Drug addiction not only impacts a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health, there’s also a financial toll. The cost amounts to more than just money spent on substances, but also on activities surrounding drug use and often lost wages as well. It’s not just the drug user who feels the impact, but families also get hit with this heavy economic burden.
It is estimated that Americans spend about $100 billion on illegal drugs every year. The cost of buying these substances can add up quickly, especially when someone uses drugs every day (or many times throughout the day). Then, as tolerance increases, it costs more and more to get that high.
For example, a “gateway drug” like marijuana costs about $15 per gram. Since a high only lasts a few hours, a user may have to consume more than a gram per day. Thus, spending $30 to $60 a day may become common. In a year, it’s possible to spend as much as $21,000 or more on marijuana.
Harder drugs like heroin costs between $15 and $20 on average for a single dose. The effects of this opioid often diminish after just a few hours. Because heroin users can quickly build up a tolerance, that person could soon be spending as much as $200 or more every day to just to maintain the new “normal” that his or her body is seeking.
Additionally, it’s necessary to spend that much just to keep from getting physically ill. Getting high on heroin might cost even more because a user has to break through that tolerance level. Methamphetamine, cocaine, benzodiazepine, Ecstasy, Oxycodone, Percocet, and Vicodin all have similarly high financial costs associated with them.
How drug use takes an overall financial toll
The economic impact of drug use that users and their family and friends face isn’t something people start tallying up. Perhaps that is because it’s much too challenging to do for all the costs that are really involved. The true cost is not just for the substance. It is also about the money associated with:
Vehicle expenses. It may be necessary to drive to locations such as other neighborhoods or even to out-of-town doctors or emergency rooms to secure drugs. There is a cost for gas and car maintenance. Additionally, when an addict uses the money to pay for drugs, other necessary bills get pushed aside. If that person has a car payment, that may lapse, causing a late fee.
Careless spending habits. Squandering money can also be a rush that is associated with a high. It doesn’t take long for such poor money management to go awry. For an addict, it’s possible to use up an entire life saving to fund an addiction.
Job loss. When someone abuse drugs, he or she may come in late, use drugs at work or never even show up for work. Employers do not tolerate drug use. Many drug abusers lose their jobs and their legal source of income.
Divorce. It is common for drug abuse to destroy relationships. If the user is married, his or her spouse may file for divorce. The costs associated with going to court, alimony, and child support can be very costly.
Legal fees. When a person is a drug addict, he or she will stop at nothing to get the funds needed to feed the addiction. Shoplifting, theft, forging signatures on prescriptions, and driving under the influence are just some illegal activities that can get someone arrested. This incurs expenses like bail and attorney fees.
Health care. Drug addiction can lead to a variety of health care needs. For example, someone who drives under the influence can be injured in an accident. There is a higher risk of being shot or injured during a drug deal. Overdosing is also possible. Being a drug addict also leads to other serious health problems; it’s not unusual to be hospitalized for damage to the liver, kidney, heart, or brain. If and when someone decides to get clean, rehabilitation programs cost money.
Funerals. It’s a sad reality, but many drug users die due to their addiction. The cost of the average funeral can range from $6,000 to more than $10,000. Loved ones who likely have already had their wallets hit with expenses have to take on one more final financial burden.