Paying the Price of Addiction
If you’re someone who’s using drugs, you probably looked at the above title, shook your head, and mumbled something like, “Yeah, this drug or alcohol addiction is really hard on me. It’s tearing me up.” The thing is, because you keep focusing on yourself and your addiction, you never really take the time to recognize the costs that you are putting on your family.
If you are reading this because someone you love uses drugs or alcohol, then keep reading for some good advice on protecting yourself.
To the Family: At some point the addict notices that whenever he’s at a family function, the women’s purses mysteriously disappear. If anybody gets out a few bucks to send someone on a run to the store, the change upon return is immediately pocketed, with nothing left lying around. That’s because addicts become notoriously good at scooping up any money they see that’s not nailed down, and they never think twice about performing the five-finger discount on mom or grandma’s pocketbook.
To the Addict: So yes, if you’re the addict, it’s true that your friends and relatives have begun to feel uncomfortable around you because they know their money isn’t safe. And it’s also a pretty good bet that you never offer to treat anyone at restaurant outings because you can’t afford it. The only person you can afford to spend money on is yourself—and your addiction.
To the Family: You can expect the addict to become preoccupied with sitting down in front of the computer and getting to the logon screen for websites where you have bank accounts or carry lines of credit. He’ll randomly input possible passwords to see if he can get into the account, until Bingo! He’s in, and you’re out of money. Checking, savings, retirement funds, they all vanish under the nimble fingers of the person desperate from his drug or alcohol addiction. Change your passwords, and don’t use numbers like your birthdate or your street address that are easy to remember. If you and the addict own financial accounts jointly, remove the bulk of the money into an account that only you can access. If the addict is your spouse, put the funds into a trust account so that nobody can accuse you of hoarding joint assets. And if your TV set comes up missing, guess who took it.
To the Addict: Just so you know, you can be prosecuted for hacking into people’s accounts. It may not even be your loved one’s choice; the bank’s insurance company may insist upon prosecution.
To the Family: Addiction costs plenty. Forget about the loss of money when the addict begins stealing from your purse or taking money from your bank accounts. The real spending begins when society starts holding the addict accountable, for DUIs or theft related to addiction. We have known families that spent their children’s entire educational funds and their total retirement accounts, and then mortgaged their homes, to pay for legal help. Do you have an income tax refund coming to you—or how about that quarterly bonus? Forget about it, because once the addict gets arrested for his first DUI, you’ll be shelling out about ten thousand big ones just to get him off.
To the Addict: How do you like reading about yourself this way? The truth is, your addiction is hard on you, but it also tears up the people around you. Whether or not they have any guilt about the way you feel or how you got to this point, you cannot keep going on like this. It’s time to pick up the phone and find out what you can do to get into treatment, on your own and before you get arrested, and put an end to the cycle of addiction, once and for all.