I just got separated from active duty, but I gambled through the funds I earned through that time (April 2021-August 2021), so I basically have nothing
- $8,000 in owed on Credit Card
- Nearly $8,000 for an auto loan
- Can’t afford car insurance
- Personal loans ( 2) both in the amount of $2,000
- Payday loans ($1,089, and $850+)
- 50K in student loan debt
I am not the kind of person who asks for help until I find myself stuck in a situation I feel there is no hope for. Unfortunately, now is one of those times.
I have accumulated so much debt within a year that I am depressed. I stumbled across a recommendation to come to your website after a quick Google Search this evening for another topic related to my dilemma(s).
I don’t know how to conquer this debt, and I am afraid it will destroy me. What began as a need for some quick cash to make ends meet and have a little wiggle room has transformed into a giant cluster f* and now I find myself battling depressing thoughts over the mess I made.
I have a gambling problem. Three years ago, I would have never said that. But after a while, it became a fun pastime, a thrill.
But over time, the losses passed all my earnings. So I found myself taking out loans to pay my bills, turning around, and running to the casino to make a little more, which never worked because eventually, I returned everything I earned, plus the funds I needed to live on, plus the borrowed money.
Now I have nothing. I have a job opportunity, but I am afraid the money I earn will have to go to my bills because of all my debt.
I don’t know what else to do. I wish I’d never started gambling because it has ruined my life.
I cry alone at times because of this big mess I’ve made. I keep wishing it never happened, or Idk, that someone would bless me with a big check, or I’d stumble across a duffle bag filled with enough cash to get rid of my money troubles – unrealistic, I know, but it doesn’t make me dream any less.
I keep thinking of ways to generate income, but I don’t know how to make that a reality with no money to start anything. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life paying off the stupid choices I made in my mid-20s.
Thank you for writing to me for help.
The financial pressure you are feeling is not about being in debt. Instead, the debt is the byproduct of the underlying issue, gambling.
Most of the debt can be eliminated in 90 to 120 days with a chapter 7 bankruptcy. And there are ways to deal with student loans.
But unless you focus on treating the gambling issue first, my experience over decades of working with people tells me your odds of relapsing are very high.
Yes, you are depressed, and that turns you back to gambling again to feel better. It is a vicious cycle.
How to Stop Gambling
Without dealing with depression and gambling, it is like plugging a hole in a boat to have ten other holes leaking that will sink the boat.
I know very few people that stopped any addiction by just stopping and never relapsing on their first attempt. Promising to quit without a support network or assistance is not a reasonable plan of action for most people.
GA is an informal support group run by others that have dealt with or are dealing with similar issues. In addition, there are often local meetings you can drop into to stick your toes in the water to get assistance.
I’ve been to different types of Anonymous meetings to observe them. From Gamblers Anonymous, Debtors, Anonymous, or Eaters Anonymous, they are all based on a 12-step program that has worked for many.
One big benefit of going to regular Gamblers Anonymous meetings is there is comfort in knowing you are not alone in this struggle. You can find a local meeting here.
Mental Health or Addiction Counseling
Finding a local therapist to talk to can be a significant benefit to tackling this issue. In addition, being accountable to others and having someone you trust to lean on that has mental health training is helpful in beating the addiction.
I would suggest you talk to your doctor about your depression. Some medications can help significantly reduce depression, giving you more hope, focus, and energy to tackle the gambling issues. If you don’t have a doctor, you can find a local psychiatrist to talk to. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in mental health issues.
You are Broken, Not Defective
Self-esteem takes a big hit when dealing with addiction issues. I’ve had clients in the past with shopping addictions that dealt with those issues with cutting or other dangerous behaviors.
Realizing that gambling is a sickness that treatment is available for and successfully beating it is possible with hard work and support, you will one day realize there is a great person trapped within your broken exterior.
Hopefully, when you can live life ahead of your current situation, you will become the helping hand and compassionate shoulder for the next broken addict to lean on.
And Then We Tackle the Debt
Focus on dealing with the issues logically, and then we can deal with the debt, get you on a path of financial success, and have a future life of happiness and wealth.
I think you’d find a lot of information in my book you can download for free, The Path to Happiness and Wealth.
People seem to like the book.
You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.