What Alcohol Costs You: The Financial Reality of Drinking

Think you can just drink a few beers or glasses of wine and not have to worry about the costs? Think again.

The financial reality of drinking is that it can add up quickly, and before you know it, you’re spending more than you bargained for. Plus it costs you more than money.

Financial effects of drinking alcohol, even just socially

Here’s how alcohol can impact your wallet and wellbeing.

Booze is expensive.

Even if you stick to buying the cheapest brands, you’re still spending a good chunk of change on alcohol each month. And that’s not even including the extra costs associated with drinking, like bar tabs and taxi fares.

Many health problems link to alcohol use, but it’s also harmful to your financial health.

Estimates in the United States alone, for the average weekly spend on alcohol, is $50. That means an annual bill of over $3,000! Here’s a calculator to help determine how much you’re spending.

alcohol and money

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Drinking can affect your job and performance.

If you’re drunk or hungover at work, you’re not going to be very productive. You’re also more likely to be involved in accidents and on-the-job injuries. And if you get caught drinking on the job, you could lose your job entirely.

If you have a position where you interact directly with customers, coworkers, or clients, you run a higher risk of getting fired if you show up with alcohol in your system.

Excessive drinking may also cause you to miss work. Estimates of absenteeism among alcohol abusers and those addicted to alcohol are 4 to 8 times greater than those who abstain.

Additionally, family members of heavy drinkers also face higher absenteeism rates. 

Drinking can lead to health problems.

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and other health problems. These health issues can be expensive to treat, both money and time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, binge drinking (defined as five drinks per sitting) can cause these long term health consequences:

  • Heart Disease – Binge drinkers are three times more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
  • Liver Damage – People who binge drink regularly are twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis than those who don’t drink excessively.
  • Stroke – Men who drink heavily are 30 percent more likely to experience a stroke than non-drinkers. Women who consume large amounts of alcohol also increase their chances of suffering a stroke.
  • Weight Gain – A single serving of alcohol contains 100-150 calories on average. Making it a mixed drink with juice, tonic, cola, or syrups can double the calories. Increase the amount you drink and you’re increasing the risk of gaining weight over time. Additionally, many people ingest more food calories due to eating or snacking while they drink.
  • Headaches – Heavy drinking can lead to headaches, and it may also make you feel sick or nauseous.
  • Depression – According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, heavy drinking increases the likelihood of depression.

The above list doesn’t include all of the adverse effects of alcohol, but it gives you a sense of just how dangerous alcohol addiction really is.

People who enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage likely aren’t harming themselves or anyone else. But booze can become a significant problem for someone who drinks daily or suffers from alcoholism. 

Drinking impacts your mood.

If you’re constantly feeling angry or sad after drinking, that’s not good for your mental health. And it can also lead to interpersonal problems with others in your life, even strangers.

Feelings of guilt and shame often characterize alcoholism. When you start thinking negatively about yourself, your behavior starts to change.

You might act erratically and lash out at friends and family members. You might withdraw from social situations and isolate yourself. Or you might spend time with people who encourage you to keep drinking.

All this can lead to spending more money to try and ‘feel better’ or improve your mood. Over time, it becomes too much to handle, and you end up on the road to alcoholism.

Drinking can affect your relationships.

Alcohol can make you argumentative, distracted, and impulsive. It can also lead to cheating and other types of betrayal. These things can damage relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners.

Alcohol’s been linked to domestic violence. As noted before, if you’re constantly drinking, you’ll find yourself having arguments with loved ones, which could result in verbal abuse and physical aggression.

If you have a partner, alcohol use can lead to infidelity. A study published in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that men who drank were three times more likely to cheat on their wives than men who didn’t drink.

Drinking can lead to legal problems.

Drinking alcohol and driving is dangerous for everyone. If you’re caught or cause an accident, you could face fines or even substantial jail time.

Additionally, if you get into a fight or do something else illegal while drunk, you could also end up with a criminal record. 

Drinking can be addictive.

If you find yourself needing more and more alcohol to feel drunk, you may be addicted to alcohol.

Once you’re frequently drinking, it becomes difficult to stop. When you do stop, you can suffer withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Feeling tired
  • Depression

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from several days to a few weeks.

This can be expensive and harmful physically, mentally, and financially if they cause you to miss work or perform poorly, spend money for relief, impact your moods or mental health, and damage your relationships.

Alcohol drinking is also costly to society.

Alcoholism costs taxpayers and companies billions of dollars each year due to healthcare expenses, absenteeism, poor job performance, traffic accidents, and law enforcement efforts.

Governments pay billions of dollars in health-related costs. Excessive drinking and alcoholism lead to increased crime, violence, poverty, and unemployment.

The highest cost? Lost lives. Every day people lose loved ones or friends to the effects of alcoholism or drunk driving accidents.

Getting Help

If you’re struggling with alcoholism, seek help right away. Talk to your doctor, therapist, close friend, or another trusted person about your addiction.

Let them know what’s going on. Tell them what you’ve tried and why it hasn’t worked. Ask professionals and those you trust who have “been there”, for advice.

There are many treatment options available today. In person and virtual rehabilitation centers offer individualized programs designed to address any underlying causes of substance abuse issues.

Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Monument provide ongoing counseling and support groups so that participants can learn new ways to cope with stress and trauma. Some rehab facilities will even prescribe medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms.

Remember: Alcohol can be addictive! Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Ask for help and break the cycle

Bottom Line

The financial reality of drinking is that it’s not as cheap as many think. And the costs go beyond just money.

Alcohol can damage your health, career, relationships, and ultimately your life.

So the next time you’re tempted to have an alcoholic beverage, think about all of the ways that drink can cost you.

It’s essential to be aware of the risks and consequences of drinking before deciding to take a sip. It’s likely cheaper and healthier to just say no.


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