How to Help a Loved One Who is in Debt Due to Using Drugs

Very sad youg man sitting on the floor crying due to his grief

Contributor: Jane McGuire, BS, Director of Content for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope

Having a loved one that is addicted to drugs is difficult. Stress and worry go hand in hand. Often times a loved one is worried about the addiction sufferer’s health and safety, as well as their finances.

Proceed with Caution

Man thinking and watching the sea on the beachThe National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her.” [1]

Drugs are expensive, it is estimated that in 2012 the overall cost of substance abuse in the United States exceeded $600 billion annually. [1] A person suffering from drug addiction typically puts their addiction as their top priority.

When this happens, the drug habit is placed in front of any other expenditure. When the habit gets out of control, groceries, rent, gas, clothing, money for bills, it all ends up all going for drugs, and the problem continues to compound.

Once money for the essentials is spent, the funds need to come from somewhere. Valuables are pawned and sold, and desperation sets in.

Depending on your closeness with the person suffering from addiction, he or she may reach out to you for help. The request can come in all forms, but it can often be a request for financial assistance. It’s important to proceed with caution. Giving a person addicted to drugs cash, can be adding fuel to an already burning fire.

How to Help Financially

dollar bills and change on a tableHelping financially is typically discouraged. If you are very concerned and still want to help financially it’s important to ask the tough questions.
What will the money be used for?

It’s uncomfortable to feel you are prying into someone else’s financial affairs. The important thing here is to get as much detail regarding the situation as you can.

This will help you to make the best decision possible, as well as protect you from some of the fabrications that may occur as they may be in denial.

May I pay the creditor directly? If the reason your loved one is in financial trouble is because they spent their money on drugs, the probability of he or she spending your funds on drugs as well is high.

Ask if you can pay your funds directly to the landlord or utility company. Buy groceries and take them to your loved one, knowing that you have helped and that they have healthy food to eat is good for both of you.

Other Ways to Help

Many believe financial assistance is not helpful to someone struggling with drug addiction, and they refuse to provide financial aid. They look for other ways to provide assistance.

group of people holding handsOften times communities have resources available to help those that are suffering financially. Local churches, police departments, and missions usually provide a list of resources available when an inquiry is made.

Your state’s Department of Human Services office will have information on where to go for resources.

Ask which churches and other non-profits have food banks available, many communities have hot meals that are made at missions or senior centers to feed those that are hungry. Local non-profits will have information on who to contact for assistance with rent and utilities.

If your loved one is unemployed, consider assisting them with a resume. Keep your eye out for help wanted signs.

The road to and through addiction is long. Do your research and know what treatment options are available within your community. It is possible that the next time your loved one reaches out for help they are reaching out for help with their addiction.

Remember that you cannot change your loved one’s circumstances. They have to want recovery, they have to seek treatment and work to stay clean and sober. Seek support for yourself. Seeing your loved one struggle with addiction is stressful for both of you.

Consider attending Nar-Anon or Al-Anon meetings or seek counseling. Speaking with others that have been down this path and sharing experience, strength and hope together is encouraging.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What types of resources are available within your community to assist with those that are struggling financially?


1. Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction. (2012, November). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Jane McGuireAbout the author: Jane McGuire is the Director of Content at Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. Jane graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jane believes that everyone has a story of trial, that when shared, can be used to benefit and encourage someone else who is struggling to find hope and direction.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 20, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

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