What Does It Cost to Be a Drug Addict?

Despite preferring the euphoric effect of one chemical over another, being addicted to anything is going to be expensive. This refers to both the financial price tag of buying drugs and alcohol and the toll it charges on health. No matter which aspect of substance abuse is in question, suffering from addiction is a costly way to live. 

As far as questioning how much money it takes to be addicted, that answer depends on a few things. Specifically, the types of drugs, and the frequency that are abused or required to avoid feeling withdrawal. However, no matter what budget you allow for substances, even the minimum is more than what most people can afford. 

Budgeting For An Addiction

The average single American person can survive on around $1,100 to $1,500 a month. That’s including average rent, basic food, running water, minimal electricity requirements, and gas for a commute of  5 mi/day. But that’s it. 

This is based on the cost of living in the least expensive areas in the country. It doesn’t include car payments, student loans, medical bills, or any of the other luxuries that make life more comfortable. The minimum income necessary for basic survival can be doubled or even tripled in a major city or coastal region.

Once you add in the daily, weekly, or even monthly cost of financially supporting an addiction, budgeting can become impossible. To put a number on it, most addicts spend upwards of $100 a day, and some drugs cost even more. In general, the shift in priority often leaves many struggling.

Meeting the bare minimum will be exceedingly difficult, and a great majority end up in stifling debt. This pressure alone places an enormous amount of stress on a person. Inevitably, it results in a great deal of psychological trauma, reinforcing the desire to self medicate. 

A Vicious Cycle of Substance Abuse

The physical difficulty of making ends meet, and the amount of mental illness in the addiction community, is daunting. Often those addicted will attempt to deny the financial problems they are experiencing as substance abuse drains their savings dry. In order to compensate, addicts will initially strive to work more hours. Or they will take on multiple jobs to make up for the loss.

This method may suffice at first. But as the addiction continues, the overall capability to maintain employment will suffer. Addicts often end up getting fired or quitting under the pressure. However, because the dependency has already developed, the need to purchase and use drugs and alcohol will be ongoing. 

Resorting to theft or even crime is usually the next approach. If that doesn’t work, compromising moral standards and trading inappropriate and illegal services for a fix is always an option.

Considerably, some essential sacrifices may result in being able to continue to abuse substances for a longer time. But the emotional burden will surely catch up. Many will begin to isolate themselves from their loved ones, or even be instructed to stay away.

The company that they are able to keep around at this point is probably even encouraging substance abuse. Providing a sense of bonding and community revolving around addiction. In order to nurture this social circle, some addicts will even offer to buy other drugs and alcohol. Spending the remainder of what they have left, solidifies the cycle of hardship and dependency.

Drug Use vs Drug Abuse: Developing Dependency

When getting into specifics of the cost of drugs, it is important to know the difference between use and abuse. Generally, one leads to another. However, that is not always the case. A select few are able to resist giving in to the pull of addiction. Yet, those who can’t have a long road ahead of them.

Some people who use drugs, or are even prescribed them, may never develop an addiction. Then there are others who are using medications as directed. Yet even the most responsible of us can become dependent and require these drugs for daily functioning

Some use drugs, but only on a recreational in terms. A select few have tried a drug once and never developed an addiction or desire to go back to it.  Unfortunately, for the large majority, a single experience can grow into a full-blown addiction, changing their lives forever. 

Aside from treatment recommended by a doctor, the usage of drugs is almost always a health concern. No foreign chemical comes without consequence or side effect. The difference to be discussed is the cost between the two. 

In order to do that, it is important to recognize the difference, and how one can quickly turn to another. That said, we must stress, that even just a one-time usage of a substance can have deadly effects. The only way to avoid the health effects and cost of substance abuse is to abstain.

The Expense of Recreational Substance Abuse

Using drugs recreationally is becoming a more common occurrence around the globe. Judging by the numbers of addiction on the rise, it is safe to assume there is some correlation. All things considered, the average person with an addiction never expected it would develop so far out of their control. Odds are, losing everything in order to abuse substances was not the original intention. Even so, rehab centers are equipped to assist with detox and determine whether further therapy is necessary.

Certain drugs, such as heroin, don’t require a fully developed addiction in order to be deadly, even used only once. It is also important to consider whether these illegal drugs could be secretly mixed with undisclosed deadly chemicals. Then, because of the high risk of dependency on opioid derived substances, addiction potentially follows.

This also means that there will be a significant period of withdrawal once the substance has been stopped. Even if the intention was only to try it once, withdrawal symptoms can prompt follow up abuse for relief.

Using drugs recreationally may keep the amount of money spent on drugs lower, but definitely doesn’t mean it’s a bargain. Substance use such as heroin, cocaine, and prescription pain medication, usually have expensive price tags anyway. Recreational substance abuse could even end up including expensive emergency care and psychological therapy.

Experimenting with dangerous drugs is anything but cheap. Aside from eventually having to pay for rehab detox treatment, it can even cost you your life.

Drug Addiction is Costly in More Ways Than One

Drug addiction is determined when a person begins to rely on a substance both physically and psychologically. Deep seeded habits that come with the disease, often require professional care for treatment, therapy, and recovery. The cost of drug rehab for drug addicts can vary, depending on the treatment required.

Rehab programs design treatments that manage the physical damage done while abusing substances, while therapy works to correct addictive impulses. Psychological services are specially trained to work with those that may have experienced trauma related to substance abuse. Neglecting one side or the other can leave gaps in the rehabilitation process. To be thorough, rehab addresses substance addiction from every angle, in order to promote a healthy and meaningful recovery. 

Psychological Toll of Addiction

The challenge in determining psychological addiction is partial because it closely resembles the recreational use of drugs. Specifically, because an addict may not rely on the substance regularly. The physical representation of consistent use can often be lacking, and therapy is necessary to classify the difference.

However, a predominant factor of psychological addiction includes when a person feels overwhelmingly compelled to use a substance. It may be in order to enjoy themselves, socialize, or perform efficiently. This may also include the contentment of being under the influence of a substance. This euphoria or enjoyment contributes to the desire associated with abusing drugs, where mentally it’s difficult to function properly without.

Some substances that are often preferred with this type of addiction include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine
  • Painkillers

Addressing the psychological addiction to these substances is important to overall mental health. The longer addiction is left untreated, the more advanced it can become. This is what drives up the cost of drug rehab for drug addicts. Psychological addiction makes it difficult to break the emotional bonds associated.

Presentation of Physical Addiction

Physical addiction is what many people associate with substance abuse. Simply, this is when the body depends on substances, and reacts in a physical way when without. Additionally, this type of dependency is what drives up the cost of drug rehab for addicts.

The illness associated with withdrawal can be expensive to treat and very uncomfortable to experience. Some substances simply can’t be stopped abruptly once dependency has formed. This is especially true after extended use and tolerance have increased. 

Physical addiction can lead to a hefty bill once tolerance has grown to a certain point. When this happens, a standard dosage is no longer enough to produce effects. The desired euphoria can no longer be achieved without increasing, driving up the cost to do so. Addicts that are unable to acquire more of a substance in order to maintain functioning and face health-related concerns. 

Consequently, getting medical treatment for these symptoms can also be costly. Treating ailments such as sinus congestion or mild respiratory discomfort may be manageable using over the counter treatments. However, when addicts get to the point of experiencing tremors, vomiting, uncontrollable sweating, and cramping, emergency medical attention is required. 

For those that are under or uninsured, the cost of hospital care can be unmanageable. Partial hospitalization treatment includes the services necessary to assist during life-threatening and vulnerable times. Incorporating several different options for care fills in the blanks, treating all threats of addiction at once.

Calculating the Costs Of Addiction

Needless to say, the price to pay for addiction is more than just the cost for rehab for drug addicts. Substance abusers often have to adapt to a life without many necessities, to have the funds to support their addictions. Many recreational substance abusers do not fully understand the price to be paid when risking the development of addiction. Therefore, addicts endure having to pay the high price, financially, emotionally, psychologically, and inevitably physically. 

The Financial Price of Addiction

Predictably the first noticeable impact of an addiction is the financial burden. Eventually sustaining a growing addiction will entail sacrificing essential needs. The lifestyle changes most often reported as a result of substance abuse include:

  • Inability to afford suitable housing whether it is mortgage or rent
  • Inadequate funds for nutritious food 
  • Lack of appropriate clothing needed for acceptable appearance or uniform

Unfortunately, addiction often also affects the people around them, such as in families of small children. Addicts and those that they are responsible for often appear unkempt, or even homeless. 

That said, there is such a thing as a functioning addict. Although it is not as common, some substance-dependent people can in fact maintain their employment and housing. Residential treatment is often ideal, especially for those in need of temporary room and board. Receiving treatment in a safe and supportive environment relieves the stress of getting sober while subject to unfavorable housing conditions. 

However, because income is distributed unevenly on a supply of drugs or alcohol, social and recreational activities are neglected. Once in this routine, it is not as easy as just quitting. 

To go without securing substances after developing dependency runs the risk of becoming violently ill. Under these circumstances, many are unable to maintain employment. Resulting in a lack of income and insufficient funds for financial stability. 

The Emotional Cost of Addiction

The unsettling experience brought on by the inability to maintain a financially stable lifestyle has damaging effects on emotional wellness. Those around them may also pay emotionally, subsequently suffering, unable to help. Addicts and their families alike are subject to the overwhelming consequences of the disease of addiction if left untreated. 

The emotional toll of substance abuse often leads to:

  • Erratic and unpredictable mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Lack of patience and understanding
  • Overwhelming guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to communicate needs effectively
  • Extreme and volatile emotional responses to stress

Many addicts often live in denial of the impacts of their addiction. This leads to withholding emotions and inevitably inappropriate outbursts, making for dangerous living arrangements and broken families. This is especially true for addicts and the families of alcoholics.

Also depending on the age of those afflicted with substance abuse, the overall development of healthy emotions can be hindered. Down the road, requiring costly amounts of therapy and trauma treatment.

In order to manage the emotional conditions brought upon by their dependency, a large majority resort back to substance abuse for comfort. The longer this goes on, the greater the cost of drug rehab for drug addicts will be in the end. 

Paying The Psychological Price of Addiction

Psychological illness, when it comes to substance abuse and addiction, can be a situation of cause and effect. While addiction and mental illness often present together, diagnosis varies in terms of whether one may have led to another.

Mental illness associated with stress, such as anxiety or trauma, has the potential to lead to self-medication using addictive substances. On the other hand, an otherwise psychologically healthy person may develop an illness as a result of abusing drugs and alcohol. Either way, the cost of drug rehab for drug addicts can include paying with their mental wellness. 

Addiction Alters the Brain

The disease of addiction alters the way a person’s brain functions in response to reward. The euphoria and false sense of security produced while under the influence become more than desirable. In no time, the brain recognizes these effects and adapts to them very quickly. It begins to revolve its functioning around the excessively elevated dopamine levels achieved when intoxicated.

In a sense, this reprogramming of the brain is what is behind addiction in itself. However, these alterations are unnatural and often lead to mental illness that requires intensive rehab therapy. Untreated mental illness can lead to serious health hazards and is a contributing factor to the development of chemical dependency. 

A common psychological illness that results from habitual substance abuse, or influences the desire to self medicates include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

While many of these illnesses do not occur suddenly, prolonged abuse of addictive substances will only worsen the outcome. When a secondary mental illness is diagnosed along with addiction, it is referred to as dual diagnosis.

If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms of mental illness and struggles with addiction, intervention is necessary. Gently and with compassion, discuss the need for professional treatment. Untreated, the price may be much greater than the cost of drug rehab for drug addicts. Some pay with their life.

The Physical Cost of Addiction

When it comes to addiction, the physical toll on the body is inevitable. Unfortunately, in severe cases, the damage cannot be undone. This is likely due to the unhealthy lifestyle adopted by those that suffer from substance abuse.

Some poor habits observed by addicts include:

  • Ignoring proper hygiene
  • Ignoring the need for adequate nutrition
  • Substituting drugs and alcohol for food altogether
  • Ignoring the need for healthy sleep habits and hygiene

While not all of these are immediately deadly, if continued, have detrimental effects. In fact, without proper care, deterioration of physical health can even lead to more permanent damage. Getting on a schedule that reinforces routine has shown significant improvement in many cases. Outpatient programs are designed with this in mind, allowing the return to the comfort of home during off-hours.

Some of these costly health defects developed by ignoring physical health as an addict are:

  • Damage to essential organs, such as heart, brain, and lungs
  • Lowered immune system function and development of chronic illnesses
  • Impaired or decreased brain function that can be permanent
  • Loss of function in the arms and legs 
  • Infections leading to a need for amputation of limbs
  • Appearance changes such as facial deformity or dramatically increased aging

The only way to lessen the threat of physical damage done by addiction is to get rehab treatment as soon as possible. The financial cost of drug rehab for drug addicts can be an inconvenience to some. However, the price of care for physical damage caused by addiction is likely to be ongoing and overall more expensive. That said, optimal prevention would be to avoid substance use altogether.

Paying the Overall Price of Addiction

All things considered, the monetary cost of drug rehab for drug addicts is minimal compared to the price paid overall. Substance abuse, no matter how often, can lead down a dangerous and often scary road toward addiction. Realistically, ignoring the need for rehab treatment is not worth the sacrifice it demands from your life.

If you are suffering from addiction, but don’t know where to turn, there is another option.  Start by getting in touch with a rehab program that has the resources to help. Whether you face losing everything, or it feels like you already have, there is hope to get your life back. Substance use, abuse, and addiction do not have to cost you the rest of your life. Getting back on track can start right now, the wait is over.

Tia Starr
Submitted: 2883

References: 

transferwise.com/us/blog/cost-of-living-in-the-usa

www.healthline.com/health/addiction/recognizing-addiction

www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/mental-health-substance-use-disorders

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