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He’s In Treatment & Doing Well – But Asking for Financial Help

boy taking keys mom points to clock

This is a response to a question posted by Forestthruthetrees:

"What do I do when my loved one is doing well in treatment and asks for money and to use my car?"

Hello! The question is what to do when your Loved One asks for money, or to use the car, while in treatment.  First off: Hurray! Your Loved One is in treatment and doing well.

As you’re discovering, the questions and concerns don’t stop when they stop using.

Get Guidance from the Treatment Facility

If your Loved One is in a treatment facility, call the facility and ask them what amount of money is reasonable to request from family. 

Be aware that clients in treatment may complain to their family that nothing is being provided by the facility and that they need to go out and buy X, Y, and Z for themselves. So please check with the facility and ask them how much, and for what kind of things, the money is needed. 

While it requires more of your energy, restrict your amount to what is needed for a short time – perhaps a week – in a long-term facility.  The money is then given as a reward to your Loved One for doing well while in treatment. If the money gets misspent, only a week’s worth is misspent. The next time, you can re-assess your Loved One's request for money based on how well he/she is doing.

The use of the car follows the same general principle as the money.  Call the facility and ask them why a car is needed.  If they tell you something reasonable, lend out your car to your Loved One, one week at a time, or one evening at a time, depending on the request. 

Rewards to Avoid

Cars, cell phones, apartments – all this big stuff – can be hard to meter out little by little. Therefore, they don’t make great rewards.  If you give your Loved One unlimited use of the car and they then relapse, it’s hard to get the car back. If they are installed in an apartment you provided, or the cell phone you gave them is on a yearly contract – these are hard to take it back if things go wrong. 

Favor rewards that can be easily taken back, like a cell phone with a monthly charge, or an apartment with a month-to-month lease.

Rewards for a Loved One in Outpatient Treatment

If your Loved One is in outpatient treatment, the question of what to provide in terms of help is also tricky.  The crisis of active use may be over, but the economic damage caused by active use is often not. This means your Loved One is still turning to you for help. This is such a common problem for families, it deserves many more posts and comments. 

The general rule of rewards applies here too.  Think about helping out with resources that can be metered out and withdrawn should there be a relapse.  We often encourage families to help with housing and money and cars for just a couple months, until the Loved One can get back on their feet. 

It’s not just about drugs and alcohol. It’s also about getting a job and learning the needed skills. It’s about learning how to relate to people in a mature way. It’s about housing that is drug-free and affordable. It’s about transport to and from work and recovery activities.

More on the subject of rewards:

*A note to other members on this site: We would be grateful if you could share some thoughts on how you help your Loved One manage the struggles of early recovery. (Use the comment form below…)

Thanks so much for your question, forestthruthetrees.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. This sounds very similar to our son who was only willing to go to outpatient counseling and treatment for his opioid addition. For now, he lives with us as he is in debt – our “bright line” is that if he starts using, we will go with him to his counselor and figure out what has to change next (in other words we did not threaten him with making him leave the house, we just stated that “if” he goes back to using, the current approach is not working and he will have to find another one (hopefully inpatient, if that is needed)…which may or may not involve us asking him to leave the house.
    In the meantime – after his boss gave him 3 weeks off work to start the treatment, he was very anxious to get back to work. We were also very worried, like help4t, that going back to work was ‘too soon” – but then with help from the counselor AND this website – we realized that it’s not our choice, he has to make these choices and our job is to stand back, support if sober, and make a change if he can’t stay sober. Going back to work was great for him as it gave him a sense of normalcy, got us all back into a routine, stopped us from worrying for the moment, once we realized that it was up to him to make his way forward without us in the way. It’s his journey and we will only influence it when we can. We did talk with him about giving us his money to hold it so he wouldn’t be tempted – but he didn’t want to do that and we respected that decision…instead we asked him to start a written budget/tracking money and as soon as he has a few months of that completed, will ask him to start paying rent so he sees what the true cost of his habit has been. So, my comment is to try to step back and let her do what she thinks she can do, if she does well -great; if not, back to the drawing board. She has to figure these things out herself, that’s part of the struggle that only she can address.

    1. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and advise. It really helps to hear from others who have walked in our shoes. I will take your advice and step back if she is staying clean. I will also have a plan in place if needed if she relapses at all. We are hopeful as she is that she can use what she has used from Rehab in her life going forward. She has also mentioned going to a HWH as that is what is being suggested for her going forward. I will help her with that process if/when needed. Thank you again.

      1. “Step back if she is staying clean…” Thank you both for your comments. Well said! It’s so hard not to parent your child as though they are still 12 yrs old. Young people with substance problems are so emotionally young.

        The role though is to partner not parent. This means letting them make their own decisions; letting them make their own mistakes. Partnering means being in their corner, if they relapse being ready to help with more treatment support: finding it, figuring out how to pay for it, transport etc. Partnering means providing the least amount of other supports for the shortest time so that your son or daughter learns to be responsible for their own wellbeing.

  2. My daughter will be coming home on the 22nd of December after 35 days in detox/inpatient. She is deep in debt due to court issues and DUI. I am not sure how to handle her when she comes home. I am hoping that she can find a sober living home here in MA (she is in FL now but needs to come back to MA for probation). I do not want to give her cash as I fear she will buy alcohol or drugs. she has a job at a very nice restaurant waiting for her, but i am unsure if this is the best environment and that the cash earned nightly is not the best. Please help here. I love the approach of this site by rewarding good behavior. So different from the tough love I have been told to give. My daughter has never been violent or stolen from us.