The Financial Burden of Addiction and How to Get Back on Track While in Recovery

Addiction and substance abuse can be two of the most harmful things that a person can experience. It takes a toll on nearly every aspect of your life from your physical and mental health to your relationships with friends, family, and even strangers.

However, the financial impact that addiction causes can often be the most severe of all as it can compound the other negative effects of addiction and substance abuse, leaving you feeling incredibly alone in your struggles. The financial burden brought on by addiction can make you feel like you’re at the bottom of an inescapable well, even long after you’ve recovered from the addiction itself.

While this seems grim, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if your addiction has taken everything from you, there are still ways to get back on your feet and make your life worth living and celebrating.

Addiction Can Ruin Your Finances

When battling addiction, the complete and total loss of financial stability is often a slippery slope. Not only are the drugs themselves often incredibly expensive, but the effects of addiction make it difficult to stymy the steady and increasing bleeding of funds by preventing you from working or taking care of financial obligations like bills and other debts. Forty-eight percent of those who struggle with substance abuse end up depleting their savings entirely, with 11% eventually filing for bankruptcy due to their addictions.

While it is possible to achieve lasting sobriety without entering rehab, going into treatment is far safer and more effective. Depending on your drug of choice, it can be wildly dangerous to detox outside of a medical setting, especially in the case of opioids and alcohol addiction. But it is much more costly than self-treatment. Yet for many, the only choice they have is to either succumb to their addiction or enter treatment and sink even further into debt.

Getting clean is absolutely worth the cost of in-patient rehabilitation facilities as you cannot put a price on your life. Kicking your addiction will allow you to rebuild broken relationships and, over time, improve your personal finances to a point where you are fiscally stable and have the capability to really sit back and relax without having to worry about money.

Starting At Square One

When you’re in the throes of drug addiction, little else seems important other than satisfying your near-constant urge to use. This can result in the loss of stable work for huge stretches of time causing a huge gap in your work history which effectively means that you’re starting from square one in the workplace once you’ve recovered to the point where you’re even able to hold down a job.

hough it can feel like pushing a boulder uphill, there are ways to find gainful employment even if you have such a glaring gap in your work history.

First, start by rebuilding your network of connections, because the old adage “it’s who you know” is never more true than for someone with a multiple-year gap in their work history due to substance abuse and addiction.

However, even if you’re able to rub elbows with people that might be able to put in a good word for you with a company, it is still imperative that you put serious effort into writing a solid cover letter and making your resume as appealing as possible.

Businesses may not automatically exclude you from working with them due to a gap in work history or a past life of drug addiction, however, you will still always have to put your best foot forward and do your best to highlight why you’re a great fit for any given position.

Additionally, you can always just bypass entering the workforce through traditional methods and just start your own side hustle. While there is always going to be a risk of failure and the need for seed money when it comes to entrepreneurship, starting your own small business can be incredibly rewarding. When you’re your own boss, all of your successes are wholly yours, and seeing your work flourish can help you stay motivated to continue your journey towards sobriety, all while building your wealth and financial stability.

Financial Recovery Is A Long Journey

Proper budgeting is one of the most powerful skills at the disposal of those recovering from addiction. Building your life back up from the financial ruin that drug abuse brings about can take years, but if you take the time to learn how to create a fantastic budget and stick to it, you’ll find that timeline for financial recovery shortens more significantly.

Designing a good budget means starting from even the smallest purchases and working your way up, ensuring that at the end of the day, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be able to afford rent, food, and can pay down your debts so that you don’t feel like you’re drowning in interest payments.

Eventually, once you’ve sorted your finances and begun building up your wealth again, you’ll have a chance to start looking at making bigger purchases. It can be liberating to put a down payment on a home or driving a new car off of the lot, but it is important that you continue budgeting even at this point.

While you might be able to squeak by with the monthly payments on a brand new car, learning how to buy a reliable used car can save you thousands of dollars which can help you to become even more financially stable as you move forward in your journey of recovery.

At the end of the day, recovering from drug addiction isn’t just about rebuilding relationships with loved ones and improving your mental and physical health. In many ways, you also need to rehabilitate the way that you approach your finances in order to actually become financially stable once again.

Dan Matthews is a freelance writer with a penchant for financial wisdom and solid research. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0 and LinkedIn.

Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.