Addiction can impact your entire life by taking a toll on your relationships, career, education and mental and physical health. In addition, one of the most substantial (and often overlooked) aspects of addiction is the financial impact that it can have. Whether it’s from legal substances like alcohol or illicit drugs like cocaine, the cost of supporting an addiction can hurt your bank account. And, when the money runs out, you might resort to behaviors like lying or stealing in order to continue using.
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Estimated Annual Cost of Alcohol Addiction: $5,000+
For many, alcohol is a part of everyday living. For others, it’s an all-encompassing addiction that can rule their life and ruin finances. Since there are so many different types of alcohol, it can be difficult to calculate exactly how much you’re spending on drinking, especially if you drink in excess. But consider this: just drinking a single beer from a 12 pack each night can end up costing over $400 a year. Someone addicted to alcohol is drinking much more than that. Additionally, if you’re buying top-shelf or specialty brews, wine or liquor drinks, the tab will also rise.
Binge drinking can be a dangerous precursor to addiction. Binge drinking is usually defined as consuming five or more beverages at a time for men, and four or more for women. With as many as 17% of U.S. adults binge drinking at least four times each month, the personal economic impact is huge. If you binge drink once a week and pay between $5 and $10 a drink, you could be looking at an annual cost of at least $1,000.
For those struggling with severe alcohol addiction, the costs continue to grow. A person struggling with an alcohol use disorder might consume multiple bottles of wine in a night, a case of beer in one sitting or upward of 10 shots of vodka at a time. Even drinking $10 worth of alcohol a day can leave you with a $3,650 tab at the end of the year. Realistically, someone struggling with an alcohol addiction could consume over $5,000 worth over the course of a year.
Estimated Annual Cost of Marijuana Addiction: $7,000+
While there is debate on marijuana’s addictive properties, research shows that around 10% of people who use marijuana develop an addiction. This number rises to around 17% when marijuana use begins in the teenage years. Marijuana addiction or dependence often results in withdrawal symptoms, causing it to become an all-encompassing priority in life. Although marijuana may not carry the same risks as more potent drugs like heroin, it is still a powerful substance that can impact your behavior and finances.
The cost of marijuana depends on where and how it’s purchased. The average price of marijuana bought on the street ranges from about $170–$250 for an ounce, $35–$45 for an eighth and $10–$15 for a gram. Dispensary prices also vary by location, but their averages are around $170–$375 for an ounce, $30–$60 for an eighth and $7–$20 for a gram.
A typical joint contains about a third of a gram of marijuana, meaning a joint costs roughly $5 depending on the quality and strain of the weed. If a person smokes a joint once a day, that equates to an annual expense of $1,825. Although some may only use marijuana a few times a week, those who are addicted may smoke several times a day, raising the expense upward of $7,000.
Estimated Annual Cost of Prescription Pain Pill Addiction: $29,200+
Prescription opioids are often seen as harmless, medicinal drugs used to treat pain. The term “opioid” is often used to refer to both natural opiates (derived from opium found in a specific poppy plant) and synthetic opioids (manufactured to work like their natural counterparts). Despite the fact that these painkillers are usually dispensed by doctors and pharmacies, they are still highly addictive.
The price of a prescription pain pill addiction can vary greatly and often hinges on whether these medications are obtained with insurance. It also depends on whether they are purchased legally through a pharmacy or bought illicitly from friends, dealers or others.
With a prescription, opioids are typically sold in a bottle with a set number of pills. On the street, they can be purchased in multiples or as single pills. Prescription opioids include OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, and others. The potency of each medication varies and so does the effect. For some long-term users, a higher dose is required to feel the desired euphoric effects.
OxyContin (oxycodone) is a common prescription opioid used as an extended-release painkiller. It is designed to treat moderate to severe pain for long periods of time, so its effects are long-lasting. It can be purchased in 10 mg increments, and a prescription may include 30–60 tablets or more. Prices vary from $35–$140 for 30 tablets (10 mg per tablet). On the street, a 10 mg tablet typically ranges from $5–$10.
Because OxyContin is an extended-release medication, doctors typically prescribe it in 10 mg increments and only increase the amount if necessary. Some people with opioid tolerance may take more than 80 mg per day. If someone bought OxyContin at the highest market price and used 80 mg each day, they’d have an annual bill of $13,626 when purchased from a pharmacy, or $29,200 when bought on the street.
Estimated Annual Cost of Heroin Addiction: $18,250+
The illegal big brother of prescription opioids, heroin is an opiate derived from morphine. The substance is often used by people whose opioid addiction began with a dependence on prescription painkillers.
In many cases, heroin is cheaper and easier to come by than prescription pain pills. It can be smoked, snorted or taken intravenously, and it is found throughout the entire country. A gram costs about $150, and bags containing 100 mg are typically sold for anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on the location.
The cheaper varieties of heroin are often cut with substances such as fentanyl, making it very dangerous. The amount of heroin used per day fluctuates from person to person. If you were to use five bags of $10 heroin a day, you’d spend $18,250 a year.
Estimated Annual Cost of Cocaine Addiction: $5,200+
Cocaine is a stimulant that is usually inhaled, snorted or injected. It is derived from the coca plant, but it often goes through a manufacturing process that utilizes a number of potentially hazardous chemicals.
Cocaine has historically been a popular illegal drug, with diverse pricing scales across the country. Typically, a gram of coke can be purchased for an average price of about $100. If you were to use one gram of cocaine a week, you’d end up spending about $5,200 a year. If the habit increases to one gram a day (a potential lethal dose to those who have not developed a tolerance), the bill could be almost $40,000 a year.
The Real Cost of Addiction
Over a lifetime, a drug habit can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars — enough to buy a car, house or other large investment. However, there’s more to addiction than just the financial blow. Addiction can result in missed work, loss of funds, increased health care costs, jail time, fines from DUI incidents and deteriorating family relationships. Though these can each be detrimental, the greatest expense of all could be the loss of your life. In 2017, overdose deaths took more than 70,000 American lives, making overdoses one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Addiction doesn’t have to cost you your life. An investment in a treatment program like those available at The Recovery Village can save you thousands over the course of your lifetime and prevent years of heartache, legal trouble and lost wages. Taking your life back starts by reaching out to The Recovery Village. Contact us today to speak with a caring admissions representative to learn more about medical detox and rehabilitation programs across the country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fact Sheets – Binge Drinking.” October 24, 2018. Accessed January 14, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health?” February 27, 2018. Accessed January 14, 2020.
Budzu. “Weed Prices.” (n.d.). Accessed January 14, 2020.
Stamberger, Jeffrey. “Marijuana Prices and Sizes.” Medical Marijuana, Inc., October 9, 2019. Accessed January 14, 2020.
Berger, Michele. “New Penn Research Shows Average Joint Contains Much Less Marijuana Than Thought.” Penn Today, July 8, 2016. Accessed January 14, 2020.
GoodRX. “OxyContin.” (n.d.). Accessed January 14, 2020.
Connecticut Clearinghouse. “OxyContin / Oxycodone.” (n.d.). Accessed January 14, 2020.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “Heroin and cocaine prices in Europe and USA.” 2016. Accessed January 14, 2020.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” January 2019. Accessed January 14, 2020.