Helping Support recovery from addiction with the True Link Visa® Prepaid Card and Spending Monitor
With True Link, families can easily adjust settings on the dashboard to meet an individual’s specific needs – whether that’s to help prevent spending mistakes, scam attempts, and more – and your loved one can still make some purchases on their own.
In this article, we’ll walk through a few examples of how you can adjust the True Link Spending Monitor settings so the True Link Visa® Prepaid Card will work for your loved ones’ specific needs.
Benji hits rock bottom
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Joan works as an attorney in New Hampshire and uses True Link for many of her clients. Her son Benji has always been a good student, so when he was invited to a ski trip for his final spring break of college, she encouraged him to go!
But on his last run of the week, Benji took a tumble and broke his ankle in three places. When his doctor prescribed a course of opiates, neither Joan or Benji thought much of it – he’d had major surgery and he trusted the doctors when they told him he needed it. Unfortunately, like so many Americans, Benji quickly got addicted to the medication. He bounced from doctor to doctor to get new prescriptions but eventually started buying whatever he could get ahold of.
Never one to ask for money, Benji began asking Joan for cash multiple days a week. And while he told her compelling stories about helping a friend cover rent or wanting to take a girl out on a date, she was pretty sure he wasn’t telling the truth about what he needed it for.
Over time, Joan’s trust in Benji completely eroded, and she was worried about enabling his addiction. She was happy to pay his phone bill, but didn’t want to give him money for it; she was happy to buy him groceries but didn’t want to give him money for them. He was living in his car, couldn’t hold a job, and every decision he made was tied to where he would get his next hit. Benji’s calls for money became incessant, and while Joan wanted to help, she knew the money wasn’t going to go where he really needed it to.
Joan realized that this was a good use for the True Link Visa Card, and she decided to order one for her son. When she was speaking with a True Link customer support representative about a client question, she shared a bit about her personal situation. “This is what rock bottom looks like. I got him a True Link Visa Card so he could put gas in his car, so he could run the motor at night, and put the heat on. He is my only son, and there’s nothing left I can do for him. At least I know he won’t be cold.”
Steps to set up the True Link Visa Card:
- In the transfer tab, connect Joan’s bank account and schedule twice weekly transfers of $20 each
- In the spending monitor tab, block all categories, including cash access
- Allow gas at the pump only
Each time Benji calls, Joan encourages him to go to rehab, but he isn’t willing to take that step yet. For now, seeing the transactions he makes via the True Link dashboard provides some reassurance that he’s taking care of his basic needs.
Kirk’s on-again, off-again relationship with getting sober
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Kirk had worked at Ford as a skilled engineer for 20 years until he was impacted by a major round of layoffs in 2008. After he lost his job, he struggled to find consistent work and coped with the stress by turning to alcohol. Kirk tried moving south for warmer weather and in the hopes of landing a full-time job at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, but he was only able to get intermittent temp gigs. He tried sobering up a few times – a couple stints in rehab in South Carolina and some time with family in Chicago attending AA meetings, but it didn’t stick. Eventually, he ended up back in his hometown in Michigan and spent as much time at his local dive bar as he did at home.
Kirk and his loved ones all wanted the same things for him – good health, a consistent job that paid the bills, some good friends to hang out with, a closer relationship with his family, a livable apartment, and maybe even a girlfriend. When Kirk was doing well, the financial support they provided was helping him stay on track – a bus pass to get to work, health insurance and dental care, a phone plan so he could manage his work schedule and stay in touch, and so on. But when Kirk became frustrated and relapsed, his family would know he hadn’t used their money to pay the phone bill when their texts went undelivered and calls went to voicemail.
They needed a way to financially provide some of the basic support that enabled Kirk to get on his feet without enabling his purchase of alcohol. The True Link Visa Card offered the solution they needed.
Steps to set it up:
- In the Spending Monitor tab, block all categories
- Allow phone bills, local transit, medical and dental, and other utilities
Examples of other categories or merchants a family might allow:
- Local restaurants that do not serve alcohol, such as Wendys or Panera
- Dollar stores or goodwill for clothing or housewares
- Uber and lyft (perhaps up to a certain amount, eg $20)
With True Link, Kirk’s family feels reassured that he has what he needs to live comfortably in Michigan and that they are no longer enabling his alcohol addiction. Kirk is also optimistic that this new arrangement has him on a better path.
Sarah Checks Into Rehab
Like many folks who check into residential rehab facilities, Sarah and her mother Rebecca wanted her stay to be successful. The last time Sarah was in rehab, she checked herself out early “against medical advice” (AMA), so Rebecca knew they needed to make some changes to help Sarah complete the program.
But this is easier said than done. There are things Sarah needs access to that the rehab center can’t provide her. Because her care is supported by federal programs, if the center provided her basic necessities like razors, toothbrushes, shampoo, or new vape cartridges, this could be considered an inducement. Rebecca wants her daughter to stay in rehab, but without her vape cartridges she will AMA, and they can’t stop her. In fact, when she leaves the facility they have to give her everything she came in with – she’s not a prisoner – which would include her wallet and the cards and cash she walked in with. “You can stay here with no vape cartridges, or if you walk out the door here’s a wad of cash to take with you” … you can imagine how that’s going to go.
Sarah, her mom Rebecca, and Chantel who runs the rehab center have a puzzle on their hands. They can’t break the law, Sarah needs to get her stuff, and it all has to be done without cash or cards. The solution they arrive at is a True Link Visa Card that can be used at two neighborhood stores: the Walgreens and the local smoke shop (Chantel chose this particular store because it doesn’t sell Kratom, which she doesn’t allow in her center because of its opioid-like effects).
True Link makes it easy for Chantel and Rebecca to manage different aspects of the Visa Card for Sarah. While Rebecca manages the money and can schedule funds to be added to the Visa card, Chantel can change the settings on the Visa card without being able to view bank information or manage funding. This is helpful if she needs to adjust settings for Sarah to make an emergency purchase.
Most importantly, everyone – including Sarah – understands that Chantel will freeze the Visa card if Sarah AMAs, so there is no incentive to walk out the door and try and score. And, if she does AMA and tries to use the Visa card, her family will know where she swiped and see if they’re able to help – or at least keep her safe.
Steps to set up the True Link Visa Card:
- In the Spending Monitor tab, block everything
- “Add Merchant Setting”, start typing Walgreens, click “Allow all transactions”
- “Add Merchant Setting”, type “Tobacco Warehouse”
Using a True Link Visa Card in this way isn’t just valuable for Sarah and her family. True Link has a professional feature that enables Chantel to use these same settings as a default for everyone who sets up a True Link Visa card while checking into her rehab center.
Sarah transitions to Sober living
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Thirty days later, Sarah was leaving rehab – discharged to a lower level of care, a sober living center.
This was a big step towards rebuilding her life, but Sarah still felt she was on shaky ground. Being able to manage money and spend responsibly was going to be an important part of this next phase of her journey, and she wanted to set herself up for success.
When she was discharged, access to her True Link dashboard transferred to her parents who could make adjustments to the settings from Sarah’s time in rehab. Together, Sarah and her parents agreed on broadening how and where she could use the Visa card – the goal was “trust but verify.”
Sarah returned to her job at the gym and set up her paycheck to auto-deposit to her True Link Visa Card. She got off work by 4pm most days, and she wanted to get in the habit of heading straight home from the gym. The sober living center has a 6pm curfew, but she set her Visa card to shut off at 3:30pm. Before she went to rehab, hard days at work often led to nights of poor decisions, and Sarah wanted to avoid this going forward. Any shopping she had to do could be done in the morning or on a break, and she continued to have all forms of cash blocked.
The setting that really made the difference – and kept Sarah accountable – was an email alert sent to her roommate Ella for every purchase in real time. Her roommate didn’t mind at all; she didn’t have to monitor it too closely, but she’d know if a purchase or location was unplanned, too large, or part of a risky behavior pattern. And Sarah knew there’d be a tough conversation if Ella was concerned.
Steps to set up the True Link Visa Card:
- In the spending monitor, block all access to cash
- In the “Alerts” tab, add an alert for all transactions, then enter Sarah’s roommate’s email address and select sending alerts in real time.
The path to sobriety isn’t easy, and figuring out how to manage money in a way that supports recovery can be difficult. Instead of having to create or seek out solutions along the way, Sarah and her family have appreciated that they’ve been able to count on True Link through every step of this process.
Cliff and Cam aim for Long term sobriety
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Cliff and Cam are identical twin brothers in their mid-30s living in Fort Worth. Their early years were full of trouble: getting grounded together, landing in the principal's office together, and eventually – getting arrested together. But these days, they’re more focused on putting their troubles behind them and doing what they can to keep each other out of trouble as adults in recovery.
The brothers are administrators on each others’ True Link Visa cards. They sat down together to decide on the appropriate settings to help keep them on the sober path, and it’s been years since either of them had a problem.
Having online access to statements, and setting up text alerts for cash withdrawals and Visa card declines creates a sense of transparency, accountability, and trust. In an emergency, a series of unusual cash transactions or above average spending might raise an alarm but they’re good about talking things out. And if Cam wants to check in on Cliff or vice versa, they can look back at more recent transactions and confirm that there’s nothing to worry about.
Cam and Cliff set up their True Link Visa Card’s in two simple steps:
- Block purchases at bars and liquor stores
- Set text alerts and receive a message when cash is withdrawn or transactions are declined
While neither Cam or Cliff feels the need to keep a close eye on the other’s purchases, they like having the option there. While their troublemaker days are mostly behind them, it’s nice to know their brother has their back.