Addiction is a pervasive problem that affects individuals, families and communities worldwide. Beyond its physical and psychological consequences, addiction carries a significant financial burden, wreaking havoc on personal finances. This article looks at the different ways addiction affects a person’s financial situation including the potential loss of income and health-related expenses.
One of the most immediate and apparent financial consequences of addiction is the cost of acquiring substances. Whether buying alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medicine, the expenses can quickly escalate and, as tolerance builds, higher doses are required, intensifying the financial strain.
UK Government data from Dame Carol Black’s Review of Drugs, published in 2020, estimates the UK heroin market earns £4bn in annual revenue from its approximately 260k users. While usage and spending will vary heavily between users, this averages out to more than £15,000 per user across a 12-month period. The same report estimates £1m is spent on crack cocaine and nearly £2m on powder cocaine.
While it is more difficult to gain an accurate depiction of spending on alcohol by people who have substance use issues, because non-addicts also purchase alcohol, the Alcohol Health Alliance have made some estimations using data from the Health Survey for England. It found that 69% of the money that funds the alcohol industry comes from people either known as “harmful drinkers” or “risky drinkers” – equating to £23.7bn annually.
In some cases, individuals may resort to illegal or dangerous activities to fund their addiction, leading to legal complications and further financial burdens.
On top of the costs associated with buying drugs or alcohol, addiction can detrimentally affect one’s ability to maintain paid employment. The consequences of substance abuse, like diminished performance, missing work and causing workplace accidents, can lead to job loss or difficulty finding stable employment. Being either unemployed or underemployed (having some but not sufficient paid work) directly impacts financial stability, creating challenges in meeting essential expenses, such as housing, utilities and food.
Substance abuse can lead to legal complications and there are financial penalties associated with this. Driving under the influence, possession of illegal substances or involvement in illicit activities can result in fines, court fees, legal representation costs and even imprisonment. These legal consequences not only drain finances but also damage personal and professional reputations, making it harder to rebuild a stable life during and after addiction recovery.
Chronic substance abuse impacts an individual’s physical and mental health and can cause medical conditions such as liver disease, respiratory problems, mental health disorders and diseases. While the NHS provides free healthcare and various charities offer mental health support, prescription drugs, such as those that treat long-term conditions, treat infections and reduce pain, can soon add up over time.
The financial toll of addiction often leads people into a cycle of debt and financial instability. As the costs accumulate, people living with addictions may resort to borrowing money, maxing out credit cards, or taking out loans to fund their substance abuse. This reliance on debt can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in overwhelming financial burdens, damaged credit scores and limited access to financial resources.
It’s not just the person with an addiction that suffers financial implications from drug or alcohol use; in many cases, family members also bear the burden of financial responsibilities, such as covering bills, debts or legal expenses. This will likely put a strain on, and damage, long-term relationships with friends and family, making them less likely to help in the future.
Recognising the financial costs of addiction is crucial in motivating individuals to seek help and embark on the path to recovery. By addressing addiction, individuals can break free from the cycle of addiction, rebuild their lives and regain control over their finances and overall well-being.
Rehabilitation centres, like ANA Treatment Centres, offer professional help when it comes to the recovery journey. We provide treatment for people with substance issues as well as support for their families. Get in touch today to find out how ANA Treatment Centres can help your family.