Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?

Published by at 3:40 pm under Common Concerns

Welcome to First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Today Veronica, Tarcila, and Wendy will tell us how they handled money problems that were due to someone else’s drinking.

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18 comments

18 comments on “Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?”

  1. Kristal says:

    My husband is an active addict. He’s been in a rehab center once and he has been going to AA meetings. We have moved from state to state hiding from our reality. It’s been really hard for me and my 2 children. At this moment of my life I feel hopeless, I don’t know what else to do. I live in fear every time he goes out of the house by himself because every time this happens he goes back to using drugs.

    We sold our house and now all the money we had is gone. I see the bills coming to the house without any income. He’s supposed to start working tomorrow but it’s been two nights he has not come back yet. I don’t have the heart to ask him to leave the house. I always worry about what he would do by himself.

    I’ve been reading Al-Anon literature and I’m still trying to understand how to overcome our problems. I know I have to start thinking about me and my kids and I have to start letting him be responsible for himself. I just pray to God that he gives me the strength that I need to search for my own happiness again without letting my husband and his addiction rule my life. I’m still struggling because I don’t like to lose my family (husband and kids). I don’t know how to keep him in my life but at the same detach myself from his behavior.

  2. Jody says:

    Yikes–unbelievable that I have been in Al-Anon for 10 years, and never “googled” Al-Anon and money. I did today. My story is that I have always chosen debting men. I now know that I was attracted to their drama. On the surface, I loved to play Mommy–solve their problems, put them on a budget, listen to their troubles, and generally save their day!

    Below the surface, Step 5 showed me that the exact nature of my behavior was to get my ego stroked. Today I know that the bigger the ego, the smaller HP is in my life. The bigger the ego, the smaller the peace of mind is in my life. I was so excited to find our G-41 Reserve Fund Guideline. I read it thoroughly, answered the questions, invited my sponsor to share her answers with me, and brought the guideline into my group. That was a turning point in my recovery.

    Although we scratch our heads a lot in Al-Anon about the lack of members willing to be in service, I discovered that there is no mystery. Tradition 7 says that our groups ought to be self-supporting. However, group members were expected to pay for group literature orders, and wait to be reimbursed by the group treasurer. District members were expected to pay for expenses, and wait to be reimbursed. AIS members were expected to pay for stamps, copies, public outreach materials, and wait to be reimbursed. Area members were expected to pay for travel expenses, etc. and wait to be reimbursed. Districts were expected to pay for expenses that were in the Area budget, and wait to be reimbursed.

    Members willing to be in service told me that they could not afford to put up money for group, district, AIS or Area and wait to be reimbursed. Districts told me that they could not afford to put up money for Area service and wait to be reimbursed. When I brought this up at every level, I was told at every level “that’s how it’s done”. Hmmm–that’s not what our CAL says.

    At this time, my recovery is focused on being the change that I want to see! As a GR, I make my group aware that our Service Manual discusses “use of group funds”. The treasury is there for the group to spend. As a DR, I let our GRs know that funds for budgeted expenses are available immediately to our members in service. As a member of AIS, I continue to question why we expect members to pay out of pocket for budgeted expenses, and wait to be reimbursed. As a DR seated on AWSC, I am motioning our Area to make funds for budgeted expenses available immediately to our members in service. As a DR interested in Area positions, I am questioning why we expect members to pay for budgeted expenses out of pocket, and wait to be paid back.

    Face to face, members in service tell me that “they don’t mind–they put it on their personal credit card and have 30 days to pay”. They tell me “not a problem–I have coupons.” That’s not what our CAL says. Concept 12, Warranty Five, guides us to be democratic in thought and action. That means that across the board, we place principles above personalities and make service available to every member, regardless of their personal circumstances.

    This focus has brought tremendous recovery into my home. When I speak, I share my story about how many relationships I supported, how many cars I bought for men, how may times I loaned money to men. My distorted thinking told me that “if you owe me you can’t leave me”. It was manipulation, martyrdom, management and motherhood all rolled into one hot mess!

    Today I have clarity about where my financial responsibility ends, and where my spouse’s financial responsibility begins. This has fostered unity and limited major confusion (P2R) in our relationship. I can let “him” drive off to work without worrying about the condition of his tires, or filling his gas tank! I can enjoy a personal membership to the gym without feeling guilty about what I have and what he doesn’t have! I can appreciate his willingness to participate, without putting a price tag on it!

    Today, I am appropriate in our relationship. I am not overbearing or overly responsible. As I continue to work my money program in Al-Anon, I practice patience, tolerance, faith, humility and acceptance in working with members and service arms as we grow together.

  3. Susan says:

    The progression of the disease and financial mess, cost us our house. We moved from the country to the city. Lived in a condo. My idea was to move to an apartment. Then I wanted to take over the money. I was in survival mode. He would not let me have control of it. The drinking took him over. He left. I focussed on me. He lost his life. My HP was here. He brought my daughter home the 7 months before. So I was grateful for that. Today I find my HP and even my AH giving back to me financially and spiritually.

  4. Hoon says:

    I’ve been a grateful member of Al-Anon now for many years and it has and continues to bring grace into my life. I am always astonished at how God always seems to guide me to things that I need, such as this topic.

    I have been thinking about job security and finances, particularly as since becoming a single mum after divorcing the alcoholic has left me with some issues in the workplace. Also I am going to have to re-start the court process over his access to the children because of his unacceptable behaviour with them, which is in most part driven by his illness. Which of course has financial implications. This is in spite of the fact that I am a highly qualified professional woman.

    However I am trying to trust in my HP, because I have learned that, inspite of my faith in Him/Her being so wanting, that He/She has always given me what I need.

    In particular, practising the Steps has led me to behave with courage at work (sometimes I have to ask God many many times for it), and it has healed my relationship with my own family, which had been in tatters because of my ex-husband’s behaviours and it has to be said, my own shortcomings. It has led to my father making me the most incredible gift of giving me unconditionally the money to nearly eradicate my mortgage, which would never have come about if our relationship had not been healed.

    So therefore I am going to finish with saying that although I still have issues with trust and faith in God, I have learned that through working this program, miracles happen.

  5. Rhed says:

    I’m new to Al-Anon and have yet to consider attending meetings. My husband is an alcoholic, and the pains my children and I are going through are still fresh.

    It has been hard because I never drank and have no vices and I was not raised in the kind of life my husband led; so eventually finding out that his “casual drinking” was more than what he led me to believe when we were dating was very surprising. I was not prepared to deal with the things that come with that kind of life–all the lying, the mental and verbal abuse, the financial hardships were just the tip of the iceberg.

    It was hard because I am not from this country and have no friends and family around. I wake up every day feeling choked (literally), and feeling scared every time my husband goes to “hang out.”

    The last 2 years of my life (and my children’s) have been a roller-coaster ride. My husband’s addiction led him to get charged with several offenses and is facing court dates one after another. He said after finally reaching the lowest point of his life, he now “realized” his mistake and is attending AA meetings as ordered by the court. He said he is learning from those meetings and has been sober for 7 months without any relapse. He said that he is working on fixing his life.

    I give him kudos for that (if he really is doing it), but my main struggle right now is that I am still in pain. He treated me like dirt and dragged my self-esteem to the ground. I had to beg the church for our survival (mine and my children’s). From someone who grew up in a good life and never had to beg for charity, I faced traumatic emotional problems, being alone in a foreign country, and my children got affected too. I’m usually a strong-willed person, but for the first time in my life, I’m facing depression.

    My husband gets upset when we fight and I mention things that he did (most because he couldn’t remember those) and tells me to “move on”–like it’s that easy. It’s like what I felt for the last 2 years doesn’t really matter because what matters is that he is now trying to change. Is that enough? What about me? What about my children? Can he just expect that I will accept him with “love-struck” eyes like I used to and open up my arms to him?!

    I do love my husband and I know there is NO ONE in his life right now (except for me) who can show him what a normal and happy family should be. His alcoholism was brought about by his awful childhood, so needless to say, his family is not the best people for him to be around on his path to recovery.

    I do want to be there for him, but there is a part of me that screams: “I’ve had enough of this!” There is a part of me that seriously doubts that he will truly change. That lack of trust was a result of his countless broken promises and lies. I think he is an expert on that.

    I’m really having a hard time giving my support to him because I am very angry and have not forgiven him yet. I know I need spiritual, emotional and mental healing, and I know it will not happen that quick, but I want to start.

  6. Cat says:

    I was in a relationship with an alcoholic for 3 years. I never had any idea what alcoholism was and how it affected everything until well into my relationship, well after I fell for him. As time went by, he started being very controlling and not letting me see my friends. He would go through my phone and computer and make it difficult for me to see my family. He became a recluse, never wanting to go out and my family couldn’t stand him.

    It was weird because he never liked me going anywhere, but didn’t want to spend time with me at home, either. I stood by him, made excuses for him and lied to his family for him. I researched everything from hypnotherapy, acupuncutre, herbal remedies to different types of meetings and establishing routines for him. I loved him so much, but he was not ready to quit. We would argue all the time and he would lie about his drinking. He went through rehab once and AA meetings didn’t seem to help. He would say he needed a drink to make it through the meetings!

    We owned a house together, but he trashed the place. Eventually I ended things with him with the hope that he would sort himself out and take me back. I even left my job (because I worked with him) and moved out of the house even though I continued to pay everything, even when he stopped paying.

    I came back to get my stuff and he violently attacked me. Through the courts I got a protection order and gained occupancy of the property because he could not look after himself, let alone the property, and I could not afford rent and a mortgage.

    His parents protect him and continue to bail him out with money etc. He gets into debt when he buys alcohol and drugs, as the bills come second, then his parents pay the backlog.

    Since he has moved out, he has done a second stint in rehab and been 7 months sober now, after 12 solid years of drinking. I am so happy for him. However, he has not slowed down on his motivation to destroy me. He is now preceding to get me kicked out of the property entirely, now that I have spent thousands revovating it. There is no limit to the pain he has caused me.

  7. Natasha says:

    I had about 15,000 dollars saved before I met my boyfriend and now I am in debt. I did not know for the first 1 to 1.5 years we lived together that he even had a drinking problem, and I have a Bachelors Degree and am an intelligent person. But he hid the alcohol and secretly stole money from me–just enough each time that I would not notice.

    Now we have a baby and he has gone to rehab, but to no avail–He swears up and down and swears on his life that he is not drinking, but I am wiser now and he’s drunk all the time, and I find his bottles. I finally told him the next time he drinks, he has to leave. He insisted I could not make him leave because his name is on the lease (as well as mine, yet I pay for everything).

    I did catch him and I told him that I will file a restraining order against him with a kick-out order to make him leave (which will affect his vistation with his teenage daughter, should she decide to ever visit him–even she is done with him). His other alternative is he could just choose to leave on his own and I will not have to file anything.

    His mother came down (granted, this is a 40-year-old man we are talking about) and helped him financially find a place to stay and get comfortable, and is treating me badly, as if I am being mean. That is so incredibly hurtful because she was married to his father, who was also an alcoholic, so why is she acting like I am the bad person and rescuing her son?

    I love my boyfriend and did NOT want him to leave (especially with a baby…I need help with him), but I had to follow through with my word or get sucked into the same cycle over and over again. I even invited her to attend an Al-Anon meeting with me (after helping her son leave) and to visit with her grandson and she promised she would call me and never did.

    And I’m not even mad at my boyfriend. I think he really wants to stop drinking and tries but can’t. I feel more sad for him than mad, but no one should be mad at me. I did the right thing, despite what my heart wants.

  8. A says:

    I didn’t know that alcoholism is a family disease until I came to Al-Anon. I also did not know that the drinking and stinkin’ thinkin’ cause/contribute to problems in all areas of life, including finances and employment. Just like alcohol, financial problems are a symptom of the spiritual disease.

    So when I rescued my qualifier from financial problems, I did not know that I was trying to cure the symptoms of a disease, and someone else’s disease at that! I thought that when you are in a family, you help people with their problems. I caused myself misery and heartache by taking on someone else’s problems. I put my life on hold and took on debt that did not belong to me.

    Al-Anon gave me the tools and spiritual guidance to look at my options and make different decisions for my life. I was able to dig out of a deep hole, with the love of my Higher Power.

    Today, when someone comes to me with a problem, I can take the time to ask if this is something I want to be involved in. I have choices. I can say, “I love you and hope you find an answer.”

    Today, I also ask questions before I combine my finances with someone else. Assuming that just because someone loves me, that we will have similar financial principles is asking for trouble. Our Traditions and Concepts saved my life!

  9. Lisa says:

    Thanks, Doris. I am 51 days sober and was sent to Al-Anon by my counselor. I am thankful for AA and for Al-Anon.

    Money has always been an issue for me and my mother, who started drinking after my father left when I was six. I’m working on my 6th Step and hope that my higher power will show me the right path this time, as I have legal issues pending.

    I don’t really speak to my mother and wish so badly that I had someone to confide in besides my sponsor. I have yet to have a successful relationship with a man, but want one very bad. I always choose the drunk losers because this is what I watched my mother do repeatedly after my father left.

    I’ve never felt so alone, guilty, and depressed in my life but at least I’m thinking clearer and can remember now. I know I must let go of the hate for my mother and move on to a happier life. I have a second chance to start my life at 36 and have healthy relationships!=)

  10. Mzunipeg says:

    Yes, money has been an issue for us as well. Currently separated, not only am I dealing with the addict, but bipolar and diabetes as well. All mixed together make for, well, let’s say an opportunity for my growth.

    I currently am the breadwinner (wife) after an unfortunate fall disabled my husband. He goes through his disability $ like water. I had to create a totally separate account for the household, but my mistake was not minding anything that was going on with his disability account and then still giving him money…ooops, my mistake, duh!

    Now separated, due to finding out he was cultivating MJ in the yard (apparently legally in his mind cause of a medical MJ card), I’ve given him all of his bills and other than some financial help on rent (because I would get to pay alimony, there is the kicker), he’s on his own for the most part.

    I, for some reason, still give him money here and there cause he has no food, but today I can recognize I have to stop this and just try to not beat myself up. I guess I do this out of guilt…why?…well, guess that is the answer I will continue to work on and, as they say in meetings, keep coming back….AND I WILL!!!

  11. rebekah says:

    I don’t know when anyone’ll read this, but i am so grateful to hear similar stories as mine. I have started to go to Al-Anon meetings and feel better to see it’s not all my fault about the money. In fact, my husband is a debtor and in that 12-step program.

    I don’t know yet if I have a sponsor, but for now to hear similar stories is comforting. I feel I have zero wisdom but am willing to not know what to do or even think for now. I still get sucked into the drama and want to stop.

  12. Christine says:

    We are definitely having money problems because of my husband’s drinking/drugging. I am a stay-at-home mom of nearly 10 years and have lived a comfortable middle-class lifestyle that is about to come crashing down around me. All because of his addiction and my denial. His drinking/ drugging/dealing/cheating/partying lifestyle has cost us our entire savings, our entire retirement, some of his parents’ retirement, all our available credit, our good credit rating and the equity in our home.

    He hasn’t worked in over a year, came out of rehab a month ago only to get high the same day and spends his days chasing these “loans” that he is supposedly owed. And what have I been doing this whole time? Believing that he will follow through on all his promises and good intentions. Who is the truly sick one here?

    So now I am trying to get a job, in this economy!! I have a master’s degree and feel as trapped and hopeless as the woman with no high school diploma. I am so grateful that I have my Al-Anon family to help me keep my sanity. Some days it helps more than others.

    One thing I now know: I can NEVER rely on him or any other man to save the day. I have to get myself and my children out of this mess. I have to be my OWN knight in shining armor! I don’t know where I would be without Al-Anon. Actually, I’d be in the same predicament, just feeling a lot worse about it!

  13. Marty says:

    I have now come to the realization that I’m a spouse of a full-fledged alcoholic. My husband is in detox – 3rd week starts on Wed. He went through the whole drill: falling down, tripping, hiding the beer and vodka (I’m not sure even now that I’ve found all his hiding places) and, of course, using all the credit cards he could get his hands on to buy the stuff. I will have paid off the credit card debt this week – only to start paying off the hospital.

    I’m going to start Al-Anon. Should’ve done this years ago, I suppose – classic denial. I have to find like-minded and like-life people to share this burden with. I was raised to ‘tough it out’ – but this is something I cannot do alone. I discovered the Al-Anon meeting closest to the house has disbanded – I’m considering another one, near the mall.

  14. Jerry H. says:

    Recovery has brought tremendous change to our family. While money didn’t seem to be the “Top Dog” problem in the beginning, it was near the top of a long list. Once my wife could no longer hold down a job long-term, it became impossible to carry on as we had in the past. In order to try to keep up, I ended up selling anything we had of value.

    Eventually the stress became so great I could no longer do a good job with my work, and my business folded. In an odd way, the financial troubles had acted to further distract the family from seeing the drinking, and our reactions to it, as the primary family problem. We had gone from a comfortable life to needing food banks and second-hand stores for many of our basics.

    When I started Al-Anon meetings, I finally began to see our problems in perspective. Yes, she had problems – serious problems – due to drinking, but I, too, had some serious problems to deal with: thinking problems mainly. By straightening out my thinking and beginning to act based on principle rather than a string of unsuccessful “plans” my life began to find some order. Sometime thereafter, my wife joined AA and it’s been uphill ever since.

    So, yes, there were serious money problems, but, no, they weren’t the biggest problems we had. Once the blinders were off it, other problems became evident and some major changes needed to be made. Al-Anon was where I was able to work through those challenges and finally find a life without fear and despair.

  15. Catherine says:

    Wow, just read Doris’s comments, and I feel the same way, so powerless to become self-supporting and so ashamed of the chaos. But I know I have to do something.

  16. Kim says:

    This is the first time that I have actually been on any Al-Anon site. I guess I am actually taking my first step. Though my husband’s drinking has not completely taken over our financial problem, it is definitely putting a big burden on us and I have just recently been able to see how this problem has grown.

    I am trying to make ends meet and get us through to each payday, and he is writing checks for his alcohol without even telling me. I find out only when the account is close to overdraft. While I am juggling funds from one account to the other, he is keeping a separate account where he puts money and uses it for his drinking habit, then he runs out of money there and starts writing checks from the joint account that I am trying to pay bills from. When he gets money from selling cattle or recycling, he keeps it hidden from me so he can buy beer. He is up to buying a 30 pack every 3 or 4 days.

    I have tried the “same things,” such as allowance and me paying the bills also, but that is not working. Thank you for sharing and I hope that some way we find a remedy. I have taken a big step towards my well-being and recovery in this situation and your comments will definitely be a support. I am still a little apprehensive to dive into Al-Anon head first, but getting my feet wet does feel refreshing. Thank you again.

  17. doris says:

    Thank you for sharing about money problems.

    I feel powerless to become self-supporting. I have no high school diploma, degree etc.
    and I am used to a very privileged life that has always been in financial chaos.

    Even though I hear some guidance from my higher power, I don’t seem to be able to let go, or I let go so much & do nothing myself.

    I need help to sort out the insanity in my own brain.

    I have just finished my 4th step & 5th step with my sponsor & trying to get through 6th & 7th.

    I feel shame because of chaos around money & at the same time grateful for the gifts it is bringing me.

    Thank you, Al-Anon. I will try to work on my 3rd step today to remind me I have a choice :)) Xxx

  18. Julie says:

    Thank you! Ha – I thought I had a ‘plan’, just like you. I will pay the bills; you get an allowance. But, no, that is really not working. I’m not exactly sure how to remedy this, but I am going to reflect on it in a different light now.

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