Is Your Relationship With Money Affecting Your Recovery from Substance Abuse?

A person with money fanned in front of their face to introduce the topic of money in recovery from substance abuse

Show Me The Money

Money is not talked about nearly enough in the recovery community. That’s unfortunate; it is one of the areas that can have a significant impact on the quality of sobriety, happiness, and personal growth and integrity.  


It’s common for persons with the disease of addiction to have had a damaged, dishonest, and dangerous relationship with money. The old, stigmatizing, and outdated image of an “addict”* stealing from family members or pawning family treasures is still common, but severe money issues can take many forms that are not featured in the public mind regarding addiction. Credit card bills, impact to the credit score, undisclosed accounts, and even simply using family funds on drugs and alcohol can have lasting effects.  

table with watch, phone, headphones and credit card to symbolize the stress of money problems in recovery from substance abuse

Money stress is significant. When you are having financial difficulties, you become self-absorbed and can only focus on yourself and your problems (trying to pay the rent, bills, debts etc.). Stress is a challenge, and if not managed well, can develop into a trigger. A trigger not managed can move persons into a path of relapse. Walking a path of relapse can lead to interacting with psycho-active substances; the last act of a relapse.   

The stress created by money issues creates a specific dynamic, and often there is no escape. Money issues are pervasive, finding their way into every crevice of your life and waiting for you there. Let’s walk through a day of a hypothetical single person in recovery from alcoholism and see how “money issues” show up:  

Your Day and Money


You get up and have another notice in your email or text of an NSF fee or your “account balance fell below $25.” You brush your teeth and shower, grateful that there is hot water; that means the gas has not been turned off.  

mug of coffee and an image of a bed to support the idea of a stressful morning when there are money issues in recovery from substance abuse

You get in your car, which reminds you of course that your inspection and registration are due. Not to mention the car payment due on the 15th. You get to the office where you try to concentrate and do your work. You are frequently distracted and find it’s a struggle to not be short and easily irritated with co-workers.   


You go out to lunch with your co-workers because the company is important to you and you enjoy it. Only you don’t “enjoy” it because you know you should bring lunch from home, but you didn’t. Again.   


Work is over, and you go to an AA meeting. You should go home afterward, begin sorting your mail and email, make a plan to address the financial issues and a meal plan for home and work to help organize and manage the food budget. But, instead, you go out to eat with AA friends, spending $13 of the $16 you have in your wallet.   

You go to bed thinking about going back to the PayDay Loan services you used a few months ago, …  

There is no place of sanctuary and relief in this person’s life. Home, work, fellowship, and recovery are all impacted negatively by this person’s relationship with money. Imagine if our hypothetical person weren’t single and had a partner or kids? Can you see how complicated and scary and vulnerable that family unit would become?  


I can help you develop a plan to help with money and resource management.

Marilyn can help if you need a sliding scale.

Below is a link to a meditation you may find helpful.   

an outstretched arm in a meditation mudra to support the link to a meditation on to help with money stress to avoid relapse in substance abuse

*Person First language is becoming the expected industry standard. And for the right reasons. The main reason is to acknowledge people as people first, before any other words are used, rather than referring to them in terms of a diagnosis or condition. This is true on the medical side of things as well. “A person with diabetes” is being used rather than “a diabetic.” Using Person-First Language in regard to addiction means someone is a “person with a substance use disorder,” rather than the stigmatizing term, “addict.” It relates directly to dignity and respect. Moving away from terms such as addict or alcoholic, we lead with the person, identify the person, and honor the person – first. 

One thought on “Is Your Relationship With Money Affecting Your Recovery from Substance Abuse?”

  1. Fitoru mct says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed reading. Keep it up!

Comments are closed.

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