If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, the first thing you’ll likely notice is finances. Drinking or drugs, even prescription drugs, are expensive. Most importantly, abusing them puts you in a position where you’re more likely to spend more and less likely to care. So, a drinking or substance abuse problem might escalate slowly over time and you might not notice right away. But, you will notice that you’re spending a lot more than you might like, and frequently on drugs or alcohol.

Today, some 40.3 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. That substance use disorder harms your physical and mental health, your career, and your finances. And, it often does so in ways that you won’t even notice. If addiction is draining your bank account, it’s hurting you, your health, your mental health, and your relationships as well. Addiction is expensive, both in the form of money – whether you realize you’re spending it or not – and in how it hurts your opportunities, your goals, and the things you’ve worked for.

The Cost of Drugs and Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol are not cheap. That’s true even if you’re only drinking at home. If you’re using prescription medication or drugs, it’s even more true. Let’s say you drink at a bar and buy spend about $100 per week. That adds up to about $5,200 a year at the bar. And, for many people, it’s perfectly normal to spend $40-$100 at a bar once a week. The average case of beer is $17 for a 24 pack. Pills range from $3-$30+ each. And, they add up fast, especially when you drink or use and forget you’ve done so.

The more you drink, the more you spend every day or week. And, even a relatively small habit adds up.

Hidden Costs

Another thing that most people don’t realize is that addiction creates costs in ways you don’t expect. For example, you might miss days at work or have to take unpaid leave. That can cost you hundreds of dollars each time you do it. It’s even worse if you end up being fired, have to take a loan to make rent, etc. Some of these hidden costs are likely to be expected, others might surprise you.

Medical Bills – Drug and alcohol abuse greatly increases the chances of hospitalization and injury. You’re more likely to be involved in car accidents. You’re also more likely to get sick and to get infections, because your immune system is definitely not functioning at its best. Addiction also results in erratic behavior, which can mean you behave unpredictably and get into fights, which can mean more medical care. How much that costs is difficult to predict. But, even if you’re buying extra NyQuil and Advil, you’re still spending because of your addiction. And, the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that alcohol adds $27 billion in added healthcare costs each year, while illicit and prescription drugs add $11 and $26 billion in added costs each.

Reckless Behavior – If you’re drinking or using, you’re more likely to be involved in reckless behavior. That might mean crime, it might mean driving under the influence, it might mean getting into fights. All of that can add up significantly in the form of car accidents, DUIs, and even jail time. For example, a DUI averages around $10,000 in costs. By your second or third, that’s likely to escalate to around $16,000. That’s without counting court fees, bail fees, and maybe even having your car towed and impounded. It’s without counting insurance raising premiums. And, it’s without counting that you might actually have to do jail time for repeat offenses. And, of course, you can get legal fines and jailtime for even possessing some drugs.

Substance use disorders often cause people to be irresponsible with money. You might get drunk or high and buy things you don’t need. You might spend more than you can and have to take out a high-interest loan. You might owe several people money. Eventually, you might wake up to realize you’re in debt or barely holding on to an apartment or car payment because of your substance use problem.

That’s also true if you have someone else taking care of necessities. Often, that allows you to get more out of control with spending, until they stop supporting you and you have no way of keeping your home, your car, or your phone.

photo of sad thoughtful woman thinking about rehab and drug addiction treatment

Stopping the Cycle

Substance use should never be more than a tiny part of your finances. If you can actively trace not buying things or having to scrimp or save to afford a drug or alcohol habit, it’s a bad sign for your mental health. People who don’t have a problem don’t drink or use so much that it impacts their finances. And, that can be difficult to get out of if you’re already struggling financially. After all, rehab and drug addiction treatment are also expensive. But, the cost of continuing an addiction can be much more expensive.

In addition, there’s plenty of help to support you breaking the cycle. Many rehab programs, including inpatient and outpatient, offer financing. Your insurance is legally required to cover at least part of the costs, and many government grants and programs exist to help you with anything that doesn’t cover. So, there’s plenty of financial support if you do decide to get help.

And, modern rehab does help. Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient care, you’ll have access to behavioral therapy designed to help you assess underlying problems and fix the root of the issue, while learning coping mechanisms, recovering from the symptoms of substance use disorder, and building better responses to stress and pain.

Millions of Americans struggle with substance use and abuse. It’s expensive, dangerous, and bad for your mental health and interpersonal relationships. And, those expenses can ruin your life and goals in more ways than one, preventing you from moving on with your life, preventing you from reaching goals, and even losing you things you worked for. If you’re struggling, there is help and you can get it.

If you or a loved one is struggling, help is there. And, it can help you to get back to normal. If you need help with mental health treatment, drug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us to ask about our mental health programs and how we can support your specific requirements as you move into treatment.