You may think making the jump from addiction being a mind, body and spirit disease to money being an addiction is a stretch, but really it isn’t. The current money crisis in the United States gives us some clues about money addiction. Yes, it is on a rather large scale, but I contend it is addiction nonetheless. And, while I don’t proclaim to be an economist, I do know a thing or two about addiction.
Let me explain: Let’s look at some definitions and comparisons. Like alcoholism, money addiction can be chronic, progressive and incurable and is characterized by loss of control of debt and/or spending….hmmmm. Does this sound familiar in terms of the American Economy and our spending habits as a country? It has gotten progressively worse, our debting as a nation appears to be progressing and perhaps we are near the fatal stage. Apparently, we didn’t learn our lesson from the savings and loan problems in the 90’s; Enron took it up a notch and now we are told that we are in the ultimate crisis/panic mode on Wall Street.
Ok, now, stay with me. Let’s look at a definition of financial compulsivity (or money addiction) as being a dependence on compulsive behaviors centering around money that is so strong it may appear that the person (or in this case institutions) may be unable to break away from the dependence. The behavior causes problems in the person’s (or institution’s) life (e.g. family, work, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, legal, etc.) Beginning to strike a chord?
Compulsive debtors cannot live within their means…..can our government? can our financial institutions? Is our country’s financial problem causing us problems? Are we as a country unable to stop spending more than we have?
Ok, so, what would constitute money addiction? With alcoholism, for instance, there is a course, an outcome, and a prognosis to the disease. When looking at America’s financial problem today would you say there has been a course? Are we in early, middle or late stage debting addiction? What is the prognosis?You decide……
As stated in my last blog, dependence is a brain dysregulation in the neurotransmitter system. How does this idea fit with our money ills? Compulsive spenders/debtors are addicted at times to the highs and lows. It’s a high when they get the new $10000 credit card limit..They feel relief – ahhh! problem solved! However, they hit a low when they reach their max. What will I do now?Who will bail me out? Can I possibly get another loan from grandma? And the cycle repeats itself over and over again. Sometimes for greater and greater amounts of money. (Does $700 billion ring a bell?) Compulsive debtors live on drama and adrenaline.
This drama and adrenaline changes brain chemistry. Would you say there’s a lot of drama going on in our government right now?
Making the connection? To summarize then America seems to be heading toward chronic compulsive debting or financial compulsivity. So, what’s the solution?
Well, in twelve step circles, one has to admit powerlessness and turn to a Higher Power. They tell the newcomer that HOW the program works is HONESTY, OPEN-MINDEDNESS AND WILLINGNESS. Debtors Anonymous (DA) also suggests that the newcomer not create any new debt “one day at a time”.
Perhaps the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate could adopt these concepts to begin their recovery. (A few meetings wouldn’t hurt either). Eventually, we all have to start living on less than we make, get back to what’s
really important and meaningful in our lives which involves spirituality – not consumerism and enjoy the simple and abundant life God has given us! (You don’t even want to get me started on the Corporate Executives’ greed and their “golden parachutes”.)
To learn more about these concepts and money addiction, come to my talk in Austin for The Meadows free lecture series.