I received the email two days ago. “How do I stop?” he asked. My friend, Harry, is trying to stop gambling. His email had a joking tone, but his meaning was quite serious. “I know that I have to stop, but I don’t know how to,” Harry wrote. “How do you walk away when you’re down, and admit that you’ve lost?”
Harry is a 26-year-old law student, living like most law students live. Harry eats lots of 99-cent double cheeseburgers and chokes each time he sees the cable/Internet bill in the mailbox.
He started gambling on games after his new roommate introduced him to the pastime.
First it was $25 or $50 on the Patriots, just a little something to enhance the enjoyment of the game. Then, Harry turned to betting on college basketball. Fifty-dollar bets turned into $150 bets, which turned into $500 bets.
Harry won some, but lost more. His new gambling habit was turning into a problem. Over the last few days, Harry has gambled away his rent and grocery money.
That’s when he emailed me. He knew that I had battled the same beast during my college days. I watched many a Syracuse basketball game wringing a useless towel.
I’ve felt the high of winning $1,000, then spontaneously ordering Chinese food for the entire floor. But, I also know how it feels to lose $1,000, your gut wrenching even as you plan your next bet to make up the loss, which you can’t afford anyway. It is a vicious, evil cycle.
I gambled most of my freshman year, my bets becoming more and more bold. I learned more sophisticated ways to place bets that yielded larger potential payouts. I even started taking bets from friends and acquaintances. Suddenly, I was an …