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The impact of addiction

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you. Addiction is usually associated with alcohol, smoking, gambling and drugs but some people think you can be addicted to pretty much anything including work, your smart phone, being online and shopping.

How do I know if I have an addiction?

Just because we do something frequently, doesn’t mean we are addicted. The line between habits, having fun and being addicted are not clear cut. It can be difficult to know if you are addicted to something, particularly if you don’t want to stop doing it. If you are worried that you might be addicted to something, or if you know you have an addiction and want to stop, you can find out more on the NHS website here


Impact on finances

Most addictions have an impact on finances. This is felt even more keenly when you don’t have enough to make ends meet. Getting free of an addiction takes time and commitment. If you know that you are going to continue with your addictive behaviour make sure you include its costs into your budget so that you are more in control of what you are spending. For example, if you don’t want to stop smoking make sure you build the costs of cigarettes into your spending plan. See the section on managing your money here


Types of addiction and sources of help

Gambling can feel like an easy way to get out of a difficult money situation but can easily perpetuate the problem. If you think you might have a problem with gambling you can try  this quiz at the be gambling aware website

Many of us use retail therapy as a way of treating ourselves. Sometimes it can get out of control, and this is called shopping addiction or Compulsive Buying Disorder. You can speak to your GP if you think your shopping is out of control to see if there are local services able to help.

For help with substance and alcohol abuse see the NHS information here with links to other useful websites

For help to stop smoking you could try the NHS quit smoking website

For other national services, try this list at Mind’s website

Locally there a number of organisations who can help with addiction. Visit out service directory to find somewhere near to you



We can all struggle to throw things away. When someone keeps lots and lots of clutter in a disordered way it is sometimes called hoarding disorder.  More information can be found at the NHS website here and at Hoarding UK, whose website can be found here

The Recovery College run a course to help people overcome their hoarding. More information on their courses is available here

Hoarding can make fires more likely, and escape harder. For tips on keeping safe  see the Cambridgeshire fire service web page here