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Addictive Behavior and Financial Abuse

Whether you are a parent, friend, student, teacher, boss, co-worker, employee, patient, counselor, manager or partner, having to be involved with an addict can and will drain you mentally, physically and financially. For some reason, some of us keep catering to these type of people like we owe them something.

Since I grew up amongst alcoholics and drug-users, I readily adapted to some of the drinking culture popular in the military and construction industries. Fortunately, I focused more on health and took a good look at where this lifestyle was going. It was getting really obvious that the addictive personality did not stop at boozing, drugs, gambling and compulsive spending. For some reason, their self-destruction included collateral damage.

It takes no genius to figure out the role of alcohol and drugs in street crimes. Alcohol or drugs can incapacitate a victim or make a criminal aggressive or reckless enough to swindle, steal from, assault or injure someone. This is not to be confused with the occasional happy hour drinker or recreational user of drugs. The addict is someone who lives for certain drugs or activities like gambling.

Addicts will destroy themselves and drag down anyone close by.

Most of us know a co-worker who constantly mooches money and favors, but turns ugly towards the same people who help them out.

I heard a saying in the army, "You might trust him with your life, but not your money or your wife." I have known fellow soldiers whom I have worked very closely with and relied on heavily, during training and work. But these same guys I could not trust with money or girl friends. It was often the guys who drank heavily. They might have been at the top of their courses and very high performers during the most visible times, but with booze in hand, they were totally just the opposite.

Alcoholics and drug addicts can be very extravagant, especially with other people's money.

A typical example is the guy who always has to borrow twenty bucks as he is certain to have a "hot date." The situation can never wait. Like a gambler, his big chance to score is now and never later. When you try (and try) to collect, the excuses usually run anywhere from trouble with his or her ex, car payments or so many people owe him money that he can only pay you when those "dead beats" pay up. A favorite excuse is "well, ....owes me twenty, so collect off of him." Another excuse for not paying back is "What? After all of the favors I've done for you? Man, you owe me."

Marriage, family and even a top secret security clearance might mean stability to some people, but it is not the rule. I recall a military guy with both a top secret security clearance and a family, who was in charge of his training course's party fund. At the end of the course, the party fund was empty. Gone.

This goes the same with business. The fraternity brother, army buddy or team mate is always a bad risk if they are a "party-goer." I had an ex-army buddy, who started an entertainment company. If a week passed when he did not brag about his new extravagant lifestyle like $20-a-hole golf games and $200 champagne, I was sure to mark it on my calendar. Then the money ran out, the products stopped selling and trouble started with the securities commission. The stock was worth pennies, partners left and the office closed. I should have clued in to the constant pot smoking, the parties, the over-priced automobile and the domestic problems occurring around that office. One just kind of over-looks some of these behaviors, with a blind hope that things will just "fix themselves."

The alcoholic or addict must always prove that he is better than someone else.

He or she will continually set people up to put them down. Whether it is hanging up the telephone on someone, belittling them in public or physical bullying, it is non-stop.

He might even brag what a morale giant that he is. This might sound downright weird, but an addict will deliberately put on big displays of their own righteousness. They will rant about other alcoholics and insist that they "don't drink anymore." They constantly remind people of that "fact."

One trait that I have noticed of heavy drinkers, especially in the military, is their habit of working very hard or appearing to, for short periods. They will not follow a consistent routine, but will do the bare minimum and then put on a good show of energy in front of peers or supervisors. I remember a guy in the signals regiment who would drink until sun up. A couple of times during our morning run, he would suddenly sprint to the front of the group and then pass out on the grass. I have to admit, it did provide entertainment for an otherwise boring run.

Alcohol/Drug addiction can also be revealed in over-achievement. The addicted people will work in any trade, from judges to scientists, but a high number tend to be in the fields of acting, construction, military, politics (like that is a surprise) and bureaucracies. Once in a position of power, they can wreck havoc on those around them. (Note: Adolf Hitler had a reputation of being a heavy amphetamine and barbiturate user since the 1920's.)

Alcoholics have severe mood swings.

Most violent acts happen between binges when the addicts are experiencing withdrawals. This is to say that a sober alcoholic, even a panhandler can be more violent than when drunk.

Addicts are such good liars because they repress memories of their bad performances and they physically undergo "blackouts." Blackouts can occur while the addict is still totally functional, yet their brains will have no memory of the event. As far as they are concern, they did nothing wrong. This trait can also make the addict, a fall guy for crime. (One such former heavy drinker and petty criminal, David Milgaard, once blacked out in the wrong part of town. Namely, near the area where a nurse had been murdered. Milgaard was found guilty and spent 20 years in jail before new evidence proved otherwise.)

Simple indicators of addicts are:

* Mood swings;

* Financial problems;

* Heavy tobacco, caffeine and sugar consumption;

* Poor eating habits; and

* Constant excuses for being late or off work.

Remember, their behavior is not your fault. Protect yourself and stay safe.

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