The Financial Cost Of Substance Addiction & Rehabilitation

the cost of addiction and rehabilitation in usa

Ever felt like your ritual knock-off drink has started to cost a little too much? Maybe your need for a good time is costing you more than you would like to think about. The truth is, habits such as these have affected many of us at some point in our lives.

You’re certainly not alone. Substance abuse is certainly not uncommon. In fact, it costs our nation over $600 billion annually.

While we usually focus on the many health risks and social impacts associated with substance addiction, the actual cost of addiction should also be taken into account. From the daily booze run to in-patient treatment, the financial burden of purchasing a drug can weigh heavily on a person’s life. So to put this into perspective, why don’t we take a look at the financial cost of addiction compared to rehabilitation or therapy.


Cost Of Rehab


Upfront costs of therapy can at first seem expensive. And for a one-off purchase, maybe it is.

After all, outpatient detox ranges anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500, methadone medications to treat heroin addiction can cost up to $4,700 a year, mild to moderate addictions requiring three-month outpatient programs range between $5,000 to $10,000, and 30-day inpatient programs up to $6,000.

In some cases, 60-90 day programs are required and cost between $12,000-$60,000. These figures can seem quite costly, especially when compared to a cheap bottle of wine or subsidized prescriptions drugs. But it’s a whole lot cheaper than continuing with a lifelong addiction. When compared to the yearly cost of substance addiction the cost of rehabilitation seems very reasonable.


Annual Cost Of Alcohol Addiction: $2,000 – $6,000


Alcohol is the most widely accepted substance, so it makes sense that it can cost you quite a bit over the course of a year. And if you’re anything like me, there have been periods of your life where you’ve drank more than you should have. 

One of the biggest problems with alcohol, aside from its general social acceptance and ease of access, is the requirement that an individual needs to consume more and more to have the same effects. A single relaxing beer after work can quickly turn into a 6 or 12 pack-an-evening habit. Drinking a 6-pack that costs $7 every evening can cost around $2,200 annually. 

And that’s just the cheap beer, where spending $60 a weekend on a night out will cost around $3,100 a year. Heavy drinkers who frequently engage in binge drinking will easily push their expenses up to $4,500 – $6,000 annually. If you swap your drinking habits for an outpatient program, then you’re bound to save thousands of dollars within the first year.


Annual Cost Of An Addiction To Cannabis: $7,000


Cannabis is one of the most widely used drugs in the US. There is an estimated 33 million regular users in America who smoke at least once or twice a month. Research shows that 9 percent of cannabis users develop dependence, with an estimated 4 million Americans meeting the criteria for cannabis use disorder. 

In California, the average cost of an ounce of weed is around $200. If an individual were to smoke 4 joints a day, the annual cost could amount to $7,000. Admittedly, most cannabis users won’t smoke anywhere near this amount but it isn’t uncommon.


Annual Cost Of Cocaine Addiction: $8,000 – $10,000


A pure gram of coke will fetch a street price of around $150, lower quality product around $100. A gram equates to 10 lines or 25 bumps. Depending on the user, a gram of coke will be used within a day or, most likely, within a few hours. 

An addiction can lead a user to spend $100 a day on the substance, which is $36,500 a year. And more severely addicted users could spend more. While users who don’t face addiction will spend between $8,000 and $10,000 a year, severely addicted users could spend upwards of $110,000 per year on cocaine.


Annual Cost Of Heroin Addiction: $54,000


In 2017, it was reported that an estimated 47,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses and that 652,000 Americans suffered from heroin use disorder. 

While one dose of heroin costs a user anywhere between $5 and $20, users with a severe heroin addiction may spend up to $150 to $200 a day on the substance. That equates to around $54,000 a year.


Annual Cost Of Prescription Opioids: $3,500 to $70,000


Prescription opioid addiction or dependence has reportedly affected millions of Americans. Drugs such as Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Percocet, Oxycodone or Oxycontin are commonly prescribed painkillers. Ease of access to drugs with a high risk of addiction gives these drugs the potential to cost some users literally a fortune.

The average cost of a packet of 60 Oxycontin tablets is around $200. Three tablets daily would cost a user around $3,600 a year. 

But the problem begins when users can no longer fuel their habits through their doctors and regulated pharmacy prices. Many addicts will turn to the black market for their oxy fix, costing upwards of $70,000 per year just to maintain their addiction. Eventually, prescription opioid addiction will lead many users to seek cheaper alternatives, like heroin.


The Good News


Drug disorder treatment, when compared to the potential cost of fuelling an addiction, is relatively cheap. And if you’d like to start saving money, then kicking your addiction to the curb is the best way to do it. Contact one of our addiction specialists today to discuss potential treatment avenues.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.