drug addiction

Financial problems almost always arise when someone in the household is a drug user.

Drugs cost money. Where is that money coming from? Drugs are an expensive habit and financial problems arise in any family where there is a user. At the same time as the user is spending money on drugs, he or she may not have as much if any earning power. From a doctor who is addicted to prescription medication to a son who does not work and uses street drugs, neither may be in a good financial situation.

There have been many wives of prominent men who have discovered that the nest egg that they thought was safely in the bank has vanished. Likewise an average family with a drug user may find that they have things, including cash, missing. Drug addicts can be very underhanded when it comes to getting their fix. Things may vanish to be sold or exchanged for drugs, and the user often has a smooth and plausible reason why the items are gone and the family is struggling with financial problems.

Every household is a little different but here are a few suggestions which may be useful if you are suffering from financial problems or maybe ever avert some of them.

Family Valuables.

Make sure all the valuables in the house are accounted for. Please do not underestimate the drug user and their ability to rationalize why it would be ok steal your stuff. They are unable or unwilling to deal with the resulting financial problems. When they are in the clutches of a drug, most common sense and family feeling has already fled.
If you have items of value that can be marked within engraver for example, why not mark them while you still have them. This is always a good idea in case of any kind of theft.

Money and banking.
Who is in charge of the money in the household?
Do you have access to bank accounts, or are you at the financial mercy of the person who does? Is this person also the drug user?
There can be quite a bit of financial abuse if the drug abuser also controls the family money. The money will go on the drug habit long before anything like mortgage/rent is paid or food provided.
Maybe you need to have a few dollars hidden away. This would be especially useful if you need to leave the house suddenly. See my escape plan. for more on this.

Some other things to think about.
Do you share a credit card with the drug user or does the user have access to any of your cards?
Can they get into your wallet or purse?
Have you checked the items on your cards and do you know what the balance is?
Are there a lot of cash draws from card or bank account?
Getting cash on a credit card is a very expensive way of getting money for anything but is often the way drug users get their cash. If your name is also on the card then you are probably liable for the resulting payments.

Is the user getting money or stealing from another family member? Are other family members having financial problems due to the drug user? It is not uncommon for a drug user to go round to each member in turn and get money or things which can be traded or sold. Going to Grandma with sad stories or threats is often a way for a user to get Granny to hand over her social security.

If Grandma has anything of value what I wrote above applies. Check any elderly relative for their valued belongings. Pay special attention to jewelry, guns or other weapons and tools.


I lost a generator valued at $900 and found it had been taken to a pawn shop. Thanks to the Sheriff I got it back, but some things never came back!


Drug users can also scare other family member into providing money. It is wise to keep an eye open for this type of abuse which is often actual blackmail or threats. If items of value have gone it is probably a matter for the police, although I know it is hard for many families to be forced to do this.

If you can get enough support from the rest of your family then a family intervention could be the next step. Make all the participants understand the need for you to work together.

What if you are short of food or clothing, especially if you have children? Try a local food shelf or local Church food bank. For clothing - try Churches that have a clothes closet or thrift stores. Also remember that many areas have free things on Craigslist or a freecycle (Yahoo) group. Put in a request for the things you need and often people will help out.

It is important for you to understand your legal position.
If your partner is the income producer but is also the drug abuser and particularly if you have children to support, you may need visit an attorney or go to Legal Aid.
What is owned jointly?
Is your name on the house deed or the rental agreement?
How about a vehicle? Do you have a car of your own? What about insurance? Who pays? Has it been paid? Some people find out too late that they have no insurance (after the car is wrecked).
What about life insurance? Have any policies been cashed in? Most drug abusers are not truthful, especially when it comes to money for their habit, and you will be left with the financial problems of their making.

The families who fare best are the ones who are proactive in dealing with the financial problems. Drug abusers are never proactive!

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This page updated 2013