Wednesday July 30th 2014

Financial freedom tips for the alcoholic or addict in recovery

Financial freedom tips for former addicts

How much money would you pay to have a massive consciousness-shifting experience that would place you above the fray of worry, anxiety and fear? What price would you place on being able to spiritually transcend worldly concerns without avoiding reality or shirking your responsibilities?

It sounds too good to be true, but people are doing it everyday. These spiritual awakenings are not always sudden or intense. More often they occur over time, more organically. Also, the people who are having these gradual epiphanies don’t actually pay a fee for them. All they really do is pay up debts they already owe.

Financial amends & the 9th step

What we’re talking about are the financial amends that addicts make as part of clearing away the wreckage of their past. It’s not always a popular topic. Who wants to pay money out of pocket for something they wish they could forget all about? But that’s just the point. We don’t forget. Not really. And no matter what distraction we choose to blot out our self-awareness, somehow the soul always remembers what the mind would rather forget.

The amount of money it takes to clear one’s conscience is not arbitrary. We’re not trying to buy our way into a spiritual awakening (trust me, that doesn’t works anyway.) What we’re doing is removing the emotional burdens of a guilty conscience. If we’ve hurt someone’s feelings, we may be able to correct the past with a sincere apology. But if we owe someone money, then an apology alone won’t cut it. Your soul knows that; and you can’t fool your soul (trust me on that one too.)

It may be a selfish thing to say, but making financial amends is money well spent. I once spoke to an addict who told me that when she went back and added up all the money that she had spent using, paying for the direct consequences of using and then paying to try to get well, she realized that her addiction had cost her well over a million dollars during the twenty years of her active addiction and numerous failed attempts at recovery. That’s $50,000 a year. “At first,” she said, “I was blown away. I thought I had added wrong. But then I realized that the numbers actually made sense. To think,” she laughed, “I could have paid someone a full time salary just to be as crazy as I was.” When she finally got a good sponsor in a 12-Step program and worked the 9th Step, her financial amends all tolled were eventually all taken care of with a sum that was less than 1% of what her addiction had cost her. Now that’s a bargain, huh?

God’s plan for financial freedom

There’s an ancient Hebrew expression — You can tell a person by his kis, his kos and his kas. Kis means “wallet” — ie: if a person is able to have a healthy relationship with money. Kos literally means “cup” — ie: if a person is able to drink moderately or not. Kas means “anger” — ie: if a person can maintain a peaceful demeanor under pressure.

I think that’s a telling statement. We realize that a person cannot recovery from addiction while still indulging in toxic emotions like anger. But how often do we recognize how important it is in recovery not to allow financial insecurity to have a toxic influence on our thinking? The solution is to rely on our Higher Power and to go through with evening out our debts.

Photo credit: Heart Industry

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About Rabbi Shais Taub

Rabbi Shais Taub is one of today's most respected young scholars of Jewish spirituality and practice. National Public Radio called him "an expert in Jewish mysticism and the Twelve Steps." He is the author of God of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction.