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Own Your Own Recovery

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When an individual goes into recovery for Substance Use Disorder (SUD), there is a lot of emotional, behavioral and self-awareness counseling and therapy. After all, SUD is an emotional/behavioral neurological illness. But beyond that, that individual may have to learn or relearn some life management skills that have gone by the wayside during their drug use, or perhaps were never learned. This can especially be true with money management.


Everyone knows that drug use can be expensive, not only because of the cost of the drugs themselves, but the residual effects can sometimes be devastating. These can include:

  • The loss of productivity and income
  • Unpaid debts, missed debts, late fees and foreclosure of property
  • Health care and insurance costs due to poor health
  • Legal fees for crimes and DUI.


If needed, getting financial guidance during recovery can be essential. Having your finances under control can be part of the path to recovery because it frees your mind to focus on your recovery. Not having your finances under control can be a distraction that leads to a relapse. Is it a chicken and the egg thing?


According to Dr. Monica Roberts, Program Director for Symetria Recovery, "A part of individual recovery counseling can include helping patients to create a budget, find a job, work on a resume,  figure out how much they’re spending on their substance of choice and instead invest that money in their recoveries and their lives.  Peer recovery specialists also focus on this in coaching sessions."


Some things you can do to keep yourself on the right financial track are:

  • Learn to have a budget
    • Know how much money you have, how much you have coming in and how much you need to spend on bills, groceries and other necessities. Not only will it free your mind, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose, which is an important part of recovery.
  • Know the difference between what you need and what’s optional
    • At first, you might want to stick to your basic needs such as food, shelter and security (e.g., insurance).
    • After a while, when you are more comfortable with your budgeting skill, you might allow expenses to continue or build your relationships and building your self-esteem (e.g., gifts, dinners with friends, dates, classes, or sports activities).
  • Set goals for savings
    • If you are accumulating savings by budgeting, you can decide ahead of time what you might want to do with that money. It could be to pay off debts or buying something that’s important to you.


If you are in recovery and want help with managing your money there is plenty of professional help out there if you don’t have a friend or family member that can help. You might even be able to seek help in the form of life or peer counseling from your recovery facility. If you are not seeking professional recovery help because you think you can’t afford it, you might consider that, in the long run, the cost of recovery is likely a lot less than drug use.

Dale Willenbrink
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