Breaking the Cycle of Poverty While in Recovery

Poverty |

For thousands of Americans, there is a very common relationship between poverty and addiction. Both experiences have a cycle that is hard to get out of, and both seem to significantly impair one’s functioning in life. However, for someone who has stepped out of addiction and into recovery, half the battle is won. This article will provide some tips on how to break out of the cycle of poverty for someone who is in recovery.

More at Risk for Addiction

Poverty is defined as not having sufficient resources to live at a living standard that is considered appropriate or safe in society. For instance, someone who is living in poverty might have to live in a cramped setting or he or she might be living on the streets. Someone in poverty may not have the finances to afford food, clothing, shelter, transportation, or other items that would help to meet their basic needs, including not having access to health care. When someone cannot meet their basic needs, he or she is more at risk for addiction and other forms of illness.

Furthermore, according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are risk factors that has an effect on the health and well being of those who experience an addiction and/or a mental illness. Poverty is one of these risk factors. When men and women experience significant stress in life, such as trauma, poverty, and/or social marginalization, they are at risk for developing addiction and mental illness. Those who are in these situations tend to have higher levels of stress as well as a reduced ability to access the mental health services they need.

Move Out of Poverty

However, one’s level of risk changes if he or she manages to get sober. Likely, a person who is in recovery and still experiencing poverty is someone who is receiving public mental health services. And if this is the case, it is also likely that a person might be eligible for federally subsidized housing, low cost health insurance, and other services that help meet one’s basic needs. It’s important to note that anyone who is in recovery but who is concerned about relapsing needs to make his or her basic needs a priority. The pressure that comes with not having one’s basic needs met can lead to a return of substance use.

However, with all basic needs met and with a sustained momentum of recovery, a person can slowly move out of poverty in the following ways:

  1. Find employment – Another service that the federal government provides is occupational rehabilitation and job placement.
  2. Live with family – While you are getting back on your feet, you can save the income you’re receiving, if any, and use that to eventually move into your own place.
  3. Borrow money – You might find that you have all your basic needs met but that you do not have the money to live for a few months. If you have the ability to borrow money from a friend or family member, you can use this time to find a job.

These are a few temporary options to establish a financial foundation for yourself. However, for many people who experience poverty, there exist many psychological and emotional components to the experience. In addition to taking specific action, such as finding a job or borrowing money, be sure to contact a mental health provider for further assistance.


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