What is the Financial Cost of Addiction in 2021 America?

February 16, 2021 | drugs

Each year drug abuse claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.

Each year drug abuse claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. Sadly, most of the time, it takes not only their lives but everything else along the way. Drug addiction takes a toll on mental health, personal relationships, and finances.

The abuse has the potential to ruin a person’s life in every way possible. People suffering from addiction are likely to spend every penny they can on their substance of choice.

The cost associated with addiction can cause added problems, such as financial stress that can quickly tear apart a person from a family or job and drive them towards dishonest ways to earn money.  This begs the question: how much does an addiction cost? First, let’s talk about “street drugs.”

Each year drug abuse claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.

What is a street drug?

When we think of street drugs, our mind automatically wanders to substances such as cocaine, crack, and heroin. And while these are all within the category, they aren’t the only ones considered street drugs.  A street drug is simply a substance obtained by illegal means and taken for mind-altering effects. Again, heroin and the others have a profound impact on the brain but so do many other pills you can obtain legally. 

Prescription pills, for example, are taken under doctor’s orders to treat specific conditions. You obtain these drugs through a pharmacy with a prescription filled out by the doctor. There’s no secret that something like opioids impacts the state of mind, which is desirable to drug users.  All it takes for a prescription pill to become a street drug is to be sold illegally.

That said, virtually any prescription medication can lump together in the same category as the more familiar substances we mention earlier. 

What are the prices of street drugs?

Now that you understand exactly what a street drug is, let’s move onto financial costs.  Below is a list of the approximate street prices for illegal drugs today that we base on the information provided by StreetRX.com and Addictioncenter.com.

The reason we say approximate is because a few factors come into play. While it may be an illegal one, the sale of drugs functions just like any other business.  Because it works like a business, location and quality come into play. As you can see with marijuana, prices can vary quite a bit.  While that may be an extreme example, it represents how all the prices should be viewed. 

  • Cocaine $112 (Per Gram)
  • Crack $60 (Per Gram)
  • Heroin $100-$200 (Per Gram) 
  • Marijuana $100-$500 (Per Ounce) 
  • Meth $3-$500 (Per Gram) 
  • Fentanyl $50 (Per Patch)
  • Oxycodone $20 (Per Pill)
  • OxyContin $15 (Per Pill)
  • Percocet $10 (Per Pill)
  • Suboxone $20 (Per Film)
  • Tramadol $2 (Per Pill)

If you’re familiar with street drugs, you might notice some common substances in your area are missing. For the sake of time, we’re only showing some of the most common substances obtained by illegal means. 

There are hundreds of different drugs people use to get high and satiate addictions. And while some may be much less costly than others, regular abuse can draw up a significant price tag with time regardless of the initial cost. 

How do addicts afford drugs?

Whether or not someone can come up with the money by legal means to purchase drugs comes down to the severity of their addiction and history with drug abuse. If they maintain a functional lifestyle, they can obtain the money simply by working.  But the fact of the matter is that a severe addiction can impede one’s ability to hold a job.

Considering that some addicts can spend more than $10,000 on illegal drugs per year, money is often obtained dishonestly.  Selling one’s belongings, stealing items from others to sell, and theft of cash are all ways an addict can generate their funds for drugs. 

Naturally, as their condition worsens, so will the ways they make money to feed the addiction. This is a significant factor that stresses and ruins relationships between family members and friends of drug addicts. 

How has supply and demand for drugs change since COVID-19?

One factor that massively contributes to the price of illicit street drugs is how difficult they are for drug dealers to obtain. If a drug is hard to get, dealers can ask more for it. The drugs demand also tends to hike up the price because the dealer will have to obtain more of it.  The COVID-19 pandemic certainly affects the price of drugs due to its impact on both of these aspects.

Travel restrictions and other pandemic-related measures taken by the federal government have made it much more difficult to smuggle drugs.  Furthermore, people being stuck inside, unable to socialize, work, or participate in daily life as they usually do, has inspired a rise in the demand for drugs.

Even those who regularly visit treatment centers to recover from the addiction are falling back into their habits.  In short, the demand for drugs is rising, as is the level of difficulty for dealers to obtain those substances. Because of this, street prices are rising. Unfortunately, the costs and demand may continue to increase until the pandemic subsides. 

To answer how much an addiction costs, we need to look at how difficult the situation is and what drugs a person uses. On average, someone with a severe heroin addiction can spend anywhere between $22,000 to $91,000 per year.

Those are just round numbers, but the habit can cost much more than the income of a promising career. Again, that’s only one example and is an average.  Someone is liable to spend much more, regardless of whether they are using the same substance. The insane price of addiction is just one reason we all need to do our part to end this deadly disease.