Updated: Feb 22
Broke, jobless, and without a home – this is the typical image of someone who has hit rock bottom after losing their battle with drug addiction. The stereotype doesn’t apply to everyone, but there is a reason why it exists.
The Cost of Addiction and Drug Rehab
Drugs often come at a high price. According to research, the economic burden of drug addiction on Americans is more than twice compared to other neurological diseases. However, even the cheapest drugs add up significantly if you consider the total cost of repeated drug use.
Take alcohol for example. An affordable six-pack beer will run you $6. But if you buy two six-packs every day, your total spending will amount to $360 a month or $4,380 a year. Unless you undergo drug rehab in Portland, these costs will continue to pile up.
Paying for drugs
For low-income individuals, an addiction could mean spending more than half of their monthly income on drugs. People with severe drug addiction are also at risk of greater financial strain since they are likely to spend more on drugs than average users.
Depending on the drug and severity of the addiction, the weekly cost of drug addiction can be anywhere between a few hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Paying for drug addiction treatment
Anyone who is battling a substance abuse disorder will need treatment at some point. So there’s the added expense of drug addiction rehab, which can add thousands to the total cost.
Needless to say, drug addiction is an expensive habit. But to truly understand how much it can affect your personal finances, first we need to look at the street prices of drugs.
How Much Do Drugs Cost?
Drugs are like any commodity. Their selling prices can be influenced by factors such as availability of supply, where they were sourced, the purity of a drug, and presence of competition – just to name a few.
Substances that are sold illegally tend to be more expensive than those that are sold legally through pharmacies. However, there are a few exceptions such as marijuana and some opioids which are cheaper on the streets.
According to data collected by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the street prices of drugs can also vary if you’re buying in retail (< 10 grams) or in bulk (10 to 100 grams). Below are the average prices of some of the most common drug addictions in the United States.
The cost of cocaine addiction
Average price: $93 to $112 per gram Cocaine or “coke” is one of the most expensive stimulants. A single gram can sell for $25 to $200 on the streets. People with severe drug addiction consume up to 5 grams of cocaine per day. This can add to a total annual spending of $204,400 given its average price range.
The cost of methamphetamine addiction
Average price: $20 to $60 per gram Meth – which also goes by the names “ice” and “crystal” – sells at about $3 to $500 per gram. Most users smoke 1.75 grams of methamphetamine per day, which can cost anywhere between $12,775 and $38,325 a year depending on the price.
The Cost of Heroin Addiction
Average price: $5 to $20 per bag Heroin or “black tar” is typically sold in bags or “baggies” rather than in grams. One gram of heroin is equivalent to 20 bags.
Individuals with serious cases of drug addiction have reported taking 10 to 15 of these bags daily. Based on the average prices, this would mean spending $18,250 to $109,500 on heroin each year.
The Cost of Crack Addiction
Average price: $60 per gram
Crack is a type of crystallized cocaine. It’s shorter-acting, but also cheaper than cocaine. Its price ranges between $18 and $200 per gram. Without drug addiction treatment, a crack addiction will cost you an average of $21,900 a year.
The Cost of Marijuana Addiction
Average price: $260 per ounce (dispensary); $234 per ounce (black market)
Marijuana can go for $160 to $300 per ounce depending on the strain. Some states sell high-quality strains for up to $600. One ounce of marijuana can produce 42 joints. People who smoke at least 4 joints a day will have to spend $8,134 to $9,038 every year on weed.
The Cost of Opioid Addiction
Average price: Varies
Opioids are prescription medications that can lead to drug addiction with long term use. With the exception of Norco and Percocet which are cheaper on the streets, you can buy other opioids for less at pharmacies:
Oxycodone: $0.33 per pill to $20 per pill
Fentanyl patch: $9.40 to $40 per patch
Percocet: $10 to $24.54 per pill
Tramadol: $0.62 to $2 per pill
Norco: $3 to $3.68 per pill
Vicodin: $1.26 to $5 per pill
Suboxone film: $9.21 to $20 per film
Oxycodone is the most common opioid prescribed by doctors, and also the cheapest. This makes it more likely to be abused than any other opioid. When taken 3 times daily, oxycodone bought at a pharmacy will cost you $361.35 a year. Buying it on the streets costs $3,285 a year.
The problem with opioid use is that it quickly leads to drug tolerance. Eventually, you will need to take more which drastically increases the total cost.
Now that we’ve talked about drug prices, let’s see how much it costs to treat an addiction and whether it’s worth the price.
How Much Is Drug Addiction Rehab in U.S.?
The cost of drug rehab in the United States is different in every facility. Things such as insurance coverage and available amenities can affect its price.
The level of care provided will also affect the overall cost of treatment. As such, serious cases of substance abuse disorder will cost more to treat than those with milder forms of addiction.
Most treatment centers in the U.S. offer two types of drug addiction programs – inpatient and outpatient rehab. Below is a list of their average prices.
The cost of inpatient drug rehab
Average price: $6,000 per month
People who undergo inpatient rehab pay for their treatment as well as housing costs. Fees tend to be more expensive in states with higher costs of living. Treatments are also longer and more exhaustive, thus increasing the cost of rehab.
All in all, drug and alcohol addiction rehab centers usually charge $12,000 to $16,000 for 60 to 90-day programs, while a shorter 30-day program will cost you around $6,000.
The cost of outpatient drug rehab
Average price: $5,000 per 3 months
Individuals who opt for outpatient rehab will only have to pay for their treatment. Outpatient therapies usually have shorter hours, which is why most rehab centers can offer 90-day programs for only $5,000. That being said, some are known to charge up to $10,000.
Other addiction treatments
Additional expenses: $1,000 to $10,000 or more
Besides drug rehab, you may be required to get medical detoxification. Detox is usually recommended for people with alcohol use disorder. It reduces withdrawal symptoms and helps you transition into inpatient alcohol rehab. However, it’s going to cost you an extra $1,000 to $1,500.
Luxury rehab centers with additional amenities may charge upwards of $10,000. Most treatment centers won’t cost as much, but expect to pay a premium in exchange of these amenities.
Drug Rehab: A Necessary Price of Addiction
American spent almost $150 billion on cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine in 2016. Based on the report published by RAND Corporation, a large percentage of these were people who used drugs daily or almost every day. Meanwhile, the spending on alcohol alone was believed to be $158 billion in 2017.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse disorders cost the United States about $600 billion every year. That’s about 17.1% of the country’s federal budget.
It may seem as though drug addiction rehab only adds to these costs. However, studies show that every $1 invested in rehab saves about $4 to $7 on drug-related crimes, and up to $10 once healthcare costs are taken into consideration.
Drug rehab is a necessary expense. Treatment programs may cost you up to $16,000 but it’s still cheaper than maintaining a drug addiction which cost anywhere from $3,000 to $200,000 on drugs each year.
Poor productivity and work absences may also result as a direct consequence of substance abuse. Eventually, it can cost a person their job or even their home due to the inability to pay rent or mortgage.