We’re going to talk about how to calculate how much your addiction is costing you and with that we’ll cover time, money and your overall well-being. The second part of this is going to cover the things you can and should do instead and again we’ll talk about your money, time and overall well-being as well. The best way to do this is to either use a journal or get three pieces of paper. On one side, you will calculate what your addiction is costing you while on the other side you will document your progress and ideas on what you can and should be doing instead.
What is taking inventory?
Taking inventory is something that is important because it allows you to see where you currently are so that you can properly calculate your progress throughout your recovery. You may associate taking inventory with Alcoholics Anonymous or a 12-step program. While taking personal inventory is one the steps in a 12-step program, it does mean that if you are not participating in 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous, you can’t take inventory. In fact, we think this step is a crucial one and should be done in early recovery in conjunction with other addiction recovery processes. So for example, if you struggle with alcohol but have no idea how much money you spend on drinking then how will you know how much money you’re saving once you stop? This step is about being true to yourself – remember, you’re here for you and this is a different approach, a different way. There’s no pressure to share your story or fudge the numbers out of embarrassment. This is not about moral inventory or character defects but rather looking at the facts in a black and white way. This is for your eyes only if you prefer it that way so don’t worry if you feel you have some character flaws or bad behavior, honesty is the best way to go. This is not like Alcoholics Anonymous where you have to talk about this in front of a group of strangers you don’t know. This all can be worked on alone and part of the recovery process. Of course we do encourage everyone to share their story if comfortable but in the early stages of recovery sometimes it’s uncomfortable and that’s okay too. But you know what? Once you start to make progress you’ll be excited to share how far you’ve come but you won’t be able to do that unless you know where you started from. So let’s dive in now and talk about how to calculate how much money your addiction is costing you.
How much it’s costing you
One of things people who are new to life in recovery get really excited for is saving money. So in order to find out how much money you are going to save it’s important to calculate how much your addiction was costing you or is currently costing you now. For this exercise – there’s no need to sugar coat anything as these numbers will be for your eyes only – not your friends, not your family members, just you.
Once you have taken a moment to promise yourself that you will be completely honest about these numbers then you can start to dive right in. The simplest way to do this is to start by figuring out how much you spend each day on your addiction. Now some of you may not be spending money daily so it may be weekly or every few days so in this case you need to calculate how much you are spending over a few week period and then find the average.
For example, let’s say your addiction is alcohol and you buy 2 bottles of wine each Sunday, a 12 pack of beer each Friday and a bottle of vodka on Wednesday. So add all those up and then divide that number by 7 to get your daily number.
Let’s say your addiction is opiates and you buy daily from your dealer – there’s yoru start right there.
What about behavior addictions like video games? This one might be more complex but what you would need to do is calculate how much you’re spending on video games, add-ons, consoles, and so on – calculate maybe over a month and then divide it by the number of days in that month to get your daily spend.
Once you’ve figured out your daily amount you can then do all sorts of things to find out how much you’re spending. You can times your number by 7 to get your weekly spend. Times your daily number by 30 to get your monthly spend and then you can even go on to figure out how much your spending over a year and even 10 year period. A little later in the course we’ll talk about how to decide what to do with the money that you’ll be saving but for now, have fun with this activity. Try not to get upset or down about how much you’re spending or how much you’ve spent in the past, just use this information so you that you have a starting point – a way to show progress as you move forward.
How much time do you spend
Now let’s talk about how to calculate how much time your addiction is costing you. This is similar to money in that you will calculate how much time you spend and then try to figure out your daily time however, there’s a lot more that goes into calculating time and it’s not always cut and dry. Our daily lives are made of so many interconnected moments. For some people, it may be hard to distinguish what was real life, sober time versus what was done due to their addiction. For example, if your addiction is alcohol – the amount of time you spend using alcohol isn’t just the amount of time you’re drinking but the experience before and after such as the amount of time you spend going to the store to buy alcohol, the amount of time you spend drinking and also the amount of time you spend hungover. Shockingly, for some this may be all waking hours and for others it may be all weekend – but it’s important to be honest about the severity. If your drug of choice is heroin then you would calculate the time you spend calling your dealer, the time you spend in withdrawals. Or maybe your addiction is porn and this would be the time you spend watching porn or searching for porn. The best way to do this is calculate how much time you spend in an entire week and then divide that number by 7 to get your daily time. Similar to money. Don’t downplay this activity – every minute you spend thinking about acting on your addiction should be included in this number.
What has your addiction cost you emotionally?
The last activity for taking inventory is taking personal inventory on what your addiction has cost you emotionally. This is sort of like moral inventory or daily inventories as it’s not as black and white. When you think of positive or negative emotions you can think of your own feelings and mental health and the people in your life. So for this activity, it’s best to just do a free write and start listing everything you can think of that’s been affected by your addiction. For example, you might write things like family member names, friends, your kids, spouses, and then you can include things about yourself like perhaps your addiction caused you to go into a depression or maybe yous tarted to think about suicide, or you now get anxiety. Maybe you lost a relationship. Also include physical things about your body like maybe your addiction has caused you to gain or lose too much weight, maybe you’re deficient somewhere or you’ve been diagnosed with something that is directly related to your addiction. Once you start to free write you’ll be surprised how much you’ll be able to attribute to your addiction. Remember, right now we’re just taking inventory so this can be a list of persons or whatever you feel should be there.
Sunk Cost Fallacy
A sunk cost fallacy is when you continue with something that you have invested either time, money or effort into knowing that the end won’t give you the best result – sort of like wishful thinking. For example, someone who stays at a job they hate because they’ve already given the company 15 years or maybe a small business owner who keeps investing in their company because they’ve already invested a ton of money and don’t want to give it up. Sunk costs can be small like I’ve already gotten in the car I might as well just go (when you realize you don’t really need to go anymore) or something big like I’ve already invested a 500,000 in this stock that is down and not selling even though you know you should.
When it comes to your addiction, you likely incur sunk costs all around you and maybe you’re aware of them and or maybe they’re hidden but it’s important that you recognize them so that you don’t fall into the trap.
In the beginning the sunk costs might be something like “I’ve already bought this bottle of wine so i might as well just drink it because I don’t want to waste it.” Or maybe it’s something like “I’ve already got this subscription to this porn site for the rest of the month so I might as well use it until then. “
But as you progress through your recovery it’s important to be even more aware of sunk costs but for now focus on those that relate to money, time and your overall well-being.
For example, I often hear from people who feel that they feel like they’ve dug themselves so deep into a financial hole that quitting their addiction would not make a difference anyway and they would just have to feel the pain of what they did rather than mask it with substances or behavior. If you feel this way, it’s common and normal but this is a sunk cost. You know logically that quitting your addiction will 100% save you money but you’re letting your emotions and feelings convince you otherwise. Yes you may feel the burn more but this is a long term game here – not something that will fix itself overnight so in order to see more big picture – it’s important to look ahead maybe a year or 5 years. When you calculate long term success you will have the ability to understand why you want to stick with it.
Another example, is when people feel like they’ve wasted so much time on their addiction and get into a rut about not getting any of that time back or like it’s too late – maybe you’ve been struggling with your addiction for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years – don’t fall into that sunk cost. All you have is what you can control and that’s the years you have left. So let’s say you’re 20 years into your addiction – maybe you started when you were 20 and you are now 40. This means that you still have well over 36 years left! I calculated this by looking up the life male life expectancy in the US and that’s 76 – other countries may be different and this does vary depending on gender and socio economic factors. Anyway, even if you’re 66 – your last years of your life don’t have to be miserable, don’t fall into the sunk cost fallacy here.
And last when you think about the emotional toll it’s taken. Getting yourself back to baseline may feel like it’s going to take forever and a journey where you just don’t know where or how to start as it seems impossible to get back to where you once were but with effort you will get there.
What to spend your money on instead
I would do this activity in the groups I would teach with people in early recovery. We’d do this for both any addiction including nicotine and most people are floored when they find out how much money they’re spending and immediately think that if they stop their addiction they will then have so much disposable income. This ends up not being typically the case. You see, most people with an addiction choose to spend money on their addiction rather than their obligations which means their finances have been neglected. So just because you stop your addiction doesn’t mean cash in the bank. It means being responsible and using your finances in areas that were meant to be. So for example, if you were spending $100.00 per week on cocaine, you might be thinking wow, i’ll have an extra $400.00 per month. But once you stop your addiction you’re in a much better place to make rational decisions and you’ll realize that instead of using your money on cocaine you are paying your bills on time or paying down a credit card because in the height of your addiction you may have put stuff on credit rather than paying cash. I say this because it’s important for you to have certain expectations throughout this process.
So here’s what you can do instead. Take a deep look at your finances and go through all the areas that have been neglected. Maybe you’re behind on some bills, maybe you owe someone money, or maybe you haven’t been investing the amount you know you could be by now. Now instead of thinking like wow, I’ll have an extra 200.00 or 2000.00 per month – depending on how much money you were spending on your addiction – you can now think of the things you can do to catch up so that you can be in a better place.
It’s important to categorize these areas that are important. For example, owing a family member is more important than investing in a stock. Paying back rent or child support is more important than paying down a credit card. Take some time to get your ideas in order and figure out where and when those extra funds are going to take place. Once you get your finances in order you can then check to see what’s left over every month and where you have wiggle room. Maybe then you can set aside money for things that will support your recovery – a hobby, a gym membership, healthier food and so on.
How to spend your time
Now that you know how you’re going to be spending your money, let’s talk about how to spend the time you’re saving. Similar to money, oftentimes people think that they are just going to magically have this unusual amount of free time and that’s not always the case. I want you to think of this from a different perspective. Don’t think of this as free time but think of this as sober time. Of course, with sober time there will be some free time that comes out of it and what you do with that time is important.
If you spend your free time sitting on the couch, watching tv, playing video games and eating junk food, you will not feel productive or better. Your time should be calculated and with intention. So for example maybe your addiction was costing you 6 hours per day. With a new schedule and sober time you might add an hour or two for sleep if you weren’t sleeping well, maybe you spend a little more time at work, and then maybe you spend time on yourself – more fitness, cooking at home rather than eating out, and so on.
The way to measure your success here is to make a schedule and include all events that occur during the day and then do a daily reflection. Maybe you’re used to being hungover on Sundays and now you’re up and out grocery shopping by 10am. Or perhaps you used to spend your fridays drunk or high and now you’re spending quality time with your family instead. Those are major wins but unless you take the time to reflect and compare your new life to your old life, you won’t see them, you won’t feel them and you might feel like the whole process is boring and slow. That’s normal.
So start reflecting, grab a journal and document your wins each day. You’ll be surprised how far you come.
It takes time to rebuild
I want you to go back to the moral inventory list from earlier and start to prioritize those things and think of ways you can start to make it better. For example, if you are a person who puts your spouse on your list then perhaps under your spouse’s name you would like to make amends by adding more communication, couples counseling, and so on. Maybe on your list you put depression. Think about what steps you need to take to get yourself the care you need. Do you need to make an appointment with a mental health professional? Therapy, medication, and so on.
At first, this may seem like a huge undertaking so try not to get overwhelmed. Instead, break it down into small chunks and always prioritize. You don’t want to try and repair an old friendship with a drug dealer for example, instead you can cross them off your list by doing something simple like deleting their number and blocking them from your social media. That’s a quick and easy win.
It’s going to take time but again, just like what I was talking about with the time and money, make sure you take time each day to reflect on your small wins and gains. And always keep a journal, I cannot express to you how important this is for motivation. Daily it’s going to seem and feel like things are taking forever to get better but if you document and journal you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and that will be helpful to look at if you ever feel triggered or like giving up and going back to your old ways. ’
The Recovery Process
Taking inventory isn’t easy and can be very eye opening. Like we discussed, the only way you can measure success is to be honest about where you started. We talked about not just money but time and emotional costs as well. When it comes to addiction and sobriety, there are a lot of ways to achieve a full recovery from addiction and your journey to recovery should be unique to you. If you are a person who struggles with sobriety and traditional treatment or rehab isn’t right for you, check out Live Rehab for a recovery program that is tailored to your individual needs and long-term sobriety and growth. If you have any questions feel free to contact us anytime.