Financing an Alcoholic, the Burden of the Family

cost of alcoholic to familyNew research on alcohol addiction is looking at more than the physical and emotional cost of alcoholism. A study published in the journal Addiction examined the monetary cost of living with an alcoholic.

The study found that, after 12 months of treatment, the cost for a family to take care of an alcoholic went from £529.91, or $832.26 per month to £113.90 or $178.89. That means in a year, alcoholics in recovery will have saved their families an extra £4992.12 or $7840.44. For the average family, that is a 15.9% savings on their total pre-tax family income.

The study, which included 48 families, found that one of the largest expenses most families taking care of an alcoholic face is the cost of alcoholic drinks, which accounted for £197.51 or $310.29. Another £72.83 or 114.43 per month goes to cigarettes on average.

After 12 months these total costs have been more than halved. The family is also having to spend far less time taking care of their alcoholic loved one. On average, the time spent caring for an alcoholic is 32.2 hours per month. That dropped to 8.2 hours per month once the person was in recovery.

Even when they relapsed, the overall cost for family for caring for an alcoholic was reduced.

Lead author Dr. Salize (Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany) says, "We're opening up an area of addiction research that doesn't receive much attention. 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. The benefits of treatment reach well beyond the individual patient."

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