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Why Debt Is Like Drug Addiction


Jun. 11, 2012 The Dollar Stretcher

It would seem that almost all of us have either been caught ourselves, or have a friend or relative, who has been addicted to drugs. If we’re fortunate they managed to get free of them. We know that no one begins with the idea of becoming a drug abuser. But somewhere along the way it happened. And, the pain it caused to the abuser and those around them was often significant.

In watching people and their finances I see a similar pattern appearing with debt. No one sets out to become addicted to debt. No one wants to let debt control their lives. And, yet, a certain percentage of us will have that happen.

Now let me be clear that everyone with debt problems will not follow this pattern. Some people got into debt trouble due to a medical emergency or sudden financial set-back.

But, for many the pattern is predictable. Much like someone falling into drug addiction. For some guidance we went to the National Institute for Health website. They defined four stages of drug addiction.

“Experimental use — typically involves peers, done for recreational use; the user may enjoy defying parents or other authority figures.

“Regular use — the user misses more and more school or work; worries about losing drug source; uses drugs to “fix” negative feelings; begins to stay away from friends and family; may change friends to those who are regular users; shows increased tolerance and ability to “handle” the drug.

“Daily preoccupation — the user loses any motivation; does not care about school and work; has obvious behavior changes; thinking about drug use is more important than all other interests, including relationships; the user becomes secretive; may begin dealing drugs to help support habit; use of other, harder drugs may increase; legal problems may increase.

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