There’s a whole lot that does happen in treatment. And there’s a whole lot more that doesn’t. And maybe it’s not the role of treatment providers to do many of the things that support sustained recovery, movement beyond drugs and alcohol and mental health issues, and a movement toward freedom. But it is our job at Active Recovery Network. And in many ways what we are talking about here, money and personal finances, is a necessary revolutionary act.

I just paid for three clients to do the 9-week Financial Peace University class through Dave Ramsey. This class teaches people financial literacy, and lays out very clear and simple path toward Financial Freedom. One that’s not taught in schools or many other places, if any. It’s also more often than the not not taught at home. So there’s a significant need for it when we are looking at what supports people to move away from self-harm, self-limiting beliefs and habits, and toward mental, physical, emotional freedom.

Most of our clients have talked until they’re blue in the face about sex drugs and Rock & Roll. These subjects are no longer taboo for them. One of the last, if not the last, taboo subjects is money. Being honest about our own financial picture, a financial blueprint and how we’ve related to money all our life, how we are currently relating to money and what our plan is moving forward can be something that invokes a lot of fear in the majority of the people we work with. To talk about this individually can be challenging. To talk about this in a group, as they do in the FPU class, may require bravery.

The approach to working with personal finances is similar to how we work with psychological material and our own unfolding. It starts with mapping out and becoming aware of where we are. From there, we begin to clarify where we want to go. Next, we look at the tools and resources we have and begin to put together a plan. Once we have a plan and a strategy in place, then we invoke support people and we positively and negatively incentivize the plan of moving in the direction we have mapped out for ourselves.

What I’ve learned in 15 years of doing in-home work with clients and families is that if the financial realm is never touched, then the recovery is incomplete, the risk for mental health or drug and alcohol, or behavioral addictions is higher and the healing process takes much longer. We have a finance curriculum that is simple that each of our clients works through. It simple, yet comprehensive. And, it is a point of great resistance with potentially great outcomes and personally growth.

It’s arguable that undergirding the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, that is, below the need for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation is the need for money. Money could be considered akin to oxygen in some ways. It’s something that if you have it, you might not think about much. But if you don’t have it, you won’t be thinking of anything else. And for those in recovery or with mental health issues, we’ve found, desperate times call for desperate measures. And those desperate measures might take you back to square one. “Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”It’s important to touch on this last taboo in the work that we do with our clients and families. When the discussion of money and personal financial wellness and health is on the table, it also eases up our similar conversations with our families. The typically taboo subject is spoken to directly, is in the realm of possibility for our conversations, and a new found sense of relief can be had once this area begins to be related to directly, with a plan, with support, and with a clear direction forward.

There is a saying that “every relapse starts with a lie.” The money realm is often one of the last areas to be illuminated as there is so much negative self-judgement, feelings and beliefs of incompetence, etc. But once we are able to shine a clear light of understanding on this area, let our clients know that they are not alone and that there can be a clear and hopeful path forward, we see in our clients a new sense of confidence, energy and belief in what is possible for them.