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For most gamblers, gambling is a recreational activity that never results in serious problems. For others, excessive gambling becomes an irresistible compulsion and addiction that destroys families, financially and emotionally.
According to the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG), the compulsive gambler typically follows a three-phase progression.
The first phase is the Winning Phase, in which the gambler experiences a big win, which in turn boosts self-esteem. The result is an increase in the frequency of the gambling and the amount wagered. Unreasonable optimism develops as the gambler fantasizes about winning.
Next is the Losing Phase. It occurs when the luck starts to run out and the gambler begins losing money. During this period, thoughts turn exclusively to gambling and winning. Relationships become strained as the gambler gradually loses control. He begins covering up his gambling and starts borrowing money from friends, family, and credit cards.
The last phase is the Desperation Phase. By this time, the gambler can no longer pay debts and starts looking for quick fixes. An obsession with making up for past losses develops. Time spent on gambling is affecting work and family, and there are usually feelings of remorse and hopelessness. Loss of personal and business reputation is accompanied by depression.
One of the most serious measurable problems caused by gambling is debt.
Fortunately, help is available. The first and most important hurdle for a compulsive gambler is to deal with the gambling compulsion. The NCPG’s nation-wide, toll-free number is 800.522.4700, and they will refer anyone seeking help to a support organization. As with any compulsive behavior, it takes some effort to beat an addiction to gambling, and it all starts with the initial phone call.
At the same time, the individual will have to address the debt problem. Typically, a large portion of the debt comes from cash advances on credit cards, usually at high interest rates. Nonprofit credit counselors are trained to intervene with creditors and guide clients through a manageable, effective debt-repayment program.
The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.
Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.
The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.
The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.