Money

Money Mismanagement

Addicts often have trouble with money. They spend money on alcohol, drugs, fad diets or diet aids, sex or romance, legal or medical consequences of their addiction. Drug addicts may spend hundreds of dollars a day on illegal drugs. Bulimics report spending up to $100 a day or more on food. Anorexics or their families may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their treatment.

Compulsive Spending

Compulsive spending on other things may complicate the problem. Addicts commonly report times in their lives when compulsive spending seemed more of a problem than their identified addiction, as if the addiction would migrate back and forth to and from compulsive spending. Others say they did both at the same time. For more information, see the module on Spending.

Financial Problems

Many addicts in recovery have to deal with problems with money and money management even after active addiction has been arrested. In As Bill Sees It (1967), Financial Problems appears in the index, and several selections are offered. It suggests that recovery depends on placing priority on spiritual matters rather than on the material. In the Big Book (p. 127) it says, “For us, material well-being always follows spiritual progress, it never precedes it.”

In today’s world it is quite a spiritual challenge to experience the promise that “Fear … of economic insecurity will leave us” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 1976, p. 84). There are bills to pay, obligations to be met, and the desire for comforts that we have taken for granted as necessary.

Money as Energy

It helps to understand the purpose of money. It is easier to use than trying to find chickens or manufactured goods to exchange for whatever you have to trade. You can diffuse some of the emphasis placed on money itself by seeing it as energy rather than a thing. This energy is limitless — to see it as limitless energy rather than as something to be hoarded can help remove your fear of not having it.

Seeing money as a thing of value is a trap. If you have it and others don’t, you can feel guilty If others have it and you don’t, you may feel resentful.

Spiritual Foundation

You do need enough money coming in and going out to meet your needs, but it is most important to build your recovery on a solid foundation of spiritual principles. Things accumulated with money can always be taken from you. You can lose jobs, possessions, and investments, but no one can take your faith or your true friends from you.


Money, see also: Acceptance, Affirmations, Attitudes, Behavior, Character defects, Control, Defenses, Feelings, Inventory, Perfectionism, Power, Recovery, Resentments, Responsibility, Self-centeredness, Spending, Step Four, Step Six, Step Eight, Surrender, Survival roles, Trust.

Updated 9 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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