Imagine spending upwards of $73,000 annually – a sum that rivals a high-end salary – not on luxuries or investments but on a destructive addiction. This is not a far-fetched scenario for many people with a heroin use disorder, who find themselves sinking an average of $150 to $200 daily into their habit.

Contrast these staggering amounts with the cost of rehab – a lifeline many dismiss as prohibitively expensive. A standard inpatient rehab program, offering a chance at a drug-free life, asks for $5,000 to $20,000 for a 30-day program.

Yet, the true cost of addiction extends beyond the mere price of the substance. It encompasses lost jobs, ruined relationships, health crises, and often, the ultimate price – life itself. Rehab, in comparison, stands not only as a financially viable option but as an investment in a future free from the shackles of addiction.

So, how do people with an addiction fund their addictions? Let’s explore the harsh realities of addiction financing.

Ways Addicts Fund Their Addictions

People with an addiction often resort to various means, some desperate and dangerous, to fund their addictions. These methods can range from legal to illegal activities, reflecting the intense need to sustain their habit. Here are some common ways:

  1. Using Savings and Personal Assets: Initially, many people with an addiction may use their personal savings or sell personal assets like electronics, jewelry, or vehicles to get money for drugs.
  2. Borrowing Money: This includes taking loans from friends, family, or financial institutions. Over time, this often leads to significant debt.
  3. Credit Card Abuse: Using credit cards to purchase drugs or obtain cash advances leads to high levels of credit card debt.
  4. Engaging in Criminal Activities: Some resort to crimes such as theft, burglary, or drug dealing. This is a risky path that can lead to legal troubles and incarceration.
  5. Manipulating Prescription Drugs: This includes visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions (doctor shopping) or selling prescribed medication.
  6. Prostitution or Other Illegal Work: Engaging in prostitution or other forms of illegal work is a dangerous but not uncommon way to fund an addiction.
  7. Fraudulent Schemes: Engaging in activities like identity theft, scamming, or check fraud to get quick money.
  8. Utilizing Welfare or Unemployment Benefits: Some may misuse government assistance programs to support their addiction.
  9. Skipping Bills or Living Minimally: Neglecting financial responsibilities like rent, utility bills, or food expenses to divert funds to drug use.
  10. Employment Income: Those who are still able to maintain employment might allocate a significant portion of their income to sustaining their addiction.
  11. Online Fundraising or Crowdfunding: Individuals may sometimes use online platforms under false pretenses to raise money.
  12. Participation in Clinical Trials: Some might participate in paid clinical trials or medical studies for income.
  13. Panhandling or Begging: Resorting to asking strangers for money, often under false pretenses.
  14. Pooling Resources in Drug-Using Communities: Sometimes, people with an addiction might pool resources or drugs within their community.
  15. Scavenging and Recycling: Collecting recyclable materials or scavenging for items that can be sold, such as scrap metal or electronics.

Each of these methods comes with its own set of risks and consequences, further complicating the addict’s situation. Beyond the immediate financial toll, these actions often have long-term repercussions on their legal standing, relationships, and overall life stability.

How Family or Friends Can Help

If you have a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, you can:

  • Have Open Communication: Maintain a non-judgmental, open line of communication. Express concern without enabling the addiction.
  • Stage an intervention: Consider organizing a structured intervention with a professional to encourage the individual to seek help.
  • Offer Financial Management: Assist with managing finances or setting up a controlled budget, but avoid directly financing the addiction.
  • Support with Treatment: Encourage and support the pursuit of treatment. This can include helping with logistics, attending therapy sessions, or simply being there emotionally.
  • Setting Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries regarding unacceptable behaviors and adhere to them.

Family and friends need to be supportive but not enabling, encouraging the addict to take responsibility for their recovery journey.

Getting Help for Addiction

People with substance use disorder use various means to acquire drugs, including their income and savings, but many also loan money from those close to them (deteriorating their relationships) or resort to riskier options like loan sharks, unsafe sex work, and criminal activity.

If you or someone you know struggles with financing their substance abuse, you should seek professional help to get to the root of the issue: the addiction itself. However, addiction is complex, and as a result, everyone has different needs and responds differently to the various approaches to treat addiction.

Start by talking to your primary healthcare provider, as they may direct you to more specialized treatment. A specialist should be able to create a plan for recovery that fits your needs.