Drug addiction and alcoholism are addictions that most people are familiar with, but there are can be many addictions families struggle with. The fact is that any addiction from drugs and cigarettes to shopping, gambling and sex can have disastrous social and financial consequences. When the addict has a family, the cost of the addiction can wreck the home and have long-lasting effects on every person he interacts with.
When a person is addicted to something for a long period of time, they eventually recognize that their addiction is unsatisfying, but continue consuming it in hopes that they can obtain the pleasure or satisfaction that they once associated with the activity. The addictive substance may be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms that create demand for the activity even when it’s inherently unpleasant; this chains addicts to their behavior and makes it difficult to stop even when they no longer enjoy it.
There’s a reason why addictions are often associated with poverty and homelessness. Many addictive behaviors begin as a method of escaping and pleasure seeking, and people who suffer financially are often drawn to them as a means to avoid serious problems and depression. Addictions provide instant gratification, which is lacking in most low-income households that struggle to survive from paycheck to paycheck.
The relationship between addiction and poverty travels both ways; however addictions can often lead to financial collapse or make maintaining healthy finances impossible. Simply put, addictions are expensive to maintain, and their cost increases the longer a person has them. Addictions never level out; as it becomes harder for a person to reach the same level of satisfaction, they will need to engage in addictive behaviors more and more often, resulting in higher expenses for each fix.
Addiction costs are always climbing, often creeping into a person’s finances without notice. Because addictions are cumulative, they will cost more to maintain the longer a person has them. For example, consider smoking. A single pack of cigarettes costs around $6. A person with a light nicotine addiction may smoke a pack a week. As their tolerance rises, this may double, and then triple, until they become pack-a-day smokers.
At that rate, an addiction that once cost less than $25 a month to maintain can easily become a $180 per month addiction, and it’s not uncommon for many chain smokers to go through more than one pack a day. A pack-a-day smoking habit translates to around $2,160, or about 10% of a person’s income at the poverty level. Considering nearly 30% of smokers are below the poverty level, this has a huge impact on people’s lives.