In recovery: Getting back on your feet financially

By Sally Writes

Facing up to your addiction and beginning treatment is a brave and fantastic first step, but getting over alcohol or drugs is often only the first step to rebuilding your life. Once the fog has lifted, you may also find yourself having to deal with money worries. The good thing is that recovery is possible in this area too. Indeed, addressing money problems directly and with honesty is key to turning lives around and enabling long-term recovery.

In a financial tight spot?

While the health challenges and strain on relationships might be the first things we tend to think about when it comes to addiction, don’t overlook the financial costs of substance abuse. In recovery, you may have focused mainly on spirituality, emotions and self-awareness. You will be quite rightly delighting in your new, healthy lifestyle. What you may not have given much thought to – if at all – was money management, even though it forms a central pillar to a successful recovery.

An addict’s finances can be affected in many ways. Firstly, the cost of buying alcohol or drugs eats into his/her income. As the addiction takes hold, work is often negatively impacted – resulting in lower productivity and pay. Job losses are common – and with that can come falls in social security and retirement benefits. Addiction often takes its toll on our health too – leading to higher health care costs and insurance premiums. Add to that unpaid debts, fines, possible property foreclosure and you get the picture. It’s not pretty.

How to turn things around

It’s not surprising that many battling addiction end up with a low credit rating for the reasons listed above. But the great news is that there is hope and these financial problems can be solved, enabling you to get your life back.

One option can be to file for bankruptcy – after which, the person in recovery can start to rebuild their life from a clean slate. Of course, not all debts are dischargeable, but the approach might make sense for some.

However, for those who want to improve their credit rating, a better approach might be to work on repaying debt. For some in recovery, paying back money that is owed can feel like a more honest way to approach the situation – a way of making a living amend. You may assume that it would be impossible to get a credit card without a gold plated credit score, but that isn’t the case. In fact, if you apply for the right type of credit card and use it wisely, it can actually help you improve your credit rating.

So bottom line, getting sober is a massive achievement and no mean feat. Congratulations on that part of your recovery. But don’t overlook your financial recovery; it may not be your first priority when you come into treatment, but it is entirely achievable and will form an essential building block of a successful future.