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The Costs of Addiction | The Watershed

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Addiction is a costly disease and the damages don’t stop at finances. Whether for alcohol abuse or drug abuse, addiction can destroy careers, relationships, families and virtually every other part of an addict’s life.

Costs Of Addiction

Addiction costs in the news

Salacious tabloids frequently print stories that detail the costs of treatment centers for celebrities in rehab. In 2013, the New York Daily News reported that Lindsay Lohan’s private room at Cliffside cost some $68,000 a month, for example. While exorbitant price tags of rehab stays make their rounds in the gossip columns, rehab is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cumulative costs of addiction.

Snowballing effects of addiction

The financial hardships that accompany addiction are frequently years in the making. A 2013 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research suggests it could be a decade or longer before some people seek help.

Over time, dependence on drugs or alcohol leads to addiction. Eventually the addict spends most or all of their income fulfilling the addiction. Imagine this trend escalating for 10 years or more. Ultimately, the addict’s need to fulfill the addiction is prioritized above their need to take care of themselves. Even basic necessities, like earning a living wage and buying food, become secondary to drug and alcohol purchases – and worse yet, can be disregarded completely. At this stage of addiction, the addict typically cannot function enough to hold a steady job. Any money they do manage to find (in many cases by way of borrowing or stealing) fuels only the cost of substances. Despite the fact that the addict will ultimately ignore his costs of living, the costs themselves do not go away: rent/mortgage is still due, car bills continue to arrive, and credit card companies will still try to collect.

From broke to bankrupt

In a recent Reuters article, San Francisco writer David Sheff chronicles the costly struggle of addiction as he witnessed it: through the life of his son, Nic. Nic’s troubles with addiction began at the age of 15, when he started abusing methamphetamine and heroin. For 15 years, Sheff and his family struggled to keep up with the financial damage inflicted by his son’s addiction. “Credit cards would disappear, checks would disappear, stuff would go missing,” he remembers. “Eventually he even broke into his little brother’s piggy bank; that’s how bad it got.”

Following six rehab programs, Sheff was left with over $60,000 in bills for his son’s care while in treatment, in addition to other debts accumulated during the course of his son’s struggles.

Costs beyond the dollar

The financial disrepair left in the wake addiction can be altogether devastating, but still might pale in comparison to the emotional wounds it also causes. For addicts themselves, emotional problems are commonplace. Jessica Cirillo, a senior counselor and relapse prevention specialist, explains that in addition to physical problems, addiction can also wreak havoc on the psychological and emotional well-being of an addict. “Many people are familiar with the physical signs that are exhibited by those suffering from substance abuse,” says Cirillo. “The psychological, emotional and behavioral side effects are lesser known.”

And, the addict isn’t the only one who feels emotional distress. Because addiction literally creates changes in the brain, an addict will often say and do hurtful things to their spouse, friends, parents and even children. A loved one’s struggle to understand the addict’s behavior can create feelings of despair and hopelessness, resulting in a great deal of conflict.

The ultimate price

Until the addict commits to therapy, rehab, or other recovery program, this kind of financial and emotional damage typically continues to escalate. Without help, the physical burden of alcohol or drug abuse will eventually force the addict to surrender, with severe and often deadly consequences.

Overcoming addiction

If you or someone you care about is dealing firsthand with the costs of addiction, get in touch today. The Watershed is here to help. 1-800-861-1768.

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