Troubles with money often persist long after use stops. In our new national survey on finances and substance use disorder, we learned that eight in ten adults who have a loved one with a substance use disorder (SUD) agree that regaining control of one’s finances is one of the biggest obstacles in recovery.
Eight in ten respondents agree that regaining control of one’s finances is among the biggest challenges for people in recovery.
“Certainly addiction affects someone’s finances. Being in control over money is an essential part of recovery,” says Dr. Daniel Bober, Medical Director at Lifeskills South Florida.
Millions of Americans are trying to recover, yet they face daunting financial challenges and have little support from banks or other traditional financial service providers to help them regain control of their finances. Many people have shared with us how they were not able to access traditional financial services and products necessary to help them get back on their feet.
One person we interviewed had a story that stood out. He had overdrawn accounts and run down his credit score during his addiction, but months into his recovery he still struggled. He told us about going from bank to bank only to be met with the same story in each place.
“They’d say, ‘You still owe thousands of dollars and your credit score is a 480.’ They said I’d have to pay it off in order to join them again, to become a customer again,” he shared.
Without being able to access a bank account, he resorted to using the glove box in his car as his personal bank, and, yes, he worried about his entire bank getting stolen. Like many others in early recovery, he found himself stuck. While there are many financial challenges to navigate in recovery, not being able to access banking services may mean more than not having a secure place for your funds. And 77% of people who have a loved one with an SUD worry that their loved one having access to cash could jeopardize their recovery and result in relapse.
Within our survey sample of adults with a loved one with an SUD:
- 87% say that banks or credit card companies do not offer much to help people with substance use disorders as they try to regain control of their financial lives.
- 77% say they wish there were tools that offered financial guardrails to help their loved one regain independence in recovery.
Addiction and financial challenges can feed into each other, which can compound the negative consequences. “Being able to make typical day-to-day purchases, like putting gas in your car to get to work, or taking a new friend out for coffee, is critical,” said Kai Stinchcombe, CEO of True Link Financial. “Having no safe, dignified way to pay for basic items makes it harder to build yourself a new life.”