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Do You Struggle With Debt Addiction?

Do You Struggle With Debt Addiction?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

For many of us, our personal struggles reveal themselves in all aspects of our life, especially our finances. It may seem easier at the moment to ignore your money problems, but over time, mounting debt can lead to severe consequences…

A common result is debt addiction. Debt Addiction is more than compulsive shopping. A person with debt addiction uses debt as a crutch to solve their personal and financial problems. They hardly make a plan for getting out of the debt. Signs of debt addiction include living paycheck to paycheck and never planning for the future. Someone who struggles with debt addiction is always in a financial crisis, yet never manages to take care of themselves enough to pay off creditors.

There are a variety of signs of debt addiction.  Chances are, if you struggle with money, you already know that you do. It is easy to lose track of finances, even for the non-addict. However, when years or even decades past and no change has happened, that is a major sign that you have a debt addiction that needs addressing.

It can be confusing to understand debt addiction. After all, many people are in credit card debt or struggle with finances. Not everyone is a debt addict though. There is a difference between using your credit card because you have to, and using your credit card because you are angry, emotional or going through a rough time. Debt addiction is more of a mental issue than anything else. Often there is a mentality of “What does it matter if I put more on my card? I do not care about my balances, and I am going to ignore it.”

Those with debt addiction use debt as a way to avoid acknowledging that they do not have the money to provide for themselves or their desired lifestyle. Instead, they increase their debt and continue to ignore the problem. The good news is that there are ways to overcome debt addiction.

The first step is acknowledging you have a problem. I know, that may sound cliché, but it is true. There are groups like Debtors Anonymous, which is a 12-step fellowship group for those who struggle with debt addiction. Just by looking on the DA website, there is a long list of questions readers can ask themselves before going to a meeting.

Some of these questions include:

  • Are your debts making your home life unhappy?
  • Does the pressure of your debts distract you from your daily work?
  • Are your debts affecting your reputation?
  • Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself?
  • Do you ever fear that your employer, family or friends will learn the extent of your total indebtedness?
  • When faced with a difficult financial situation, does the prospect of borrowing give you an inordinate feeling of relief?
  • Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to consider getting drunk?
  • Do you usually expect a negative response when you are subject to a credit investigation?
  • Have you ever developed a strict regimen for paying off your debts, only to break it under pressure?

More questions are found on the website, but those are some that stood out as  clear signs of debt addiction.  It is important to develop an action plan to deal with the debt. Facing the amount of debt you have is a big step to acknowledging the role you played in digging that financial hole.

Here are the four steps that can help you move forward:

  1. Make an inventory of your debt.
    Track the interest rates and total balance on everything you owe. You can also pull a free credit report to ensure everything is counted.
  2. Stop running new debt.
    If you can, stop using all credit cards. Make a budget that includes paying at least the minimal payment on all credit cards. You will also need to consider your needs seriously from you wants. That means fancy hair appointments and manicures may have to go. Only consider you daily necessities. Also, call your creditors and ask for help.
  3. Free up more cash to pay down debt.
    If your debt has become overwhelming, it is time to reevaluate your lifestyle and make some serious changes. You may have to consider living in a smaller home, driving an older car, reducing your utility bills. Do not think of it as a punishment. It is an investment in your future. Think of the freedom you will have when you no longer have to be burdened by debt.
  4. Consider Bankruptcy.
    Bankruptcy is a serious decision that should be discussed with a professional. However, if you are already cutting everything down to the bone, and still overwhelmed, bankruptcy may be an option for you. Bankruptcy could be looked at like an investment in your future. Still, it should not be considered lightly. Consider all other options first.
  5. Get support.
    There are so many people out there who have been in the same scenario as you. Search engines are your friend. Check out the many websites and blogs from others who are getting out of debt. Join Debtors Anonymous to have a support group that can keep you accountable. Talk to others about your struggle. You never know who might be willing to help. Stay focused and remember you are not alone.

Debt could be the one major thing keeping you from living life in recovery to the fullest. Instead of getting deeper into debt, you should focus on getting out of it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

 

Five Common Behavioral Addictions You Should Know

Five Common Behavioral Addictions You Should Know

Author: Shernide Delva

When most people think of the word “addict,” they usually think of drugs or alcohol. However, addiction does not just limit itself to substances. In fact, more people than ever suffer from some form of behavioral addiction. Also, many who recover from substance abuse find themselves replacing their drug addiction with addictive compulsive behaviors.

That’s why it is important to recognize the signs of a behavioral addiction. Since most behavioral addictions are activities healthy people engage in, it can be hard to admit that this behavior is becoming a problem. However, if you find a behavior hinders you from going further in your life, you may have a behavioral addiction to address.

Here are five common behavioral addictions:  

  1. Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is an addiction that closely resembles drug and alcohol addiction in the brain. Studies show that gambling addictions light up the same areas of the brain as drug addictions. There are many treatment facilities for gambling disorders that utilize the same therapy used for drug and alcohol abuse. While occasional gambling can be fun, in excess, gambling can result in some serious consequences.

So what causes a gambling addiction? It depends. Some people begin gambling out of desperation for money. In the past, they may have won a large sum of money and find themselves seeking that big win over and over again to achieve the same financial gain.  Unfortunately, when it comes to gambling, losing is going to happen eventually. Therefore, they find themselves losing more money than they ever imagined and causing damage to their family and themselves.

Others gamble to achieve a high. Gambling has a major social reputation and the lifestyle Is all about the thrills and the high. It can be difficult for some not to get addicted to the entertaining luring atmosphere of the mainstream gambling scene. However, once addicted, breaking this cycle of gambling becomes a struggle. By the time a gambler wins, they have already lost so much money that it is not enough to cover their losses. Therefore, the cycle just keeps on going.

Signs of Gambling include:

  • Gambling when financially unstable
  • Family and friends concerned about gambling
  • Needing to be secretive to gamble
  • Trouble monitoring and controlling your gambling

If this sounds like you, you may have a gambling addiction to address.

  1. Sex Addiction

In the media, we hear about celebrities going to rehab for sex addiction. Is this addiction really real? Sex addiction is one of the most controversial ones out there. The symptoms of sex addiction vary and include loss of control and disregard for risk and consequences. Hypersexual activity is not limited to just having sex.  The diagnosis of sexual addiction can apply to individuals who use excessive masturbation, pornography or sexual behaviors to escape emotional distress. Shame and embarrassment about their behaviors is another sign of sexual addiction.

For many sex addiction is a real thing and does impact their life in a negative way.  While sex addiction is not formally classified as an addiction by the American Psychological Association (APA), there are treatments for it.  Programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous and therapy can help addicts understand and overcome their problem.

  1. Internet Addiction

The society we live in now is based around the internet. However, it is possible to be too plugged in. Some people escape reality through the excessive use of the online world. It can be a problem for people when it affects their work and home life. Those who spend the majority of their day online even show small changes in their brain from their excessive internet use.  Studies suggest that compulsive Internet use affects 6 to 14 percent of Internet users.

Those who struggle with internet addiction have emotional symptoms like guilt, anxiety and depression. They may find it impossible to keep up with scheduled obligations and eventually find themselves in isolation than out with others.  There are also physical symptoms from using the internet all day such as backaches, weight gain/loss or carpal tunnel syndrome. Internet addiction affects people in a variety of ways, and a combination of treatment including therapy may be helpful.

  1. Exercise Addiction

Too much exercise can be a bad thing. I know most of us do not get enough of it, but some people do take exercise to the next level. People with exercise addiction find they have a compulsive disorder that compels them to exercise excessively. Simply loving to work out is not enough to be an exercise addict.

A person with exercise addiction finds that exercise takes over their life. This disorder is also called anorexia athletica or obligatory exercise. The person feels they must exercise a certain amount of times per day and feels guilty when they are unable to fulfill their commitments.

Often, addicts will turn to exercise as a healthy way of recovering. Exercise releases endorphins which are happy chemicals that help boost the mood. That is where the term “runner’s high” originates. Exercise in moderation can be very healthy but in excess can do more harm than good.

  1. Spending Addiction

Everyone loves to buy nice things occasionally. However, those who struggle with spending addiction can not help themselves. Shopping addiction is more common among women than men. However, men are known to struggle with spending addiction too, usually in different ways. Overspending and overshopping is now being considered for inclusion as a real addiction in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Symptoms of Spending Addiction are:

  • Spending more than you can afford
  • Shopping as a reaction to feeling angry or depressed
  • Harming relationships due to spending or shopping too much
  • Losing control of the shopping behavior
  • Going out excessively and overspending to gain approval and self-worth
  • Periods of mood alteration such as feeling “high” while engaging in this behavior
  • Continuing behavior despite negative consequences
  • Feeling discomfort when abstaining from behavior followed by binges of the same behavior.

If left untreated, overspending can result in serious financial and emotional consequences. Relationships can be tarnished, and debt will increase. There are support groups that teach better spending habits, and behavioral therapies have shown to be useful in helping people overcome this addiction.

Overall, not all addictions meet the classically known definition of addiction, but they all share similar psychological and social consequences. Therefore, these addictions do respond well to most traditional forms of addiction treatment. If your addiction falls outside the box, do not fear seeking help. We can help you overcome whatever is holding you back.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Should Homeless Shelters Require Sobriety?

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Author: Shernide Delva

The complexity around homelessness and alcoholism is one that most people choose to ignore. It is easier to ignore the drunken panhandler on the street than consider the possible solutions to reduce the problem. However, for cities that struggle with a large homeless population, advocates fight for policies that will allow the homeless population to seek shelter despite their struggles with alcoholism. The question is, should homeless shelters require sobriety?

While there are people who want to help the homeless population, there are difficulties in helping people in these situations. Policies in communities around how homeless alcoholics are treated and housed in the community have long caused controversy Even if a homeless shelter caseworker can get a housing voucher for an individual; they have to find a landlord who is willing to rent to a street alcoholic. The reality is, according to surveys,  38% of homeless people abuse alcohol while 26% regularly use other drugs. These statistics confirm that drug addiction among the homeless population is significantly higher than the general population.

Let’s say a homeless person acquires access to a homeless shelter. At the shelter, there are very limited support services to help the client adapt and adjust to their new environment. Their alcoholism is rarely addressed nor is the psychological needs of the individual. As a result, they are often evicted which starts the cycle of homelessness all over again.

Whether or not homeless addicts should have access to resources is a complicated problem and no one is entirely at fault. On one hand, a homeless person with substance abuse problems could be a liability to those around them and the staff. On the other hand, this issue must be addressed because some cities spend tens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through crisis services who take care of this population.

But is it Enabling ?

Some feel that homeless people who are under the influence should not be allowed to reside in a homeless shelter or have access to government assistance. They believe that allowing access to these resources could be enabling the person to continue using. After all, if they have access to these facilities while using, why stop? This is the exact reason why numerous shelters do not allow anyone who is under the influence of alcohol (at all) to stay. The thought has always remained to demand abstinence. Anything else just encourages the behaviors.

Other disagrees and offers other solutions. Bob Fowler is the executive director of the Milestone foundation. The facility has been operating out of Portland, Maine since 1967. Fowler believes that providing resources to people in need are better than denying them access at all. Sometimes harm reduction is a goal worth fighting for.

“For me, this is a basic harm reduction approach. The people we serve are dealing with drug and alcohol addiction as well as homelessness. Depriving shelter to these individuals won’t do a thing to help the addiction. Engagement and compassion, on the other hand, just might,” Fowler said in a recent interview.

There are two sides to every argument, and Fowler’s point of view does make sense. Perhaps housing concerns should be addressed before anything else. Instead of a person attempting sobriety before fixing the rest of their life, in this case, it may be better to provide resources prior to achieving sobriety. Finding homeless people a place to live first may provide them with the support they need to tackle their health concerns later. It provides a healthier existence, which could result in them choosing to drink less on their own.

This is an issue that will continue to raise controversy. In the same ways that harm reduction methods for drug addiction continue to raise controversy. Just recently, states like New York has implemented safe injection facilities that some argue are enabling people, rather than helping them in life after sobriety.

Still, there is something to be said about harm reduction programs. If anything, options like this need to be considered. The rates of overdoses continue to soar. If there is a way of reducing these numbers, it should be brought to the table. Options like these can at least be part of the solution. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

11 Signs of Depression

11 Signs of Depression

Author: Justin Mckibben

For anyone who has experienced depression, there is a noticeable difference between that deep and sometimes manic emotion and a rational sadness. Depression is a mood disorder that most people know to be characterized by extreme fits of melancholy, grief or despair. Depression can range from moderate to severe, and can make a definite impact on the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Typically people with severe depression find it almost impossible to go about their day to day activities, or to find any measure of joy. Many times people with depression will feel like life is not worth living, and thoughts of suicide may persist as well.

Recently studies have suggested there are new ways that depression can be indicated in a person’s blood. However these studies have yet to be completely proven. Today many people will go on living with depression without ever knowing they have it. Although I am no doctor and therefor have no authority or expertise, many people get it wrong and there are several types of depression with different details to them, here are at least 11 signs of depression that are commonly used to narrow it down today.

#1. Helplessness and Hopelessness

Having a more negative or miserable outlook is one common indicator of some kind of depression. The mind-state that nothing will ever get better and there is now way of improving your life or your situation is a familiar feeling for those experiencing depression.

#2. Loss of Interest

Taking no kind of interest things on a daily basis that you usually would can be a sign of depression. Someone who takes no pleasure in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or even sex can be showing signs of depression that are suppressing.

#3. Weight and Appetite

Someone’s eating habits and weight shifting drastically is another sign of depression, Significant weight loss or weight gain, specifically a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month, is a serious change that should be noted.

#4. Sleeping Habits

The nature of an individual’s sleeping habits is a sign of depression as well. Insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning can be one indicator, the other being hypersomnia, which is basically oversleeping.

#5. Anger or Irritability

When a person is constantly feeling agitated, restless, or even violent and expressing that regularly to those around them, they may have some level of depression whether they are able to identify the emotion or not. When the tolerance level is low, or the temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves, you may be in a state of depression you are not yet too familiar with or you find it harder to identify with your depression.

#6. Lack of Energy

This kind of goes along with the sleeping habits, and/or the loss of interest. But you may still have interests and may sleep just fine, but you still feel fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained sometimes. Your whole body may even feel heavy, and small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete. The utter lacking of energy is a common symptom of depression.

#7. Self-loathing

People who are severely depressed can sometimes make a habit of beating themselves up about everything. Experiencing strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt, depression can make a person turn against themselves much more than the outside world. When someone harshly criticizes themselves for perceived faults and mistakes, a self-loathing attitude often leads to depression.

#8. Reckless behavior

So people with depression commonly resort to substance abuse and end up with some sort of addiction. This escapist behavior can also include compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports. Maybe they simply crave the adrenaline and stimulation to feel better, but either way obsessing over dangerous behavior can be a sign of depression.

#9. Trouble Concentrating

Depressed people quite often have some trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things. It can be that someone who is depressed finds it hard to listen and retain information in class, or they could find it too troubling to focus and decipher information to where they can make better choices.

#10. Unexplained aches and pains

An individual who is suffering from depression will probably experience a real increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain. Some forms of depression are accompanied and exaggerated by migraines.

#11. Thoughts of Suicide

Now not everyone who experiences depression may feel conflicted with thoughts of suicide. Many people who suffer from depression do however, and in many cases individuals with depression will make attempts to take their own lives. This is often a result of the hopelessness and despair they feel.

Hope for the Hopeless

Luckily the symptoms of depression are very treatable even in the most severe cases. The sooner a person can be treated for their depression the better off they will be. Studies show that the sooner treatment for depression is sought the less likely depression is to occur. Depression can be treated with a number of different therapies including medications and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy, and is meant to increase the person’s sense of well-being and to reduce their discomfort. Depression does not have to control or ruin a person’s life.

These signs of depression again are not a completed diagnosis because this mood disorder is very difficult to reduce to a simple synopsis, especially considering the different kinds of depression. Although depression can feel overwhelming and relentless, there is always a solution to be found and the sooner treatment for depression is sought, the sooner further risks like risks of suicide can be avoided. If your loved one is struggling with depression and substance abuse or drug addiction please call toll-free 1- 800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone!

Are You Addicted to Your Misery?

Are You Addicted to Your Misery?

Are you all about the ‘frowny face’? Sometimes people become obsessed with their sadness, and any obstacle or excuse they can find not to change it. Misery can be addictive, after all misery loves company right? Addicts and alcoholics especially are prone to cling to their sad stories or fury in order to stay under their cloud of despair. Depression is a mess we can allow ourselves to get stuck in, or even seek out because it is what makes sense to us. We can get so used to being sick and lonely, sad or angry, that we stop thinking about feeling any other way. Or we can self-sabotage on a regular basis because of self-esteem, guilt, regret, or fear.

Addicts and alcoholics can sometimes be more prone to hold onto their misery based on resentments or what I like to call ‘excuses’ to stay in active addiction and alcoholism. I know personally I have several stories and experiences I used to lean on and obsess over secretly inside to keep the destructive behavior going. It can get to the point where our lives are actually pretty stable, but all our trauma and tribulations are self-inflicted.

The following is a list of habits and behaviors that are consistent with a mind state focused on an addiction to misery.

  1. Self-sabotaging relationships, school, work and other positive opportunities and events.
  2. Avoiding feeling or experiencing life to the fullest.
  3. Getting constantly distracted from the thing most important to you.
  4. Commonly find or create negativity out of positive situations.
  5. Blocking positive momentum in life progression.
  6. Fearing to feel too good, too happy too successful.
  7. Procrastinating frequently.
  8. Very indecisive.
  9. Uncertain how you feel about people, placing or things.
  10. Ignoring your goals and aspirations.
  11. Feeling like you never get a break
  12. Feeling incompetent and unworthy.
  13. Difficulty with changing behaviors despite of repeated negative consequences.
  14. Impulsively act on assumptions instead of relying on the facts.
  15. Resistance to change.
  16. Getting obsessed with the details and ignoring the big picture.
  17. Refusing to take necessary medications.
  18. Habitually isolating.
  19. Difficulties with asking for help or accept help whenever it is offered.
  20. Pushing away or rejecting the people who care the most about you.
  21. Sacrificing your own desires and well-being for those of others around you.
  22. Attraction to people who you’re aware are unavailable.
  23. You rarely feel like you can fit in or belong anywhere.
  24. Desiring a closer more intimate relationship but avoid the intimacy that ‘closeness’ requires.
  25. Oh yeah….and easily afflicted with substance abuse issues or behavioral disorders.

These are many ways that you can consider yourself as showing signs of having an attitude of addiction towards your own misery. Misery can be bitter sweet, because it does provide a certain kind of fulfillment to some basic subconscious human needs, like the need for uncertainty or variety. It can also make us feel more significant, or misery gives us the leverage to throw our own pity parties to get support and compassion from others.

For an addict or alcoholic like me, it is easy to sit in misery because it was my most natural alibi for my self-destructive behavior. I had so many excuses because deep down part of me actually thrived off of being sad or angry because it was comfortable. However once I found ways to transmute these same sad stories and ‘frowny faces’ into inspirations, and I was able to let go of the negative ego that was attached to resentments or feeling sorry for myself my recovery thrived. I found myself happier in sobriety than I had ever expected would be possible for me, and I actually enjoyed facing the gloomier emotions from a perspective of learning from them instead of giving in to them. Staying in my misery was much harder than allowing myself to embrace letting go and being happy.

 

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

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