Financial Safety When A Loved One Uses

chest with treasure

 It’s crucial to have financial safety when your loved one has a problem with drugs, alcohol and behavior addictions like gambling and shopping. Protect your finances and possessions so that you don’t have serious problems down the road.

Any kind of addiction brings on financial difficulties. Drug and alcohol users, shopaholics, gamblers and others with behavior addictions need money all the time to support their drug of choice. Here are some of the ways they use their families to get it.

  • They may go from one family member to another asking for money
  • They may take money from wallets and purses that are left unattended
  • They may steal valuables from their relatives’ home to sell
  • They may also scare family members into providing money for them
  • Coercion can be a form of blackmail if family members fear homelessness or worse behaviors if they don’t give money

Families that protect themselves against financial wreckage due to  substances or other  are the families that fare the best. Here are some tips to follow.

Financial Safety for Valuables

Know what and where your possessions are and monitor them. What to do:

  • Make a list of your assets and valuables
  • Know where everything is
  • Make sure your valuables all have your name on it
  • Engrave your name on jewelry when you can
  • Lock valuables away whenever possible
  • Alert everyone in the family that possessions are watched and monitored

Your Wallet

Does someone who is using drugs have access to your wallet, cash, credit and debit cards? Does cash mysteriously disappear? Cash charged on a credit card costs more, and the credit card holder may be held responsible for the charges. Have you seen charges you don’t recognize on your cards? What to do:

  • Make sure your wallet or purse is always in a safe place not accessible to abuser
  • Keep your cash hidden
  • Keep your credit cards locked up
  • Check you balances frequently

Financial Safety With Money and Banking

Who is in charge of the family money? Abuse occurs when the one with the addiction problem is in charge of finances. Be aware of your family finances. What kind of bank and investment accounts do you have and where are they? You should have access to bank accounts and safety deposit accounts as well as investment accounts. What to do:

  • Be sure to have access to all bank accounts
  • Watch the balance to see if cash is going out
  • Start keeping some money separate for emergencies
  • Change passwords often for online banking accounts that you own
  • Check your safety deposit box if you keep valuables there
  • If you have an investment advisor alert him/her to potential problems

Other Family Members

Are you aware who is asking for what in your family. Those with addictions that need financing will go from family member to family member with sad stories and sometimes threats. The most vulnerable may well be grandma and grandpa. Is someone in the family stealing from the grandparents or getting them to hand over social security checks? What to do:

  • Take an inventory of grandparents’ valuables in the home
  • Monitor what drugs they taking and make sure they are not kept in the open
  • Ask about investment accounts, bank accounts, debit cards, and other potential sources of cash
  • Keep in touch with them and other vulnerable family members
  • Pay special attention to jewelry, guns and other weapons, and tools

Legal Options

Check with your lawyer about your rights and liabilities as a spouse or parent.