When calculating the costs of addiction many people only think of the rising costs of treatment and that is understandable. More than $36 Billion is spent annually on addiction treatment in the United States and that’s expected to rise to more than $40 Billion by 2020. You would think that all that money being spent would be having a positive impact on the problem, but sadly rates of addiction are up, rates of relapse are up and rates of overdose are going up exponentially in the last decade. In many cases the cost of treatment begins to pale in comparison to the additional expenses that add up rapidly when you have a substance use problem.
Here are 5 additional costs associated with heavy alcohol and drug use (otherwise known as addiction):
Many heavy substance users, find themselves in legal trouble due to DUI, possession, domestic violence, theft and other crimes committed while under the influence or in an effort to get more drugs. Hiring a criminal defense attorney, even for smaller misdemeanors can easily cost $10,000 or more, with some legal fees approaching $50K or more for felonies. In addition, when all is said and done, fines and court fees may be several thousand dollars. Courts will typically garnish wages to ensure they get their money.
Replacing/Repairing Damaged Property:
For anyone who has ever been in a car accident, you know how costly and time consuming it can be to have your car repaired even with decent insurance coverage. Heavy substance users are more likely to be involved in property damage accidents and also have higher rates of at home accidents and property damage incidents as well. Replacing a broken window, broken door, repairing holes in walls, and damaged carpet adds up very quickly.
Using substances heavily can put a strain on relationships, especially with those people closest to you. For heavy substance users who live with a spouse, significant other, or friends or family members, the strain can sometimes become too much for loved ones to take and the substance user may find themselves having to make other living arrangements while facing a costly separation or divorce. There are considerable costs associated with breaking up a marriage and family including legal costs, child support payments and supporting two households. For young people who are still living at home, if they are forced to move out and become financially independent, they quickly learn how expensive that can be.
Other Medical Expenses:
Frequent, heavy substance use can cause a number of health problems including but not limited to: heart disease, COPD, diabetes, mental health issues, cancers, liver diseases, kidney diseases, gastrointestinal problems, etc. Even with medical insurance deductibles and co-pays for medical visits, treatments and medications can easily exceed $10,000 annually for chronic illness, and can be far more for terminal or life-threatening diseases.
Substances are Expensive:
Lastly, substances can be quite expensive! Keeping up a cocaine or heroin habit can cost thousands of dollars each and every week. Drinking in bars and clubs can cost hundreds per night and even a 2-pack a day cigarette habit will run you as much as $600 per month in some states. To put this in perspective, in some cities $600 a month will get you a one-bedroom apartment.
When you add up the additional expenses that often come with frequent, heavy substance use, the cost of treatment may actually be small by comparison. When you get honest with yourself about the additional costs, you can begin to look at making a change as bringing about a true financial gain. It’s important to begin to see tangible benefits in making a change, as that will put you solidly on the path to success.
However, before you invest your money in a treatment program, be sure it will be worth your investment of time and money. Make certain the program you choose is empowering and supportive; and that it will provide you with accurate information so you can make an informed decision about your substance use moving forward. Your goal is not to make your life more complex, but to simplify it and find your way to a happier future.