Financial Recovery Steps 1 & 2

When someone you love is addicted, your finances often take a big hit. Bailing loved ones out of jail and other financial emergencies eat away at any cash on hand. Likewise, people who are rebuilding their life after addiction often face financial hardships. Treatment expenses and bills pile up. Here’s two simple things you can do to protect what you have and gain financial recovery.

1. Be Selfish And Secretive With Savings

Many times, fighting addiction is a matter of life and death. People are scared and desperate, and treatment is expensive. In these situations, spouses and parents don’t keep enough margin between them and disaster. Well known financial guru, Dave Ramsey, says step one is to keep an emergency fund.

Emergencies will happen; this is not an if type of crisis, this is a when situation. Not having enough cash on hand means depending on credit cards or cash advance services. Both charge big interest rates, but more importantly, both put you further behind. Dave recommends dropping everything to save $500 to $1,000 for the impending emergency. This logically makes sense, so why don’t people do this?

First, many people believe the best way to help their addicted loved-one is to sacrifice everything. Yet, this won’t work because if you really want to help, you have to be strong enough to help. You have to put yourself first, and you can only give of your excess. Don’t feel guilty about keeping a rainy day fund.

Others are driven by shame and pressure from creditors. Getting your life back on tract after addiction is an amazing accomplishment. It’s important to protect yourself financially first then work on paying back debts. Having a little bit in savings gives you a peace of mind that can help protect your sobriety.

Still others may feel trapped in an abusive relationship due to financial dependency. For many, having money means having choices. If you are in an unsafe relationship, you may have to open a new account at a new bank to keep your emergency fund safe.

2. Defend Your Fortress

Dave calls this protecting the “four walls.” Many times, people get trapped in the vicious debt management cycle. They run short of cash, so they charge things like gas and groceries. These bills run up quickly in crisis. Instead of meeting physical needs first, people feel obligated to protect their credit rating. What if they need to take out another credit card or borrow money for rehab? Making the credit card payment takes top priority, which only perpetuates the cycle of debt. To get off the debt cyclone, you have to make some tough choices. You may not have enough money to pay all of your bills. Which do you pay first?

Groceries Get Top Billing

If you really want to get control of your finances, cooking at home and taking a brown bag lunch are the first big change to make. You can save big money by keeping your fridge full of food. The path to financial recovery is not paved with empty pizza boxes.

Second, Pay Your Rent Or Mortgage

You have to have a roof over your head. Also, make sure to keep current with your utilities like electricity, water and natural gas.

Third, Pay For Transportation

If you have a job, you need to keep it, so you can keep on the path to financial recovery. To keep a job, you have to have a way to get there. Here you might have to make some tough choices. Driving a corvette when you can only afford a scooter won’t let you help anyone. However, repairs and payments on transportation you can afford must take priority over student loans and credit card debts.

The Last Wall Is Clothing

To keep a job, most places require you show up wearing something. Again, keeping your job is crucial, so reasonable clothing comes before credit card payments. Chanel and Ralph Lauren may not be reasonable at this time; you may have to consider shopping at a thrift shop.

As Dave says:

“If you have a place to live, it’s warm and the lights are on, your stomach is full of food and you have clothing to wear and a way to get to work, you live to fight another day. The worry starts to slip away. When your lights are getting ready to be cut off but MasterCard is current, that trips you up. That sends you into a tailspin. You will not win in that situation. Put the four walls of your home up first when you’re in a crisis situation. Then work your way through the other stuff.”

Usually, struggling financially is a symptom of another underlying cause. Family dynamics, co-occurring mental health disorders, and addictions often play a role in financial difficulties. Recovery Guidance lists family therapists and counselors that can help you address the root causes of your financial problems. Click here to find family counseling in your area.


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What To Know About Raising Someone Else’s Kid

We know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, but with the opioid epidemic comes a new second-hand danger. Children are being shuffled around. Friends and families are stepping forward to help, but the children are hurting. Here’s what you need to know if you’re raising someone else’s kid.

1. Addiction Is A Family Disease That Affects Generations

According to Generations United, more than 1 out of 3 kids are placed in foster care because of their parents alcohol or drug use. Even if the parent has quit using or drinking, or even if the substance abuse was two generations removed, this generation is still impacted. In recovery, we talk about the generational sins of substance and alcohol abuse. One of the most common side effects is fear, and often the fear is constant. The children you are raising are terrified, and their fear shows up as:

  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Hoarding
  • Controlling
  • Lying

Some kids are afraid they’ll never see their parents again. Others are afraid they will. Loud noises, smells, places, and foods can all trigger flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares.

2. You Don’t Have To Accept Unacceptable Behavior

Almost all kids test boundaries. Most kids are master manipulators, and many were born with the ability to make puppy dog eyes at will. They sense weaknesses and pounce. Like most marriages, raising someone else’s kid will have a honeymoon stage. Be advised, the honeymoon ends. Reading up on boundaries during the honeymoon will help you prepare for the upcoming drama. When correcting behaviors, you can say, “That doesn’t work for me.”

3. Don’t Fuel The Fire

When you must enforce boundaries, it’s often scary and uncomfortable. Further, enforcing boundaries initiates conflict, and sometimes arguments break out. Keeping these two things in mind helps you keep the peace:

  1. Just because she’s mad doesn’t mean you’re bad. Your feelings aren’t connected to the child’s like a yo-yo. Let her feel her feelings independently from you.
  2. “You might be right,” almost always ends arguments. Your foster son or daughter might be right. You might be right, and in an alternate universe, you might both be right.

4. What Happened In The Womb Doesn’t Stay In The Womb

If the child’s biological Mom drank or used any number of drugs (including legally prescribed meds) during pregnancy, the child may have lasting birth defects. These defects often go undiagnosed. These children may present with ADHD like symptoms, and they may act too young for their age.  Often, these kids need extra help in school. Frequently, alcohol-exposed children struggle with Math. You might have to meet with the child’s teachers to discuss accommodations and interventions.

Sometimes, raising someone else’s kid requires professional help. Recovery Guidance provides an exhaustive list of counselors and therapists.


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5 Steps To Take When Your Child Is Using

Realizing that your child is using drugs is very difficult to process. Your gut reaction is often to panic and plan for a major catastrophe. Your fear shows up as anger and rage; it tells you to control, condemn, and yell. Unfortunately, those tactics almost never work. (We know this because we’ve been in your shoes.) So let’s explore five steps that can help your child recover his or her sobriety and the relationship with you.

1. Do Not Panic And Catastrophize

Fear drives parents to:

  • Blame
  • Panic
  • Think the worst

In recovery, we call this reacting. Reacting takes away your power because the situation defines you and your responses. If you react, you will offer no healthy solutions to the situation.  Likewise, your child will then react to your reaction. This almost always escalates into an argument.  For example, when you see your child stoned, you may start yelling things like:

  • “How stupid are you?”
  • “You’re grounded for life.”
  • “How could you do this to me/us?”

Yelling and screaming triggers the same type of response from your child.  He or she will defend by saying something like:

  • “It’s my life and I can do what I want.”
  • “I hate you.”
  • “Everyone else is doing it and it’s no big deal.”

2. Take Action, Not Reaction

Instead of reacting, parents can take action. Taking action empowers you to find solutions and lets you respond from strength; you have choices. In this step, you separate your feeling from your options. For example, a parent who takes action first begins by calmly taking to the child about the substance use. When parents offer a listening ear, two things can happen:

  1. The child may actually open up, but even if this doesn’t happen, the strength position is modeled for the child.
  2. If the overreacting child doesn’t get the hoped-for reaction from the parent(s), the drama starves. It’s no fun to act out, argue, or throw a fit if the other person doesn’t play along.

Parents can also take action by finding support for themselves. Seeing a counselor or attending a support group is a very empowering process in its own right.

3. Explore Solutions And Consequences

By exploring healthy choices, the child learns the parent is on his or her side. This creates an open dialogue regarding what needs to happen in a positive choice manner. Parents and children can brainstorm healthy solutions such as:

  1. Not hanging out with using friends
  2. Being home by an earlier curfew
  3. Limiting the use of the car
  4. Going to family counseling
  5.  Attending AA/NA meetings (and young people’s meetings if available)
  6. Or if needed, seeking inpatient or residential treatment.

After some solutions are discussed, hopefully, the child will be willing to comply. If not, then the parents may need to set some boundaries. Parents and children must also discuss the consequences of future use.  Creating consequences with the child, not for the child, gives the child a voice.  This step may be repeated as necessary for recovery is not a linear process. There will probably be relapses so know in advance how you’ll deal with a relapse.

4. If Your Child Is Using Again Enforce The Consequences

Parents must follow-up and enforce the agreed upon consequences. Too often, parents ignore signs that the child is using again, but this is the worst thing a parent can do.  Some parents walk on eggshells to not trigger relapse. Other parents see their child as helpless or fragile. This is also called enabling the child.

Parents, remember step 2, take action. Giving in is a type of reaction, not action. The parent gives away the power in this situation. Interestingly enough, as a therapist, I’ve found that children and teens often give themselves more severe consequences than are necessary. Just like in step3, this step may be repeated as often as needed.

5. Be Supportive Of Positive Steps

We all need positive reinforcement in our lives. When your child is using, he or she needs even more support for the positive steps they take. Give them kudos for staying sober, for following up with their action steps, and for how their behavior has changed for the positive. Catch your child doing something right. If the child relapses, be supportive of the steps he/she/they can take to get back on track.  Honor the time they stayed clean and their behavior improved. Relapses are sometimes an important part of recovery. They can remind the child of how much havoc using created for them. Relapsing doesn’t have to send your child back to the old habits, nor should it send you back to panicking.


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7 Keys To Successful Recovery

Nay-Sayers say, “Recovery doesn’t work,” because they know someone who relapsed just a few weeks or months after rehab.  Recovery is possible, but it takes more than a 30-day fix. In fact, millions of people have found successful recovery and rebuilt their lives using these 7 keys.

1. The Patient Wants A Successful Recovery

Can you force the patient into treatment? People ask us this question daily. Ultimately, yes, in some cases patients can be forced into treatment. But a better case scenario is when the patient is ready to get help. We understand how hard it is to watch another person’s addiction. You feel helpless and beyond scared. While you wait, you can set boundaries and research treatment options. Once the patient is ready, you’ll be able to present lots of information.

2. The Patient Gets A Complete Physical

Every day people have a beer or take a pain pill without getting addicted, so why did this patient get addicted? Genetics, past abuse, trauma, and mental health issues can all contribute to addiction. When the patient sees a physician for an honest and complete physical exam, all of those factors can be addressed. Each patient deserves a personalized, comprehensive evaluation prior to treatment. Patients who have the most success talk to their doctor about:

  • Any prior diagnoses of substance use
  • Mental and general health problems
  • Family, social and environmental problems that could affect the course of care and potential for relapse

3. The Patient Has A Long-Term Treatment Plan

Like most other chronic health illnesses, substance use disorders require ongoing treatment. When a patient is first diagnosed, care is often intensive. The first phase is detox. Once their condition and cravings are stabilized, patients upgraded to either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Sometimes outpatient treatment lasts 12-36 months. Depending on the severity of their disorder, some patients have more months of outpatient care than others. In all cases, on-going treatment solidifies successful recovery.

4. The Patient Sees A Doctor During Treatment

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 8 million Americans with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Common mental health problems include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD

Likewise, substance use and long-term alcohol consumption lead to many physical health problems like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Infectious illnesses (e.g. HIV, HCV, TB)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

Your physician is a key team player. Doctors can recommend alternative medicines that won’t compromise your recovery. Likewise, doctors can help get your physical health back on track.

 5. The Patient Gets Counseling

Behaviors play a big part in addiction, but therapy can help. Patients need to learn new coping skills, and they need to learn about boundaries. Additionally, they need guidance in navigating relationship conflicts. All of these types of therapies help the patient learn healthy new behaviors:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Supportive Psychotherapy
  • Families and Couples Therapy
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy

6. The Patient Takes Meds

Some patients use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate chronic pain while others are escaping a painful past trauma. According to SAMSHA, two out of three people in treatment were victims of child abuse. Others might be suffering from a co-occuring mental health problem. Anti-depressants and other meds can help. Also know as MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), doctors can prescribe meds that help reduce cravings. Some of these medications even create an adverse reaction if the patient relapses.

7. The Patient Has On-going Recovery Support

The first 30 days of treatment intensely focus on saving a patients life and changing a gripping habit. Unfortunately, the patient still needs help tackling these three issues:

  • Where to live
  • Where to work
  • Who to live with

For a successful recovery, the patient needs help transitioning back into life. Group meetings like NA and AA have helped many. Other patients may want to stay in a half-way house or have ongoing outpatient treatment. Most importantly, patients need a strong support system. Recovery doesn’t happen all alone.

* This Recovery Guidance Exclusive was adapted from 2016 Surgeon General’s Report.


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What Makes A Family Good?

Yesterday, shots rang out in another American high school, but this time it was in my home town. Most people shared this reaction, “He came from a good family.” Some were talking about the shooter. However, others were talking about the victim. Who was right? What makes a family “good”?

Meet The Smith Family

Bob Smith, the patriarch, works for the town’s most prestigious car dealership. Everyone in town loves Bob. He served in Vietnam. In his free time, Bob likes to garden, and he shares the harvest with everyone on his block. Bob sings in the church.

Bob’s wife Fran is friendly. She always has a pitcher of tea and twenty minutes to sit down at the table and chat. Fran loves to take care of her grandkids. They spend most Saturday afternoons in the neighborhood park or at the library.

Likewise, Bob and Fran’s kids are upstanding members of the community. Their daughter is in pharmaceutical sales. Their son is a brilliant engineer and a respected veteran. Both of the kids are active in their respective churches.

Now Meet The Jones Family

Mark and Jean also have two kids. Mark knows everybody because he’s had lots of jobs. Jean is funny. She’s always making jokes, usually at Mark’s expense.

Their youngest is almost finished with probation. She was arrested last year for selling drugs near a school. Although their oldest is filing bankruptcy this week, he’s doing well. He’s a year sober and the family’s bright spot. Between the two kids, there’s two failed marriages, two arrests and two stints in rehab.

It’s easy to tell which family is good, right?

Wrong. They are the same exact family. The Smith family represents the positive side we post on Facebook and share at the coffee shop. The Jones family represents what many families try to hide. Each day they breathe a sigh of relief when last their latest court case doesn’t make it into the paper.

To Get A Solution, We Have To Have A Problem

The idea of “good families” prevents healing because “good” families don’t have problems. Nothing to see here folks. Just one good kid shooting another good kid for no good or bad reason. All of the other nearby kids were good too. We’re all good, and we’re all “fine.”

American Families Are Not “Good”

According to drugfree.org, one in ten Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to either drugs or alcohol. One in five Americans experience a mental illness in any given year according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that 67% of the people in drug abuse treatment centers were physically or sexually abused as a child. This is not good; too many Americans are hurting.

Drop The Label And Get Better

Recovery teaches us to drop the “good” and “bad” labels. We look at what doesn’t work for us, and we admit there is a problem. Mental illness and substance abuse impact an entire family for several generations. Once we tire of feeling “bad” enough, we look for a life that’s better than just “good.”

Are you ready to find something better? Recovery Guidance can help. Recovery isn’t just for the person fighting addiction or struggling with mental illness; it’s for the whole family. From our website, you can find mental health providers, addiction treatment centers, family counseling, and family support groups. You can also use our site to search by city, state or zip code. We list resources from across the country.

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