My Addictions Have Left Me Broke and Hopeless. – Jane

“Dear Steve,

I don’t know where to start. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict. I got sober when I was 25 years of age. I had no education or skills. I went on welfare. I went to college after that and obtained a professional degree and license. I also met my husband and had two sons. I had a daughter by my first marriage. My husband and I made a good living with both of us working. He died suddenly and I was left with a six year old and a nine year old. Two great kids.

I worked hard, put them through the best schools and picked up a drink after getting involved in a disasterous relationship. I paid for rehab many times out of pocket to get sober again. I have had a year a couple of times, three and a half years once and lately have been unable to stop. I can’t afford rehab anymore. I have about 2000.00 maybe to my name. That’s it. I am 57 years old. I am working, although I dislike my current job and the work is not flowing the way it used to.

I have no idea who you are and why I am even writing this because I have essentially given up hope. My two sons, who are adults are living with me now. My one son is getting his Master’s degree and working full time. My youngest, at 22 is trying to get on his feet in life. They are two good guys and probably the only reason I have not killed myself.

I hate myself for the mistakes I have made, the arrogance I had about money. I feel too overwhelmed and too bike to do anything. Counseling costs money. I have lost faith that I can get sober again in AA.

Are there people who are absolutely broke and hopeless who manage to turn their lives around? Where do they start?


Dear Jane,

It’s probably time to stop beating yourself up over past mistakes. Let’s look forward with optimism and a good attitude. Both are free and can carry you a long way.

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I understand you are feeling financially broken and as if you can’t get ahead. But this situation is a classic example of how money problems are the byproduct of other issues. They are the symptom, not the underlying disease.

If you’ve given up then there is probably nothing myself or anyone else can say to you to help you alter the trajectory your life is on.

But, if you want to try yet again for a better future what I would suggest is to make a job of getting sober. Go to every AA meeting you can find, as often as you can go. Go daily if you can. Get as much medical help as you can.

You need a group of people that can support you in this journey to act as your guardrails and keep you on the road.

It sounds like you’ve been through rehab so many times that you understand the tough path you have to walk down.

Dealing with the underlying addiction problems and finding a way to corral those under control is absolutely going to be your path to a better financial future, a better job, and a happier life.

I can’t recommend enough “How to Live 365 Days a Year” as an exceptional read to help people in similar situations. Even though the book was written in 1954 it is as powerful and relevant today as it was then.

If possible, my suggestion is you probably need a swift motivational kick in the ass, a great local AA or NA support group, and internal optimism and hope. That’s going to be the formula that helps you to get off this highway at the next exit.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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7 thoughts on “My Addictions Have Left Me Broke and Hopeless. – Jane”

  1. The IBR plan is only for my federal loans which are over $95,000. And the letter from SallieMae states my first payment is due November 1 and I’m on unemployment deferment until January! SallieMae never ceases to amaze me.

  2. I already spoke to Damon Day about that, Steve. The problem is I don’t have any money for a lawyer. I’m currently unemployed and not having any luck finding a job. My ex-husband co-signed on one of my private loans and I didn’t want him to get stuck with it in a bankruptcy. I insisted SallieMae approve my IBR application so they did. Unfortunately they arbitrarily picked the amount of $750 a month for my payment even though I’m unemployed. I can’t even reach them at this point.

  3. Jane I can completely relate to your situation. I’ve made some very bad financial decisions because of my addictions. The worst was going to law school. I failed to bar exam 7 times so I cant practice law. Now I’m over $100,000 in debt and unemployed. I’ve been living off of credit cards which will soon be maxed out. I first got sober in 2002. I’ve had 2 slips for about a week each. My last drink was January 2. There IS hope and a way out of your current situation. Please never stop trying to get sober. That’s the MOST important thing. It’s not about time it’s about quality. I’m here to help if you’d like to talk.

  4. You are right I need to get sober again before any of this will resolve. I am surprised I got an answer to my email. I just found you on the web somehow, and sort of poured my soul out to myself, I thought. I have to be honest and admit that though I am in a place of unhappiness with where I am at, I feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to get sober again…..The last time I went to rehab i drained my bank account and retirement and knew, and I mean knew, I wanted to be sober more than anything in the world. i gave up everything, almost lost my house. i stayed sober for 6 months and felt physically horrible everyday. I picked up a drink after a very emotional exchange with a family member about one of my sons. I could not believe I picked up a drink….I had lived away from home in a sober living house, at 56 years of age, for 3 months….almost lost my home….my family….Now I am back to where I was before. And I feel beaten down….And you are also right that the motivation has to come from me….How do you get the motivation to do it again?


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