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Financial Stress

Handling Financial Stress During Rehab

There is no question that people who struggle with an addiction end up facing a lot of other problems above and beyond their individual addiction struggle. One such crisis that looms heavily over the heads of recovering individuals is that of financial stress. Whether they are struggling with their finances while actively abusing substances, or whether they are worrying about financial stress while in rehab, or struggling with finances after treatment, this is a factor that must be addressed.

Jessica Bosari, a writer for Forbes and participant in the Money Wise Women group (a group dedicated to empowering professional women to live financially healthily lives) wrote extensively about the subject of addiction, finances, and abuse in low-income families.

She said that:

“There is a strong correlation between addiction, poverty, and abuse. Children from low-income families are 25% more likely to be abused than those from middle-income households, and children of alcoholics are four times as likely to be abused as other kids. Moreover, 80% of child abuse and neglect cases are associated with some form of substance abuse.”

Financial Stress for the Entire Family

It is not just the addict who struggles financially. An addict will be a financial drain on all of his or her family members and loved ones too. Money will go missing. Possessions will disappear. Credit cards will get maxed out. Bank accounts will get drained. Brett Neiser, senior director of a Denver-based institution called the National Endowment for Financial Education spoke directly about this issue.

He said that:

“Addicts are very skilled at hiding transactions and siphoning cash away. That’s why you need to be hyper-aware of your personal finances. Some red flags that an addict is at work: savings accounts being depleted more rapidly than usual, regular payments going to organizations you’re unfamiliar with and home equity lines of credit being tapped. Keep an eye out for cash advances, evidence of payday lending, credit card or bank statements being rerouted to different addresses, and changes to credit reports.”

Because an addiction is truly an addiction, a total possession of the person’s mind, body, spirit, and every-day thought process, addicts will, of course, prioritize their habit over all else financially. This makes addicts very stressed out people in general when it comes to money and finances, and they will even go so far to use this as an excuse for not going to rehab.

Some common excuses will be things like:

  • I can’t afford to be away from work for as long as it will take me to go to rehab.
  • Who will pay the bills while I am in ‘rehab’?
  • How will I make my own bill payments while I am in rehab?
  • My utilities and cell phone will get shut off if I go to rehab.
  • I can’t imagine going that long without working.
  • My finances can’t take the hit that going to rehab will cause.
  • Not only will rehab cost me money, but I won’t be able to make money the entire time I am there!

And so on. These are the standard excuses and justifications. And that is just what they are, excuses and justifications.


Finances should not be the primary concern when an individual is going to rehab. In fact, financial stress should be the last thing on their mind, and luckily there are a lot of steps that you or your loved one can take to ensure that they are all squared away financially before entering into treatment.

Here are some steps to take:

  • Set up automatic payments with your bank in advance of entering into treatment. Most banking institutions now offer automatic bill payment services free of charge. This means you can line up your basic bills such as rent, the gas bill, the electric bill, your water bill, waste pickup, your cell phone bill, internet or cable bill, etc. to be paid automatically through your bank account.
  • Be sure to set up automatic bill payment with other vendors. If you can’t automatically set up bill payment with your bank on the banking end, try it on the vendor end. For example, you can log in to most credit card accounts that you may have and set up automatic bill payment in whatever amount that you want and have those bills paid through your bank account. You will need your account number and your routing number when you do this, and possibly a picture of a check too.
  • Cancel unnecessary services while in treatment. We live in an age of subscriptions galore, and a lot of these you will simply not need while you are in rehab. You just won’t need them. Subscriptions like Spotify, Google Play, Pandora Plus, Hulu, Netflix, monthly periodicals, etc. are all services you can do without while you are in treatment. Either cancel these subscriptions or put them on pause for the duration of time that you are in rehab.
  • Square away as much of your financial stress and obligations as you can before you enter treatment. While in rehab, you want to be able to focus entirely on your recovery and on the treatment program and not have to worry about your finances. Do you still need to pay Dad back that one hundred dollars you borrowed three weeks ago? Do you still owe a payment on your car that went unpaid six months ago? Have you not paid your sibling back yet for those groceries they helped you with? If you are able, try to settle as many of your financial obligations as you can before going into rehab so you do not have to fret over them while you are in treatment. However, if you are unable to settle these financial demands then do not let that stop you from doing the right thing and actually going into treatment.

How Treatment Centers Can Help

There is a lot more to handling finances while in rehab when it comes to money and addiction. Irresponsibility with money always goes hand in hand with drug and alcohol abuse, just like gambling addiction is almost always connected to some kind of substance abuse problem as well. For example, one study done by Henry R. Lesieur Ph.D., Sheila B. Blume MD, and Richard M. Zoppa MD and published in the Wiley Library supported the notion that financial irresponsibility and substance abuse were intimately connected in the same mental and spiritual imbalance that addiction comes from in a person.

According to them:

“Out of four hundred and fifty-eight patients interviewed, five percent of the patients abused only alcohol, twelve percent of those abused alcohol and another drug in combination, and eighteen percent of those with other drug abuse problems without an alcohol component showed clear signs of pathological gambling. Sixteen percent of males and two percent of females were classified as pathological gamblers.”

We can see from this information that it is of the utmost importance for rehab centers to teach finances and financial life skills, how to address money responsibility, how to make wise monetary decisions, how to save, invest, and manage money, and how to respect the financial privacy of others. For more information on controlling financial stress or how New Beginnings can do just this, call today.

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