Home page Psychology blog Bad Habits Altered Mental States A heavy load of debts: how to get rid of loan addiction

A heavy load of debts: how to get rid of loan addiction

09.12.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“Live for today – pay when it is convenient!”

“Take it now – pay later!”

“It’s so easy to live better!”

dependence on loans

We read and hear similar calls for an easy and comfortable life “here and now” with increasing frequency. Not everyone recognizes the obvious risk in such tempting offers. At present, many people have ceased to consider loans and borrowings as a dangerous business and have begun to perceive them as a convenient financial instrument. There are many affordable banking products that allow you to give a boost to the quality of life within a matter of hours. In each district there are dozens of offices of microcredit organizations that can “give some payday money” and relieve you from the unpleasant necessity of borrowing money from relatives and friends. Household appliances, clothes, shoes and even food can be purchased by installments – you just need to stay a little longer at the checkout counter and submit your passport. However, pretty soon you have to pay extra for such “instant happiness”: huge interest is accrued for a one-day delay, the borrower’s phone is breaking with the collection agent’s calls, he ties himself into knots, losing health and property. Strangely enough, such person sees his survival in a new loan. This is how the credit mania is developed. It is a new form of psychological illness. [1]

Why is it difficult for some people to resist the temptation to “live on borrowed money”? Using what signs can you understand that you are at risk? How to get rid of credit addiction? We will talk about this hereinafter.


  1. Credit mania: statistics and facts
  2. Signs of credit addiction (test)
  3. Executive opinion: stories of people who became victims of credit addiction
  4. Causes of credit addiction
  5. How to stop living on credit: 7Spsy modification technique

Credit mania: statistics and facts

credit dependence

In December, 2018, the French newspaper Le Figaro published data according to which the Russian household debt load reached 210 billion euros. This is a historical record. Five years earlier, in 2013, the outstanding amount of loan debts of Russians was half as many. About 49 million people live on borrowed funds in our country – this is every second employee. On average, every Russian, even newborn, already owes more than 100 thousand rubles. If we consider only the economically active population, then there are more than 200 thousand rubles of debt per citizen. It is interesting that the share of consumer loans exceeds the share of mortgage loans – 46% versus 43%. [2]

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The fact that such “high scores” cannot be considered without regard to the level of mental health of the population is confirmed by earlier studies of British researchers. In 2007 the researchers at the Royal College of Psychiatrists collected the results of more than fifty research works and came to the conclusion that depression symptoms are more likely to be reported by men and women who have loans with the higher interest rates. [3]

In 2011, Dr. John Gazergood from the Nottingham University studied the relations between the debts and depressed mood. He concluded that people who have debts are 3 times more likely to have mental health problems. Along with the increasing debt amount, the stress and depression levels are also increasing. [4]

Signs of credit addiction (test)

credit load

Certainly, “loan taking” not always means “getting addicted” in a psychological sense. In the case of a reasonable attitude, objective assessment of possibilities and good skills of financial planning, borrowed funds can be used for the benefit. However, in the absence of such qualities and under other conditions that we will discuss below, the material dependence on loans can develop into a form of mental illness. In order to assess the degree of risk, select statements typical for your behavior or behavior of your loved one.

1I will listen to the proposal of the bank manager if he calls and informs me that the credit limit has been approved with curiosity and attention.
2I try to look like a successful person and buy new things even when I don’t have enough money for it.
3I constantly use the “pledge payment” service for a mobile phone and Internet at home.
4I am happy when I receive SMS messages from banks confirming that I can take a loan.
5I buy modern equipment and gadgets on credit, despite the fact that I already have similar items in good functional condition, but of obsolete models.
6When buying on credit, I convince myself in the necessity of this product.
7Immediately after the purchase, I console myself with the thought that there is still a lot of time before the next payment, and I would find the money somehow.
9When buying on credit, I do not calculate the amount of the total overpayment and the amount of monthly payments, taking into account other loans.
10I make purchases using the credit card, sometimes I borrow funds from my friends and relatives.
11It happens quite often that my credit card runs out of funds.
12There were situations in my life where I had to take a new loan in order to repay one or several previous loans.

If you have 6 or more statements from the list marked, it can be considered a reason to think seriously.

Credit addiction: first-person stories

credit mania

“It all started when I once came to the bank to receive the salary card statement. I did not plan to spend a lot of time, and the procedure took no more than five minutes. But the manager suggested to take advantage of a personal offer and to apply for a credit card. I always feared loans like a plague, but then suddenly something seemed to switch over. I was redirected to another manager. She was very polite with me and offered to go into a private office with soft chairs. She called me by my name and colorfully described the advantages of the credit card.

“Maria, you may not need it, as you say”, the manager said. – “In this case, you do not lose anything – the card maintenance is free for you as for our long-time loyal client. But what if it will be necessary to pay for the last-minute package tour today and there are a couple of days before the payday? In this situation the card will help you out a lot”.

It worked on me. I thought that since the bank decided to provide me with such an opportunity, it means they considered me as a reliable and loyal client. Such a large organization trusted me!

I did not use the new card for a while. Then I decided to buy a fur coat. I managed to pay off the debt on time. It inspired me a lot! Then a new phone model was launched and I really wanted it. And I again used the “unnecessary” credit card. Then I got sick, and the money was spent for treatment. The interest on arrears began to be accrued quickly. Now they are constantly increasing, but I do not have enough money. I have never thought that I can get into the credit bondage so easily and quickly”…

– Maria, 29 years old, English tutor

“Just about five years ago, I had everything: restaurants, trips abroad, a premium-class SUV, a two-level penthouse… But due to the difficulties with business, everything went blooey, but I still spent a lot, took loans and could not stop. As a result, at the age of 39 I was forced to return to live with my parents. And only then I finally realized that I had great problems”.

– Nikolay, 39 years old, businessman

“I started playing when I was 15 years old. My friend and I were messing around the city and strolled into the gambling cafe. That’s where everything became twisted. The game payoffs were rare, but I managed to pay off my debts and buy something: fashionable clothes, an expensive phone… My influence among my peers became higher, and it really “rocked” me. Then there were petty thefts from parents’ stashes, first serious losses, my mother’s attempts to take me to the psychologist. Against all the odds, she managed to stop me for a while before graduation from the school. I passed the exams, but refused to go into further academic study, so I began to work. As soon as I ceased to depend upon my parents and began to earn my bread, I started playing again. I mortgaged the apartment that I got from my grandmother and have a lot of debts and loans. In the end I collected the last money and visited the psychologist. I hope that I will manage to cope with everything and will not return to the games and debts”.

– Konstantin, 22 years old, car mechanic

Causes of credit addiction

credit cards

The experience of people who shared their stories with us shows that there are many ways to get into the “credit bottleneck”. Maria was flattered by the courtesy of bank’s employees and was inspired by easy ways to pay off her first debt. Nikolay could not give up his usual comforts in order to recover everything in business. Konstantin did not cope with the game addiction.

We will list several reasons for addiction to loans and credits. It should be noted that these are just some of the many conditions that can have an effect both individually and in combination with others.

1. Desire to raise visible status

A person seeks to provide his daily life with various spoils of affluence: next generation smartphone, expensive gadgets and branded clothing, a luxury car, trips abroad and dinner in the restaurants. The desire to “appear successful” becomes stronger than the lack of possibility of “being successful”. The addicted person lives beyond his means, every day trying to demonstrate others his imaginary well-being. As a rule, such picture is developing against the background of serious problems with self-esteem.

2. Suggestibility

Advertising calls, harsh signs, suave manners of a “personal manager” who calls from the bank with an advantageous offer “just for you” are the hook on which people amenable to suggestions fall. Dozens of specialists are working on the structure of each specific promotional offer. And their efforts are not in vain: some people cannot resist promising calls and soberly assess the inevitable risks.

3. Infantilism

A spoiled child, whose desires have been quickly and invariably satisfied by the adults, grows up with the feeling that the entire world around him owes him. As an adult, he begins to ask for money not only his relatives, but also his friends, to take loans and borrowings. At the same time, he is not embarrassed and is not particularly worried if he cannot return the money.

4. Irregular earnings

A person gets used to the state of affairs when there is feast today and fast tomorrow in the wallet. The person decides to secure himself with a credit pile in expectation of possible improvement of his financial situation in the nearest future.

5. Lack of financial planning skills

A person does not follow the movement of personal expenses and income, does not accumulate any savings, spends money to satisfy immediate desires. Having received a loan, he does not comply with the terms of payments, as he can simply forget about them.

6. Lack of separation between business finances and personal finances

The situation is aggravated if a person is in the process of their own business development. Having made a large profit, he spends it on improving his living conditions, traveling abroad or buying a new car. This seems to him quite logical, because it was for this reason that he worked for so long. However, in the absence of proper planning and separation of personal income from the funds that should be used for the business development, the risk of suffering from changing market conditions is increased. In a critical situation, the businessman is forced to take a loan to save his business and maintain usual comfort level.

7. Objective necessity

Unfortunately, something terrible can happen in life: an accident, illness, loss of source of income or personal tragedy make the person slide deeper into the debt pit.

8. Other addictions

Other addictions may lead to the credit addiction of the person: shopaholism, alcoholism, gambling addiction, etc. In turn, such addictions are developing against the background of psychological issues and personality traits. Therefore, each case shall be considered separately.

How to stop living on credit: 7Spsy modification technique

credit trap

What should you do if at some point you find yourself in a credit trap? How to get out of it? Where to call for help? If these questions are relevant for you, you are already on the right track. Awareness of the problem is the first step towards getting rid of it. The following tips will be your roadmap for overcoming a crisis.

1. Ask for help from the loved ones

We do not mean a request to give another amount of borrowed money, although you will certainly need such help. Tell others that you intend to solve the problem systematically, and you will need their support. However, this support should not be unlimited, as no one wants to pay off other people’s debts. Make a specific plan and ask for help at some stages when you can’t cope without your loved ones.

2. Enable the incoming data filters

Try to rationally evaluate and carefully study new proposals that will continue to come to you. Particular caution should be used in dealing with the representatives of the financial “well-wishing companies” who will offer their assistance in paying-off the overdue loans. Do not believe the stories and reviews of their “former customers” who allegedly managed to solve their financial problems and write off debts. Cooperation with such companies can put you in even more difficult situation.

3. Give up your credit cards

The credit card transactions are one of the most common causes of the debt load. When you have access to the available funds, even if they are not yours, it is more difficult to resist the temptation to buy a new blouse or a cool smartphone. In this part, the credit addiction is similar to gaming, the prevention measures are the same, and the best way will be a complete rejection of credit cards. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises such as charging interest for the services, inform the bank of your intention and make sure that your contract is terminated.

4. Make a clear debt settlement plan

Learn to analyze and plan your finances. Make an income and expense table, write down all your debts and loan obligations. Find additional sources of income and pay off your debts step by step, starting from small to large, trying to pay a large amount on a monthly basis. Make a decision in advance that the surplus of finances that will appear in the future when you get rid of the debts will not be spent, but accumulated on the deposit account.

5. Call for psychological aid

The collecting agent’s calls, cracked relationships with loved ones, the need to deny yourself every necessity due to the past frivolity are things that lead you to the state of increased anxiety and psychological vulnerability. Such moments require working through them. However, they are consequences, not reasons. It is important to understand that you have become addicted due to internal psychological problems and attitudes that need to be changed. In this part it will be difficult to cope without the qualified assistance.

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The 7Spsy behavior modification course  is an effective program of psychological assistance that allows you to cope with various forms of addiction. It is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of its founders – I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky. The work is performed remotely under the close supervision of a psychologist and in the conditions of complete confidentiality. During the course, you can contact the psychologist via the convenient communication channel: by phone, e-mail or in the online chatroom. The method allows you to change your attitude and behavior during the period of up to 6 weeks, which will make the credit addiction treatment more effective. Due to the 7Spsy behavior modification technique, you will be able to distinguish between the real need for money and the desire to demonstrate prosperity, you will learn how to manage emotions and reasonably manage your finances.


  1. Kreditomaniia — smertelno opasnaia bolezn (https://ria.ru/20080219/99599446.html).
  2. Rossiiane vpadaiut v kreditnuiu zavisimost (https://www.pnp.ru/russia-today/rossiyane-vpadayut-v-kreditnuyu-zavisimost.html).
  3. Debt and Depression: Evidence on Causal Links and Social Stigma Effects (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1922625).