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What Is The Cost Of Addiction In America Today?

cost of addiction We often cite the extensive cost of addiction and alcoholism on the blog here. Most of the time, we discuss it in terms of costs to our lives: broken relationships, damage to the body, and emotional pain.  But there is a literal component to the “costs” of addiction as well, and a new study shows that the numbers in America are alarmingly high.

Cost Of Addiction

How much do Americans spend on drinking, smoking and drugs?

If someone asked you to estimate how much Americans spend on drinking, nicotine and illegal drugs, what would you say? Would your guess be in the millions? Hundreds of millions? Try $276 billion.

The study was conducted by, a California organization that connects people with treatment centers. Their breakdown shows that $34.3B is spent on binge drinking (six or more drinks at a time, once or twice per week); $32.2B is spent on heavy drinking (21 or more drinks per week); and some $59.7B is spent on illegal and non-medical prescription drugs (which includes pain relievers, tranquilizers and stimulants).

To put these numbers in perspective, $276B is more than the United States government spent on education and veterans’ benefits – combined.

Put another way: collectively, we spend more than $525,000 every minute on drugs and alcohol in the country.

But there’s more to it

Unfortunately, that number is not even the bottom line, when other costs are figured in. Active addictions are much more costly than the specific cost of the substance itself. Rolling in dollar amounts for treatment costs, law enforcement, accidents, and legal fees, addiction ends up costing Americans some $1 trillion annually.

Money isn’t everything

While money is certainly an excellent illustration of its prevalence, it is not even close to the only cost of addiction. Addicts and alcoholics “pay” for their addictions with failed relationships, poor health, and sadly, sometimes their lives.

Clearly, addiction is pervasive. It’s nondiscriminatory. It infiltrates every part of our society, from the richest communities to the poorest.

But, more important than all of this, you must remember: it’s not hopeless.

Getting help

If the costs of addiction have reached a tipping point in your life – whether for your own substance abuse problem, or that of someone you love – The Watershed can help. Our staff his committed to getting you the care you need. From counseling to medical care, we have the resources and experience to help you overcome addiction. Contact us, any time day or night.

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