Baggage of the Past – Dealing With Debt in Recovery

Whether it is drugs, alcohol, or problematic behavior, living with addiction can be all-consuming. The things that addict us are frequently costly and may also affect our ability to make money. This scenario often leaves many people in debt as they begin their recovery journey.

Why is Addiction Linked to Debt?

Struggling with an addiction can cause your spending to skyrocket. Indeed, the price of drugs or alcohol alone can be difficult to manage for many people. Gambling addictions can also cost people huge sums of money.

Addiction can also make it difficult to hold down a steady job – it’s strongly related to unemployment and difficulty making money. This leads to people borrowing money; from banks, loan sharks, family, and friends, which ultimately they cannot repay. The path to recovery is a brave one to choose, and it often requires tackling the mounting debts that your addiction has exacerbated along the way.

Managing Your Stress Around Money

One of the hardest things about tackling debt when recovering from addiction is that the stress debt causes is often a trigger for engaging in the thing you are addicted to. Therefore it is really important to manage your stress levels around your finances in order to safeguard your recovery. Here are some tips for doing so:

    • Be aware of your triggers around money. Knowing what is likely to be difficult for you and putting some safeguards in place is a good way of stopping financial stress from impacting your recovery.
    • Put your recovery first. Although it can seem expensive, investing in your recovery will pay dividends. It’s important not to let the stresses of your financial woes prevent you from seeking the help you need – you may need to accept that treatment is a necessary expense. After all, it’s always cheaper than going back to active addiction.
  • Get help. You are not the first person to struggle with debt and addiction. Reach out to your friends and family or a structured community support group to get advice and solidarity in dealing with this issue.

 

Tackling Your Debt

If you are struggling to meet your basic needs, like food and shelter, there are government programs to support you. Seek assistance as soon as you need it; do not delay out of a misplaced sense of pride. You can also look for specific caseworkers to help you deal with your debt from not-for-profit organizations.

Here are the first steps you can take to deal with your debt in recovery:

  1. List Your Debts

The first step to dealing with debt is to know exactly what you owe and to whom. Gather as much information as you can and write it down, preferably on a spreadsheet, so you can keep all the information well-organized and accessible. Be comprehensive and include everything, including informal debts to family and friends. Include as much information as you can; amounts, repayment deadlines, and any regular interest payments that you have to make.

  1. Prioritize

The next step is to prioritize which debts are the most urgent. You can choose to prioritize debts with a high-interest rate, which will save you money in the long term. You can also choose to pay them by size and pay off the smallest ones first. This provides regular incentives to keep going with your debt repayment plan and is a great technique if you are struggling with motivation if you feel overwhelmed. 

Another alternative could be paying the debts based on who the money is owed to. You might feel very strongly about repairing a broken relationship with a family member and choose to pay them back first above a bank or other business. 

  1. Handle One Debt at a Time

The final step is to start paying off your debts. Although you may have to pay regular minimum payments with some creditors, you should focus any leftover income on repaying debts one at a time if you can. Whatever your income stream, working your way through your debts one by one is a steady, manageable way to begin to regain control of your finances. 

Recovery is a difficult journey, and debt is a challenging hurdle to face; however, with the support of professionals and those around you, you can manage your debt and leave your past baggage behind you.

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