How Much Does My Addiction Cost?
This question has a different answer depending on who you are or what stage of addiction you’re in.
To the addict who has been told they have a problem, but isn’t suffering any perceptible consequences. Or the “functioning” alcoholic who drinks ad nauseum, but hasn’t lost anything dear to them yet. The answer has too many variables, like “what drug are talking about”?
Say cocaine, for instance, at $60/gram, a cocaine habit can cost upwards of $100/day, but what about an alcoholic? $20 on a bad day, right? Except the cost of the drug itself is only one part of the expense and doesn’t include the consequential expenses from being an alcoholic. The idea that you only spend $20 on alcohol (at a max) is the kind of thinking exemplifies alcoholics: we recognize alcohol dependency destroys our rational thought, but that doesn’t stop us from rationalizing why we should continue to drink.
For an alcoholic, it’s not just $20 on a bad night. It’s the $35 Uber you have to pay to get home; the takeout you buy instead of making a meal because you’re too intoxicated; the firewood you buy online because of an idea you have (and will later forget); the hour of work you miss in the morning buying over-the-counter hangover meds; the Uber you need to get back to your car after work and the parking ticket from last night.
Of course, none of this is including the cost of legal fees or hospital bills; insurance premiums or repair expenses. For addicts, the cost of their drug tends to increase and while their income diminishes.
Alcoholics and the Cost of Living
When you’re an alcoholic, everything you do is a means to your next drink. That ideology is your through-line; your routine; your story. Your day begins when you wake up and ends when you have a drink in your hand. So when you decide to get sober, that “end goal” of each day disappears, and instead of every interaction becoming a means to get a drink, every interaction becomes a way to stay away from a drink.
This is why substitution “drugs” or habits are so common. Some people decide to dive headlong into video games as a means of distracting themselves. Others spend hours at the gym. To be sure, these are not the worst responses to recovering from drug addiction (especially where long-term health is concerned), but it’s important that the addictive behavior is addressed rather than substituted.
Many alcoholics experience sensory overload when they decide to get sober. It’s not just that addicts start listening to the people and the world around them, but emotions and thoughts that had been numbed for so long start to resurface.
And surprisingly, the cost of living goes up.
But how can that be? If a bad night as an alcoholic cost upwards of $100/day, then shouldn’t there be a surplus? The unfortunate reality is, while positive emotions are coming to the forefront, so are the negative ones that were numbed as well. You start to feel stress and anxiety from bills in the mail and notices of late payments; things that, when you drank, didn’t impact you much.
The end result is your finances can trigger a relapse. For one, if you do have a surplus, it can make you more willing to use your drug of choice since you know you can afford it. The second option however, is you barely have enough funds to make it through each month and as a result, feel the temptation to relapse since “being sober” isn’t much better.
Sobriety Calculator & Recovery Costs
Believe it or not, but a helpful way of staying sober is by managing your finances and budgeting.
First, write down how much money you currently have. Then, jot down how much money you have coming in for that month. Then write out your mandatory expenses, for instance, rent, utilities, and food. Then write out your optional expenses: gym membership, eating out, movies, etc. Once you have these numbers, then you can factor how much money you have to spend a month. Moreover, when you have the monthly expenses, multiply those out by the year and see if you can determine other ways to save money.
For instance, a $5 cup of coffee may not seem like much, but if you find you’re consistently down $150/month, then that’s a habit to consider changing. You don’t need to stop drinking coffee, but investing one month in an $80 coffee maker could end up saving you money annually.
Monitoring your daily expenses is a good exercise in recovery because you can start to visual the long-term gains instead of the instant gratification drug use provides. Plus, it’s a facet you can control, and when you’re suffering the disease of addiction, control is something you can benefit from immensely.
When you’re recovering, visualizing your goals can be challenging. The first 30 days are especially overwhelming and this can make it hard to keep track of finances or your milestones. This is where the I Am Sober App comes in handy. The I Am Sober App not only counts your sober days, but also keeps you on the right track by sending daily notifications with words of encouragement. In addition, the app is a sobriety calculator so you can see how much you’re saving each day by not using your drug of choice.
Addiction isn’t easy to overcome, but daily journaling, monthly budgeting, and long-term planning can help you visualize the sober life.