Search for Savings & Loans
5 Ways Addiction Causes Financial Trouble - Money Psychology
Money Psychology

5 Ways Addiction Causes Financial Trouble - Money Psychology

If you or someone you know has ever suffered an addiction, then you know how hard it can be not only on the individual but also on their loved ones.

An addiction can make your relationships harder both on a personal level and also professionally. Having an addiction can also be detrimental to your health. Addiction is defined as the uncontrollable, chronic, physical or psychological need for a habit-forming behaviour, substance, or activity with harmful physiological, psychological, or social effects.

Addictions can typically cause well-defined symptoms like anxiety, tremors, being irritable or being nauseous upon abstinence or withdrawal.

Types of Addictions

Both physical and behavioural addictions can occur at the same time. They commonly go hand-in-hand. Despite the fact that addiction to alcohol and nicotine is well-known, there are hundreds of different addictions that have been scientifically and medically proven.

Cravings, compulsions, inability to stop and a dysfunctional way of living are all signs that someone has some type of addiction.

Addiction to behaviours can be as dangerous as addiction to alcoholic beverages or other narcotics.

Addictions to Substances

Also referred to as physical addictions, this type of addiction tends to be more widely publicised. Alcoholism and drug abuse are among the most well-known physical addictions.

The addictions could be to tobacco, alcohol, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines, prescription drugs, marijuana, inhalants, hallucinogens and PCP.

Addictions to behaviours

Behavioural addictions can be defined as any time that a person loses control of their actions and engages in behaviours that result in short-lived feelings of enjoyment or chaos. Addiction to the pleasurable sensations elicited by specific actions can lead to compulsive behaviour.

Common behavioural addictions include food, sex, phones and computer, the internet, pornography, video games, work and exercising among others as spirituality when it’s obsessive, pain, shopping and gambling addiction.

  • When someone has an addiction, they will:
  • Be unable to stay away from the drug or stop the behaviour that makes them dependent on it
  • Lack control especially when it comes to the drug or habit
  • Strongly desire to use the drug or get into the addictive behaviour
  • Ignore their actions even when they cause trouble
  • Lack of feelings of concern or care

The Financial Implications of Addictions

A majority of addictions have a significant financial impact. Mental health specialists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5-TR) to diagnose mental health issues. The DSM-5-TR lists financial difficulties as a possible indicator of addiction especially to gambling.

Behavioural addictions such as gambling and shopping almost always lead to money problems since they strike at the core of the affected individual’s finances. Gambling and shopping are both impossible without monetary exchange.


For someone who is addicted to spending, denial is the most common factor just like it is with other kinds of addictions.

People who are chronic overspenders can place the blame for their financial woes on someone else. 

The overspending addict may blame their partner for poor money management, their children for having material needs, their boss for expecting them to look good for work despite the fact that wearing designer clothing every season is not actually a workplace requirement, or they may blame their perceived enemies for frustrating them to the point where they need "retail therapy." They may, also, blame themselves.

If it goes unchecked, overspending will definitely drain the finances leaving them in a bad state. Before getting on this slope, one should consider getting help to address the problem.

Economic Hardship

People with addiction problems affecting their money can blame circumstances outside of their control. Someone with an addiction will most probably rationalise their actions since they fail to acknowledge the problem.

This ends up hurting their finances in the long run which could end up leaving them financially in debt or exposed.

Addictions are expensive to sustain.

People with addictions often spend all or a significantly huge proportion of their money on the substances they require to get high or their addictive behaviours like gambling and eating

Addictions may lead to the inability to retain a job which may cause the person to get in debt, be rendered homeless or without food.

Also, families end up taking on financial responsibilities for an addicted family member including legal problems in case they get into problems.

Broken Families

Drug addictions tend to be a big contributor to breaking homes. A study published in the Social Work in Public Health Journal, shows that addictions “negatively affect emotional and behavioural patterns from the inception of the family, resulting in poor outcomes for the children and adults.”

This shows that addictions do not only affect the individual but they can also wreck homes and future generations.

According to Peace Valley Recovery, an outpatient addiction treatment centre in Pennsylvania, addiction has an impact on the entire family. As a result, everything from relationships to income to safety is in jeopardy. The impacts vary depending on who has the problem in the family.

Children who have a parent who struggles with substance abuse, for example, have less resources available to them as they grow up. Parents who have children who are substance abusers, on the other hand, face a unique set of challenges. 

In addition, children who have a sibling with an addiction face their own set of challenges especially when a lot of attention is spent on caring for the afflicted sibling. 

According to Peace Valley Recovery, they may experience emotions such as confusion, frustration, shame and resentment. Spouses of addicts may bear the biggest burden, both financially and psychologically.

Financial Neglect

People's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and difficult to manage as their addiction progresses.

The increased likelihood of abuse is one of the most devastating consequences of addiction for the entire family. An addict's family members are more likely to suffer violence at their hands. Abuse perpetrated by an addict can range from emotional to physical, and sexual. All these end up requiring finances to remedy in case therapy or isolation is needed. For the addict, the heightened likelihood of committing a domestic crime may eventually lead to total loss of income through incarceration. 

While the immediate costs of drug and alcohol abuse are quite obvious for instance, there are many more hidden expenses that can eat away at your finances over time. 

A lack of motivation is a common symptom of an addiction because of how the brain's reward system is hijacked by an addiction. If you're an alcoholic or a drug addict, your brain doesn't reward you for performing simple things like completing a task or achieving an objective (for example, paying rent, finding a job, saving up for a desired vacation). 

Addiction can make it difficult to stay on top of financial commitments, and as a result, those who struggle with the challenge often find themselves saddled with penalties and other unforeseen expenses.

Other Costly Health Problems

Chronic addictions can also lead to a slew of other health issues. In the absence of a plan for recovery, patients may find themselves hospitalised with up to and including terminal illnesses that their non-addicted peers would be less susceptible to. 

In addition to the high cost of treating addiction-related medical problems, other health issues that might arise will be typically expensive to treat which leads to the diversion of finances.

Worse still, it is possible that your insurance provider may not provide coverage for addiction treatment or addiction-induced illnesses, severely complicating the chances of recovery. 


There are many routes to addiction; it could be through innocent experimentation with alcohol, drugs or cigarettes in your teens or early adulthood, as a result of trauma, genetic predisposition or a more benign process of repeated exposure that teaches your brain to reward certain behaviours. 

It is absolutely important that you learn the signs of addiction and take the necessary steps to prevent progression if you are not already addicted. 

If you are already addicted, whether through a formal diagnosis or self determination, you have to seek professional help to unshackle yourself from that which will surely wreak havoc on your finances. 

As important, is to provide support to siblings, spouses, friends, family and colleagues who may be exhibiting signs of addiction and help them through the recovery process. 

No items found.

Njenga has over 8 years experience in multimedia and business journalism both as a writer, editor and producer. He has over 5 years of experience in radio broadcasting as a news reader, reporter and presenter. He is also a 2012 Earth Journalism Network-EJN Fellow.

Get the Money254 App and don't miss out on the next article.

Join 1.5M Kenyans using Money254 to find better loans, savings accounts, and money tips today.

Get it on Google Play
A person holds the Money254 App in their hand.

Welcome to Money254 - your simple way to compare loans in Kenya online.

Money 254 is a new platform focused on helping you make more out of the money you have. We've created a simple, fast and secure way to find and compare financial products that best match your needs. All of the information shown is from products available at established financial institutions that our team of experts has tirelessly collected.

Download the new Money254 App and don’t miss out on the next article.

Join 1.5M Kenyans using Money254 to find better loans, savings accounts, and money tips today.
Get it on Google Play

Learn more about Personal Loans available in Kenya on Money254

Money 254 is a new platform focused on helping you make more out of the money you have. We've created a simple, fast and secure way to find and compare financial products that best match your needs. All of the information shown is from products available at established financial institutions that our team of experts has tirelessly collected.

Instantly search loan products from established providers in Kenya and compare on the terms that matter most to you.
Find the best Personal Loans for me

Don't miss another article - download the new Money254 App Today

Get it on Google Play
Download the Money254 app on Google Playstore

Sign up for our newsletter and get weekly money tips to your inbox.

Get updates from the Money254 team on financial news and new Money254 features.