Financial Counseling for Successful Recovery from Addiction

Financial Counseling for Recovery from Addiction

Financial recovery after a drug or alcohol addiction is often an overlooked part of the recovery process. Financial counseling can provide invaluable guidance to help a person in recovery get their finances back on track.

As a person delves into addiction, it’s common to spend increasing amounts of money obtaining drugs or alcohol. The result can often put a huge dent into personal finances.

Many people entering into treatment centers find that they’ve amassed huge debts that have fallen into arrears. Some may have past due mortgages, credit card debts, personal loans, or even payday loans. Others may also owe money to family and friends as they might have borrowed money to pay for the increasing costs of feeding their addiction.

Missing Payments Due to Addiction Leads to…

Falling behind on paying the rent or on keeping up with mortgage payments could result in the risk of being evicted or having the family home foreclosed on.

The same is true with car loans. As car payments are missed the car the could be repossessed by the lender, leaving the person suddenly without a means of transport, which makes it even more difficult to maintain employment.

There’s also the cost of comprehensive rehab treatment programs to factor in. Many people worry about the cost of paying for rehab treatments, which often deters them from seeking the help they need in the first place.

Fortunately, financial counseling is available to help people recovering from addiction to get their finances under control and back on track again.

Why is Financial Counseling Necessary in Recovery?

It’s common people to assume that a person entering into an addiction rehab treatment program is only there to receive treatment for the addiction. What is completely overlooked is that many people in recovery are also learning new ways to live a productive lifestyle all over again that doesn’t include drugs or alcohol.

Learning New Skills in Recovery

Throughout a comprehensive treatment program, people in recovery begin learning strong new relapse prevention strategies and recovery skills to improve the chances of remaining abstinent after leaving rehab. People in recovery also need to be sure they have the resources, tools and skills necessary to support themselves financially once they return to independent living.

That’s where financial counseling comes in.

Dealing with the Stress of Debt

Dealing with debt can cause a huge amount of stress, particularly if you can’t see a way out of the financial mess you’ve landed in. Yet far too many people overlook the importance of financial recovery after addiction.

Research shows that uncontrolled stress levels are a significant risk factor for relapse in people recovering from addiction1. Finding the right level of financial counseling and learning effective ways to manage your finances could help relieve some stress and make it easier to get back on track.

Financial Guidance During Recovery: A Valuable Tool

A financial guidance counselor can be invaluable for helping you regain control over your finances. A good financial counselor will look at your current financial situation to gain a clearer understanding of your starting point before tailoring some strategies to help improve your personal finances.

A counselor will also offer advice for various strategies you can use to overcome debt and begin rebuilding your credit score.

Misconceptions About Seeking Financial Counseling

Some people are initially reluctant to discuss their financial situation with a financial counselor. They may fear the counselor will attempt to control what income they do have, or try to micro-manage every cent they spend. Others may be ashamed of the financial mess they’ve ended up in and not want to divulge all the details to someone they don’t know well.

In reality, financial guidance counseling takes into account every person’s individual financial situation. Just as the reasons and triggers behind everyone’s addiction are unique to them, so are the financial issues and problems each person faces.

The Reality of Financial Guidance

A good financial counselor will help each person understand how to manage their own individual finances based on their own needs. A financial guidance counselor will also know how and where to get financial aid, how to secure loans, how to apply for scholarships and grants, and how to put together a realistic strategy to help you get your finances back on track.

The key to recovering from financial disaster is to learn effective ways to take one small step at a time on a path that helps you achieve your goals. After all, one small step at a time consistently heading in the right direction can snowball into bigger results in the long run.

What Happens in Financial Counseling?

For many people in recovery, the first step in financial counseling comes after the comprehensive addiction treatment program is complete. A good rehab treatment center will provide a range of addiction aftercare services that are all designed to provide ongoing support and guidance after leaving the treatment facility.

One aspect of aftercare includes financial advice and guidance. The primary objective of financial counseling in this instance is to help a person in recovery transition from being in treatment and focusing on recovery to returning to independent living again.

Counselors Provide Employment Guidance

For many people, finding gainful employment can be challenging. Some may benefit enormously from enrolling into education programs or job skills training programs to improve their chances of finding employment.

Others may benefit more from specific advice about completing a professional resume and applying for suitable jobs to match their existing skills. Advice may also encompass helping the person find somewhere affordable to live that matches their current financial circumstances and means.

Financial Counselors Teach Budgeting

Financial counseling sessions also work through simple ways to budget effectively on any income. Many people in recovery from addiction may never have had to consider budgeting before, so learning ways to manage whatever income they do earn to cover necessary expenses without experiencing financial hardship is an important lesson.

Learning Basic Financial Skills

Throughout years of traditional education in the school system, only a few people learn even the most basic financial literacy skills. When you add the financial problems and issues a person struggling with addiction faces, it’s easy to see why learning some basic financial skills can be hugely beneficial.

 

Financial Counseling and Budgeting

Outstanding Debts

Making a concise list of every outstanding debt owed is the first step to creating a productive financial strategy to get debts under control. During financial counseling sessions, a counselor will work with you to ensure you’ve taken into account all your outstanding loans, credit cards and other debts.

Ongoing Expenses

It’s also important to list any major ongoing or recurring expenses. These might include utility bills, cell phone costs, groceries or fuel expenses. When you list all of your financial obligations and responsibilities, you suddenly create a bottom line that has a dollar figure attached to it.

Expected Income

Along with a list of all outstanding debts and financial obligations, it’s also important to list any forms of income you expect to receive. Some people entering addiction rehab treatment centers may have lost their jobs during the throes of addiction. Others may have taken time off work to complete a comprehensive rehab treatment program.

Creating A Strategy

Creating a budget is nothing more than listing all your expenses and your expected income. Building a realistic financial strategy involves breaking down your financial commitments and obligations and then working out how best to allocate your income to ensuring payments are met and any past due debts are repaid.

No matter what a person’s income situation might be during treatment, financial counseling works to address what options might be available to start earning income again once the person leaves treatment.

Financial Aid and other Financial Resources During Recovery

There are a number of financial resources and financial assistance programs available that can be extremely beneficial for people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. During financial counseling sessions, the counselor will discuss and explore various assistance options that may be available.

Financial Aid:

There are many financial aid programs available to help cover the costs associated with addiction treatment programs. The Affordable Care Act considers substance abuse treatment to be a part of primary care services. Another option for receiving financial assistance could be Drug Rehabilitation Loans.

There are also plenty of non-profit rehab treatment facilities available, most of which offer some type of financial aid for people who need it. Your financial counselor can help locate the right types of financial aid needed to fund your treatment needs.

Government Grants:

There are numerous government and state grants available designed to help people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Applying for a grant that doesn’t need to be repaid could go a long way to helping restore financial stability for many people.

Religious Groups:

Many religious groups around the country offer a range of free treatment options that could make it easier to continue receiving the ongoing support and therapy needed after leaving rehab.

Education Scholarships:

Many universities and educational programs offer scholarships to people in recovery from addiction. Applying for a scholarship could be the key to obtaining the education and job skills training needed without causing financial hardship.

Group Support Meetings:

While group meetings don’t offer direct financial assistance, they do offer peer support that can offer a different level of insight as to how others may have gotten through their financial struggles. Regularly attending group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) allows people in recovery to develop new social networks of people who have faced similar challenges and can offer support or advice about what worked for them.  There are also plenty of alternative or non-12 step group support meetings available, including groups such as SMART Recovery.

Financial Counseling for Debit and Credit

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)2 is a non-profit organization providing access to financial counseling services. The NFCC can offer assistance with credit counseling, bankruptcy, financial education services, or housing counseling.

Debt counseling services may also be useful for many people in recovery. One of the consequences of financial ruin is bad credit. It’s common for people in recovery to find it difficult to apply for credit cards or loans because of a bad credit score. Even submitting a housing application for a place to live can be challenging for someone with a bad credit score.

If the person in recovery has outstanding debts or has been delinquent with repayments, it’s likely that the lender may have begun action to recover those debts. In these cases, debt counseling or creditor negotiations may be necessary to help keep those creditors at bay.

Financial Recovery after Addiction

For many people leaving rehab, achieving the goal of finding gainful employment and learning effective ways to manage debt levels can be massively satisfying. Finding work in a productive job that provides satisfaction and pride, as well as giving you a paycheck each week goes a long way towards rebuilding self-esteem and confidence. Likewise, taking control of your finances and seeing progress being made towards paying down outstanding debts can also help boost morale and confidence.

However, a report published in Psych Central3 also points out that having a steady flow of cash can be a potential relapse trigger for some people.

When a person in recovery first leaves rehab treatment, it’s likely they’re still highly motivated to remain abstinent. Yet after a few weeks of earning a regular paycheck, the temptation to spend a bit on having some fun can increase the risk of relapsing back into former self-destructive behaviors.

If the person in recovery is feeling overconfident that they’re doing well and feeling good, it can be easy to overlook the early warning signs of a potential relapse. Research shows that there are several distinct stages of relapse that occur prior to the physical event of relapsing4.

During rehab treatment, recovering people learn to identify and recognize their own addiction triggers and potential high-risk relapse situations. What they may not have considered is how having a steady, regular income each week could impact their motivations to remain abstinent over the long term.

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires ongoing management and support. Getting your finances back in order and under control is a big part of that process. Speak with a financial counselor today to discuss how financial recovery after addiction plays a vital role in the overall addiction recovery process.