Entering a rehab program can add to ones financial strain especially if finances are a pre existing problem. Luckily there are ways to tackle this issue! writes Addiction to drugs or alcohol can damage your health and your personal relationships, and it can drain your finances.

2014 survey on drug use by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration found that 27 million Americans aged 12 or older used an illegal drug in the prior 30 days. And a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism found that over 15 million American adults suffered from alcohol use disorder.

Anyone with a loved one who has suffered from a drug or alcohol problem, or anyone who has suffered addiction themselves, knows that the cost of addiction is high. It can lead to strained or broken relationships with loved ones, the loss of a job and not enough money to pay the bills.

If you’re struggling to stay clean and sober, and also have financial issues weighing on your mind, getting your life back on track may feel impossible. Addiction may be an ongoing battle, but financial recovery doesn’t have to be. With a solid plan, you can get your finances under control.

The high financial cost of drug and alcohol abuse

Those suffering from addiction may struggle with money management, spending more than they can afford on their addiction or making frivolous purchases while under the influence. While rehabilitation can be a critical part of turning your life around, the costs of addiction can follow you home from rehab.

Many who suffer addiction experience a financial one-two punch:

  1. Reduced income: Absenteeism and lack of productivity at work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol cost many people their jobs. Even addicts who hold onto their jobs can experience reduced income as addiction gets in the way of promotions, raises or bonuses.
  2. The cost of addiction: A six-pack of beer can cost $7. Drinking one six-pack a day can quickly add up to over $200 each month. Heavy use of a drug such as heroin can cost as much as $200 a day. That would put a dent in any budget.

Recovering from the impact of addiction on your finances

  1. Get back into the workforce
  2. Create a workable budget
  3. Open a savings account and add a small amount of money to it each week
  4. Begin to rebuild your credit score

Enrolling in rehab is a huge step, but the challenges don’t end once you’ve finished the program.

The first thing to remember is that you’re not the only one who has made financial mistakes. Taking a deep breath and planning out a road to financial recovery after rehab is an important part of getting back on your feet.

Step 1: Get back into the workforce

Finding a job can be stressful, particularly if there’s a gap in your resume due to time spent in rehabilitation or time not working due to addiction. Begin your job search by thinking about what work you enjoy doing. A job you enjoy will motivate you to work hard and help you to look past any of its less attractive aspects.

Keep in mind three factors in job choice that the Addiction Center considers important for people in recovery:

  • Clear and reasonable expectations: A stressful job or work environment will interfere with your long-term recovery from addiction.
  • A structured work environment and duties: Many people who have completed recovery find a stable routine makes their lives feel more manageable.
  • Opportunities for growth: You may need to take a step back in your career to ensure you can handle the work, or you may want to try a new line of work altogether. A job that sets you up for success by letting you grow your skills without having to change employers will be a bonus because you will avoid the stress of a future job search.

Step 2: Create a workable budget

Once you’ve found a new job and have a steady income, you need to make a budget you can stick to. Major expenses, such as rent, utilities and food should be your first priorities, but make sure you have money left over for savings and discretionary purchases.

Financial experts often suggest using the 50-30-20 method as a starting point for your budget. This budgeting method states that 50 percent of your income should go toward your necessities: rent, utilities, food and other basic bills. The next 30 percent should be dedicated to your wants, such as dinner out with friends, shopping for new clothes and weekend getaways. Finally, 20 percent of your income should go toward reaching your financial goals: paying off debt, setting up an emergency fund or saving for retirement.

At first, you may have to sacrifice some of that 30 percent to pay off larger debts and bills, but make sure you’re setting aside time and money each month to socialize and work on your mental health. Rebuilding relationships and spending time on your mental health is an important part of staying sober and thriving in recovery. As you start to get back on your feet financially, your budget can change to fit your lifestyle and your unique needs.

Step 3: Open a savings account and add a small amount of money to it each week.

“Pay yourself first” is an old adage in personal finance, and it means saving. Whether you’re building up a rainy day fund to cover unexpected costs such as car trouble, saving for a special trip or planning for retirement, you need to put some money aside from each paycheck – ideally 20 percent.

This can be difficult in the early days of getting back into the job market because you may make less money than you did before your addiction, but it’s OK to start small.

Regular paycheck deductions transferred into a savings account can help. Automatic transfers can keep you from occasionally skipping these deductions.

Step 4: Begin to rebuild your credit score.

Damaged credit can make it difficult to get approval for loans, credit cards or even an apartment. If your credit was damaged due to addiction, rebuilding your credit score should be a financial priority.

Why is a good credit score important?

Your credit score helps prospective lenders and card issuers evaluate whether or not you can be trusted to pay your bills on time. Credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion assign these scores based on multiple factors of FICO’s traditional formula:

  • Payment history: Consistently paying your bills on time is the most important component of your credit score. If you have a consistent record of meeting your financial obligations, you’re likely to continue to do so in the future.
  • Credit utilization: High outstanding balances on several credit cards will reduce your credit score. Credit lines drawn to their limits could be seen as a sign that you’re not handling debt responsibly.
  • Length of credit history: A longer track record of responsible credit use will improve your credit score.
  • New credit: Opening several credit lines at once can be seen as an indication that you’re in financial trouble. It can hurt your credit score.
  • Credit mix: Managing a mix of revolving credit lines (such as credit cards) and installment loans (such as car loans or mortgages) can also improve your credit rating because it shows you are responsible with different types of debt.

Your credit score is important because it can determine your approval for a mortgage, car loan, new credit card or any other type of loan, and how much you’ll pay in interest. Renters and landlords may also use your credit score as a way to evaluate your payment trustworthiness.

How to rebuild your credit score after rehab

Experian has outlined 3 things that are critical to improving your credit score:

  • Minimize debt
  • Don’t apply for loans or credit cards you don’t need
  • Make sure your income covers your spending

Rebuilding damaged credit takes time, but there are a few ways you can boost your credit score:

  • Automate your payments. Making your payments on time is the most important credit scoring factor. Setting up auto-pay can ensure you never slip up.
  • Pay down cards with a higher utilization first. Both overall and individual card utilization factor into your credit score. Make it a priority to pay down any cards with high balances relative to their credit limits – especially if they’re close to being maxed out.
  • Become an authorized user. If a friend or family member is willing to add you to their own card account as an authorized user, it can help improve your credit score.

This may seem like a lot…

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Overcoming an addiction can pose a real challenge for many. They are not easy to overcome. However, if you seek help and go through the right channels you can overcome it!

According to years of research have shown that substance use disorders are brain disorders that can be treated effectively. Treatment must take into account the type of drug used and the needs of the individual. Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components, including detoxification, counseling, and medications, when available. Multiple courses of treatment may be needed for the patient to make a full recovery.60

The two main categories of drug addiction treatment are behavioral treatments (such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy) and medications. Behavioral treatments help patients stop drug use by changing unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior; teaching strategies to manage cravings and avoid cues and situations that could lead to relapse; or, in some cases, providing incentives for abstinence. Behavioral treatments, which may take the form of individual, family, or group counseling, also can help patients improve their personal relationships and their ability to function at work and in the community.60

Addiction to prescription opioids can additionally be treated with medications including buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone [see “Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)” below]. These drugs can counter the effects of opioids on the brain or relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings, helping the patient avoid relapse. Medications for the treatment of addiction are administered in combination with psychosocial supports or behavioral treatments…

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American Addiction centers writes

Drug abuse has devastating effects on the mind, behavior, and relationships, but the permanent effects of drugs on the body can slowly destroy vital systems and functions, culminating in permanent disability or even death. Even legal drugs, taken to excess, can cause significant problems that cannot be easily undone; and for some illegal drugs, excessive consumption might not even be necessary for lifelong damage to occur.

Cocaine Use and the Body

girl cocaine As one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, what cocaine does to both the body and mind has been well documented. However, there are many factors that can influence the precise nature of the long-term physical effects that cocaine has on a user. Some of these factors include:

  • Timespan (the duration of the cocaine use)
  • Frequency of consumption
  • What type of cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride versus the freebase “crack” form of the drug)
  • How the drug was taken (whether it was snorted, smoked, or injected into a vein, as smoking cocaine makes the drug reach the brain more quickly than snorting, giving users the immediate effect)
  • The average amount of cocaine consumed per dose
  • Individual biology, psychology and physiology, which can include current mental health status, family history, age, gender, diet, the presence of other drugs, etc.

Among the long-term (and possibly permanent) effects of cocaine are a decrease in bone density and muscle mass, which can lead to osteoporosis. Cocaine suppresses appetite, so much so that it can be a cause of, and a consequence of, eating disorders. The drug significantly changes the body’s metabolism, rendering fatty foods meaningless and giving addicts much less body fat than people who don’t use cocaine.

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‘Profound Metabolic Alteration’

On its own, cocaine can also cause lasting damage to food and liquid intake, resulting in permanent changes to body weight (or a “profound metabolic alteration,” in the words of the Appetite journal) regardless of diet.

cocaine respiratory effects

Cocaine abuse can also induce a persistent cough in users due to the widespread damage that the substance does to the respiratory system; specifically, complications in the upper respiratory and pulmonary systems often result breathing troubles, which lead to an inadequate supply of blood to the heart muscles (a condition known as ischemia). Repeated exposure to cocaine through snorting and smoking can also cause infections and tissue death of the nasal linings and sinuses. Users can experience chronic cough, chest pain, and fatigue due to lung damage (pulmonary edema), as well as pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding from the lungs) and a number of other conditions, such as pulmonary barotrauma, foreign body granulomas, a cocaine-related pulmonary infection, obliterative bronchiolitis, and asthma, to name some listed by the Recent Developments in Alcoholism journal. Long-term cocaine users are often easily fatigued, have trouble breathing, and regularly experience chest pains.

Much research has been conducted into what cocaine abuse does to the heart and cardiovascular systems in the long-term. The American Heart Association noted that…

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I remember my struggles with quitting drugs and alcohol quite vividly. I was at a point in my life when chasing intoxicated states was all that I could think about. It was a way for me to escape the negative feelings and the harsh realities of where I was in my life. My thought process at the time was something along the lines of:

Sad? Crack open a beer and light up a joint.

Lonely? Head out to the bar for some social intoxication.

Unhappy? Chase the dragon towards another high to forget about it all.

I knew this destructive behavior would catch up to me at some point, and it finally did. I ended up in jail for two years on drug-related charges. It was there that I decided to finally get sober and quit the habits that had destroyed my life and damaged my relationships.

Quitting drug and alcohol consumption is very much a mental health issue that requires strong emotional fortitude and resolve. I am very proud to say that after 9 years, I am still sober. I have transformed myself into a successful entrepreneur, fitness guru, and a positive force in the lives of my friends and family. I love sharing my story with others and discussing all of the benefits I have experienced from getting sober.

Below, I have prepared a list of the top 5 mental health benefits of quitting drugs and alcohol in hopes that it inspires those who are currently struggling with addiction to take the necessary steps towards sobriety.

1. Enhanced Mental Clarity

During the height of my drug and alcohol addiction, I felt as though everywhere I went I had a grey cloud floating above my head. I was foggy, unmotivated, and unfocused. After I got sober, I immediately noticed that the cloud had lifted. I started thinking clearly about my goals and what I wanted in life. I began seeking out new knowledge and interests, which led to me starting my own digital marketing company. Honestly, it felt amazing.

To this day, I love the fact that when I wake up in the morning, I have a clear intention and focus. Enhanced mental clarity is a great benefit you will receive after quitting drugs and alcohol.

2. Reduced Risk of Mental Health Issues

Did you know that drug and alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing serious mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia? Substance use can exacerbate underlying mental health problems. If mental health conditions are something that runs in your family, it’s a good idea to kick any substance abuse habits and quit them quickly.

A lot of people will abuse prescription drugs or alcohol to help cope with their mental health issues, but the reality is, those substances only make things worse. Reducing the risk of mental health complications is another strong benefit you will experience after you quit abusing drugs and alcohol.

3. Better Relationships with Family and Friends

At one point during my struggles with addiction, I realized that my relationships with my family and my friends were suffering immensely due to my dependence on altered states. These are the people that are most important to me, and I realized that I was simply tired of neglecting them in return for short bursts of feeling high or drunk.

After I got sober, I connected with my friends and family in a much more meaningful manner. They have helped me in countless ways during my time being sober, and have inspired me to become the man I am today. Stronger relationships with my family and friends have led to increased happiness and greater purpose in my life. This benefit of quitting alcohol and drugs cannot be emphasized enough!

4. Increased Self-Esteem

It’s funny that after I stopped using alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism, I felt I had discovered who I truly was as a person. My self-esteem skyrocketed, I gained confidence in every aspect of my life, and I haven’t looked back since. Drugs and alcohol were holding me back from reaching my full potential. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I got sober that I realized this.

I also got healthier and became passionate about exercise and proper nutrition. These interests helped me advance my self-esteem and emotional strength even further. A huge benefit of quitting drug and alcohol use is an immediate increase in self-esteem. You will feel better about yourself after you quit those destructive habits.

5. Improved Memory

It’s no secret that alcohol and drug use affects cognitive abilities. Talk to anyone after a night of binge drinking and their memory of the night will be an incomplete haze. This also holds true for drugs like marijuana and cocaine. These substances have a profoundly negative impact on your memory.

Instead of hurting your brain with damaging substances in order to experience nights you won’t even remember, wouldn’t you rather create profoundly positive moments that will remain in your mind for a lifetime?

Quitting drugs and alcohol was the best decision I ever made. I have certainly experienced the five benefits mentioned above and cannot emphasize the importance that staying sober has had on my life. If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse issues, remember all of the great benefits you will receive by cutting these damaging substances out of your life for good.

Have you experienced any of the benefits mentioned above after quitting drugs or alcohol? Which of the above benefits is most important to you personally? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

If you or someone you…

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What Are Some Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

The symptoms of drug withdrawal, and the length of that withdrawal, vary depending on the drug of abuse and the length of the addiction. These are a few withdrawal symptoms and timelines for major targets of abuse:

  • Heroin and prescription painkillers: flu-like symptoms lasting 24-48 hours
  • Benzodiazepines: anxiety and/or seizures lasting weeks or (in some cases) months
  • Cocaine: depression and restlessness lasting 7-10 days
  • Alcohol: tremors and/or seizures lasting three days to several weeks

In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health(NSDUH) published that almost 25 million Americans over the age of 12, approaching 10 percent of this section of the population, had used an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey, classifying them as current drug users.

Addictive drugs and alcohol make changes to the way the brain processes emotions and regulates mood. Many of these changes create a flood of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which create an artificial feeling of pleasure, or a “high.”

Continued abuse of drugs or alcohol interferes with the motivation and reward chemistry and circuitry, resulting in drug cravings and dependence.

Once a dependence on a substance has formed, withdrawal symptoms will start when the substance is then removed. Different drugs and substances will have different withdrawal symptoms and timelines, depending on how they interact with the brain and bodily functions. Drugs are absorbed and remain active in the body for differing amounts of time. This is often referred to as the drug’s “half-life,”which relates to the different withdrawal timelines for each substance.

The severity and duration of withdrawal is influenced by the level of dependency on the substance and a few other factors, including:

  • Length of time abusing the substance
  • Type of substance abused
  • Method of abuse (e.g., snorting, smoking, injecting, or swallowing)
  • Amount taken each time
  • Family history and genetic makeup
  • Medical and mental health factors

For example, someone who has regularly injected large doses of heroin for several years, with a family history of addiction and underlying mental health problems, is likely to experience a longer withdrawal period with potentially more…

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