It’s been hard work, but you’ve recovered. You can finally leave your addiction behind. Now comes the next chapter of your life. You have to pick up the pieces and make them whole again, and one big element of this is your finances. Definitely not for the weak-hearted, but you’ve gotten this far. You can do it.
Let’s examine how addiction leads to financial problems, and things you can do to ensure money doesn’t cause you to relapse back into your old, destructive habits. We’ll also look into how to get your finances, including your medical bills, under control.
How Addiction Destroys Finances
The United States Surgeon General recently released a report showing the yearly economic consequences of drug and alcohol misuse on our economy. The numbers are staggering. An impact of nearly $2.5 billion for alcohol misuse and $2 billion for drug misuse. How can this be?
Addictions require more and more money to finance as time goes on. Bills start going unpaid, credit cards become maxed out, and people borrow money to fund their habit. As time progresses, purchasing drugs or alcohol becomes the user’s sole purpose for their paycheck, which leads to car repossessions and evictions. The user then sometimes resorts to stealing. Their drug or alcohol use becomes completely unsustainable.
There are other costs of addiction that may not be as noticeable but are still prevalent:
- Opportunities lost due to searching for and using drugs.
- Loss of education from dropping out of school.
- Legal bills from DUI or other illegal activities.
- Loss of money due to missed work or failure to find work.
Your addiction costs a tremendous amount of money. It’s now time for you to take back your finances.
Be Careful of Relapse
Because of the tremendous amount of money spent on drugs and alcohol, having money can be a tremendous trigger for those in recovery. Many are compelled to use whatever money they have on their old addiction or to replace that addiction with another.
In addition, many who are recovering from addiction never learned how to manage money or, due to their addiction, lost the ability. This can lead to debt, which causes stress. The stress can cause a recovering addict to lose hope and return to drugs or alcohol to cope.
It is important — despite your money-related triggers or the stress you may have due to debt — to stay sober. There are many tips to help you remain sober:
- Communicate. People cannot help if they do not know there is a problem.
- Stay busy. You’ll feel better about yourself when you are creating something of value.
- Practice self-care. Get proper sleep and exercise and take a multivitamin.
- Admit when you are wrong. Don’t make excuses. Acknowledge mistakes and move on.
- Don’t turn a slip into a fall. If you relapse, don’t use it as a pretext to continue.
No one said staying sober would be easy, but you’ve worked hard to get there. Don’t let money or the problems associated with it cause a relapse. It is necessary for you to learn to manage money for a better life.
Learning to Manage Money
The first step to learning to manage money is to admit that your money needs management. After that, there are more steps you can take to get started:
- Write down your debts. Don’t leave anything out.
- Write down your assets. Include your income and what you have in savings.
- List your monthly bills. These include rent, utilities, car payment, and food cost.
- Open a bank account. Use it to pay the monthly bills.
From there, make financial goals. Goals can include increasing your savings and paying your bills on time. Then, create a plan that will allow you to accomplish your goals. It would also help to create a budget. Tracking what you spend will help you regulate how your money is used.
Learning to manage money requires self-regulation. Self-regulation teaches you to identify your emotions and to keep negative emotions in check. It also involves learning to think before you act. Setting short-term financial goals will help you enhance your self-regulation skills and give you the motivation you need to make good financial decisions.
Dealing With Medical Debt
If your recovery from addiction required spending time in rehab, you are also facing medical debt. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. A recent survey indicates that almost 80 million Americans are contending with medical debt.
Though it may be tempting, you don’t want to ignore medical debt. Doing so can bring down your credit score which, in turn, can make it impossible for you to get a credit card or take out a personal loan. In addition, you may be sued over your medical debt. Should that happen, they may take money out of your paycheck to pay off the debt.
When faced with medical debt, tackle it methodically:
- Examine your bills. Make sure you are not being overcharged. If you have insurance, make sure the bill was sent to them first, and always ask your insurance company why they didn’t cover something.
- Negotiate with the rehab center, doctor, or hospital. Much of the time, if you let them know your situation, they’ll settle for a lower amount. They’d rather get something than nothing at all.
- Use the “debt snowball method.” Put your medical bills in order from smallest to largest. While still paying the minimum on all the bills, tackle the smallest first. Once it’s paid, do the same to the next smallest and work up the chain.
Medical debt can be daunting, but don’t let it stress you out or get you down. By using this method, you can slowly whittle away at your debt. Just remember this: monthly necessities come first. Pay off what you need to, and then work on the rest.
Your addiction left you down and out with no money, and bills piling up. Using the tips stated here, however, will allow you to manage your money while staying sober. You’ve already conquered your addiction. You will conquer your money problems too.