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Why Addiction Can Take You into Debt

Suffering from a debilitating addiction can wreak havoc on both your personal and professional life. But the consequences of addiction can extend beyond that, most notably with regard to your finances. By the time a person seeks addiction treatment, they may find themselves in quite a bit of debt – yet another obstacle to overcome. Why does this so often happen?

Feeding the Habit

With few exceptions, keeping up with an addiction is going to cost a significant amount of money in the long run. Buying enough drugs or alcohol to keep up with your growing cravings could end up costing you a small fortune. Even behavioral addictions can be quite costly; gambling being the most obvious example, as well as shopping, both of which are near-guaranteed to have you spending outside of your budget. The term “Chasing Losses” refers to losing a certain amount of money, then trying to win it back and losing again, and so on and so on. With drugs or alcohol, you’ll eventually need to buy larger amounts to both maintain the effects and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Legal trouble is also expensive.

Sadly, and no matter what the addiction may be, the deeper you get, the more money you’ll be willing to spend to feed the habit. That’s how addiction works, and it’s the reason why money is so often such a big issue.

Neglecting Finances

The danger of addiction from a financial standpoint is that you stop caring how much you have to spend. Your body is craving something and you’ll pay whatever it costs to get what you need. Everything you’ve ever learned about financial responsibility goes out the window when you have an addiction. There is no such thing as common sense; all you know is that you have to comply with your body’s addiction. When you have an addiction, it’s impossible to recognize that you don’t have the money to afford your bad habit. Many addictions have the kind of mind-altering effects that lead to neglecting a lot of things, from paying bills to paying attention to those around you.

Lost Wages

Not only are you spending a lot of money to feed your addiction, but it’s common to earn less money while focused on your vice. People with an addiction tend to call in sick to work, show up late, and not perform their job as well as they should be. In many cases, you can be docked pay or even lose your job entirely, forcing you to find another job that probably won’t pay as well, especially without a strong reference.

Consider the slippery slope of earning less money while simultaneously paying more money to keep up with your addiction. It’s a recipe for falling into debt fast.

Damaged Credit Score

Even if you can recover from addiction, you may have done serious damage to your credit score in the process. As you pour money into fueling your addiction, housing, car, and credit card payments can often get neglected. If those bills aren’t paid on time and in full, your credit score can quickly decline. If your credit score drops low enough, you’ll be subject to higher interest rates and higher insurance premiums, making it more difficult to get yourself out of debt. A poor credit score can also make it more difficult to get a loan for a home or car or even rent an apartment. In sum, if the addiction isn’t the specific or a direct cause of the debt, it can still worsen the person’s overall financial instability.


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