The Cost of Addiction vs. the Cost of Addiction Treatment

When someone is preparing to get sober, he or she might search for an addiction treatment center that meets a certain budget. A search might reveal treatment choices that range from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000 per month. There’s no question that getting sober isn’t easy on the wallet. Yet, believe it or not, there is a greater cost to a lifestyle of addiction than there is to getting treatment.

Looking at addiction and substance abuse from a national perspective, there are far greater costs to drug and alcohol use than there is treatment. For instance, there are costs of automobile accidents, hospital expenses, medication-related expenses, incarcerating a person, and more police officers on duty in a certain neighborhood because of drug-related crime. Those costs are far greater for the country than treatment for those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

For instance, in an National Institute on Drug Abuse article, it’s stated the cost of someone who is receiving methadone treatment for an opiate addiction is about $4,700 per year. However, if that person were still using and committed a drug-related crime, the cost of incarceration would be approximately $24,000 per year. The difference of $19,300 is a significant savings. It makes it worthwhile for health professionals as well as political figures to advocate treatment. It benefits everyone – the individual, family, and the community.

In addition to this savings, when someone enters treatment there are many other benefits that yield a certain savings in their own way. For instance, when a person has gone through treatment, there are the benefits of better interpersonal and family relationships, no drug-related accidents, and greater productivity at work. Just in the workplace alone, there are savings such as:

  • Decreased absences
  • Greater job security
  • Little to no fatalities or injuries
  • Greater team morale
  • Healthier work relationships
  • Little to no legal complications
  • Healthier judgment and decision-making

According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, illicit drug use cost the country $121 billion, 60% of which was due to lost workplace productivity. This number also reflected healthcare costs and legal fees that can arise when a person is using drugs while still employed. However, when a person enters treatment and remains sober, the savings for the employee and the employer are profound.

Furthermore, there are personal and national savings when a person enters addiction treatment. In fact, a comparison between the costs and benefits of treating an American citizen is clear – it is far better for a person to get treatment and do their best to stay sober. Doing so saves themselves, their families, their community, and their country a good deal of money. Of course, it’s rare that a person considers these costs when they are struggling with an addiction. However, if a recovering addict were to learn about these costs and benefits of staying in treatment, perhaps he or she would avoid a relapse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, contact a mental health provider today for assistance.


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