October 31, 2023


They say, “Money Can’t Buy You Happiness”, well I’m adding recovery to that adage. I know, I know, many people will say different things about money buying the ability to achieve happiness. And still more people will say money can buy a better treatment center for recovery. I recognize all those variations, but it has been my personal and professional experience that both happiness and recovery come from within, regardless of how much money you have.

First off, let me say that happiness is an internal feeling and has nothing to do with money. There is more than enough evidence of wealthy people taking their own lives and/or suffering from mental health conditions related to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many more disorders. In fact, many people are driven by internal demons to succeed for various reasons, none of them are healthy ones. Once success and money are achieved these people tend to implode with their unresolved pasts catching up to them. This is most obvious with sports figures, musicians, and actors.

My focus in this blog essay is on the recovery aspect of having money. Over my 3 decades of experience in both high end and lower end treatment facilities I still cannot accurately state that someone will succeed in their recoveries. I have been wrong more than right at guessing who will make it to sustained recovery and who will not. I have witnessed clients and friends who have lost everything and went to state funded rehabs and have succeeded. I have also had clients who have gone to high end treatment centers and have not succeeded in sobriety.

The one common denominator with friends and clients that have sustained sobriety is working the recovery programs or have changed their lives after being discharged from rehab. The people that stayed sober are the ones that continued to follow through with recovery practices. But that being said, I have also seen people succeed with sobriety that had been incarcerated during their lives and do not participate in any formalized recovery groups but have changed their lives.  

So, let me recap, there is not any method to the madness of recovery. Neither luxurious nor low end treatment centers seem to matter when a client’s determination and desire is to change their lives for the better. However, most of the people I have stayed in contact with seem to thrive when participating in formalized recovery groups (e.g., AA, NA, CR, etc.).

I also believe that your socio-economic status (SES) is not necessarily an advantage in successful recovery. In fact, it may be quite the opposite for those higher in SES. I am currently learning how people who have lost just about everything in their lives seem to be less resistant to treatment and cause less problems for programs than those entering treatment with entitlements. This would reinforce the old belief that you need to hit rock bottom before accepting sobriety. However, there are always exceptions to the rule and some people do recover without first losing everything. I have witnessed both.

One thing is for sure, I have seen much less entitlement with people who have lost everything. Many are humble and ready to listen to people trying to help them. They have also lost most support from loved ones and family. It has amazed me how these clients have mustered the motivation to keep going and improve their lives. It definitely supports the advocates who believe that many families enable loved ones and allow them to manipulate them for their continued substance use.


I am also a believer that finding some passion or meaning in your lives is a key ingredient to successful recovery. These ingredients have little to nothing to do with how much money you have.

In summary, the common factor with all the people I know in recovery is they have changed their lives and have found a better path. Most are not wealthy, and many have learned to embrace sobriety and the peace it brings to them. I will end the way I started, money can’t buy you recovery, only the drive and desire to change your lives can bring you to that goal and money has little to do with it.

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT