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The True Cost of Addictions

Addictions are costly in many ways. A person in the grips of an addiction faces damaged relationships, lost jobs, legal fees, illness and healthcare costs, and the financial burden of addiction-related expenses. When a person suffers from an addiction, they and their loved ones experience financial, physical, and emotional costs that can be destructive to livelihoods and mental health. While the cost of addiction treatment is often seen as a barrier to getting help, the reality is that not getting treatment is far more expensive.

A study by the CDC found that by state, the per capita cost of excessive alcohol use ranged from $592 in Utah to $1,526 in the District of Columbia. Losses in workplace productivity comprise the majority of those costs- around 77%. Hospitalizations in the U.S. for alcohol and drug overdoses in 2008 cost a total of $198 million. Treatment for alcohol and drug abuse can significantly reduce these costs and improve outcomes for people struggling with addiction.

When one dollar is invested in addiction treatment, drug-related healthcare costs are reduced by $4, and criminal justice costs by $7. Factoring in lost productivity, the cost of maintaining an addiction itself, and damaged familial relationships, savings can exceed costs by a ratio of12:1. While it may seem expensive to take part in addiction treatment, the numbers speak for themselves; in the long term, recovery saves money and lives.

Substance Costs

Purchasing drugs and alcohol to feed an addiction is an extremely costly expense, especially over the course of months or years. While costs vary by location and especially by the severity of the addiction, estimates of the yearly cost of several substances are as follows:

  • Alcohol: $4,500+
  • Marijuana: $7,000+
  • Cocaine: $8,000+
  • Heroin: $54,000+

Spending money that was intended for family or household purposes can leave the individual and their loved ones without savings to cover sudden, unexpected medical bills or accidents. The cost of buying substances, ignoring bills, and borrowing money to pay for drugs are all dangerous, slippery slopes that can lead to debt that’s extremely difficult to get out of. This debt may come from several places, including quick-cash loans, borrowing money from friends and family, and most dangerous of all, debt to drug dealers who may enforce the debt through physical intimidation or violence.

It’s not just the debt that can follow a drug addiction that’s harmful to a recovering addict’s life; in the depths of addiction, it’s difficult to hold down a job, leading to lost connections and damaged credit. Sometimes, people with addictions to drugs or alcohol will sell needed items like their car to pay for their addiction. Getting to a new job, making it to continuing care appointments, and traveling to repair any relationships that suffered due to an addiction can be difficult without reliable transportation.


The behaviors associated with addiction make forming and maintaining relationships difficult. Loved ones often feel powerless to help as the person withdraws, engages in risky behaviors, and damages their health and wellbeing. An analysis of five drug-related support forums found that alcohol and heroin were the substances most frequently mentioned, and several of the most common post phrases are variants of “I just don’t know what to do anymore.” Repeated attempts to help a loved one with their addiction may be met with resistance or result in conflict; not because your loved one is deliberately choosing conflict, but because addiction is an illness. In many cases, it requires professional treatment and long-term discipline to overcome, a journey that is more than worth its challenge.

If you are the spouse, parent, friend, sibling, or child of a person with a drug addiction and you find yourself often feeling hurt, insecure, ashamed, or afraid because of your loved one’s addiction, it’s not too late to find support for yourself and to help them find treatment. Healing is absolutely possible.

Physical Health Costs

Research shows that substance use can aggravate existing medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory conditions, and kidney and liver diseases. Furthermore, addiction to drugs and alcohol can result in the development of other illnesses and injuries that can be costly to treat and may even result in permanent disability. Common health problems stemming from drug use include injuries sustained during intoxication, wound infections, and endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.

Those with substance use disorders involving heroin, cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines have significantly higher rates of hospitalization than those who abstain. The average yearly cost per person of hospitalizations related to addiction and drug use is estimated to be between $1,000 and $3,000. When added to the financial burden that many people struggling with addiction face as a result of their substance use, medical bills and ongoing medical care can be another bill that adds to the overwhelm of living with and recovering from an addiction. Regardless of whether or you or a loved one has already experienced negative health outcomes from addiction, it’s not too late to take steps to avoid potential future hospitalizations and illnesses. Take action now to reduce the health and financial cost of substance abuse.

You Are Not Alone

Addiction affects all of us in one way or another, whether it’s you, a loved one, or a friend of a friend. The effects that you or your loved one are experiencing are not uncommon, and you’re not alone in it. The good news is, recovery is possible. It’s daunting to begin the recovery process, and it may be difficult to take on the cost of treatment. However, the myriad harmful financial, emotional, and physical effects of addiction are far more costly than recovery. Beginning treatment is a step that is well worth taking.


BrainSpark Health, located just outside of Philadelphia, is dedicated to helping people recover from addiction and neurological disorders. Contact us today to find out more about our treatment program, insurance options, and how NAD IV Therapy can help you in your recovery. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you in your recovery.