Nathan's Story: One popup can decimate a life
The click of a button, and a weight is released.
11 years. 11 awful years carrying a load on my shoulders.
I just paid off my final credit card bill.
The year was 2010. I was in my first year of University. I had just received my first credit card.
I was browsing online around midnight when a pop-up ad appeared on my screen.
It grabbed my attention. A scantily clad girl challenging me to a game of online poker.
"Oh what the hell. I'll play one round."
I'd played poker among friends. I was quite good at it. I figured online would be a breeze.
Eight hours later, I was down $6,000. I was devastated. My confidence shattered. "I'll get that money back," I thought. "I'm due for a win. I'm an excellent poker player."
I hadn't slept a wink, but I was late. I showered, got dressed, and walked to work.
I don't think I'll ever forget that morning. I was exhausted. I was a wreck. It was the first all-nighter of my life.
When I went to order breakfast, my card declined. My credit card company had gotten alarmed and put a hold on my account.
It took several days to clear it up and regain access to my account. During that time, I strategized how I would win. How I would win at online poker.
Already, my sleep was affected and I started losing my appetite.
The night the hold on my card was lifted, I lost over $2,000.
The next two months were pure hell. I was obsessed with online poker. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating. I was doing everything in my power to earn money. I was getting nowhere.
There was one moment of short-lived happiness, when I won $4,800 but the next night I lost it all over again.
Then one night (or should I say morning), I had a nervous breakdown. I suffered a traumatic loss. A hand I was sure I would win.
In the afternoon, I called Chabad Lifeline. I got their number from a friend on campus. I got an appointment and met with Ruth.
It took a lot of counselling, but eventually I was able to put my gambling addiction to rest.
I have spent the last 11 years literally paying for my mistake. During that time, since returning back to my home in the USA, I have mentored other recovering addicts (mostly fellow gamblers).
I'm very grateful to Chabad Lifeline. In all my years of recovery I've never come across any organization as warm, as kind, and as welcoming as they are. I was in a very dark place when I met them and I quickly became part of the family.
If you have a gambling problem and are reading this, I beg of you - please call Chabad Lifeline. I promise you life will improve because there is a better feeling than winning $4,800 in a game of poker.
And that's paying your last bill and freeing yourself of debt.
Please note that certain identifying information have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved in this story.