• Addiction & recovery

Money as a Relapse Trigger: How to Minimize Risk of COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

Nzinga Harrison

April 7, 2020


For people across the world, the COVID-19 outbreak is causing a great deal of confusion, fear, anxiety, and stress. The virus has changed every aspect of life as we know it, including addiction recovery. With quarantining and social distancing in effect, it may seem like the essential pillars of recovery support, like peer groups and medication-assisted treatment, are in jeopardy.

On top of that, many people are worried about how the virus will affect their finances, especially those that may live paycheck to paycheck. In response to the economic fallout caused by the outbreak, the federal government’s $2 trillion relief bill will send stimulus payments directly to Americans and also extend unemployment benefits. While this money provides immediate assistance for those experiencing financial hardships, it is important to recognize how this influx of funds may impact people in addiction recovery.

Money can be a significant trigger for relapse. For some people in recovery, this stimulus relief might be a substantial windfall that could lead to dangerous increases in substance use. Like other relapse triggers though, the key to preventing relapse is to understand how the trigger aggravates cravings and leads to substance use. From there, it requires learning how to avoid triggers, and in the event that a person faces them, how to react and cope in a healthy way while preventing relapse to substance use.

It may seem like money is an unavoidable trigger, but financial education and support are effective ways to reinforce recovery and minimize the risk of money triggering a relapse. For many people at the beginning of their recovery, money management can be hugely beneficial, especially in light of the government assistance payments to come. As part of Eleanor Health’s COVID-19 response, we are working closely with our members to create individualized money management and safety plans with a goal of reducing the risk that COVID stimulus payments will represent for many.

If money is a trigger for you, here are some ways to prevent relapse:

Managing Money

  • Determine a financial plan for your stimulus relief funds

  • Prioritize essential needs

  • Create and stick to a budget that covers essential needs like rent, groceries, bills, and debts, and also provides a small amount of funds for nice-to-have items

Avoiding Triggers

  • Limit your access to the funds by having a trusted friend or loved one safeguard it for you

  • Maintain consistent communication with your recovery support network – let them know when the payment arrives

  • Ask your recovery support system to check up on you, specifically about the money

Minimizing Risk of Relapse or Overdose

  • If you have cravings to use, ask a supportive person to help you talk through your feelings and avoid relapse

  • If you relapse, make sure that people close to you have Narcan and know how to use it in the event of an overdose

  • If you have cravings or relapse, get in contact with your treatment program to form a new treatment plan to support recovery

Evidence has shown that having a written plan can reduce relapse risk, so we’ve created this Relapse Prevention Plan that we hope will help keep you safe.

Is money a trigger for your addiction? We can help you manage and cope to prevent relapse. Contact an Eleanor Health Treatment Specialist today.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.


Eleanor Health

Recovery for life.

Our mission at Eleanor Health is to help people affected by addiction live amazing lives. We deliver whole-person, comprehensive care and are passionate about transforming the quality, delivery, and accessibility of addiction & mental health treatment. Our actions are rooted in respect for each member's values, culture, and life experiences, and our commitment to their wellbeing is unwavering and without judgement.

Reach out today


All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

Verified by MonsterInsights