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What is the True Cost of Addiction? Understanding Financial, Social, and Health Impacts

The true cost of addiction isn’t measured only in dollars and cents. While addiction is a financial burden on communities, the actual expenses of the condition–financial and otherwise– are carried by the people living with it. Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol face significant harm to their emotional, physical, social, and financial well-being. 

If you or someone you love lives with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you do not have to carry this weight alone. Reach out to the caring specialists at the Mandala Healing Center for information about starting treatment today. 

The Cost of Addiction in Our Society

A healthy society can function well and meet the needs of the people living within it. When people live with addiction, the effects of this condition can negatively impact the health, emotional wellbeing, and safety of others in their community. 

Addiction prevents people from being able to be healthy, productive members of society. It can lead to fewer people reaching their potential and being able to contribute to their communities. Addiction may also impact society by:

  • Breaking up families
  • Worsening mental health conditions
  • Contributing to increases in violent crime
  • Causing premature deaths

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction costs our society about $600 billion yearly in healthcare costs, crime, and lost productivity. 

The Financial Cost of Addiction

While the cost of addiction in the country may be too overwhelming to comprehend, the financial toll it can take on a person is significant. Whatever a person’s substance of choice, the cost of addiction can really add up.


The average American drinks about four drinks a week. The cost of drinking at this level is about $2400 a year if all of the drinks come from a bar. However, about 24 million Americans drink ten drinks a day or more. Even if all their consumption is done in the home, drinking this much can cost between $3200-$14,000 per year.


About 35 million Americans report using marijuana monthly. The price of an ounce of marijuana varies from $140 to over $600, depending on location. If the average marijuana user consumes 3.5 ounces a year, this could cost anywhere from $600 to $2100 per year. 


The opioid crisis has taken a significant toll on society. On a personal level, opioids are expensive. One 20mg Oxycontin pill may cost as much as $80. Dilaudid, Vicodin, and Percocet may cost in the range of $10 to $40 per pill. If someone develops tolerance, they may spend hundreds of dollars a day on prescription opioids. Over a year, opioid addiction may cost a person between $54,000 and $73,000.


Cocaine is an expensive drug–a gram costs in the neighborhood of $165. Regular users may use a gram per day, which adds up to $55,000 over the course of a year. Heavy users may spend significantly more. 


Drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium can cost $5 to $10 per pill. People addicted to benzodiazepines often take multiple doses per day and can easily spend $60 or more to meet their need for these drugs. In a year, some users may spend almost $22,000 on benzodiazepines.

The cost of maintaining an addiction is high. In time, the risks of losing more than just money increase. 

The Social Cost of Addiction

Addiction can cause severe rifts in strong, loving relationships. When addiction takes hold of a person, it demands all of their attention. Instead of nurturing relationships, the person’s focus shifts to getting and using more drugs or alcohol. They may lose interest in their friendships and relationships in favor of spending time with others who abuse substances. 

In many cases, addiction may cause people’s behavior to change. Their personality changes. They may be dishonest or sneaky and might lie or get caught up in illegal activities. Without treatment, people with addiction may push their loved ones away with their words and actions. In place of love and comfort, relationships are plagued by distrust, anger, sadness, and conflict.

When one member of a family–or one partner in a relationship–is addicted, the whole group lives with the addiction. Addiction treatment that includes family therapy must be the first step in repairing relationships and helping an addicted person rediscover the healthy person they want to be.

The Cost of Addiction to Your Health

Addiction to various drugs and alcohol leads to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Even without resulting in death from chronic conditions or overdose, addiction can negatively impact a person’s health. 

In the short term, substance abuse and addiction results in impaired judgment, risky sexual behavior, accidents and overdose. In the long term, substance abuse can lead to serious, chronic diseases and new or worsening symptoms of mental illness. 

Some of the most common health conditions related to chronic substance abuse include:

  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Heart disease
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Infertility
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer–stomach, esophageal, colon, and liver

If you or someone you love lives with substance abuse or addiction, you must seek treatment immediately to avoid severe harm to your physical and emotional wellbeing. 

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love requires addiction treatment or support during recovery, reach out to the Mandala Healing Center specialists today.