Anyone struggling with a substance use problem learns that addiction causes financial trouble. Often these money problems come up in ways they might not have expected when they first began using addictive drugs. The consequences of an undiagnosed or untreated addiction eventually reach most or all aspects of one’s life. That translates to damaged relationships, personal health problems, unreached goals, a lack of direction, and other negative outcomes.
Because money problems and poverty create their own set of problems that can be difficult to find a way out of, it’s especially important to consider some different ways that addiction causes financial trouble. Here are five financial consequences of addiction that often drive people struggling with substance use further into desperate situations.
Addiction causes financial trouble because habits become expensive
We’ll start with the obvious: addictive substances cost money. But maybe there’s something not so obvious about this. In the first stages of drug misuse or dependency, it can be easy to see only the immediate cost of getting a substance. We don’t think about the long-term monetary costs of supporting an addiction because we don’t set out to become addicted to a drug. But if we develop an addiction, the costs add up…and up, and up.
Think about it: addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. The longer one maintains an addiction, the greater the quantity of drugs or alcohol one consumes on a regular basis. (Remember, tolerance increases with sustained use, so people usually have to use more of their drug of choice to get the high they’re looking for.) This means we need to think not only about the costs of buying drugs or alcohol adding up over time. We also need to be aware that drug habits may be exponentially more costly over time. The longer a dependency goes untreated, the worse one’s financial difficulties may be.
Addiction causes financial trouble through neglect and false priorities
It’s pretty easy to see the direct costs of drug or alcohol use, but there are a lot more indirect ways that addiction will eat into your pocketbook. Because of the way that addiction hijacks the brain’s reward system, those with addictions find it difficult to find the motivation to do many things they once had no problem doing. An addicted person’s brain doesn’t provide an internal feeling of satisfaction for doing simple things like meeting ordinary goals (for example, paying rent, finding a job, saving up for a desired vacation). Meeting financial obligations can fall by the wayside, and those struggling with addiction often find themselves trapped under a burden of penalties and other unexpected costs.
A little more directly, substance use problems often create problems for a person’s work life. It’s not uncommon for those addicted to drugs or alcohol to eventually find themselves a lot less productive at work, which of course can lead to job loss. Using drugs while at work is also a common reason for being fired and suddenly having no paycheck. It’s not like losing one’s job will cause someone to drop the drug use, either. Many continue to divert money needed for basic life needs into drugs and can easily fall into a deepening cycle of poverty and addiction.
Addiction often leads to other health problems
Having a chronic addiction is bad enough, but prolonged drug or alcohol use also comes with a host of other medical problems. People who don’t find a path to recovery will probably find themselves in a hospital bed sooner than they hoped. Medical complications from addiction can be extremely expensive, and there are so many medical problems that can be direct or indirect results of drug dependency.
Physical accidents may occur while one is inebriated, like traffic accidents, falls, or other results of lacking all your faculties. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol are more vulnerable to violence and many forms of abuse or assault. Those who use needles to inject drugs into their bodies are at special risk of getting bacterial infections that can lead to critical health problems. Most people know that alcoholism leads to acute liver damage and worse. These are just a few health complications of addiction that may require expensive medical treatments.
Addiction can create costly legal problems
Substance use problems frequently lead to legal trouble that will be another source of financial straits. Of course, many kinds of drugs or drug use are legally prohibited. In addition, dependency can lead to reckless, abusive, or desperate behavior that can also get one into trouble with the law.
Court costs and attorney fees can be a big burden on finances because they are often unexpected. Having to serve time in jail or prison can have lasting effects on people’s finances and their chances of finding decent-paying employment after their release. Getting into serious legal trouble can place you in a cycle of poor life prospects and bad choices. It’s important to recognize cycles of addiction, social costs, and addictive behavior so that one can make the right choice: seeking treatment and a new start in recovery.
It’s so easy to fall into financial difficulties even when you’re not dependent on using pricey substances; why make getting by even harder? We’ve only scratched the surface of the ways in which addiction causes financial trouble, but the message should be clear: using addictive substances just isn’t worth the costs.
Even if you’re already caught in a cycle of addiction and feeling the pain of compulsive use, there’s always a way out. Seeking help is the first step toward getting your financial security back on the right track.