The Cost of Addiction
When we are actively using our drug of choice, we are constantly paying for it. Slowly but surely we are destroying our bodies, grinding away at our livers, and creating constant risks and dangers for ourselves in our everyday lives. We spend all of our money in order to keep the hamster wheel turning, and then we stoop to new, dishonorable, lows in order to get the money for more. We wreck cars and spend time in jail. We get divorces. We lose cars, homes, wives, husbands, children. We lose everything and then we lose everyone around us. We push people away because they can no longer stand to watch us destroy ourselves. Finally, we lose ourselves: entering a mental and emotional state of despair where we essentially hate ourselves and can’t seem to escape from our own wretched sense of self. We use more and more, and eventually we can’t seem to use enough to get rid of the pain. The cost of continuing this life is enormous. Those of us who are lucky recognize this as a “bottom” and decide to get help. Thousands of others, however, will end up paying the ultimate price.
The monetary cost of addiction is staggering. Some estimates say that the cost of addiction is more than any other single disease. Other studies suggest that for every dollar spent on treating addiction, seven dollars are saved down the road. The cost of addiction is undoubtedly enormous, but the cost is even higher for all of the untreated addiction in the world today. Traditional treatments may be expensive, but these financial costs are minuscule compared to the addict who continues to use, destroying their life and creating turmoil all around themselves.
There is simply no way to accurately tally up the emotional, psychological, and spiritual cost of addiction. On a personal level, the disease can tear apart families and destroy an individual. Even innocent bystanders are sometimes sacrificed to the whirlwind of destruction that is an addicts life. Indeed, on a personal level, the only limit to the cost of addiction is death itself. Addicts are dying everyday. And—in a way—the real nightmare belongs to the addict that lives on and continues to use. The emotional destruction of a using addict can not be understated. The turmoil that they cause in their relationships with their loved ones is truly devastating.
But the high cost of addiction has a gift hidden within it. Those who have never known the pain and anguish of a life destroyed by addictive behavior can never know the pure joy of a life transformed by recovery. The further we have gone down into the pit of hell, the greater our gratitude will be when we finally crawl out into the light of day and start to live again. Virtually any addict who is living a life of recovery will tell you that they are now happier and more content than they ever were—including before they started using. Recovery is the gift that we always shunned, never really wanted, and never really deserved. Those of us who find it are truly blessed.
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