Millions of Americans have already received $1,400 stimulus payments and more are on the way.

Suddenly gaining access to extra money is a welcome relief for most but can also be cause for concern for people who are fighting addiction.

Two key triggers for drug and alcohol relapse are access to money and warmer weather, so the arrival of Spring and ongoing distribution of stimulus funds can be a dangerous combination. For people suffering from substance use disorder, good intentions can be derailed by temptation, making it difficult to stay on the right course.

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Here are a few recommendations to encourage positive decisions and prevent negative patterns for managing this money.

Create a budget. Take the time to make a realistic financial plan for your stimulus money. Being intentional with your spending will make it easier to use the funds in a healthy way. This is also a good opportunity to establish a savings account or plan for future purchases.

Seek support. If you think access to extra cash could be a trigger, tell a member of your addiction help support system and ask them to check in with you periodically. If you don’t need the funds immediately, identify a trusted support person and give them control of the money for safekeeping.

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Spend it a meaningful way. Spend your money in ways that will be beneficial in the long run. Make advance payments on essential items like rent, car payments, or child support. Or purchase something meaningful that will help you achieve a goal. For example, one CleanSlate patient plans to purchase a computer so she can earn her GED. 

Set limits. Avoid impulsive purchases by setting spending limits. See if your bank provides daily limits on withdrawals or use a prepaid debit card. Contact credit card companies and ask to lower your credit limit to help keep spending under control.

Embrace money management. Many free resources are available to help you manage your money. Access money management experts, tools, or apps like NerdWallet, PocketGuard, or Mint. Consider joining a local money management class to learn more about managing your money while maintaining sobriety during times of anxiety.

It’s important to be aware that suddenly coming into extra money at any time could spark a relapse. Destructive spending and setbacks can be avoided with the right support, guidance, and resources.

If you are struggling with maintaining recovery, CleanSlate is here to support you. Visit our website and find an addiction treatment center near you.

Brian Coonan

Brian Coonan, MPA, LSW is the Regional Director of Operations in PA and CT for CleanSlate, a leading national medical group that provides office-based outpatient medication treatment for the chronic disease of addiction, primarily alcohol and opioid use disorders.