Addiction is a chronic condition that causes physical dependence and compulsive behavior. Addiction is typically characterized by a loss of control over the use of a psychoactive substance.
It is estimated that approximately 16 million Americans suffer from substance abuse disorders.1 This includes alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and even caffeine. In our previous post, we’ve seen how addiction affects our health.
But did you know that addiction can also affect our finances?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one out of every three people who use drugs will develop an addiction at some point in their lives. Addictions cost Americans $600 billion each year, and addictions are responsible for more deaths than AIDS, car accidents, suicides, murders, and war combined.2
If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol addiction, there are many costs associated with it. These include medical expenses, lost income, legal fees, and more. It can be difficult to deal with these costs while remaining under the grip of addiction.
Addiction’s Effects on Finances, Income & Employment
The financial effects of an addicted individual’s lifestyle are often devastating for families who have been affected by substance abuse. The following is a list of some common consequences:
- Loss of income – Addiction can cause people with a substance use disorder to lose their jobs or be fired from them. It may also prevent them from holding down steady employment. If they do find work, it will likely pay less than what they were earning before they became addicted. Many people with addictions cannot afford basic necessities like rent, food, utilities, transportation, clothing, etc., so they must rely on public assistance in order to survive.
- Increased medical bills – Medical treatment for drug use disorders is expensive. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug-related hospitalizations alone cost taxpayers about $1.4 billion annually.3 People with addiction need frequent doctor visits because of the risk that they could relapse into using drugs if not treated properly. They usually require prescription medications as well. These treatments can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, liver damage, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even death.
- Higher insurance premiums – Insurance companies charge higher rates to policyholders who suffer from chronic diseases including alcoholism and drug dependence. According to one study, the average annual premium increase was over 50 percent for individuals whose policies included coverage for alcohol and/or drug dependency.
The Cost of Addiction for Family Money & Finance
If you are addicted to substances, then you may be putting your family finances at risk. It is important to understand how addiction affects your finances so that you can take steps to protect your family.
Losses due to addiction include:
- Lost wages – As mentioned above, many people with addiction end up losing their job or being fired. Some people with addiction spend all day searching for new sources of money while others turn to crime to support their habit. Others simply give up looking for work altogether. Regardless of which option they choose, this leads to lower incomes.
- Decreased savings – When someone becomes dependent upon illegal drugs or alcohol, he or she has little incentive to save money. Instead, most people with addiction prefer spending their time doing things unrelated to saving money. For example, they might go out drinking instead of working overtime to earn extra cash. Or they might buy clothes, cars, houses, boats, motorcycles, guns, jewelry, electronics, etc. without thinking twice about where the money came from.
- Increased debt – Because people with addiction tend to live beyond their means, they typically accumulate large amounts of credit card debt. This makes it difficult for them to make payments when they get behind on their debts. Most of these debts come off of their credit reports after five years but interest continues to accrue until the balance reaches zero.
Protecting Your Family From Financial Ruin Due To Substance Use Disorder
The following tips will help you protect your family from financial ruin due to a substance use disorder.
- Understand the effects of the substance use disorder in your life and those around you. You should know exactly what a substance abuse problem does to your health, relationships, career, education, home, car, bank account, and more. Once you have an understanding of the consequences of DUDS, you will be better equipped to deal with the situation.
- Be honest with yourself and everyone else. Tell your friends, relatives, co-workers, bosses, spouses, children, parents, pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, ministers, and any other person whom you trust. Honesty is essential during your recovery period. Lying only hurts you and no one else.
- Seek counseling services. Counselors provide emotional support and guidance throughout the entire course of your recovery.
- Get professional help. There are several types of professionals available to assist you with DUDS. The first type includes doctors, therapists, counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers, judges, probation officers, parole officers, police officers, firefighters, teachers, coaches, clergy members, employers, landlords, banks, creditors, collection agencies, utility providers, government officials, and anyone else involved in your recovery process.
Let Schick Shadel Help You Repair Your Financial Life Through Recovery.
Addiction is a disease that destroys lives. It causes people to lose jobs, homes, families, friends, and self-respect. It also costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
At Schick Shadel Hospital, we understand that addiction is a serious problem that requires immediate attention. That is why we offer a variety of programs designed to help you overcome this disease.
- The Financial Toll of Addiction. (2016). Retrieved 23 September 2021, from https://drugabuse.com/blog/financial-toll-addiction/
- NIDA. 2020, June 3. Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/drug-addiction-treatment-worth-its-cost on September 23, 2021.
- Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 38. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4216. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration