A government report coming out of the United Kingdom estimates that a single drug addict costs taxpayers more than £800,000 (about $1.569 million) over his or her lifetime. Interestingly enough, a female drug addict was estimated to cost £859,000 (about $1.692 million), while a male user cost slightly less at £827,000 ($1.629).
The admittedly conservative numbers, as reported by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, were calculated by looking at factors such as the cost of crime and healthcare under Great Britain’s National Health Service. The report also suggested that this cost could be reduced by more than £730,000 (about $1.4 million) if drug addicts were successfully given treatment by the age of 21. According to the BBC report, there are thought to be about 350,000 problem drug users in Britain.
So, how does the United States compare? According to a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), total economic cost of drug abuse was $97.7 million back in 1992. This estimate includes substance abuse treatment and prevention costs as well as other healthcare costs, costs associated with reduced job productivity or lost earnings, and other costs to society such as crime and social welfare.
Bottom line is that drug and alcohol addiction is costly to society. With access to proper treatment and more prevention efforts, these costs would go down tremendously.