The Effects of Financial Hardships
There is no question that addictions are expensive. They cost the addict, but quite often, family members are placed in financial hardship as well. Family members incur financial costs through theft, hiring additional help when the addict is functionally absent, paying for legal assistance, and paying for treatment.
There are also financial hardships when the addict loses his job, spends money on his addictive substances or behaviors, or gambles away his paycheck. None of these are minor expenses, and family members may legitimately fear complete financial ruin as a result of addictions. Credit may be destroyed, and with that, the financial reputation of family members as well as the addict.
Financial hardship may be a source of shame and embarrassment for family members. Again, anger and resentment directed toward the addict are commonplace and understandable. Family members must be proactive in protecting themselves financially. It may be necessary to remove the addict's name from bank accounts, credit cards, and assets.
This should not be seen as rejection of the addict, but recognition of the reality that when addictions are in charge, the addict is not the responsible individual that he may have been in the past.
Making amends is a key component of twelve-step programs in working toward recovery. And for good reason. Making amends builds one's self-esteem, helps rebuild relationships, and makes it clear to others that one is serious about recovery. For family members to tell the addict that amends aren't necessary or required is to block his recovery progress.
Family members have a right to protect themselves financially. Financial consequences need to land where they belong, with the addict. If family members choose to help the addict pay for treatment and recovery efforts, they have a right to choose resources they can afford. The most expensive, exclusive treatment programs will be worthless if the addict is not committed to recovery. If an addict is committed to recovery, even less-expensive treatment options will be of great benefit provided the professionals involved are adequately trained in working with addictions.
It is also important for family members to understand that requiring the addict to repay them financially is reasonable and necessary for the addict's recovery. It helps build the addict's self-esteem and helps heal the resentments family members may have experienced when financially struggling.