Updated on 07.31.14

Addiction and Personal Finance

Trent Hamm

I’ve watched one of my childhood heroes throw his life away to a methamphetamine addiction. I remember him surging with vitality, going to school full time while simultaneously working at a full time job to make ends meet. He had the future open to him – college scholarships, a killer work ethic, and a quiet mannerism that made people who barely knew him trust that he could get the job done. Five years later, he was broke and jobless and reduced to making meth in an abandoned shack.

Another person I know lost his home, all three of his cars, his wife, and his children due to an addiction to gambling. He’d constantly bet more and more and more, believing he could turn around the losses with just one big score, until he had lost everything he had ever valued in his life, spending the night attempting to sleep in a casino bathroom.

These two people lost everything they had to their addictions. They once had all of the assets and opportunities that could be afforded to them, but in each case an addiction to something drug them down.

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 everyone around you.

Addiction counseling is something I confess to knowing very little about, so I spent some time scouring for resources both online and off. Below are some of the tactic summaries I’ve discovered (while I’m providing links to online sources, there are many similar offline resources available at the local public library).

If You’re Addicted

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 excellent solutions that really sum up many of the tips out there – the tips focus on drug addiction, but the principles apply to all addictions:

Tell your friends about your decision to stop using drugs. 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 drug habit at once, you probably won’t be able to hang out with the friends you did drugs with before.

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.

Accept invitations only to events that you know won’t involve drugs or alcohol. Going to the movies is probably safe, but you may want to skip a Friday night party until you’re feeling more secure. Plan activities that don’t involve drugs. Go to the movies, try bowling, or take an art class with a friend.

Have a plan about what you’ll do if you find yourself in a place with drugs or alcohol. The temptation will be there sometimes, but if you know how you’re going to handle it, you’ll be OK. 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 an adult 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.

If You Care for Someone Who’s Addicted

The advice here seems much more varied. Some sources seem to advocate an intervention and confrontation, while others encourage not confronting the addict.

The one thing that the sources do agree on is that you shouldn’t ignore it. Universally, it seems to at least be a good idea (though some say it’s not the best route) to tell the person that you’re worried about them, you care about them, and any time they want to talk, they can talk to you. You don’t have to even directly mention the issue, just let that person know very clearly that you are available to them if they need you.

At the same time, it also seems to be universal that you don’t support their addiction in any way. Cut off their financial supplies in any way you have to, but provide them with alternatives that take them away from the addiction. For example, if they come to you and ask for cash to get some food, say no but invite them to come over and eat with you.

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.

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  1. J. McRackan says:

    Thank you for addressing this topic. Financial troubles have many sources, and this is certainly one for many people. There are all sorts of addictions, not all drugs or gambling… and the impact in one’s family & finance is significant. Again, thank you for bringing this up.

  2. Trent,
    Thank you for posting this. It can be very difficult for people to understand how a person who “appears” so successful can have a VERY destructive addiction that eats away their soul,eventually causing them to lose everything.
    I have a family member who was addicted to alcohol and even when they kicked the habit, it was too late and they have suffered from severe depression ever since.
    Addictions are horrible and very difficult to comprehend.

  3. Michelle says:

    Trent, thank you so much for posting this. My husband had a video game addiction for several years and it was a real problem. I know that it doesn’t sound like much compared to alcohol or drugs, but it really does waste life away.

    I want to point out that addictions are very often a mental health issue, and that those with addictions who are willing should seek out mental health care. Help is available.

  4. Bill says:

    Gambling addiction is something to watch for in older, successful businesspeople who get bored after they’ve “made it”, but see no future business opportunities.

    Watch any episode of the TV show “Las Vegas” to see how skillfully casinos target successful businesspeople.

    There was a cover story in our state business magazine not too long ago about the problem.

    It endangers everyone who works for that business when the person at the top decides to raid company funds to support their habit.

  5. Add-Doc says:

    Thanks, Trent, for posting this. I’m a physician specializing in the medical treatment of addictions and everything you are saying is right on. I’ve observed that even after the person gets sober, they have little or no sense of structure. Money management in particular seems to be a very difficult area. The person has a lot of debt, bad credit, they may not have good education or employable skills and they feel very helpless and the temptation to go back to their addiction can be hard to resist. I have no training in financial counseling so reading blogs like this have been very helpful to me in giving patients some simple advice on how to get grip on things like their debt. Sometimes, money itself can be a trigger to go out and use so it is a very tricky area. This could be a great area that if addressed, could make a big difference.
    One last thing is that because addiction can affect the whole family, it can be very helpful for the family member/spouse/significant other/friend to get help and support, as it can be a roller coaster and it is very easy to forget to take care of yourself when you are worried sick about somebody else.

    Thank you for the work you do here, keep up the good work!


  6. Christine says:

    That last point about cutting off cash is key. My stepbrother is a crack addict and we (his Dad, my Mom & I) have tried to help him sooo many ways, but Dad kept slipping him cash. He was even staying with my parents for a breif period, but would disappear for days on end with some of the most cockamamie explanations I’ve ever heard. Well, Dad died last year and we still help him… but only in ways the drug counsellors told us would be helpful (yah, my Mom & I went to the family counselling, even though he wouldn’t).

    Now, when he calls with a sob story about being hungy, we buy him groceries. Truck is in the shop & don’t get paid till Friday (but need it NOW)? Call the shop, pay them directly by Visa. We will NOT give him cash for any reason & he’s not allowed in our houses since last time he stole stuff.

    I hope he gets his life turned around, but until then, involvement is limited. Excuse the expression, but “stink rubs off”… and I’m trying to get into a new place in life that involves an absolutely clean history.

  7. Amanda says:

    I think a point slightly side-stepped is to get that person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist right away to start drilling down into the behaviorial issues fueling the addiction. Clinical social workers are alright, but really addiction folks need pros.

    Pardon…but on a separate topic, Trent, I wondered if you would write more about your country home dream? How do you plan for it, etc.? Have you ever used ‘dream home’ software. I’m very interested in this topic myself. Thanks!

  8. Mert says:

    I did this, sort of. I’m not a drug addict, but I have spent a good amount of money on pot in the short time I’ve been smoking it. I sat down and did the math and if I spent $20 a week on pot (which I know it wasn’t that little) I have spent atleast $2500. So now, I have an HSBC savings account that I automatically put 20 into a week. I still smoke on occasion, but I’m spending less and saving more while I do it.

  9. Katy McKenna says:

    The whole prescription drug addiction problem is huge, too. My loved one–who endured living with a compulsive gambler–has succumbed in her old age to painkillers, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety meds. In the past couple of years, we’ve slowly helped her wean off many of these drugs, and she no longer seems demented. Or paranoid, or anxious, or fearful, or in pain, etc. It’s been a HUGE battle.

  10. Geek Grrl says:

    Great post, Trent, and very timely.

    Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a friend’s ex-husband. Joe (not his real name) was 58 years old, and an alcoholic. He grew up dirt-poor in rough neighborhoods, and was told he would never amount to anything. Somehow, he graduated from college and law school, paying for it himself. He bought run-down houses, renovated them himself, and then sold them. He met and married my friend, also an attorney. They had two children. Life seemed good and promising.

    But over the years, his inner demons took ontrol of his life, and he tried to erase them with alcohol. He lost his ability to earn a living, he lost his marriage, and at the time of his death, he was living in a homeless shelter in NYC.

    At the funeral, the clergyman noted that Joe loved to fix things; he was always offering to help fix people’s cars, and to help folks rehab and renovate houses.

    I couldn’t help but notice the contrast that Joe tried to fix and rehab everything but himself.

    Alcohol robbed him of his life, and robbed his children of their father long before he left the Earth. It is a powerful addiction. He tried a few times on his own to stop drinking, but it never stuck.

    Please, if there’s someone in your life who has an addiction, DON’T IGNORE IT. The longer the person engages in the risky behavior, the harder it will be for her/him to change.

    The pain, loss, and suffering of the family and friends did not start with Joe’s death a few days ago. It built up over the past twenty years.

    Hearing Joe’s two teenage daughters speak at his funeral about the father they loved and missed tore all of our hearts. We (and they) were angry with Joe over the years for his behaviors and his drinking, but he was a genuinely decent person who was not in control of his own life, and we all had the mixed feelings of anger, love, and loss, and we were all trying to come to grips with them.

    It didn’t have to be that way. Psychological intervention could have made a difference. Addiction is a SYMPTOM of a larger issue. Pretending there is no underlying problem, or pretending the addiction isn’t a problem is a dangerous delusion.

    How many times did Joe tell us, “I can quit drinking any time I want. I just don’t want to.”

    Often, family and friends are enablers, because it is easier to be non-confrontational when dealing with an addicted person.

    How many times did my friend let Joe drink until he passed out, because then he wasn’t angry and fighting with her and the kids.

    Often, the person with the addiction thinks/says that it’s her/his own business, that she/he is not affecting anyone else with the risky behavior. WRONG. DEAD WRONG. The addiction affects EVERYONE in that person’s life, no matter how remote it seems.

    The last act of Joe’s life showed his basic good nature. Several of the homeless shelter residents attended the funeral, and they told of Joe helping them with legal problems, and of him fixing things.

    A life wasted. A life ended too soon. A life that could have made a difference for so many people.

  11. katy says:

    Thank you for this post, Trent. People have to want to stop…that is the tragic part. Recovery is for people who want it, not (just) people who need it. Let’s pray for those still out there…seriously.

  12. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I know that I am far from an expert on this issue – I know very little. I just hope this post convinces a person or two to take a step in the right direction, towards a solution that can get their life back on track.

  13. Anne Anne says:

    Long time listener, first time caller here! I get a lot out of your website, so thank you Trent and thank you also to the Simple Dollar community.

    I just wanted to add in my perspective on addiction. My older brother has a gambling addiction and I have just supported him through the start of his recovery. It’s been 5 months since he gambled regularly. He’s had a few relapses but they’ve all been manageable. It’s been major for both of us and it’s helped us learn a lot more about ourselves, and each other.

    To family members and close friends who are considering getting involved in their loved one’s recovery – here are a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way….

    *It takes serious commitment so you need to make sure that your nearest and dearest understand what you’re doing and (hopefully) support you.

    *Consistency is very important. In a sense, you’re offering that person “something better” so if you say you’ll be there at 5pm to pick them up, be there!

    *Transparency is very important. I had to do things that my brother didn’t feel comfortable with (like tell my mother to *never* give him a cent) and rather than do it behind his back, I just told him up front what I was doing and why. Despite initial problems, it has all worked out ok because he’s been along with what’s happening the whole way.

    *Expect bad days. Expect bad days. Expect bad days.

    *Be tough. But when the going gets really tough, don’t try to be tough about everything. Some days I would have to hold my tongue about the lack of showering, chain smoking and week of dishes in the sink, and just get down to basics – “You’re not going to gamble today.”

    *I’m no expert on this, but there’s something in there about trust. Trust them and their word. I know it’s hard! If they say, for example, that they’re going straight home, believe them. Don’t question their motives. If you’ve been consistent and transparent throughout, then they will value and respect that and (hopefully) respond in kind.

    *Try not to be too preachy. This is really hard because it’s easy for a non addict to say “just don’t gamble, go for a walk or something.” I tried as often as possible, during our regular hang out time, to demonstrate to my brother that I was struggling with things in my life as well – like not getting enough excercise, and feeling anxious. When I shared my struggles, he seemed to respond better when discussing his troubles.

    *Get help yourself (see point 1). Your own nearest and dearest will (hopefully) be a wonderful support, but you may need professional help as well. The agency that my brother went through (I live in New Zealand) referred me to another agency so that I could get my own professional support.

    *Know that you can’t do everything for that person. They most probably need professional help. My brother sure did. He sees a gambling counsellor, a relationship counsellor, his family doctor, and a budgeting expert. On some days, I’m just the taxi driver!

    *Know when to withdraw. Like I said, it’s been 5 months. It went from a daily dropping off of $5 and a pack of smokes while I managed his bills etc. to a relationship where I take him grocery shopping once a week and check his online banking from time to time. He *actually* has a good quality of life now. It’s awesome. The withdrawal process was very gradual and I needed support with that. There’s no way that I could have maintained the initial level of support, but without it he would have never got this far.

    A note on personal responsibility: Some may think that I did too much for my brother. I chose to view it as an illness, like cancer. He was the one experiencing the most pain and suffering, I was just beside him holding his hand.

    I agree that the person has to want to stop, but I also think that with good communication you can coach your loved ones a bit to consider stopping. My brother tried a few times to stop gambling by himself first which meant that he had the will to stop.

    All the best to those people supporting their loved ones out there. The road is long but worthwhile!

  14. Flea says:

    I have seen what a gambling addction can do to a person first hand and I agree it isn’t pretty. They always end of losing everything chasing that big score that will turn it around for them. The person I am talking about was BIG into the horse races…


  15. clint says:

    We could also talk addiction to smoking anything. If you think about just the cost of buying the smokes $5.99 a pack times 2 a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. That is over $2100 a year that you could be using to pay down you debt or pay into a 401k or some other savings plan. That can add up to huge money in just a few years. Not to mention that stopping will give you less sick time off work and help you live longer. The numbers add up quick to make it a good idea to stop this addiction cold.

    Clint Lawton


  16. Margaret says:

    re katy mckenna — I recently read something about reducing medications for the elderly. Often medications have side effects, and for the elderly, the side effects may be worse than letting whatever condition take its course. Something to think about, anyway.

  17. Jules says:

    Most of those also apply if you’re depressed, or suffering from any of the major psychiatric disorders. The key is to get help and support, and not to be ashamed. The last is a major reason why men’s mental health has largely been ignored.

  18. Melissa says:

    Perhaps in our pressured society, someone might be trying too hard, achieving too much material success, and escape to something more important, their addiction. Did you see the ad on TV where the successful man was on his huge riding mower in front of his huge home with three new cars and growing children, and he smiled into the camera, “I’m drowning in debt over my head!”?

    There’s too much pressure and too little emotional support, real reward, and relaxing is considered being lazy.

    There IS plenty of criticism, competition, and squabbling for fun. There seems to be no value on giving time to just Be. To just enjoy being alive and and sitting there breathing.

    It’s nice to have and get and strive, but there also needs the balance of OK, relaxed reward: sigh, that’s enough. Not, what’s next?! Another newer gizmo, bigger and more complicated is better!

    I don’t know the answer. This is just what I see.

  19. Melissa says:

    Oh, I just noticed your previous post about passive income. Compare that idea with your description of your hero gone down the tubes.

    I find myself beating up myself all the time for not being a Super Mom, and all that. But there must be more to Life. Look at how Howard Hughs ended up. Ha, yes, ended ‘up’.

  20. Tall Bill says:

    My brother in law has not been in jail since he got married – still using, but SOMEHOW has stayed out of jail for some years now. Over the past few years we have pleaded with him to visit the folks before his father’s alzheimers took away too much. We recently relocated them our direction so Grandpa could receive care. Fathers day morning we all gathered for a meal & it was at the point that his own father did not know him. Tears when leaving as the years wasting away had robbed him of whatever relationship he had with his dad. Perhaps he’ll wake up and nuture his mother as she deals with this life change, but many don’t change & for those that do, relationships do not heal overnight. Don’t enable in ANY WAY – use resources to help children caught in the middle.

  21. Katy McKenna says:

    Thank you, Margaret. It is so true that the elderly brain can no longer process drugs like its younger counterpart. In my loved one’s case, seizures began because of drug problems, and now when drugs are switched around too suddenly, another seizure occurs. Unfortunately for many elderly, doctors are often way too willing to pile on more dangerous prescriptions at the patient’s slightest complaint. It is hard to find a doctor willing to take on the “project” of carefully weaning an elderly addict off some of the drugs. Typically these days, it’s done in a geriatric phych unit of a hospital, which is NO FUN.

  22. Lenore says:

    Thank you, Trent, for discussing this and sharing the stories of your friends. Recovery is possible, but every addict leaves a swath of heartbreak. An addiction highly relevant to finances and seldom acknowledged or appreciated is SHOPPING, and you do a great job of inspiring people to avoid empty consumerism. I have bipolar disorder and ended up several thousand dollars in credit card debt as I lost touch with reality and kept buying things to “treat” my depression. I’d never lived beyond my means before that and have (most of the time) conquered my addiction through medication, counseling and self-help strategies (like reading this blog). Thanks for all you do!

  23. Shara says:

    katy is so right that people have to want to quit. I was addicted to alcohol and I realized the addiction was becoming worse. It had not caused any problems for my family, yet, but I knew it was going too. I quit on my own with only the help of my wonderful, supportive spouse. It was very hard to quit. I craved it, thought about it all the time, wanted it and physically needed it. I haven’t drank since because I know I would fall right back into that pattern of drinking everyday too much. But whether it is a drug, alcohol, gambling or any other kind of addiction, the desire must be there to quit. People will fail if they are forced to seek help and not want it.

  24. Zoe Lewis says:

    Good points, but it’s important to remember that addictions can be to many things, not just drugs. Or, perhaps, many things can act like addictive drugs. The things that most come to mind are porn and food. Don’t know if food addiction kills relationships the way some of these other things do, but it does destroy a person’s health, and sometimes finances. I also hear statistics that something like 75 to 80% of men are involved with porn on the computer (plenty of women, too, I bet, but I haven’t heard statistics), and severe addictions can progress to acting out with real people. This particular thing is killing many, many families. I think it’s critical to confront the user and not enable the behaviors. That can be really tough to do, especially when you are a woman with kids and no other means of support.

  25. Kasandra says:

    Appreciate this post! Addictions, whether seemingly harmless (video, TV) or deadly (alcohol, drugs, gambling) rob you of happiness in life. We have one life to live and its so sad to see it wasted away. I just visited with a older lady in the hospital, she has been in there for a month with bowel complications….. she can’t eat or walk by herself and is wasting away, but will literally drag herself out of bed and go outside because she needs to smoke.
    I have been having wonderful conversations with my brother who is a recovering 20 year drug addict. He has been clean for 2 years, what keeps him clean is he teaches in the jails, in the schools and he attends meetings 3 times a week. He says every time he walks into a room and sees drug addicts, it reminds him he does not want to be there anymore. The success rate is absolutely terrible, drugs are just evil! My brother followed the 12 step Narcotics Anonymous program (similar to the AA one) and it made the difference, but HE had to WANT to! I’ll never forget the phone call from my sobbing sister-in-law who was scared they were going to lose their house, they had maxed out all their credit,…. she would rather be a poor student again and have her husband back! I am so grateful my brother is not a statistic in the morgue, he could so easily have been. My heart goes out to all those people who are living with addicts, most of them are in denial… because if they admit they are addicted they will have to change. I believe God has given us a wonderful life that can be full of happiness, service and fulfillment if we so choose.

  26. Linda says:

    I am an RN who has worked in geriatrics for 12 years. I’m concerned that there is a belief growing which tells society that elders are addicted to pain meds and antidepressants. The reality is that pain and depression in the elderly are undertreated. Expecially in those elders who are institutionalized, most suffering from chronic pain, that will never get better. While some individuals are taking pain medications who do not need them, the geriatric group as a whole suffer significant pain that could be better controlled. Physicians are so afraid to prescribe pain meds, especially opiods, because of the abuse problems that we all hear about. People who take pain medications, when they are in pain, will not become addicted. Build up a tolerance, yes, but tolerance is far from abuse and addiction. It’s the individual who continues to take the pain meds beyond the healing of the surgery, injury or whatever, and those who take pain meds for reasons other than pain (the effect–claming nerves or to get high–although I admit I don’t understand how sleepiness or nausea can be a high that anyone would want to experience, but some do), who become addicted and abuse these medications.

    I do think antidepressants are incredibly over-prescribed for the general population. When three of five people one knows are taking Prozac, Paxil or whichever popular antidepressant of the day, there is indication that some doctors are being too free with the prescription pads. But for seniors, especially those in chronic pain and who are institutionalized, have lost their spouses, homes, belongings and other situations in which there is little to no hope of improvement of the remainder of their years, give them an antidepressant when they’re symptomatic. I’ve seen patients treated with anitdepressants develop new interests in things which are available to them in the settings in which they live. They begin to connect socially with other patients and attend activities, even helping to organize those activities, participate in Resident Council meetings–find areas that they can still enjoy in life.

    The key for treating elders, with any type of medication, is treating the symptoms or disease with the appropriate medication(s) when necessary, continuously evaluate and re-evaluate effectiveness, and finding and using the lowest effective dose.

    We want to be humane and treat great-grandma’s pain and/or depression. Let’s say that great-grandma, who lives in the nursing home, is an exception to what the current literature says, and does become addicted. What are the chances she’ll go out and rob a bank to feed her addiction?

  27. Kelly says:


    For family members and friends of those with addictions

  28. Clarke says:

    Thank you for bringing up 12 step programs Kasandra. They have proven to be the most effective resource for people and the families and friends of addicts. Alcoholics Anonymous was started in 1935. Since that time literally 100’s of self help 12 step programs have been helping people change their lives. It costs nothing to join and stay and you are being helped by the very people who have overcome the addiction themselves.

  29. Jen says:

    My husband’s family has dealt with his father’s alcoholism for years. We watched him destroy his company, his marriage, and his relationship with all of his children and we are now estranged from him.

    My husband’s brother is also an alcoholic. He lived with us while he was in high school and we’ve always had the mind set that we have to take care of him. He worked for us and we did everything we could to support him (at least that’s what we thought we were doing). We paid his bounced checks, his utilities when they were going to be turned off. We fed him almost every day, besides paying his wages and his cell phone. (this was largely before we realized his addiction)

    How did he return our support (enabling)? By driving drunk on the job and totalling our $45,000 pickup, the trailer, and the load. We also paid his bail and went with him to court. He defaulted on his cell phone that I cosigned when he was in high school (yes, stupid) leaving me with a severe ding on my credit. He broke into our house once even while we were asleep.

    My advice for families of addicts is “Take care of yourselves first.” We nearly destroyed our business and our finances by helping him and by not opening our eyes to his addiction. If you are struggling to pay your own utilities – don’t pay his instead. Don’t post bail – that just reinforces their thinking that you’ll always save them.

    Also, if the addict does something stupid it can come back to you. We could have lost our car insurance. If he had hurt someone else our business could have been liable. Again, by cosigning I’m paying with bad credit.

    Your are obligated to take of yourself and your family first. There were times that we choose to take care of the addict over our own children’s best interests. That is a huge mistake and will only result in the addict continuing to take advantage of you and hurt on your family’s part.

    And, I believe counseling is called for in nearly every circumstance for the family. You have to take care of yourself emotionally as well and you will have to learn how to deal with a very ugly situation.

  30. Margaret says:

    RE: Linda — good points, good points. The article I read wasn’t referring to pain management (I think). It was more addressing whether or not to treat health conditions with medications. For an example: an 80 year old develops a slow growing cancer — it might be better to leave the cancer untreated rather than start the person on numerous drugs.

    I, personally, am against pain, and I am all for pain management.

  31. katy says:

    Addiction can be like a carousel. An alcoholic can develop overeating characteristics…or gambling…whatever. Not to be afraid, just aware. the disease does pushups and has many faces.

  32. David Hicks says:

    Interesting post.

    The complexity of the links between finances and behaviour (besides the up-front price tag of indulging) run parallel at ALL levels: conscious, subconscious, spiritual, emotional… even body language. Which is why I wrote a book to help people untangle the web of mixed messages which keep them stuck financially.

    Money amplifies whatever is already in play, in one’s heart, in one’s core beliefs. For good or ill.

  33. Julian says:

    Great post Trent. I would like to know where to find the evidence about 12-step effectivness that would support a statement such as “They have proven to be the most effective resource for people and the families and friends of addicts”. I have conducted in-depth research on addiction as well as resolved my own addiction to alcohol – outside of 12-step or better said – despite the unnecessary complicattions and negativity and inaccuracy of a regrettable 12-step treatment program I survived. It gets a bit tiring from my perspective to hear people’s irresponsible (however inadvertent), knee-jerk reaction to addiction struggles, by referring people to 12-step, aa – it just adds to the unwarranted omnipresence of 12 step and AA and ignores the reality of the pathetically low success rate of such programs (2%-8%) as well as ignores the fact that most people recover outside of 12 step/aa For many, 12 step and aa is a dangerous, exacerbation of an already enormously challenging and life threatening problem. Consider the individual and do your homework before referring anyone to a program. There are many that are punitive, shame inducing and potentially harmful. Definitely not a good thing to just rely on unfounded claims made by others.

  34. j says:

    thanks for posting about this…. actually i am a recovering alcoholic (3.5 years). though i’ve damaged a lot of my credit while i was drinking, somehow i’ve managed to create even more trouble with my finances sober. i think a physician earlier in the comments touched upon… people needing more guidance… and this is indeed true.

    getting sober is probably the most difficult thing i’ve ever done, and getting my life together took a lot of work, it didn’t happen over night, and it didn’t happen in 30 days. even though i still have trouble with money, my life is better than its ever been.

    12 step programs aren’t the only way… but they have the best track record, and in my experience, it’s a lot easier than going at it alone.

  35. Jessica says:

    Lenore, you are so right, honey. Shopping is a major addiction, and so many people go in over their heads to fund their “fun”, not realizing what it does to their finances.

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