Financial Consequences Of Alcohol Abuse

MoneyPicThe primary concern of alcohol treatment specialists is the alcoholic themselves. That’s a huge enough problem, but the consequences for their family should also be a concern. A press release from the journal Addiction now relates the benefits of recovery with the financial status of alcoholic’s family.

The news is good. Treatment for alcohol addiction does help a family’s finances. How much? In this study (48 German families) the savings amounted to an average of more than $178 a month. That’s directly from being in treatment and staying sober.

This study did not roll in medical savings, the ability to stay employed or any of a number of positive financial benefits that flow from recovery. By doing so, the figures are simple and powerful. An extra two thousand dollars a year, cash in the pocket – how many of us wouldn’t like that?

Other costs were considered, but not included in the figure above. For example, the time spent caring for an alcoholic amounts to at-home nursing care. Not only are the wages the alcoholic could have earned lost, but also the wages a family member. Instead of being at work, they have to stay home and help. The average number of hours spent caring for an alcoholic family member was 32 a month. This dropped to 8 hours total per month when the alcoholic was in treatment.

Interestingly, even if there was a relapse, there were still savings generated by having someone in treatment. This savings was less (about $80 a month), but still significant.

The press release quotes the lead author, Dr. Slaize: “When they look at effects on families, addiction studies mainly focus on problems such as domestic violence and depression, not on the financial burden of caring for an alcoholic. But when health services and policymakers study the costs and benefits of treating alcoholism, they need to know that treatment has an immense financial effect not just on the alcoholic but also on his or her spouse, partner, children, and parents.”

Legislators and others in the treatment field need to promote these benefits as real, positive consequences that can flow from treatment.

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