Go back to the Financial Wellbeing Hub

Practical ways to help deal with addictions

Dealing with problem debt can make it hard to focus on dealing with an addiction. We help people every day who are going through these situations and it’s important for you to know you’re not alone, there are people who can help.

We know that the decision to gamble, drink or take drugs can be an impulsive one. Addictions can become patterns of behaviour that seem impossible to break out of. As well as impacting health and relationships, they can massively drain your financial resources.

You may find your hard-earned cash going towards paying for an addiction, rather than being able to save or pay off debts. They can also lead you to borrow more money that you can afford to repay.

What is addiction?

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.

Although it’s most associated with the topics we’re covering on this page – gambling, drugs and alcohol – you can be addicted to just about anything. Ever met a workaholic, shopaholic or someone who can’t put their phone down?

There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. They can affect the way you feel, mentally or physically. Stopping or withdrawing can be unpleasant, so it’s often easier to carry on having or doing what you crave. And the cycle of addiction continues.

How to spot the signs of addiction

Addictions and addictive behaviours can lead to breakdown of relationships, reduced work performance, poor physical health and money problems. According to the priory, signs of addiction are split into psychological, behavioural and physical.

debt and addiction  Psychological symptoms of addictions:

  • Agitation, mood swings or increased temper
  • Tiredness or inability to focus or concentrate
  • Paranoia, defensiveness or feelings of hopelessness
  • Poor judgement or memory problems
  • Diminished self-esteem and self-worth
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or stress

debt and addiction  Behavioural and social signs of addictions:

  • Secretive or dishonest behaviour
  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work or school
  • Withdrawing from responsibility and socialising
  • Losing interest in activities, hobbies or events that were once important to you
  • Continuing to use the substance, or engage in certain behaviours, despite the negative consequences that these cause
  • Trying but failing to reduce or stop misusing a substance, or engaging in certain behaviours

debt and addiction  Physical symptoms of addictions:

  • Lack of concern over physical appearance/personal hygiene
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia

Gambling blocks

If gambling is negatively affecting you or someone close to you, there’s hope. We work closely with GamCare who have developed a practical gambling toolkit to help you take back control.

The toolkit talks you through four blocks, which are: 

Gambling and debt toolkit

Depending on your relationship with gambling, you may need one or a combination of the tools. And, we know that the more friction you have in place between you and gambling, the more successful you will be at controlling it. Head over to the gambling toolkit to take control of your gambling and put the blocks in place.

Where to go for support with addiction

If you are suffering from an addiction and are in debt, then it’s important that you seek help for both. We know it may feel like you need to deal with these issues individually, but they are often closely linked.

We work closely with the organisations below to signpost you and make sure you’re getting the help that you need. Get in touch with them today for confidential help and advice.


  • Adfam supports groups for families affected by drugs and alcohol
  • We are with you free, confidential support with alcohol, drugs or mental health from one of their local services or online


  • Alcoholics Anonymous holds regular group meetings and a helpline service, including for recovering addicts to support one another. Call 0800 9177 650
  • Al-Anon support for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Call 020 7403 0888
  • Drinkline – free confidential help for people concerned about their drinking or someone else’s. They can put you in touch with counselling services, but they do not offer it themselves. Call 0300 123 1110


  • Narcotics Anonymous regular group meetings and a helpline service, including recovering addicts.
  • Nar-Anon support for people who have been affected by someone else’s drug use.
  • Talk to Frank confidential and anonymous help by phone, text, email and live chat.


  • GamCare help for anyone affected by problem gambling.
  • National Problem Gambling Clinic – the UK’s only specialist NHS clinic for working with and treating gamblers, call on 020 7381 7722
  • Gamblers Anonymous – face-to-face and online meetings where people with addiction can support one another
  • Gam-Anon – support for people who have been affected by someone else’s gambling

Frequently asked questions on debt and addiction

1. I’m in debt and I have an addiction, what should I do?

f you’re struggling with debt and addiction, then it’s important that you deal with both. Because they’re often linked, it’s likely that the more progress you make with one, the easier the other will be. At PayPlan, we help people with debt who have addictions every day. Our expert advisers can help – we’re confidential, impartial and we’ll never judge you. We recommend you get expert help to deal with your addiction. Your GP is often a good place to start, or you can contact one of the above organisations.

2. How can I help a family member with addiction?

There are dedicated organisations that can offer advice and support about addiction to friends and family. For instance, Gam Anon, Nar Anon, Al-Anon, Frank and Drinkline can all help. They may also be able to direct you to services locally to support you further.

3. Can I overcome my gambling addiction?

Gambling, like many addictions, is a complex problem. Therefore, it doesn’t have a simple, catch-all solution. But organisations like GamCare are leading the way in making it easier for you to put blocks in place between you and problem gambling.

A lot of banks and card providers now give you the options to block gambling spending. You can also use dedicated blocking software and self-exclusions from all types of gambling – either physical or online. Have a look at the gambling toolkit for gambling blocks and organisations that can help.

Need help managing your money? Use our online debt tool to find out your options

GET STARTED NOW 100% secure and confidential