The Real Costs of AddictionAnna Ciulla
If you’re holding back from considering drug or alcohol rehabilitation because of the price tag, consider this: The consequences of addiction are more costly than many people realize. Substance abuse compromises your physical and mental health, negatively impacts relationships with friends and family, and interferes with your ability to maintain a steady income. As it turns out, seeking sobriety is a valuable thing indeed.
Cost Breakdown: Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Reports indicate that Americans spend as much as $100 billion on illicit drugs and $90 billion on alcohol annually. When breaking down these costs to what an individual pays per week, it’s easy to see how addiction can deplete your finances.
Drug users can spend up to $500 per week or $26,000 per year to sustain their drug habit. And if you’re like 10 percent of Americans and drink up to 74 alcoholic beverages per week (10 per day), you are paying thousands of dollars per year on alcohol alone.
In addition to these costs, getting behind the wheel and driving while impaired is not only a dangerous activity, but it is also expensive. If arrested for operating under the influence, you can expect to pay $5,000 to $12,000 for court costs, legal fees, license reinstatement and towing.
The money you spend to maintain your addiction is likely meant to pay bills and other necessities. Mounting debt can lead to financial stress and put your mental and physical health at risk.
Cost Breakdown: Health Issues
Did you know addiction affects your health in a variety of ways? It weakens your immune system, makes you more prone to infections, impacts your short and long-term memory, and negatively affects your heart, liver and respiratory system. Also, accidents and injuries associated with substance abuse cause thousands of people to visit emergency rooms every day.
Addiction also affects your mental health. Many people who struggle with substance abuse also suffer from a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. You may not know you have a mental health disorder until you seek treatment, but you may have turned to substance use as a way to self-medicate. Addiction can worsen a mental health disorder, which is why it’s important to seek treatment.
Work and Addiction
Living with a drug or alcohol addiction can present tremendous challenges at work. Your work becomes inconsistent and unreliable. Colleagues and superiors may notice that you’re missing from work for periods of time, taking more sick days, showing up late or not at all. These changes can cause tension with co-workers and your supervisors.
Many people are afraid to disclose their addiction or desire to seek treatment to their employer for fear of losing their job and the stigma associated with addiction. However, if you do not disclose your addiction, you may be let go as the result of your erratic behavior and work performance.
Unemployment can exacerbate an addiction as it increases your risk of substance use, which in turn makes you less employable. As this cycle continues and the financial situation deteriorates, for many it can lead to criminal activity.
Currently, 65 percent of all inmates meet the criteria for substance use addiction and approximately 95 percent return to drug abuse after release from prison. The best way to end the cycle of addiction, unemployment and criminal activity is to seek treatment.
Investing in Rehabilitation
Making the decision to seek treatment for addiction is a brave one and shouldn’t be hindered by the cost of rehabilitation. If you are facing financial difficulties, the last thing you want to do is spend more money. But seeking help is an important first step in a long recovery process that will impact all aspects of your life, including your finances.
Treatment for addiction is expensive, but as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration found, every $10,000 spent on addiction treatment saves $487,000 in healthcare costs and $700,000 in crime-related costs.
The good news is that there are numerous ways to fund your treatment and in many instances, insurance will cover the cost of rehabilitation. Now recognized as a health issue, most insurance providers offer either partial or complete coverage of outpatient or inpatient treatment.
If your insurance provider doesn’t cover treatment costs or you no longer have insurance, you may be eligible for coverage under public insurance plans such as Medicare or Medicaid or scholarships and short-term loans.
The cost of continuing to live with addiction is greater than the cost of treatment. Now is the time to invest in yourself so you can have the best future possible.