of my stove.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a 45. Yeah, with nothing to stop it.

Speaker 2:

If it was a hollow point, it would have exploded at the wall through the stove through the stove, pretty sure, possibly into my neighbors, because I was living in a I don't know if I should name the complex I was living in, but I was living in a place when there was people everywhere above me, on the sides of me you know scary and I just remember sitting there the dog Shaking because you could imagine a single bedroom apartment. I have to kill the dog, it's a witness.

Speaker 1:

Yes, my wife, like you, just now, pass out on the dog and murder, sleep on it.

Speaker 2:

So you know the dog. The dog was fine. I don't want. I love dogs, dog.

Speaker 1:

I was just referring to the soprano.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he died out and fell asleep. He crawled under there for the warmth.

Speaker 1:

I Remember that episode dude, this is, this is serious. I did not know this and that's a lot, that's a high. You know, I was like a Velocity bullet for a handgun. Yeah, that's like a hundred and thirty seven grains. If I could, you could hold me to. I, I'm a small arms expert and that's explosive, that's an explosive round and and that's made to rip and run.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean the gun. You know I wasn't holding it like I thought it was gonna fire. Jumped out of my head.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a good shot my leg.

Speaker 2:

It could have shot my girlfriend in the tub. She screamed and she thought I blew my head off for scary.

Speaker 1:

The next day I went to rehab for the first time, so that was like wow that was the incident.

Speaker 2:

That was there. Legal no cops never came, neighbors never knocked on the door. It's a private affair. It's private. We better let him.

Speaker 1:

He's obviously don't tell anyone about this outside of the pod. This was many years. Well, thank God, yeah oh obviously it's over 20.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, so I I went to my first rehab and that's when I first started getting introduced to the life of Recovery, recovery, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and how did that? How did it first come off? First, let me ask you this what was your desire to get sober? Were you? Were you a little shaken up by this, this event, did you? Were you curious about getting sober, maybe, or did you want to?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was definitely curious about getting sober. As you can imagine, at this point there's days where you can't get stuff. My whole life is a grind and once your tolerance for the opiates goes up so high, you really stop feeling the effect of it and you're just, you know, specifically using it to function. So to go to work, to have a conversation with anyone, to feel any form of happiness whatsoever outside of depression, I had to be high, you know. So I'm hustling and grinding daily, really, just so I could function at a normal level in life. Yeah, so, yeah, I was definitely at a point where I Felt free. I can remember when I, when I was like, okay, it's time to go to rehab, and I felt like, oh, thank God, you know, I need, I need to get off this, and at that time you know they didn't have suboxone or any like those Detox meds.

Speaker 1:

So no, I was either methadone, and that wasn't offered at many places either.

Speaker 2:

I went to Clear Brook for the first time. That was when it was just the old mansion building you went to cabin.

Speaker 1:

They had a mansion building you know a room with picnic tables and punch.

Speaker 2:

They had the ghost that lived up in the top floor and they gave me some Librium. I think that was what I did I used to detox off of that? Yeah, which is it's?

Speaker 1:

helpful, but you're still sick. Yeah, you know I yeah, it was painful it was pain, but you know obviously I got through it and was at your first Detox to go Dry, like to come off it. Would you always give into a withdrawal before? Yeah?

Speaker 2:

I never tried, yeah, to Stay off it before this, because it's excruciating. Yeah, it's very painful, you know if I tried a day. You know, maybe a you know, by that night I was usually given in yeah, so you know it was nice to be off it once. I finally got through that detox, which at that time typically lasts like five, six, seven days of like the physical end of it, you know.

Speaker 1:

What was the most profound thing you walked away with from the first treatment? Was there a connection with people or an idea?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. I could remember specifically speakers coming in and Talking to us, you know, telling their story and at that time I was like I still had like a little bit of I'm not like that guy, I didn't use a needle or I didn't kill anyone. You know, I there was a part of me that was like, you know, still comparing myself to their story. But then there was a few stories that I was like, oh my god, he's just like me. Yeah, I belong here. There was a sense of belonging, but at this point I wasn't a real alcoholic, I just had a heroin problem. Yeah, so I didn't realize that. I thought it was just the drug and was the information being delivered that way back then? What year are we talking about? 2006 was my first treat.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, 2006 sometimes even a lot of, I don't think clear work would be guilty of this, but Some people were making distinctions and it's the disease model isn't clear because it's incomplete and it's tough.

Speaker 2:

Oh, especially then, like the words trauma weren't used a lot, like it wasn't a buzz word unless you've lost an arm, yeah, yeah, and I can remember this guy, gator, coming in to talk and he was an NA guy right and he was telling the story about his you know kidnapped wife and he's in murders and this stuff and I'm like Gator man. Yeah, my god, you know, poor Gator or Gator, I'm just this, you know, enabled, entitled, little Wasn't that will Ferrell's Gator.

Speaker 1:

Don't play it, but there's a real. I remember there was a Gator.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he was on the circuit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, any guys were, they were especially this area. I mean, they were, they were different breed.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so you know I've been do five, five or six treatments, you know, since then if you know that's impatient, than if you had add the outpatients and the you know halfway house is Therapists. There's been, you know, probably over you know 1213 total like treatment experiences since that. So obviously it didn't click Completely then well, it takes that much sometimes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it took that much for me. Yeah, I mean I need it. That that level of care and connection can't end. Spiritual awakening starts from birth. Yeah, what the hell are we doing here with the fuck?

Speaker 2:

and there's so much, and that's why you know so A little bit, I guess, about me. I work at little Creek Lodge, yep, um, I'm a drug and alcohol counselor up there and when I'm talking to some of these clients or patients you know, I and they're young and it's their first treatment I want to like shake them, you know, yeah, and like be able to like just grab and say you don't have to do it like this kid, you know.

Speaker 1:

Well, what do you do to replace that? Because it's a knee jerk. I, I know the feeling, yeah, and you almost. It's not the if to restrain it. I don't know what word I would use that I have to almost be clever, like in the sense a lot of times.

Speaker 2:

I'll just tell my story. That's all you got.

Speaker 1:

That's all.

Speaker 2:

I can't. That's all I got, you know.

Speaker 1:

So a lot of other. You know Mood disorders and things. Therapists aren't having an alliance with the patient, they're not sharing. Like I have that mood disorder too.

Speaker 2:

I see, I see things yeah.

Speaker 1:

Drugs, substance use disorder. In the field of drug and alcohol treatment, there can be alliances, and I think it proves helpful, and that's why peer-to-peer services are just Usually really the most meaningful metric of making an impact and producing Long-term sobriety for people or recovery at her term, recovery, depending on what a person's definition of it would be In and out of those groups. Before we fast forward that you, you got to Little Creek, which is a wonderful program Katie was on here. I love 20 episodes ago. She's, she's wonderful. Yeah there's a lot to be. I learn every time I hear, every time I hear her talk.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I enjoy hearing her speak.

Speaker 2:

Um, so I mean, she, you know, katie, she, she gave me a chance. Um, you know, I like to feel I proved myself. You know I started at like the tech level. Yeah, most people you know I, I worked at, uh, shane's house, little Creek's uh like sober living facility, um recovery house type place, oh yeah, and uh, I was the house manager there for like a year and a half and um All that time I was going to school. You know, uh, just recently got my associates in human services and I'm I'm continuing to get my Thank you Continuing on for my bachelors and then I plan to continue To get my masters. I had.

Speaker 1:

No, I, I'm so glad I ran into you. Yeah, we're doing the same. Pretty good thing. I was like, oh my god, where've you been?

Speaker 2:

I know right, but I know I ran into you in a while. I know I saw you at the meeting and I was like have me on your podcast. You're like all right, what's it, let's rewind what, what part.

Speaker 1:

You've had periods of sobriety, let me just say that. And then this last time and we have similar periods of sobriety, where Life became a crisis and I ended up relapsing, and I know you did too. We were around the same time. You were helping me with my floors. Yeah, you were a contractor, I was sober, you were sober.

Speaker 2:

Then I I was becoming filled with madness and I was on the edge of a lightning storm, yeah, but you have such good humor that, so it's masked so well.

Speaker 1:

I would never, you know you did it. You will find me dude Joe's extra funny today you know.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, I from all right, I'll fast forward. So like 2013, Uh Was a bad Run and a really significant treatment experience for me, yeah, and when I got out, I ended up staying sober till um 2019. So I had like a what like a seven year kind of Six and a half year kind of sobriety period, which was the longest stretch Up until that point, you know and you have a.

Speaker 1:

You produced a family and I produced a family.

Speaker 2:

Yes, thank god. Thank god for that. You know I pretty. I started my business. Yeah, um, you know that I no longer have but um, I started the business. Then I met my wife, who's also recovering. She celebrates Sunday 14, 13, 14 years. Um, congrats up at the new vista, congratulations.

Speaker 1:

Daniel.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank you. Thank you to me. Yeah, I saved her. No, she's, she was doing what she needed to do you know she was helping people right out of the gate. You know, and and that's something I never did, you know, and I'll get to that too, but, um yeah, so I started the family. I've you know, married my wife. We have four beautiful daughters um. Obviously, like life happens and stress happens and I got removed from a you know slowly, uh, money and stress took over um, and I lost sight. I lost sight of what, uh, johnny M used to say the most important word in the steps is Is you know? A lot of people would say, oh, it's god or it's we. He would say no, it's continued Continue.

Speaker 1:

And I that always stuck with me, because, yeah, if you don't continue it what, what, what do you got?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So that's what happened. I didn't continue it. About four years into that run, that sober run, I took the old classic a, a hiatus, you know, and I lost touch with my sober support and my sponsor and I didn't want to drink, I didn't want to use, I was fine. Little did I realize. I was solely going mad.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and To almost be not a contrarian, but to look at it from this perspective. When I knew you in those four years you were healthy and sane and doing the deal and doing the deal. But think of how powerful just that aspect of it is that it took three years of decline before you drink Right. And you know, in a world of speculation you could come off some off ramp, but they're, I don't. I don't believe in possibilities, there's no such thing, they don't exist, fucking anywhere. There's only what I, what exactly happened, but it's it still says in a thought exercise how powerful the whole connection and the steps are for your mind, if you had addiction, that it still took three years for you to drink On that road of madness.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I like the way you're looking at that. I do, because Sometimes I look back on that and feel like it's a waste. But no, like I learned, I did. I went through the steps Thoroughly that time, right when I first got out of treatment. I took it very seriously. So I did. I learned a lot about my defects of character, you know. And Another thing my my sponsor says now is that we all have a spiritual leak. He he describes it as like a cork in his stomach and that he goes to bed at night and the cork falls out and his spirituality leaks onto the ground. Yeah, he has to wake up and do it all over again.

Speaker 1:

Isn't it weird I was reading more just the stomach being the relationship to spirit and emotion, and Well grounded.

Speaker 2:

We're more than just the mind is like Eckhart says Instead of like, disassociating ourselves with like, I have a body no.

Speaker 1:

I am body. Yeah, exactly, there is no man in my head that has leverage right.

Speaker 2:

It's. We are this one at this. One thing in our cells and our body are alive, regardless of our brain. Our brain isn't controlling the millions of cells and organisms that are happening in our body. They're alive too.

Speaker 1:

Isn't that weird, yeah, and then even the stomach, the, the E, coil I, or like a chart, the flora that's in there is dictating emotion. I'm always grabbing my stomach when I'm upset, I'm go, oh, I still have a guttural sound, but it's emotion, oh no emotion or stress.

Speaker 2:

Right, what like. Why does mental stress affect the physical body to? I've been disconnected.

Speaker 1:

Most of my life is disconnected from that and I'm still getting connected to those ideas. What you said, what Eckhart is like, like even the sensory of hearing like I don't like it's not me hearing something, I am hearing right, there is a distinctionally the different experience. If you could just you stop disassociating what experience you are. Experience, yes, there's not Joe at that. Experience, like that illusion, is profound for alcoholics yourself, me, because all I had the, the crutches of my life, were to two planks of ego and when they disappear I'm like what is there? Yeah, what about left?

Speaker 2:

my hearing. That's all. We tubes, my tube, like you made my tubes are gone, my you're too, Will you get tubes again? I'm done with the tubes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what a shallow venture. Those goddamn tubes off they work and so coming back, yeah, so how did that happen?

Speaker 2:

Well, so this is. This also leads into the gambling aspect of this conversation, which I know I Wanted to touch on because it's so important. Yeah, it's important because it's one of those addictions that I believe the stigma is even stronger. It is and it's on, it's misunderstood, and that's what happened with me. Was so about four or five years in let's see number 2017. Excuse me, at this point I have my children at least two of the four and I'm following dad's footsteps, you know, which is just like a lot of old people just buying a Lottery ticket here and there, or like I had my little pouch With 15 numbers that I filled out and every day I'd pass it to Pankash. How did it start?

Speaker 1:

like this how does that start from your own idea? Or have you seen like slowly with someone that's buying them?

Speaker 2:

slowly morphing into my father's. What's happening? My wife? She'll sing a song. I've been having sleep issues lately, which is a a something my father often complained about and Social Walker on the house gone, joe Cole, you know. She's reminding me that I'm slowly morphing into my father. We didn't? Scares me a little bit. Um, love you, dad, but so new balances coming out balance I got my sketch.

Speaker 1:

These are sketches actually All right, you're going full bore dad dad mode.

Speaker 2:

So I'm buying my tickets right, $15 a day. I'm picking my own numbers. Okay, I'm playing like the pick five, pick four Little Pennsylvania lottery games. One day actually, I got a gig at the backyard ale house and Seven o'clock rolls around I know that the second the evening drawings gone off and I'm getting ready to leave and I see I Hit the pick five straight for fifth, for fifty thousand. Get out of here. So I'm like I Run into the wife. She's laying in bed on, you know, on her phone. I'm like I Did it. You know I go to the gig with. I put the fifty thousand dollar ticket in my pocket. Sign the back, because I always heard you got signed the back tree. Sign the back. Sign the back. Put it my coat pocket. Went to the gig, didn't tell anyone, just had the best gig of my life knowing I had a fifty thousand. This is I'm excited. Yeah, it gets better, it gets better. So I you know, I go home, I do, I do the research. How do I cash this ticket? What do I have to do? Go to the Wilkes-Barre office. They you know, verify it, they've send it out, and then I get a check within a month, or typically like right at the month.

Speaker 1:

So it's a you don't get a check, you get a check a month later with the tax is already taking out.

Speaker 2:

So it's about thirty five thousand. Get a check for Now. Before the check came, I'm still doing my same thing. Go on the pot, see Pankash at the tobacco king. He knows me giving him my tickets. I hit it again straight before the first one even came. Dude, wait for this time it's 64,000 because I played the wild ball, which is like just a little added oh, it's possible, gets better. So I Go home, same thing. Let's go Screaming. You know, put music on. You know we're dancing, we're having a ball. First check didn't even come yet, just hit another 64,000. What are we gonna do with the money? Let's invest it for the kids. Let's redo the basement? Okay, yeah, sure, whatever, you know, I'm just like to be pumped. So First check comes, I put it my account, sit on it a little bit, still doing the same thing every day. Same month, about 24 days later, I hit again for fifty thousand dollars.

Speaker 1:

Jack, I'm gonna end this. I'm fancy. Are these lies like? What are you talking about? I don't know. Oh, you Give me the bullet points. You have three.

Speaker 2:

I have three major Jackpots within two months, okay, you know how many people have been playing.

Speaker 1:

Okay, let's say their whole life. I buy a powerball every blue moon when it's just some obscene astronomical amount is Whatever, but I know what I'm buying. I'm buying a dream, and the night I bought powerballs I do a whole fantasy before I fall into my slumber, not only where I'd spend the money, but the actual event you just described. Who would I get as an accountant? Like a mate? Should I change? I'm mad at him. Let me get a different person and let me get this lawyer. Can I wear a screen mask to the the table? I've seen that done. Where you could. You could stay anonymous. You show up to get the ticket.

Speaker 2:

They, they have this now three yeah so now I know what I'm doing, I know the people at the office I'm go down to center Wilkes-Barre and that now they want to do a story on me. They want it.

Speaker 1:

They're like who them? Or the FBI?

Speaker 2:

So I stood. This is what happened. I started, I thought I, I didn't think, I know I was seeing patterns. Repeat that. What do you mean? I was seeing patterns in the, in the numbers. So I would study the numbers and this is how I would derive my my ticket said I would cash and I would see, hmm, the day drawings for the pick two, three, four and five, there was double sevens and almost all of them, and then the day before there were some double sevens and so I would see a sevens hot right now, you know. So I was kind of base. I would start to formulate the numbers I was picking, based on the patterns I was seeing from the days previous now Let me challenge and push back on this a little bit.

Speaker 1:

I don't know anything like I'm not challenging.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if this actually helped or not.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's why I want to ask do you feel there's a symptomology of gamblers that have and in, even though you won, you're one there's? There's some evidence now there could be a pattern like I'm not saying there is it. Hey, we both tripped enough to know.

Speaker 2:

I don't know what the hell is going on here the odds were are for the wins that I was getting where a hundred thousand to one, so which is not as much as like the powerball, which is like 65 million to one or even more like 650 million to one. So I'm playing the pick five, which is still really hard.

Speaker 1:

You know this is crazy. I have friends that have gambling addictions. So for you to come on and talk about a gambling addiction, but being one of the guys that once three yeah this is the weirdest Outlier I've ever heard of a gambling addiction.

Speaker 2:

This is what perpetuates the high limit level of gambling I assume to become oh, Wow, okay. So it's not a happy ending if you're thinking that there's gonna be a happy ending.

Speaker 1:

No, it's just so odd to win that much and then to think you're seeing patterns. And let me, let me ask you just before we go on when you say seen, is it a mixture of an intellectual thing to say, okay, here's some numbers, I've seen a pattern? It's not intuition. Are we talking about you having a five-year-old intuition or you're seeing?

Speaker 2:

number patterns. I've always been great at recognizing patterns. I can remember, you remember, when in like grade school they would give you like certain tests. Yeah, and they would have like patterns you know, and I was always amazing at figuring out patterns, okay, and I don't know if that had anything to do with it. Well, when you would trip.

Speaker 1:

No, I had nothing to do with hallucinating when fractal show up in your visuals or anything. No, my trip.

Speaker 2:

My trips were the mental. I'd usually do too much and end up in a bad Catatonic type of state.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I was too afraid to move or look at anything.

Speaker 2:

That sucks man. I know it's bad. Yeah, I was overdid it. You know too much man, you took too much. That's intense. I've gripped the pillow for six hours Just hoping. At one time I just couldn't stop looking at my forearm if I move my eyes, I could feel it now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so anyway. So you win three.

Speaker 2:

Three times within two months. It was, and it was right around my first daughter's birthday. I was March, in February of 2017. You could look it up on that. It's my name's on the mother's family. Is everyone around you celebrating? Oh, no, so we didn't want to tell them, you know not, because we're like they're gonna come after our money. I was just like, let's just. Chill, wait where any PA you don't want to celebrate being just just having people are gonna throw fucking arrows at you. So this is what I do. I Decide to invest it Because I'm now a Day trader penny stock day trader that's what I want to become, okay, with no knowledge of it. But I figure I'm gonna put all this money that I just won and I'm gonna gamble it essentially on day trades, with no experience. With no experience, I get it. I've been doing research. I mean, there's some of my experiences, like I'm googling what's this pot stock that's gonna come up and and make me rich, right?

Speaker 1:

now. I mean you'd have the same amount of experience. And then the trend. Then there was a reassurgence, you know, culturally, at Wolf of Wall Street just came out, maybe a year or two before that. There's a reassurgence of Bitcoin being this new Outlier. Penny stocks are back.

Speaker 2:

Well, this was actually why not? So this was like before the the crypto boom. Crypto was out, but it wasn't like, wasn't the big boom? People? It the big? The Bitcoin has not shot up yet, okay, at this point. So I did buy some crypto, but my problem was I can't hold, can't hold anything. It was, there was no fun in holding it. Well, there you. I didn't realize that I was. The adrenaline of the game was the addiction, and I couldn't see it. There's no rational win, there was no rest. So I would lose 10 grand on a stock one day and put even more in the next. Well, so eventually I lost, like I don't know, maybe 20, 30 grand of the winnings Just in bad trades, and I decided to pull it all out, whatever I had left out of the stock market and and what was this?

Speaker 1:

over a period of what?

Speaker 2:

this was like 2017 and then. So In the meantime, every now and then, I'm going to the casino, into the high-limit Rome, spending like five grand, you know, usually losing it, but Just the feeling of like walking into the high-limit Roman, being treated like a Don. I don't know how to explain it. It's.

Speaker 1:

I'd go by myself.

Speaker 2:

You know, and I would just like I'd skip out of work at this point of my own business. So, yep, my guys would be working on a job and I tell them I'm going to get materials and I'd fly down to Mohegan Mm-hmm and I would walk into the high-limit Rome and your sober, sober, sober is a clam.

Speaker 1:

So a second life is happening second life is forming.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, good I yeah, that's.

Speaker 1:

That's real dangerous. When you're danger, yeah, substance use.

Speaker 2:

now I'm living dirty, trying to stay clean. Right, I'm telling lies, lying to the wife yeah, not gonna tell her that I dropped five grand at the casino, even though I'm I'm the one who should be able to do, you know using bother to have the discussion.

Speaker 1:

No, but I'm not being responsible.

Speaker 2:

You know I got kids. I should be put. This money should be put. You know I'm still acting like an 18. I'm still in a state of arrested development.

Speaker 1:

You know, it's like I never matured. Yeah who am I? I understand, does this.

Speaker 2:

That money should have been instantly put into college funds, and but no, I was gonna turn it into 500,000, then I was gonna turn it into a million and I was gonna be the first professional gambler of any PA. So I'm like gambling comes man right to the phone. Right to the phone. Right to the phone comes legal. All of a sudden I still, I got a little money. I Start going high where, when I say hi, I mean Each time I hit the button on a spin like a on your phone, on my phone it's like 200 $200 is like a minimum right there in your phone.

Speaker 1:

So 200? And what game is this like? To look at random slot games, it's just automatic. You know this isn't betting on real world, no, I'm not doing.

Speaker 2:

I'm not playing Blackjack or poker anymore. There's no strategy. No strategy. Now I'm doing circus games, hitting the button, but I'm winning again. Universe doing to you so that I hit, I'm hitting, I hit like a hundred and ninety thousand, yeah, and that's on the casino app on my phone hundred ninety thousand, right. Two days later it's down to about 20. That's the swings I'm starting to have. Sack this, yeah, wild, emotional. And now and now I'm really have to keep it secret because If anyone found out how insane and irresponsible I'm being sober, yeah, sure, but that's the key point, I'm not sober. I'm highly addicted to gambling, but I can't talk about it like I could Maybe alcohol, because it's not understood.

Speaker 1:

Let me in Kind of jump in here cocaine Did you ever have a relationship with cocaine prior to that gambling Is this is what you got now? Yeah, it has the same level. I've seen that study spiking.

Speaker 2:

I think it's like 50 grades a little bit below the actual cocaine, I saw that, though the brain activity looked almost identical.

Speaker 1:

It's identical and like there's no rational win that you can have right. But how about the hangovers without using? Yet, like the hangovers, it was saying 190 to 20? Now all that money in between, would you ruminate and just like, just invest all of this like Guilt?

Speaker 2:

yeah, the energy, the loss. This is what my mornings look like right, I'm gonna show you an example. Every morning I hope my eyes in a huge sigh of I don't I.

Speaker 1:

Gotta get that back.

Speaker 2:

I gotta get back to one night. That's my number. Now, right, 190 is my number. And then you're out, and now I'm out, I'm sign of myself out for life. I get to 189. Not good enough, oh my, because I'd get back up again. There's no reason I hit another 360,000. Okay, lost it all Within a two-week span. That time Betting about 25 grand a day this is beyond thought.

Speaker 1:

This is beyond choices being made here. You're insane.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I'm completely insane. I'm running a business, I have children. The only thing I could think about is gambling. The wife wants to go to the beach? Oh, we're gonna be in a state I'm not gonna be able to gamble. It's the. It's the only thing. I'm completely and utterly addicted to gambling and I can't even see it. And I have experience in recovery and no one's noticed this yet either. Nobody's noticed it because I'm still. I got money coming in from the business, so you know, the bills are still getting paid. You're not. You're not. I'm just telling anyone no, so then so then now here's my plan next time I win big Cuz. At this point I'm convinced it. I see that. I see it's happening. I'm starting to find certain slots that I know, starting to see patterns, okay.

Speaker 1:

I like this one.

Speaker 2:

I'm starting to see patterns and I know that I'm gonna hit again. And when I do, this time I have to tell my wife, because once I tell her then I'm gonna be accountable.

Speaker 1:

I won't spend it you like the John Nash or the casino floor. You just fucking walking around seeing all kinds of diagrams of the slot machines.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just well, so I Win again. I tell my wife this time it was like 80 grand, Okay, and I told her she was static. How could you be mad at someone when they win? Right can't be. So she's ecstatic. I say I'm Donna, I'm cashing it out. Why don't we Get a pool? Let's get a pool, yeah, yeah. So we go shop up and ground pool. We pick out the pool, we hired the guy. Okay, he comes. He like chalks out the backyard. You know he's getting the excavators over there and I I got a column and basically I tell them that we're not. Now the wife doesn't know. Oh man, that money is gone. I'm thinking about if my recollection is correct, because I don't want to step on my foot here. So there was also a thing where he was taking so long. There was this was not into COVID are. Yeah, it was like the very beginning of COVID. So it's like pre-COVID or like the early stages. Everyone's backed up. They want their own pool. Everyone thinks they're never gonna leave their house again. He's backed up. So Danielle's really upset. She thought the pool is gonna be done by July 4th. Now the guy's saying Till September. So I'm like let's just get our money back, you know just again. So I get the five grand back from them. That was like the deposit, but she didn't know at that point that money was actually gone, anyway, you know, and then, I'm sure, I took the five grand and just gambled it anyway, you know. So that was, that was the pattern, until, eventually, it got so bad that I started to do things that were questionable, just to continue to get sure, you know, sure, and, I guess, like, speed this up. It came to the point where I Decided that I wanted to die. You know, that's heck, I yeah, and that's how. That's how powerful and slow the gambling was, though took years, but it was so insidious, and, once it wants to, skyrocketed because I had the money to let it skyrocket. One point Was when it really took over. The emotional swings were worse than any drug or any drink I've ever done. It was just as bad, and I had no control. I couldn't. I would tell myself a million times a day that I'm stopping, and I would just need one more spin, just like a drug. I just need that's one more. I just couldn't stop. It was insane. So, eventually, you I decided well, I can't die. I got this family I know. What I could do, though, is go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of vodka and that's what I did. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I understand that I was making such a mess of my life right before my relapse. Impulsivity Drinking was like. I don't know if you can relate to this. The first night I drank publicly in a bar where I felt like okay now.

Speaker 2:

I'm a fucker. I remember the headlines.

Speaker 1:

I was like. I felt like I found myself a little bit. Now a nightmare was coming for me after that, but I was like there I am, you fucking fraud. There's the real Joe. I'm just a fucking wacky pirate and I'm pretending I'm a square, what am I doing? And it took a drink to do that, to feel. I got a real sense of relief those first couple weeks, like okay, I could breathe there. I am At least myself. Again. I thought did you have any?

Speaker 2:

experience like that. So, and now, mind you, most of my career of addiction was centered around opiates. Yeah, not that I've never lost control of drinking before, but I never was a daily alcoholic drinker, sure. So at this point I'm so far removed from the opiate scene and the drug scene I wouldn't even know who to call.

Speaker 1:

Exactly.

Speaker 2:

And I was in so much pain. My thought was drive to the liquor store by a bottle of vodka cause it won't smell as, but you've heard it won't smell as bad, so you know. But so I went down, I bought a bottle of grapefruit absolute, okay, yeah. And I thought, well, how am I gonna do this? I don't know how I'm gonna react, I don't know how I'm gonna be, I don't want anyone to know, but I need a drink. So I thought I'll just chug, like for five seconds, five Mississippi in my head, like maybe that'll give me a good space medicinal, you know? yeah, it's strictly there was no, it was 100% medicinal. So I do the five seconds go inside and I'm like this Well, I remember going back outside for my first cigarette, all right. Now this is like probably 15 years since I've had a drink at this point and I'm smoking my cigarette on the porch and I go, oh, I didn't fucking care, I don't fucking care about anything. So this is what I needed. I found the medicine to my problem, yeah, and that started a daily vodka, secret vodka habit. That went on for about four months to the point where it got really bad. Sure, I just don't know if I should get into that part of the story or not.

Speaker 1:

Oh.

Speaker 2:

I don't know who's gonna listen to this.

Speaker 1:

A, you're sitting here right and we had similar hiccups in a row, different periods of our lives and seeing you a couple of weeks ago or catching up in a meeting, I was really curious. We both have substance use disorder and addictions are just flagrantly, could just spread, like consciousness, to other behaviors. It's like how do you I know how you stay sober, how do is there a second lane that you keep and to focus on the gambling, Because that's a powerful gambling addiction. How do you take care of that or give it its own attention, if any?

Speaker 2:

So it got really bad at the end. The drinking now exacerbated the gambling and went hand in hand. And now I'm hiding two things, still doing questionable things to achieve this lifestyle daily. I'm trying to go to work every day, but I'm also gambling 12 hours a day on my phone and drinking at least a bottle of vodka a day, and hiding it all with Hall's cough drops. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

G-Force Nintendo 64, baby.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm back. I'm back playing G-Force. So eventually I end up in treatment. I am a do the same thing for like a month, then I finally go back into treatment and then that's where my story starts again. So that led me to today and my new career path and the schooling and all the wonderful things that have happened over the last couple of years. So but into your question of the two lanes, the last time I was in treatment my case manager said would you like to ban yourself from gambling? I said yeah.

Speaker 1:

Let's do that. That sounds like a great idea. And what is? That's a process of signing a book with the casino.

Speaker 2:

No, so it's. I'm sure that might be an option, but this was you could go on to the PA Gaming website and you could ban yourself from there, from all forms or just some forms, and you could pick one year ban, five year ban, lifetime ban, that's so crazy, so I decided to click all the boxes, including fantasy because I was doing. I was doing it all and in person, in all forms of, even like the Pennsylvania skills machines that you've seen, the gas stations now you know, yeah, and some of them are by standalone places, by themselves. So I'm now officially banned in the state of Pennsylvania from all forms of gambling for life and it's irreversible. So that when I signed that there was a moment of hesitation you know I'm not gonna lie For a minute I said why don't I just do the five?

Speaker 1:

year ban.

Speaker 2:

You know the good gambling anecdote I was. That was like a thought Well, take a bet on the ban. Yeah, I'll take a bet, spread on this. What's the spread on this? So I signed the lifetime ban when I was in treatment and oh wow, and that really helped. I wish they had something like that for alcohol.

Speaker 1:

Right two things. What does that mean? So what does that mean is what does?

Speaker 2:

it do. So there's face recognition. Well, first of all, so I can't use my name, social security number or anything on any cell phone or gambling app or casino app. It gets fisticated, it gets red flagged Immediately. I can't open an account. And, God forbid, I somehow opened an account and I won something significant.

Speaker 1:

I wouldn't get paid right, so there is a system right now 2023, that could take your face, your ID, your data, your metrics of who you are and isolate you from an entire gambling operations. That's pretty sophisticated.

Speaker 2:

I didn't know it existed like that, and even more so, if I step foot onto a physical casino, I'm charged with criminal trespassing, even though I'm the one who signed my name on it.

Speaker 1:

There's something draconian about I'm not saying you didn't do a good thing Should.

Speaker 2:

I reverse it. I think I should reverse it. I think I should reverse it.

Speaker 1:

No, you're telling me to reverse it. I'm just processing this like live on a podcast and the whole point of this podcast I wanna learn things. I don't know what I'm talking about and I don't know. Sorry, this is the first time I heard of this spot. That's really wild. I knew you could sign yourself out of a casino. I didn't know you had this umbrella like NSA version of like just totally fucking taking yourself off the grid and under punitive measures of law criminal, yeah, criminal, yeah, criminal implications if I gamble.

Speaker 2:

So what did you feel like when you signed? I felt free, kind of like my first time going to treatment.

Speaker 1:

Remember.

Speaker 2:

I said as soon as I threw my hands up and I was like, yeah, get me off the heroin. I felt like that. I felt a sense of like, oh my God, I'm gonna get my life back. Oh man, you know, it was like this and at that point I didn't know if my wife was still gonna be there. Sure, All I knew was I wanted to stay sober and be a good parent and a good person. Regardless if my wife was gonna stay with me or not. I had come to this point where I was gonna be okay independently and I was gonna end up being a good father for my children. And that was like the most I was reaching for. You know, the plus of it was that my wife is the best person in the world and she's super supportive and it stuck by me the whole way, you know. But at that moment I wasn't sure. You know, there was a lot of anger and misunderstanding and the financials were in ruins and not only did I go from like having like a life changing amount of money at any given time throughout the last three years, but I'd also lost it all you know. So there was all this emotion with our relationship of like the irresponsibility, and I thought the drinking was gonna make that was gonna be my excuse. Really, the reason I grabbed that bottle. Part of me was like I need something to blame this on. When I get like the gambling, I need something to blame my gambling addiction on. So if I start drinking, that's a perfect excuse.

Speaker 1:

You said something in the beginning of this story about stigma and gambling and you really hit the nail on the head right now. You had to drink to cover up what someone could consider gambling is and it's scary Because it's not recognized. It's a brain virus and it's a true addiction. Addiction is just what we described. Gabor Monta has a great definition. I can't quote it off hand, but it's just a behavioral that you will do anything, regardless of the consequence for temporary leave for long, regardless of long-term consequences. You can't stop this behavior. But to me it sounds like, when you took that attitude, that all you want and I know that attitude, all I wanted to be was a good son, a parent. I didn't care if I lost my house, whatever was going on, I was gonna stay alive and I was gonna be a good guy, whatever it took, and I'd be fine with that. You win the lottery. You really won the lottery again. You got your wife and you have a family.

Speaker 2:

That's the way I feel now, especially with. So I ended up selling the business I don't know if you knew that or not, but the business right after that treatment episode another thank you to Danielle she said look, one of the other things that's never changed throughout your whole life is your career, and you consistently are overstressed and overworked and overwhelmed. And as hard of it was because of going back to Eckhart talk about my identity being tied up in something. It was me, I was the flooring guy, it was my it's your name, it was my name. So when I got rid of that it was extremely painful, almost more painful than physical pain like that emotional detachment from my business, which I built over the last 10 years and had all this pride tied up into, was really hard for me to let go.

Speaker 1:

Isn't it weird we both have names on our businesses that were our names. It's an extension, dismantling an old business. It's almost like a scapegoat a good one, Our virgin, you could just push into the volcano.

Speaker 2:

It's like my own. My second self went bankrupt, literally.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's a manifestation of your ego. Like I made an incorporation, well, what did I incorporate? My fucking ego. That's what I incorporated Some of my skills are involved.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but it's me, it's my identity.

Speaker 1:

And to let it die. In this treatment of the first two years of my newfound recovery and how it was gonna look for me. That was really liberating. And then I forgot how open life is, how open awareness is, that my business limited me to a life of stress, anxiety, an identity that would never let me socially have permission to change my persona, and now I could throw it into a fucking brush fire. It was exciting and it felt like the first time I had courage in years.

Speaker 2:

So look at you.

Speaker 1:

Know how happy are you now with all these new I'm the happiest guy in all of it.

Speaker 2:

See, and that's how I feel too. And it's not the money anymore, it's so much more. I am satisfied on a personal level, more than I've ever been in my entire life. I love the career change. I feel that that's what I was always meant to do. There is, like the side effect that it happens to keep it green for me. I don't wanna use treatment as a way to stay sober, like working in treatment, that is, but it has the side effect of keeping it green. But I still try to obviously incorporate my own recovery plan into my life as well. But you know, going back to school has been extremely enlightening and I'm having a great time. I'm doing it all online, but I'm having a great time doing it. You know, it's something I never thought I would be able to achieve. Human services is such a great thing yeah so what's next is I'm gonna become an achievement addict. That's all that's left.

Speaker 1:

It's not too bad to have an addiction. Take that one. I know I'll take that one. So, man, thought of exercise before we kind of wind down here. The decisions you made in the last five years say they give you another 45 years of life. Right, You're in a hospice somewhere. Nice one, Maybe it's at a beach. I'll put you on a beach, Thank you. I appreciate that. Who's at that bed now? Because you chose this path, and what would you have done in your recovery in the next 40 years that you can die with ease? What's that look like?

Speaker 2:

I actually might get emotional here, which is something I don't always do, but it's funny that you've asked some questions during this podcast. It's starting off with your initial random question of the tubes, right, which I happen to be like thinking about the last couple of days because of my daughter. But this is also a question that I've often thought about and there was times when I was using and my step-grandfather's name was Sid, right. So after my real grandfather passed away in like 97, my grandmother got remarried to this guy, sid, and he was a great man and he kind of. I was only 13 when my grandfather passed my real grandfather, so I didn't really have like a huge relationship with him. So Sid became like my grandfather and I remember going to his 90th birthday party in Florida and this huge family right Of like his new family now his original family as well. He was this man looking at him and seeing this like metaphorically, but also looking at him sitting at the top of this family tree as this like respected, loved and adored man who has created all of this life. There's grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and wives and in-laws, and you know what I mean this huge family, and that's what I wanted. I used to say that when I was like trapped in my addiction, that I just wanted to be like Sid. I just want to be at the top of a big family tree with all these beautiful lives that have been created because of me. That sounds a little egotistical, but in a good way it is.

Speaker 1:

We're generational species. Exactly that's how we have, at least for now, the chance of an immortality that your children are you. So you saw the first pattern. You should never let go of his Sid.

Speaker 2:

That's the pattern. So Sid was this. You know, he's this respected. Maybe that was something I wanted to be too, because I was always so. I was making decisions that weren't respectable, you know. So he's this respected man, loving and caring, and he's at the top of this huge family tree and I adored that and I thought to myself. So, when you just ask that question, I thought I want to be Sid, I want to be on. If I'm in a hospice bed, I want to look down and see a yard full, or a road full of people you know, who somehow are directly their life and their happiness and their family is expanding as some result of like either just knowing me or from me. And I guess having four daughters is a good start to that. Like tree, yeah, eventually they'll probably be spread out and they'll be more.

Speaker 1:

Well, here's to your hospice. I hope it's a good one, cheers. Thanks for coming, zach. I hope to talk to you soon, man.

Speaker 2:

This was great, thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of All. Better To find us on allbetterfm or listen to us on Apple Podcasts, spotify, google Podcasts, stitcher, iheartradio and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer, john Edwards, and engineering company 570 Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, facebook, instagram or Twitter and, if you're not, on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right. K Graham, thanks for being on our show.

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