Drug and alcohol addiction does not come without costs: costs to health, relationships, as well as financial cost. Addiction can cost a person thousands of dollars each year, depending on the type of substance abused, the amount, and other considerations such as healthcare costs.

Financial barriers to seeking drug and alcohol rehab are a common concern. However, the value of seeking treatment, when and if affordable options are available, far exceeds how much this and can save you money down the road.

Drug and alcohol treatment can also present more valuable benefits, such as skills-learning groups and access to a team of specialists capable of coordinating a personalized treatment plan.

What Is The Total Cost Of Addiction In The U.S?

The financial cost of struggling with drug or alcohol addiction over time is more than just a personal problem. Substance abuse is estimated to cost the United States economy over $600 billion each year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

This number is staggering, and doesn’t include the significant indirect costs of drug and alcohol addiction. These indirect costs, which include drug-related deaths and reduced quality of life, raise the total cost to over a trillion dollars each year.

Areas of spending that are considered when calculating these total costs include:

  • healthcare costs
  • workplace productivity loss
  • criminal justice costs
  • research and prevention
  • public assistance and social services
  • traffic collisions
  • fires
  • intangible costs (e.g. decreased quality of life)

How Do Treatment Costs Affect The Total Cost Of Addiction?

A 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Justice shares that treatment costs for substance abuse make up only 6 percent of the total financial cost of addiction nationwide.

Although millions of people struggle with drug or alcohol addiction in any given year, only a small percentage go on to seek treatment. There are many explanations for this that can vary for each person, and with every day, month, or year someone doesn’t seek treatment – the cost of addiction becomes greater.

Annual Financial Costs Of Addiction By Drug

Breaking the costs down even further, below is a detailed look at how the annual financial cost of addiction can be compared between different types of substances.


Prescription opioid abuse, according to the CDC, has reached crisis levels in the United States. In 2017, more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were filled by patients in the United States – and this doesn’t account for opioids purchased illegally.

Although opioids like oxycodone and Vicodin can be an effective treatment for severe pain, they can also be highly-addictive, leading many to a dangerous pattern of opioid misuse and addiction. Older adults especially are a population commonly receiving these prescriptions, and with a slower drug metabolism, can be at greater risk for developing a problem.

In 2015, the economic cost of opioid misuse in 2015 was estimated at $504 billion. On an individual level, chronic opioid use can become very costly, with prices even higher for pills not received through a prescription.

Common opioids of abuse and average costs per pill include:

  • OxyContin
    • prescription: $6
    • street price: $50 to $80
  • fentanyl patch
    • prescription: $9
    • street price: $40
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
    • prescription: $1.50
    • street price: $2 to $10
  • oxycodone
    • prescription: $6
    • street price: $30-$40

Taking opioids multiple times a day over time can add up, with higher doses costing even more. In addition, as a person develops a higher tolerance for opioids, higher doses will be needed to continue experiencing the same effects.

The majority of opioid-related costs in the United States occur as a result of fatalities. Non-fatal instances of opioid misuse make up only a fraction of the total cost, representing $72.7 billion of the total $504 billion.


Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the United States and leads to a problem that kills 88,000 people each year. In 2016, the CDC reported an annual U.S economic loss of $249 billion due to the costs of excessive alcohol use. This costs each citizen in the United States about $807 each year..

Binge-drinking drives the majority of this economic toll, linking back to 77 percent of the total cost. Underage drinking and drinking while pregnant also make up sizable portions of this total cost.

On a societal level, excessive drinking hurts the economy by causing significant losses of productivity in the workplace, healthcare costs, and more.

From a 2016 CDC report on heavy drinking, the breakdown of this total cost follows as:

  • loss in workplace productivity (72 percent)
  • health care expenses (11 percent)
  • law enforcement and criminal justice (10 percent)
  • motor vehicle crashes (5 percent)

The expense of buying alcohol for heavy drinkers can cost upwards of thousands of dollars each year. Adding in the expenses of treating medical and mental health consequences of alcoholism can even further raise this cost.


Cocaine is powerful and addictive illicit drug that first rose to popularity in the early 1980s and have generally declined in price since. Since the 1990s, cocaine prices have remained relatively steady, despite new legal barriers that make it more difficult for drug cartels to ship and distribute the drug.

The price of cocaine today varies based on location, the amount, and drug purity. On average, a gram of cocaine in the U.S. can cost between $93 and $163, depending on purity and location. This is equal to about ten lines, or twenty-five “bumps” of cocaine.

Depending on the severity of a person’s problem, cocaine addiction can result in costs of $8,000 to $10,000 a year. People with a severe cocaine addiction may spend more.


Heroin is an illicit opiate that sells between $5 and $20 a dose. For people with severe addictions, daily costs for heroin can range up to $150 to $200 a day. This can add up to $54,000 to $73,000 per year, without factoring in the financial burden of other heroin-related costs.

Compared to the prices of prescription opioids, however, heroin is often seen as a cheaper and more easily-obtainable alternative. It may sometimes be taken or mixed with other addictive opioids such as fentanyl.

Heroin is a powerful drug that can pose several dangers to physical and mental health. Having an addiction to heroin can make it difficult to keep a job, cause legal troubles, as well as increased healthcare costs, and other serious consequences. Heroin addiction also leads to increased costs on a societal scale due to higher incarceration rates, theft, and other criminal justice costs.

Compare: The Cost Of Addiction Treatment

Many people struggling with addiction have concerns about whether or not they can pay for treatment. Treatment expenses for drug and alcohol addiction can vary depending on the type of treatment being sought, location, and other factors.

Detox services, for instance, can cost between $250 to $800 a day out-of-pocket, while residential rehab programs can cost between $2,000 to $25,000 depending on the length of stay and amenities offered.

Depending on the substance and severity of someone’s addiction, it’s not uncommon to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a short time to maintain drug or drinking habits. In comparison, getting treatment can provide significantly more value personally and financially.

Most insurance companies are required by law to provide some level of coverage for mental and behavioral health services, which includes drug and alcohol rehab. This can reduce costs for people with insurance who are seeking treatment.

Additional options for people without insurance may include:

  • state-funded rehab programs
  • facilities that offer sliding-scale services for low-income patients
  • treatment scholarships

Seeking Treatment Helps The Economy

The U.S. economy also benefits from people seeking treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

  • for each dollar spent on addiction treatment, an estimated $4 to $7 is yielded due to a reduction in drug-related crime and theft
  • when healthcare costs are added, the ratio of savings exceeds the costs of treatment 12 to 1
  • addiction treatment increases employment prospects by 40 percent and reduces arrests for drug-related crimes by 40 to 60 percent

Get Addiction Help Today

Getting help for an addiction is not a small decision. It can be life-changing in several ways, and provide an opportunity to save money that would have otherwise been spent feeding your drug or alcohol habits.

Treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction reduces the risk for relapse, connects people to a support system, and can put them on the path towards a more hopeful future ahead. At Vertava Health, we strive to provide comprehensive treatment that helps each patient we treat discover their success story.

Fighting addiction is not easy, and you don’t have to face it alone. Our treatment specialists at Vertava Health are available 24/7 to offer confidential support in finding a treatment program that best suits the needs of you or a loved one struggling with addiction.

Don’t wait to seek help. Contact us to find drug and alcohol treatment options today.

Call Vertava Health now!