A Relief Fund Geared Towards Helping Addicts—Why Not?

Stimulus check payment
Photo by CHUYN/iStockPhoto.com

One of my daily routines is to scroll through the many addiction Facebook groups that I follow and stay connected with those that are either still struggling with addiction or in recovery. Whether it is to offer words of encouragement to those in need or share in the successes of those who have turned the page on their addictions, it is a great outlet to gain perspective on just how much addiction continues to affect our society. I have now seen numerous posts from addicts or those who are in the early stages of their recovery who are terrified of receiving $1,400 in their bank accounts, and it is not difficult to understand why.

For most people additional income would be a godsend, especially given our country’s recent hardships. Addicts in general don’t do well with large sums of money. For many, not having access to the funds needed to buy drugs can serve as a preventative measure, for others, it constrains the amount of drugs a person can take. Having additional money in the bank usually results in spending that money on drugs. Drugs are expensive, and the lifestyle is incredibly difficult to maintain for anyone on harder substances, such as heroin, fentanyl, meth, or cocaine. As tolerances go up, more and more is needed to get the desired effect. This is what often leads to criminal activity by addicts, such as stealing and taking whatever actions are necessary to find the next fix. Money is sought after desperately for one desire only, to buy drugs. The lack of funds or any sustainability is what often pushes an addict to reach for help when the problems of that lifestyle begin to become too much.

Now imagine the person that is one or two weeks clean or fresh out of rehab who suddenly has the means to fall back into their addiction with a lowered tolerance. That is my main concern when it comes to addicts having extra money in the bank. I also can’t help but wonder if the recent rounds of stimulus checks couldn’t have also done more to help those struggling with addiction.

Man stressed, received relief fund
Photo by sam thomas/iStockPhoto.com

With more relief packages on the table, I decided to do some quick math. We already know that millions of Americans are struggling with addiction, with estimates suggesting 23.5 million people in this country are addicted to either drugs or alcohol while less than half of that number ever get treatment. (drugfree.org) Let’s say that just over 40% of that figure, 10 million Americans (about 3% of the population), spend $1,400 on drugs or alcohol, the same amount each person would have received in the recent stimulus package. That would be a sum of $14 billion dollars, which got me thinking further, what could a $14 billion dollar relief package look like that was geared directly towards helping addicts find a quality treatment center? How many lives could be directly saved because of this?

How many lives would $14 billion dollars save? It is my belief that there are far more addicts who desperately want a better life who simply feel there is no way out, so they remain stuck in their ways. What if we opened the door for them in a highly publicized way like never before? What if we came together in one unified push to help them, solve this drug crisis, and said, ‘we’ve got your back’? If we can sign a $1.9 trillion relief fund into effect that includes $1,400 per American (those that qualify on the income scale) to spend as they choose, surely part of this package could be directly aimed at making sure people struggling with addiction have some hope as well? The question then becomes why not? What possible reasoning could we have for not making treatment availability a priority of these relief packages given the devastation the drug-crisis and opioid epidemic is having on addicts and their families and with all the early numbers indicating this pandemic has made it far worse?

I have already written of the dire consequences this pandemic is having on those who are struggling with addiction and our need to use this spotlight to figure out better solutions in the way we are treating addiction. Ensuring people get the help they need that includes a high level of care and enough time to fully heal themselves would be a good start. Our country’s focus is already on providing relief to those in need, so why don’t we include in that focus a very specific group that we have been failing for far more than the past year and who need our help now more than ever? There would be no better relief fund or investment in our country’s future, in my opinion, than turning our attention towards the devastation this drug-crisis continues to cause families every single day by ensuring that those who want help, get help. The time is now.



Justin has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 1 year. Justin earned his Bachelors's Degree in Finance from Florida State University. Having been an addict himself, he brings real-world experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Justin is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions.