Debt and Addiction: Addiction Awareness Week

This week has been Addiction Awareness Week and, although you may not realise it, addiction and debt can unfortunately go hand in hand. Here, we explore the relationships between debt and addiction and how to break the cycle.

What Is Addiction Awareness Week?

Addiction Awareness Week is an annual event run by Action Addiction. The aim is to ‘shine a light on the complex causes of addiction and challenge the stigma surrounding it.

This year, they are looking at why addiction awareness matters and ‘how tackling stigma and misunderstanding will help more people and families access the help they need’ (Action Addiction).

With this in mind, we’re taking a look at the connection between debt and addiction and how we can better understand this to break the cycle.

What Is The Connection Between Addiction and Debt?

Addiction can take many forms with each impacting on our finances. Likewise, debt can push us into addiction or cause unhealthy habits. In fact, according to 61% of respondents in a recent YouGov poll, the cost of living crisis is said to be the most significant trigger for anxiety, stress, and trauma by those reporting addiction relapse.

Here, we take a look at some of the most common addictions and how they are related to our financial health.


While this may seem an obvious one, gambling can have more of a detrimental effect on our finances than we may think.

According to a survey conducted by Gamble Aware, ‘one in ten women who gamble (12%) have already reported they turned to gambling to try and supplement household income and one in five (21%) have experienced health challenges such as stress and anxiety.’

As the cost of living crisis is set to worsen over the winter months, experts are concerned that problem gambling could also rise. And, while gambling may seem like a quick fix to supplement household income it can leave your finances in a far worse state, as such increasing stress and anxiety and continuing the cycle.

For more information on gambling debts and resources to help with problem gambling, head to our gambling debts guide.


The average UK household spends £14.10 per week on alcohol, tobacco and other narcotics, according to the ONS. While this may not seem a significant amount, over time it can add up and lead to significant financial problems.

Likewise, being in debt can cause dependency on alcohol and other substances as people look to cope with the stress and anxiety brought about by financial hardship. In fact, according to the aforementioned YouGov poll, ‘6% of respondents – equating to 2.1 million people, have increased the amount that they are drinking since the cost-of-living crisis began’.

This demonstrates the vicious cycle between alcohol addiction, mental health issues and debt, with one feeding the other.

Drinkaware have a range of resources that can help you with either cutting down your alcohol intake or with stopping alcohol altogether, along with knowing your drinking habits constitute a problem.

Shopping addiction

UK Addiction Treatment Centres estimate ‘that there are between 200,000 and 350,000 shopping addicts in the UK.’ As with the aforementioned addictions, shopping addictions can be both the cause and symptom of mental health problems with people buying often unnecessary purchases to deal with life’s uncertainties or stresses. Understandably, this can lead to overspending and debt. And, with the rise in Buy Now, Pay Later solutions, this problem is only growing with many using schemes such as Klarna to feed shopping addictions all the while struggling with the repayments of such schemes.

Head to Mind for information and support on money and mental health.

Why do we need to talk about addiction and debt?

It is clear that there is a strong link between addiction, debt and indeed our mental and physical health. But, due to long-standing stigma around addiction many are afraid to speak up about their problems, even to close family or friends.

By raising awareness of the connection between debt and addiction, we hope to break down this stigma, something that will be a lifeline to many in the cost of living crisis.

For help and advice on how to start conversations about debt with family head to our previous Talk Money blog. Or, head to the Addiction Awareness website for an array of resources and advice on addiction.

Alternatively, if you are struggling with debt as a consequence of addiction, use our online tool to get free online debt advice that can help you get back on track.

Don’t have an account with us and are looking for debt advice?

Angel Advance provides online debt advice to get you back on track and make your finances more manageable.

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