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The Financial Cost of Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse

Addiction is expensive. Yes, it costs a lot to pay for divorce, treatment, and medical bills from overdose or addiction-related illness. It takes an emotional toll on friends, family, loved ones. But what about the actual cost to just get bottles, pills, lines, and bags? In so many ways, addiction ain’t cheap.

The Cost of Alcoholism

Daily bar drinker? Stopping by the local watering hole after work each night and on weekends adds up quick. Unless the bartender’s a friend, that costs big bucks. Drinking at home can add up quick, too. Check out the numbers to see what a year of daily drinking looks like, from a very conservative calculation.  These numbers don’t include the heavy price tag for rounds for the bar and wild purchases made while intoxicated.


Bottle of wine a night ~ $8 = $2920/year

12 pack of beer a night ~ $9 = $3285/year

Bottle of vodka a night ~ $15 = $5,475/year

Average cost of a 1st time DUI = $10,000

Cost of Public Intoxication = $150 – $1,000

The Cost of a Meth Habit

Besides being incredibly hard on the physical and mental health, a meth habit is an expensive thing to have. A ¼ gram serves up about one dose, which can last anywhere from 4-24 hours, depending on the purity and the tolerance level of the user. Tolerance grows quickly though and someone heavily addicted can spend up to $400 a day on the drug.


¼ gram a day ~ $25 = $9,125/year

Gram per day  ~ $100 = $36,500/year

Federal penalty for 1st time arrest for possession of meth = One year in jail and $5,000.

The Cost of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine may be perceived as more glamorous than meth, but addiction is addiction, and cocaine carries a heavy price tag. Mental, physical, and emotional dependence are common factors when faced with cocaine addiction. Often people begin using it as a ‘party’ drug, then carry it over into a lifestyle and weekly, then daily habit. Unlike meth, cocaine’s high is often less than an hour, requiring a substantial amount more to maintain an ‘up’ feeling. An addict may need several grams of cocaine to get them through the day.


Gram a day ~ $50-$70 = $21,900 – $25,500/year

$150-$250 per 3.5 gram (‘eight ball’) = $54,750 – $91,250/year

Federal penalty for 1st time arrest for possession of cocaine = One year in jail and $5,000.

The Cost of Opiate Addiction

Highly addictive, this prescription narcotic takes no prisoners. Often-times pain sufferers will become addicted to this pure, heroin-like painkiller and begin to seek out the drug illegally. When legally sold, a 10-mg tablet of OxyContin will cost $1.25 and an 80-mg tablet will cost $6. When illegally sold, a 10-mg tablet of OxyContin can cost between $5.00 and $10.00. An 80-mg tablet can cost between $65.00 and $80. Often when an Oxy addiction becomes too hard to obtain, an addict will transition to more street accessible but equally dangerous heroin to stay satiated.


Pill a day habit ~ $10-$80 = $3,650 – $29,200/year

Federal penalty for 1st time arrest for possession of a controlled narcotic = One year in jail and $5,000.


Single hit ~ $10 = $3,650/year

Average cost of a daily heroin habit ~ $150 = $54,750

Federal penalty for 1st time arrest for possession of heroin = One year in jail and $5,000.

How does all this measure up to the cost of addiction treatment?

According to the Office of Drug Control National Policy, every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 criminal justice costs

Alcohol and drug treatments are a financially sound investment in life. The short-term cost is offset by serving as the end to the long-term cost of an expensive, deadly habit.



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