When I was working in government some years back, there was one senior economist who used to drink his head off. He got so bad that he could only pop-in at the office when the pay days were around the corner. Once he got paid, he would be missing from his office until no money was left on him. Within the first week of the month, he would be knocking on your door asking you to borrow him money for his children’s fees. I was not very surprised when I heard he had died a couple of years ago. The time he was dying, he had lost his home, all three of his cars, his wife, and his children due to an addiction to boozing.
Any addiction is a danger to long term personal finance stability. If you have a compulsion to commit a non-vital behavior, particularly one that requires you to lay out money, it’s a massive risk, not only to you, but to your family and everyone around you.
Addiction counselling is something I confess to knowing very little about, so I spent some time scouring for resources both online and off. The best summary of dealing with one’s own addictions came from a nonprofit site dealing with teenage addiction sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. The site lists countless signs to self-identify an addiction, then offers some good solutions that really sum up many of the tips out there. The tips focus on drug/alcohol addiction, but the principles apply to all addictions:
First tip. Tell your friends about your decision to stop whatever addition you have – could be over shopping, boozing, womanising, too much tea or coffee taking, video gaming, Face-booking, etc. Your true friends will respect your decision. This might mean that you need to find a new group of friends who will be 100% supportive. Unless everyone decides to kick their addiction habit at once, you probably won’t be able to hang out with the friends you did practice the addition with before.
Second tip. Ask your friends or family to be available when you need them. You may need to call someone in the middle of the night just to talk. If you’re going through a tough time, don’t try to handle things on your own — accept the help your family and friends offer.
Third tip. Accept invitations only to events that you know won’t involve your addiction like boozing, womanising, gambling, video gaming, Face-booking, etc. Plan going to events that will not put you into temptations of your addition. Try doing activities that take you out of your addition completely. For example if you into alcohol addition, start going to cinema or watching soaps or movies at home or take an art class with a friend.
Fourth tip. Have a plan about what you’ll do if you find yourself in a place with much of your addition like gambling, playing video games, chasing women or taking too much alcohol. The temptation will be there sometimes, but if you know how you’re going to handle it, you’ll be okay. Establish a plan with your parents or siblings so that if you call home using a code, they’ll know that your call is a signal you need a ride out of there.
Remind yourself that having an addiction doesn’t make you bad or weak. If you fall back into old patterns (backslide) a bit, talk to somebody you can confide-in as soon as possible. There’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it’s important to get help soon so that all of the hard work you put into your recovery is not lost.
The real key here is to find a support network of people who can help you through this. Ask for help, even if it’s hard to admit your weakness. The truth is that the people who care about you most will be relieved that you’re realizing your problems and will be extremely happy to help you with your challenges/addictions.
No matter your position, addiction can be a very serious issue. It can drain your finances and everything else you hold of value in your life. If you’re recognizing a problem of your own, or know of a problem that someone else has, don’t ignore it. Address it now, for your future’s sake.
Have a blessed week-end.