Addiction and dependency is costly. Not only can it sabotage your health, time with family, and productivity, addiction can put your success at risk. Are you curious about the true cost of addiction?
This article may be helpful if you are…
- Experiencing substance misuse or addiction yourself, or supporting a loved one with addiction;
- Interested in the broader experience of addiction and the ways it can negatively affect your life;
- Wanting to seek rehab or recovery from substance addiction or misuse.
The cost of addiction: more than you think
When we speak about the cost of addiction, especially drug addiction, people tend to think of tangible dollars. They think of money spent on substances, the cost of emergency services or days missed from work.
But what if the cost of drug addiction was much, much bigger? What if it was missed opportunities, memories foregone, and relational hardship? What if the risk was bigger than the gain?
Specialist Doctor weighs in on true cost of addiction
Doctor Christian Rowan is an Addiction Medicine Specialist at The Banyans Health and Wellness. Since completing his Specialist Medical training, Doctor Rowan has spent over 20 years helping patients evaluate the cost of their addiction to drugs or alcohol.
He identifies four main areas where the cost of addiction is particularly prevalent: relationships, finances, physical health and wellbeing, and legal implications.
Relational costs of drug or alcohol addiction
Questions to ask yourself:
- Are you withdrawing or isolating yourself from your loved one?
- Do you feel like your relationships are turbulent or often characterised by conflict, anger, or resentment?
- Have people in your life expressed concerns about your behaviour or habits?
If you answered yes or maybe to any of the above questions, your drug or alcohol use may be costing you your relationships.
Addiction is the disease of isolation
When we are experiencing an addiction or substance misuse, we can feel ashamed or guilty about our choices. We may not wish to take responsibility for our actions, or face the consequences. We may pull away from those who care about us the most to avoid our unpleasant feelings.
But the more we withdraw emotionally, the most isolated we become. Addiction is the disease of isolation.
This powerful blog by The Banyans further explains the connection between addiction and isolation. Addiction can be made worse by isolation, and isolation can make addiction worse.
Similarly, research has shown that isolation can exacerbate negative emotions and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and burnout. These conditions can also lead us to turn to alcohol and other substances as a way to seek relief. However, this too only worsens our difficulties and emotional discomfort when the substances wears off.
Addiction can create conflict out of any circumstance
When we are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances, we are not ourselves. We may perceive things to be different to reality, and may go about our lives in a heightened or depressed emotional state.
Unfortunately, this can mean that we are more easily agitated or angered by our loved ones and colleagues, or we lose the joy of living. We may be more prone to encouraging turbulence in our relationships, or having a short fuse, or withdrawing.
The effects of addiction and substance misuse can make healthy relationships feel very strained, effecting both ourselves and our loved ones. Addiction can erode trust and connection – costing you your marriage, children or professional relationships.
Financial impacts of drug or alcohol addiction
- Have your destructive patterns interfered with your ability to work or generate income?
- Has your productivity decreased due to your destructive habits and their patterns?
- Are you spending money to fuel your addiction? If you redistributed money to other things, how much would you save?
Our finances are an obvious way to identify the cost of addiction.
The Australian Government estimates that “the social costs of alcohol misuse in Australia… was estimated to be $14.35 billion.” They report that the highest costs were associated with: “productivity losses (42.1%), traffic accidents (25.5%) and cost to the criminal justice system (20.6%).”
The staggering $14.35 billion does not consider personal financial costs and implications. This means this financial cost prediction is grossly underestimated.
For example, consider an individual drinking approximately $550 worth of alcohol each week. In just six months, they would have saved over $14 300 in direct costs alone. If they consider increased productivity, health costs and sourcing costs (such as transportation and time), the financial cost of addiction is dramatically larger. How is your addiction costing you financially?
Your most important asset: your health and wellbeing
- Do you wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested in the morning? Do you experience “the 3am phenomenon”?
- Have you recently experienced poor clarity of mind, difficulty concentrating or “brain fog”?
- Could you be developing chronic health conditions like fatty liver syndrome, kidney malfunction, or issues with digestion and metabolism?
When used irresponsibly, alcohol can be one of the most fatal substances in the world. It sounds dramatic, yet almost 6 000 Australians die of alcohol related health concerns every year.
That is almost 16 people dying each day from alcohol-related concerns.
That is a huge price to pay.
However, alcohol also has less life-threatening effects on our physical health. These include dehydration, restlessness, and changes to the natural cycle of the body to rest and wake. This is one reason why people often feel “groggy” in the morning after consuming alcohol.
The 3am phenomenon
In a recent blog article on the surprising effects of sleep on our physical and mental health, Peter Hayton, Clinical Director of The Banyans, introduced the “3am phenomenon”: where those who drink alcohol in the evenings often wake up around this time. “It’s a very common yet unexplained phenomena,” he says.
Research indicates that as little as two alcohol beverages is enough to disrupt your sleep cycle, and can contribute to dramatic spikes in the stress hormone – cortisol.
Cortisol itself can cause detrimental effects for our health and wellbeing, especially when we experience elevated levels for prolonged period of time. Effects of elevated cortisol include high blood pressure, inflammation and poor gut health.
Legal risks and implications of addiction
Things to consider:
- Have you experienced any legal difficulties of your destructive behaviour?
- Would there be any legal consequences if you were to “get caught”?
- How much (if any) have your legal challenges cost you, both financially and emotionally?
Most people understand the legal costs of addiction, yet those choosing to engage in illegal behaviours try to ignore them. However, whether it be engaging with illicit drugs, driving under the influence of substances or associated crime to enable your habits, you are likely going to have to face the ramifications.
Some of the consequences can stay with you for a life time. A permanent note on your public record can sabotage your ability to progress in your career, or may affect your ability to obtain money from a bank. It can even impact the premium on your car insurance.
You have the choice to change your life before paying the legal cost of addiction.
Are you flourishing, or are your destructive patterns taking a toll? Are the impacts on your addiction costing you more than they are worth?
It’s time to seek help.
The Banyans is a private, confidential treatment centre specialising in drug and alcohol rehab. Each guest experiences one-on-one individual therapy with an extensive team of qualified professionals. We exist to help you break free from addiction, and rediscover the fullness of life.
If you would like to stop paying the cost of addiction, connect with our Intake team today. We are here to help you.