The Financial Toll of Addiction

Friday, May 22, 2020, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

If you have ever battled addiction, then you know all too well the toll it takes on your health and your relationships.

What you may not have realized, however, is the toll that addiction takes on your finances.

The reality is that addiction is as financially costly as it is physically and emotionally catastrophic.

It drains the resources of those who simply don’t have the resources to spare.

Because, though the US is the richest country in the world, it is also a country that continues to be ravaged by poverty. In fact, it is currently estimated that more than 38 million Americans live below the poverty line.

And when you add addiction into the mix, you’re risking creating a cycle that can feel nearly impossible to break. You turn to your addiction to help you cope with the fears, anxieties, and depression associated with poverty, and in the process of seeking solace in your addiction, you only worsen the financial struggle that helped spur your addiction in the first place.

These addictions can include anything from drinking and smoking to reckless spending. They may provide a temporary escape from the worries of the day. In the end, though, they simply perpetuate the pattern of financial struggle.

The Financial Toll of Addiction

  • Up in Smoke

    We don’t often think about the destructive effects of smoking addiction, but they are very real. And they encompass not only the use of traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes and cigars, but also vaping, or the smoking of flavored, non-tobacco-based e-cigarettes.

    Indeed, vaping is becoming increasingly popular, especially among teens and young adults. It is often (wrongly) seen as a “healthier” alternative to tobacco, and the vape comes in a range of flavors, many of which appeal specifically to teens and young adults.

    The reality is, however, that vaping can be just as hazardous as traditional smoking. Its effects not only threaten your physical but also your financial health.

    That’s because vaping poses serious health risks. Some of the flavors heavily marketed by vape manufacturers, for instance, have been shown to significantly reduce lung function. A number of young users have even ended up requiring lung transplants due to the effects of these additives.

    Then you have the risk of explosion. That’s right. Explosion. Because e-cigarettes are turning out to be just as explosive as other devices powered by lithium-ion batteries, such as the infamously incendiary Samsung Galaxy smartphones and any number of laptops found spontaneously igniting even when not in use.

    So when you think about the costs of smoking, whether tobacco or vape, it’s not only the significant costs of the products themselves you should bear in mind. It’s also the potential medical and property loss costs.

  • Add to Cart?

    Another costly addiction that is often overlooked is that of online shopping. When you’re shopping, it can be far too easy to forget that you’re spending actual money. That is until the credit card bills start to arrive.

    Often, we shop online when we’re feeling bored, anxious, or lonely. Browsing through page after page of beautiful clothing, gorgeous shoes, and breathtaking decor can be a welcome distraction. But clicking on that little shopping cart to give yourself something to look forward to when your packages arrive can well mean clicking your way into the poor house.

  • The Cost of Recovery

    It isn’t just the addiction itself that can drain your bank account. Getting clean can also be a costly proposition. This is especially true if you decide to turn to rehab to help you battle your addiction. In-patient rehab facilities, for instance, can cost thousands of dollars each month to cover both housing and treatment expenses.

    For some patients battling addiction, however, there are alternatives to rehab. The most important thing is to first understand the type of addiction you have and its severity.

    It’s essential to do your homework and to seek expert advice when needed to ensure that it is safe for you to take on this battle outside of the protective environment of rehab.

    This must include understanding detoxification and withdrawal. You need to have a plan for managing withdrawal symptoms. And you also need to be able to recognize when you’re in trouble and might need immediate medical or psychiatric care.

    Once the initial phases of detox and withdrawal have passed, you also need a plan for putting your financial house in order post-recovery. When you are an addict, your natural impulse may be to replace one addiction with another.

    Managing your finances can be an important step toward resisting that temptation. It can also help you keep a check on how you are faring in your recovery. Creating a budget, setting clear financial goals, and leaving room for the occasional (healthy) indulgence can also give you the sense of hope, order, and forward momentum that you need to make it through the inevitable temptations.

    Ultimately, however, investing in the costs of recovery, whatever they may be, are going to be well worth the price if the end result is getting clean. You’ll be making an investment that not only benefits your health, your peace, and your relationships but one that, in the long run, when you’re no longer pouring money into your addiction, benefits your bank account as well.

The Takeaway

Addiction is a fierce beast. It robs you of your health, your peace of mind, and your relationships. It also frequently robs you of your financial security. From smoking and online shopping to more illicit addictions such as drugs and alcohol, your addiction is stealing your money just as it is stealing your life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from financial ruin. This includes seeking out healthier and less costly coping mechanisms to help you resist the call of your addiction. It also means exploring alternative treatment programs as a substitute for costly rehabs, if possible. Finally, it means learning to manage your finances healthfully and responsibly post-recovery.

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