News outlets throughout the Southwest and in fact nationwide are reporting on a new prepaid credit card called the “Next Step” card. It’s a card intended for use by adults in recovery. It cannot be used at bars, liquor stores, beer or wine distributors, pawn shops, or ATM machines.
The company offering the card was founded by a group of three recovering addicts:
- Eric Dresdale has a BA in business management and has worked primarily in real estate. He is also known for his involvement in charitable organizations.
- Louis Fisher is proud of his military background and has since funded and organized a variety of entrepreneurial projects. He also works closely with several charitable organizations that target recovery.
- Ryan Jaffe’s background is in marketing and sales, and he works regularly to help addicts who are crossing the bridge from treatment centers to recovery.
The founders came up with the idea for the card because “cash in hand” typically has been an addict’s trigger for use. A trigger is something that makes someone automatically want to use a substance. For example, give a cigarette smoker a cup of coffee and he will automatically want to light up. With substance abuse, the triggers can be many things, but most experts agree that cash triggers a desire to use.
Others dispute that cash is a trigger. Dr. David Festinger and his colleagues writing for The Partnership at Drugfree.org argue that there is insufficient research to support this theory. While there is acknowledgment that having cash on hand has on occasion brought someone to a point of relapse, they say that most people in addiction treatment utilize their cash funds wisely to pay bills or buy food.
However, many addiction treatment centers restrict the use of cash by the clients they are treating. In some cases, even a T-shirt decorated with cash or gold is frowned upon. Clinicians have found that addicts who are in treatment together will, during periods of socialization, enjoy talking about past deals they made, how they scored, and what they would do if they had money. Glorifying cash and drugs does not help someone who’s trying to recover.
How does the Next Step card work? The person in recovery cannot set up his own card. He must have a family member or friend who is willing to establish a primary card, and that card will control or limit the funds for the Next Step card. That means that the addict has to be in a stage of recovery so that he or she has gained the trust of this other person.
It’s also not free. There is a $10 fee to set up the card, and then the user incurs a monthly fee of $15. Transactions are limited to 40 per month for adults, and parents of teens can set up the card so that the teen can use it once per day up to five times daily. The card will not work at package stores for beer, wine and liquor; at bars, taverns, pubs, nightclubs, and cocktail lounges; gambling establishments; dating or escort services; tattoo or piercing parlors; or ATMs. It will not offer a cash-back option at point-of-service establishments.
The company cannot, of course, guarantee misuse by vendors who will help the addict circumvent the restriction by inflating a purchase price and then giving the addict cash back. The card will not stop someone from purchasing alcohol at a store where the primary business is not alcohol; for example, at a supermarket, the store’s primary products are groceries, but many sell alcohol.
Some people believe, however, that the Next Step card is a real way for the person serious about recovery, working in tandem with a caregiver who supervises his card, to transition back into society and get a feel for controlling his own finances once again. Many people believe that the founders are taking advantage of an opportunity to just make some bucks; but if you consider the cost of the card against the fees charged for house arrest, it might just be justifiable. What do you think?
Festinger, David et al, for The Partnership at Drugfree.org. Commentary: Charging Into Recovery – Is Cash Really a Gateway Drug? http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/addiction/commentary-charging-into-recovery-is-cash-really-a-gateway-drug?utm_source=Join+Together+Weekly&utm_campaign=cda10d62b1-JTWN_Charging_into_Recovery_Gateway_Drug_102612&utm_medium=email
See also Nextstepcard.com