Alcoholism is more than sitting back and enjoying a few beers on a Friday night. Like any addiction, it’s an emotionally and socially crippling disease that robs you of the freedom to drink in moderation, and instead forces you to drink or drown in pain. Alcoholism is one of the more dangerous addictions, because the alcohol is legal, widespread, often a big part of any social occasion, and can quickly kill.
Up to one in six Americans binge drink every week. While not immediately a sign of alcoholism, binge drinking presents a massive risk of alcohol poisoning, which can be painful and fatal. Up to a fourth of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 engage in the behavior, with twice as many men as women.
Yet alcoholism is more than binge drinking. If the average binge drinker consumes about seven drinks per binge, four times a month, that racks up to nearly $1,500 per year at an affordable cost of $4 per drink. And that’s only counting the binge drinking sessions, and not the rest of the year. Meanwhile, an alcoholic will often consume much more.
Doing The Math
The top ten percent of American drinkers – that is, the ten percent of the population that drink the most – consume on average 74 drinks per week. That’s more than ten drinks per day, a statistic about 24 million Americans contribute to.
At a cost of about $4.61 (the average bar cost of a beer in LA) per drink, that’s over $300 per week, and $16,780 per year. If the drink costs more, then that cost rises exponentially. For reference’s sake, you can buy a car with that. You can also buy yourself a house in certain neighborhoods. Finance the creation of two wells, providing clean fresh drinking water for over 600 people.
With over $16,000 you could pay for a month’s gym membership, over 330 times. You in a family of four could live off that money in groceries for about 70 weeks if you spend liberally. That’s over 16 months. Or, you could take a cruise ship around Europe, easily getting a family of four over the pond in just over $10,000.
You can easily check for yourself exactly how much you’re drinking, by monitoring yourself for a week and averaging it out. The amount of money you may be spending on alcohol might astound you – and while you’ll have to invest a lot of that money into recovery, the long-term savings are insane. If you drink an average of ten drinks a day at $4.50 per drink, or five at $9, then going sober for ten years will save you $163,800. That money could, over the course of your sobriety, go into home improvements, tuition fees, good and healthy food, gym memberships, memorable vacations, and much more.
Even with a more conservative cost of about $2.05 per drink, you’re still looking at nearly $7,500 per year at ten drinks a day.
But if you don’t quit, then your addiction will ruin you. Aside from costing a boatload over the course of an addict’s life, the cost of addiction is much more than just the cost of the booze itself.
More Than Just Alcohol
The money you lay down to support your alcoholism is only a small slice of the pie. Excessive alcohol consumption has costs that go way beyond the booze itself – with a total societal cost of $249 billion a year, nearly $82 billion of that are lost purely due to a loss of productivity caused by drinking.
In states with heavy drinking statistics like California, the hidden cost per drink to the nation and its people is $2.77. Multiply that by the drinks you’ve had this week, and you’ll know exactly how much your habit has cost the economy.
Going back to personal consequences, however, it’s not just the American economy that gets tanked by alcoholism, and addiction in general. It’s your finances, as well.
Healthcare Cost Of Alcoholism
Studies in the past have shown that heavy drinking leads to significantly higher healthcare costs, even when accounting for other factors. This is logical, as heavy drinking presents a great risk of hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and brain damage.
Furthermore, alcoholism worsens the risk as it usually leads to progressively higher alcohol consumption, on top of the risk of alcohol poisoning and the medical costs associated with surviving and recovering from an ER situation after a binge.
To understand just how widespread the issue is, a quarter to 40 percent of all US general hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from the consequences of alcohol-related problems. Overall, the cost of health care due to excessive alcohol consumption is $28 billion a year.
The Cost Of Lost Time
Aside from money spent on healthcare and booze, you lose an incredibly amount of time drinking. It’s not just the act of having a drink and getting drunk. It’s the broken sleep schedules, the debilitating hangovers, the blackouts and frequent lapses in memory, the consequences of bad cognitive skill and decision making due to excessive alcohol consumption, and much more.
Like any addiction, alcoholism can steal a person away from their jobs, their families, and their lives. It can turn a wonderful person into someone disagreeable and incoherent. But it can be treated.
Life Without The Addiction
Aside from the thousands saved simply not drinking, quitting will also give you newfound time and energy, and give your body time to heal and recover, cutting your healthcare costs and hopefully massive improving your quality of life. You’ll feel stronger, you’ll feel better about yourself, and with the right support, you’ll have a chance to lead a meaningful and productive life full of adventures and memorable experiences without a single drop of alcohol.
The best part? It’s more than just make belief. You can get help – and you can get better. Addiction treatment and sober living has come a long way, and we understand more about alcoholism today than every before. While it isn’t easy, the path to long-term abstinence and successful sobriety is extremely rewarding.