Cost of Drug Addiction: The Price It Pays on Society and Life
Drug abuse and addiction are incredibly expensive, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. Sure, the cost of the substances themselves can add up over time, often resulting in financial hardship. The cost of drug addiction goes way beyond just the price of illicit substances.
Addiction can cost people their health, job, relationships, home, and even their freedom. All these can add up not just financially, but physically and mentally as well.
Financial Cost of Addiction
The financial cost of addiction is the easiest part of the addiction to quantify because it involves complex numbers that can be looked at on paper. For this reason, it is often the first thing people think of when considering the costs associated with addiction. Below are some of the financial numbers behind popular substances of abuse.
Alcohol is one of the more common addictions due in large part to how easy alcohol is to obtain. Over 80% of all Americans drink with the average person having around 4 drinks per week. Depending on where they get those drinks and their drinks of choice, even someone not suffering from an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) may find themselves spending upwards of $2500 a year just on alcohol.
For those suffering from alcohol addiction, those numbers are much higher. According to a report by the Washington Post, those with severe AUDs have, on average, 74 drinks per week which come out to a little more than 10 drinks today.
When you consider the average price of beer, liquor, and wine, that comes out to roughly:
- Beer: $63/week, $3276/year
- Liquor: (750ml bottles) – $90/week, $4680/year
- Wine: $270/week, $14,040/year
This only takes into consideration the cost of drinking at home. Drinking out at bars and restaurants can increase these costs significantly.
According to the CDC, over 35 million Americans smoke cigarettes. That number doesn’t even account for those who use nicotine products but don’t smoke cigarettes, (dip, vape, etc). Between the actual cost of cigarettes and the effects it has on those that smoke cigarettes, smoking puts a roughly $300 billion burden on society.
For the actual smoker, smoking cigarettes can be incredibly expensive. While prices vary from state to state, the average pack of cigarettes in the U.S. currently costs anywhere between $6 and $8. That breaks down to the following annual cost for a smoker:
- The average smoker (1 pack a day) – $2190-$2920/year
- A heavy smoker (3 packs a day) – $6570-$8760/year
- A chain smoker (4 packs a day) – $8760-$11,680 a year
When you add these numbers up over an extended period of time, even the average smoker will spend over $1 million in their lifetime just on cigarettes.
Thanks in large part to the government’s crackdown on opioids as part of the opioid epidemic, it is significantly harder to get prescriptions for opioids. That means those suffering from opioid abuse and addiction often have to turn to the black market (aka the streets) for their opioid fix.
According to various websites, black-market opioid pills cost the following on average:
- Vicodin and Lortab (10mg) – Up to $10 per pill
- Fentanyl lozenges – Up to $20 per lozenge
- Dilaudid (8mg) – Up to $25 per pill
- Percocet (10mg) – Up to $40 per pill
- OxyContin (20mg) – Up to $80 per pill
A person who has built up a high opioid tolerance, or is suffering from an opioid-related substance use disorder can spend up to $200 a day to get their opioid “fix”.
Financial Costs Related to Addiction
Financial costs associated with addiction go beyond just how much the substance or substance of abuse the person is using prices. Sometimes, someone suffering from addiction will prioritize their addiction over other aspects of their life, all of which can have consequences financially.
- Spending money on drugs instead of essentials such as food or rent
- “Getting high” instead of going to work
- Developing health issues (both physical and mental) as a result of their addiction (higher insurance rates and medical bills)
- Legal costs associated with drug and alcohol-related crimes
For those that seek professional help for their substance use disorder, treatment can often come with a hefty price tag.
While many private insurance companies do help cover some of the cost of addiction treatment and there are even some state-run facilities that offer help to those that couldn’t otherwise afford treatment, the bills associated with addiction treatment can add up quickly.
In the state of Texas, and throughout the United States, the average 30-day day stay in inpatient rehab can run anywhere from $14,000 to $30,000. Certain higher-end luxury facilities charge even more for their inpatient treatment. It’s also important to remember that before treatment can begin, you must go through detox. The average detox program can cost up to $1,000 a day with the average stay in detox being 5-7 days.
Even those that go the outpatient treatment route can expect to pay upwards of $500 per session per day.
Emotional and Psychological Cost of Addiction
When talking about the costs of addiction, many people don’t consider the emotional and phycological toll that addiction can take, not just on the person suffering but on those around that person as well. After all, unlike the financial and physical costs of addiction, emotional costs often can’t be seen.
Substance abuse and addiction can wreak havoc on the brain of the addict. Often, addiction can cause a change in the chemical makeup of the brain. This can lead to emotional outbursts, strange behavior, and even mental health disorders.
These changes can not only cause problems for the person suffering but also for those closest to the person. Addiction can often lead to relationship problems of all kinds including friends, co-workers, and even romantic partners.
From a financial standpoint, as part of addiction treatment, extensive therapy is often required for both the addict and those closest to the addict. Therapy is often needed long after treatment has been completed, and someone in recovery may have to attend regular therapy sessions for the rest of their life.
Physical Cost of Addiction
Drug abuse and addiction can also cost something that no person can put a price on, and that’s a human life.
While addiction can take a physical toll on a person and lead to a variety of health problems and ailments such as poor nutrition, organ damage, and chemical changes to the brain, addiction can also lead to overdose and death.
Unfortunately, substance abuse and addiction claim the lives of thousands of people not just in the state of Texas, but nationwide every year.
Below are some statistics about substance abuse and addiction-related deaths:
- In the state of Texas, there were 14.3 drug-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2020
- Nearly 50% of all drug overdose deaths in the state of Texas in 2020 were opioid-related
- Throughout the U.S. there is 1 drunk driving-related death every 29 minutes
- Alcohol kills roughly 88,000 people every year
- Smoking and nicotine use accounts for nearly 500,000 deaths every year
Don’t Let the Cost of Drug Addiction Stop You From Getting Help
While the cost associated with addiction can be high, it should also not play a factor in your decision to get the help that you need. While this might be easier said than done, there are ways that you can get professional treatment for your substance use disorder at a price you can afford.
At Luna Recovery, we believe that your priority should be getting treatment for your addiction and not worrying about how much it will cost. We offer a wide variety of treatment programs including:
- Medical Detox
- Residential Treatment
- Outpatient Treatment
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
We also accept many major insurance companies, meaning you can get the help that you need at little to no out-of-pocket expense. Furthermore, we will work with your insurance company to see what your policy covers and go over any expenses that you will be responsible for before you start treatment with us.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, it is important to get help before it is too late. While money can eventually be recouped, the cost of human life is invaluable.
Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and how we can help get you on the road to recovery.
Dr. Allaire received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, as Valedictorian of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as Chief Resident. He is the medical monitor for the Physician Counseling Committee of the Harris County Medical Society and the Medical Director of Serenity House Detox. Dr. Allaire specializes in medically assisted detox cases, treating patients in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders, the medical assessment and monitoring of patients with addictive disorders, medical care related to eating disorders and the medical treatment of patients with mental health conditions.