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The Financial cost of Addiction

A young homeless male of caucasian ethnicity sits on the floor of a cold, dark subway tunnel, with his hands placed on his head in depair and sadness. He wears jeans, a grey hoodie and a black beanie hat to protect himself from the cold winter weather. He has a beard as well. The image has a heavy vignette and is desaturated to emphasise the bleak subject matter. Horizontal colour image with copy space.

When we think of the consequences of addiction we often think of the emotional and mental health costs to the addict and to those whose lives are touched by them. As well as these costs, there is the very real financial cost of addiction, the addiction inflicted poverty that addicts and their families live in after the cost of the substance itself and the loss of employment and wages. Addiction has a ripple effect meaning that there is substantial financial cost to society as well as the individual, in terms of health care, drug treatment programs, drug related law enforcement, and the cost of holding addicts in prison for drug related crime. The overall cost of drug addiction is huge every year it costs society £15,400,000,000. The annual cost of drug-related crime is £13.9bn Every year drug misuse costs the NHS £488m.

‘The annual cost of addiction related crime is Drug addiction and crime £13,900,000,000.  A typical heroin user spends around £1,400 per month on drugs: 21/2 times the average mortgage Many commit crime to pay for their drugs. Heroin, cocaine or crack users commit up to half of all acquisitive crimes – shoplifting, burglary, robbery, car crime, fraud, drug dealing.’ – http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/whyinvest2final.pdf

 

Loss of Income and Productivity 

Often addicts/alcoholics have problems with continuing with their normal lives in a manageable fashion – as the addiction takes over they lose the ability to
to function as valuable employees
. They are often unreliable, and miss out on the career progression that they would enjoy if they were not in the grip of addiction. In addition to this there is a correlation between lower educational standards, poverty, urban areas and addiction. ‘Drug addiction is rare but concentrated – The level of heroin and crack use in urban Middlesbrough is six times that of rural Wiltshire 306,000 heroin and crack users in England 1,200,000 affected by drug addiction in their families – mostly in poor communities’ – http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/whyinvest2final.pdf

 

Impact on Poor Families.

Addiction has a disproportionately high cost for those from low-income households, where budgets do not allow for any ‘lost income’. Even a one-pack-a-day cigarette habit can consume 10 percent of a family’s monthly budget and users of hardcore drugs can easily spend all their available income supporting their habits. Jason Shiers – A Psychotherapist with  www.recovery.org.uk  says, ‘While addiction is an equal opportunities illness, in that no section of society is immune, there are many intersecting issues that can be addressed when an addict accesses treatment, treatment providers are able to adapt and cater to the varying needs and cultures of clients.’

 

A Family Disease

Addiction is sometimes called a family disease, and certainly the consequences of having addicted parents can be hard to bear for the children, and those children of addicts can grow up to emulate their parents and so the cycle of poverty will continue. can also help trap future generations of a family in a cycle of poverty, addiction, and poor money management.

 

Funding Treatment Makes Sense

Funding treatment for addicts makes much financial sense, for the individuals concerned of course, but also for society Despite having our nationalized health system at present, the UK fares worse still, while an estimated 15% of the population suffer from alcohol dependence, only 1% of patients receive treatment.  The consequences of the lack of appropriate interventions for addicts are far reaching, we know that the impact is not just suffered by the individual, instead it ripples out to family, and community, eventually the financial cost to society of alcohol-related harm is around £21 billion per year.

Disregarding these facts seems counterintuitive and lacking in foresight, in the U.K and what’s more, research has shown that for every £1 invested in the treatment of alcohol addiction £5 is saved on health, welfare and crime costs.

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