Addiction is more than personal pain – the consequences of addiction are real and can reverberate through your life and lives of those around you for years to come. A few months spent in the throes of addiction can redefine your entire life and can remain a burden long after your last high.
This is not a condemnation or a judgment of those who have gone through addiction. Anyone who has struggled through addiction knows these things – and they are living them. But it may serve as inspiration for some to continue their hard work in recovery, to remind them of how bad things get – or it can spread awareness of how addiction is not something to be taken lightly, and any chance of it should be avoided if possible.
The consequences of addiction can be unimaginably high, and it sheds light on how this disease does much more than destroy relationships and cause physical damage. The effects of addiction on a family can echo through decades of debt and destitution in the worst of cases, and massive financial regrets in the best of cases. Understanding why and how can give further insight into how addiction takes a person and warps them, manipulating them, forcing them to do things they never thought they’d do – and giving them memories filled with shame and regret that some swear they may never live down.
How Much Does Addiction Cost?
There is no specific price tag on any given addiction. Just like how treatment exposes the individuality of addiction and the uniqueness of every case, the cost differs entirely based on the exact specifics of a person’s habits, their drug or drugs of choice, specific binges based on mood spikes, costs associated with the consequences of their addiction, and much more.
Of course, there is no such thing as a cheap addiction. A six-pack of beer a day will still add up over the course of a month and turn into a massive chunk of your yearly income. And that does not cover the costs of potential DUIs, medical bills associated with liver and brain damage, legal fees or lawsuits over drunken behavior and rowdiness, and much more.
No matter who you are, the cost of addiction is always severe. For people in poverty, addiction is about as ruinous as it can get – and it is unfortunately common. High stress and negative thinking are the perfect breeding grounds for self-medication, even with the most dangerous and addictive substances the street has to offer. But several stories up, in any major city’s night scene, people with more money than they know what to do with end up spending incredible amounts of it purchasing the most expensive drugs on the market. A single night can produce a tab running up into the tens of thousands of dollars.
There’s more to addiction than just the cost of drugs, of course. You pay every step of the journey – from the first hit, to your last day in recovery. Every step taken is one of the consequences of addiction.
The Cost Of Failed Careers
The first and most major of the financial consequences of addiction is loss of a job. We’ve all heard of “functioning alcoholics,” but someone with a full-blown drug addiction will rarely be able to hold onto their job. Once that goes away, every day spent struggling with addiction is a day you are not collecting any wages or making any money, and even with investments and efficient financial planning, drug misuse breeds recklessness, unnecessary risk taking and brain damage, often leading to poor financial decisions, misuse of funds and rash behavior.
Many who go down that path end up losing a big chunk of what they own, and too many end up having to go into debt because of it. Some lose out on life-changing careers over drugs, and about 60,000 people lose out on life per year due to them.
The Cost Of Legal Issues
Drugs are criminalized – and their possession is criminal as well, even in low amounts. Even worse are high amounts of drugs with the implied intent to distribute, or, if you planned on making drugs to fuel your addiction and continue to finance it, the price gets steeper.
But many people struggling with addiction end up paying out both in time and money not due to drug-related charges, but due to their behavior while high. From something as dangerous as driving under the influence or neglecting a child due to addiction, to something as simple as public indecency, drugs can make us do reckless things and pick bad choices. These consequences of addiction rack up over the years into a sizeable cost.
The Cost Of Shame
The emotional consequences of addiction is considerable. Some believe that relapses, rather than part of the neurological disease aspect of addiction, are instead tied to the shame and guilt many people feel shortly after rehab, as they reflect on their days spent as an addict, and the mistakes they made. Addiction is commonly tied to anxiety and depression not only because people with these conditions are more prone to addiction, but because addiction also greatly amplifies them, or even triggers them in the first place.
This can lead to a debilitating emotional pain, one that can prevent people from progressing in their recovery, even going so far as to struggle with the idea of a future for themselves.
Addiction treatment is meant to help people recover past that point, reconciling with themselves and seeking solace in the fact that they can strive to be better, and never again cause the sort of pain they once did. That said, this is one of the consequences of addiction that is harder to quantify, but is clearly present in many recoverees.
The Consequences Of Addiction On Society’s Budget
While the cost of an average addiction is not a very helpful statistic given the massive disparity in wealth and the various costs of the many various drugs Americans consume on a yearly basis, there is a national figure meant to represent how much damage addiction deals financially every year, as represented through unpaid debts, lost productivity, the cost of law enforcement, and the money spent providing addiction-related healthcare: $442 billion.
The country spends nearly half a trillion a year fighting the consequences of addiction, and many Americans pay out of their pocket to fight the symptoms of this problem, either directly or through taxes. No matter who you are or where you live, addiction affects us all. And we all must acknowledge what it is, how it works, and what we must do to prevent and treat it.