What Is The Cost of Alcohol Addiction?

Although it is impossible to put a dollar figure on the total cost of addiction one thing is certain, however – addiction is expensive. Most people don’t realize the true cost of addiction because it is a slow insidious drain on finances, friendships, careers and eventually…life itself. Take time to inform yourself about the economics of addiction to understand how substance abuse will impact your financial health for years to come.


  • Money Spent: The actual cost of buying drugs, alcohol or even cigarettes adds up fast. This information is based on the purchase of an inexpensive domestic six-pack of beer (pre-tax). Other forms of alcohol, such as wine, whiskeys, rum, and liqueurs cost significantly more.
  • Loss of Productivity: The economics of addiction don’t stop with the purchase price alone; substance abuse is associated with increased absenteeism from work, fewer promotions and increased risk of unemployment.
  • Lifestyle: The time spent searching for drugs, using drugs, recuperating from the use of drugs and then repeating the cycle could be better spent learning new skills to increase job opportunities, exercising to take better care of one’s health, spending quality time with friends and family, or simply involving in faith-based ventures.
  • Illness: Drug and alcohol abuse eventually result in higher medical bills, increased risk of injuries and illnesses directly – or indirectly – related to addiction, and long term loss of earning capacity due to illness, disability and medical costs.
  • Insurance: Plan to pay more for almost every type of insurance ranging from car insurance to health insurance due to substance abuse. The average person dealing with an addiction is charged with 1.4 DUI’s that result in increased car insurance rates of up to 300 percent – if not outright cancellation. Co-morbidities, illnesses and injuries caused by intoxication further increase the cost of all types of insurance leaving the entire family more susceptible to all kinds of accidents, injuries or other financial downturns.
  • Legal Bills: In addition to increased insurance rates, DUI’s, arrest warrants and other legal problems are common among those that abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Loss of Earned Income: Substance abuse is strongly correlated with dropping out of school – whether high school or college – creating a lifelong loss of earned income. Worse, social security and retirement benefits are correlated to earned income so the loss of annual earnings will impact retirement.
  • General Money Problems: Late bills, higher interest rates and bad credit scores are common problems. It only makes sense; money that should go toward paying down debt goes toward buying drugs instead, accidents and higher insurance rates result in increased charges for buying everything from a new car to qualifying for a mortgage. Not only does it hurt the person suffering from the addiction but impacts the lives of spouse, parents and children for years to come.
  • Add it Up: Take time to tally the results from each of the above areas to understand the real threat to your financial future. The sooner treatment begins the better the chance for success. Early intervention reduces the risk of an illness, injury, increased legal and insurance rate, and completion of educational or professional goals.
  • Compare: The cost of treatment amounts to very little when compared to the big picture; the difference in annual income for one single year between finishing school and failing to complete a degree more than compensates. Even using the most conservative estimates, the economics of addiction creates a devastating financial impact for years to come. The cost of treatment often amounts to only a few weeks or months of use when the total impact is calculated. Finally, add to that the cost of lost jobs, broken homes, alimony and child support, increased healthcare costs as the addiction erodes your health, and the numbers really start to add up. Addiction is incredibly expensive, in monetary terms, and in the price you pay in your lifespan, your family, your career and your personal satisfaction with your life.