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How Much Does A Heroin Addiction Cost To Maintain?

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

April 9, 2019

Heroin addiction is becoming increasingly common in the United States. So common, in fact, that a bag of heroin may be less expensive to buy than other legal substances. Yet maintaining a heroin addiction over time isn’t worth the cost—either in price or in the consequences that come with it.

Addiction to heroin is dangerous. Drug overdoses are the biggest cause of accidental death in our nation, with opioids, including heroin, at the head. What can be done about this growing problem? Treatment. It’s the one recourse we have to help people overcome addiction and heal from the effects of it.

How Much Does Heroin Cost?

Heroin addiction has become such a widespread issue partly because the drug is inexpensive to obtain, at least at first. In an article by The Washington Post, it was found that, “a single dose of heroin is less expensive than 20 smokes (cigarettes.)”

A single dose of heroin (0.1 grams) can cost as little as $5 but can cost anywhere from $10-30 depending on where you are in the United States.

Despite this low price tag, heroin addiction can become much more expensive over time. As you become addicted, and develop a tolerance to the effects, you’ll need to take more and more of the drug to maintain a high. This can get pricey, especially as you may begin shirking responsibilities like work and family life as addiction takes over your life.

Also, as you fall further into addiction, you may lose your job from decrease in performance, your family as they try to help you and become discouraged if they can’t, and especially your health.

The underlying truth is that heroin may not cost you a lot financially, but it can cost you greatly in nearly every other aspect of your life.

How Heroin Addiction Happens, And Side Effects And Consequences Of Use

Heroin is an opioid that is extremely addictive. It’s available as a white or brown powder substance, or as a sticky, black substance known as black tar heroin. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected.

How do people become so quickly and easily addicted to heroin? The National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “it binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure.”

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It’s this binding that makes it addictive; your brain chemistry actually changes when you take heroin. It goes like this: heroin enters your brain, you experience pleasure and reduced perception of pain, and your brain wants to experience those feelings again.

Before you know it, you’re seeking the drug again, and again, until you’ve become addicted. The short-term effects of heroin include a “rush” of happy feelings and emotions immediately after taking it. Some other effects are slowed breathing, clouded mental functioning, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, lowered body temperature, and in extreme cases even coma or death.

The consequences of heroin addiction are what can really cost you. As you try to maintain enough of a high to satisfy your cravings, you can develop tolerance. This means the more you take heroin, the less you feel its effects. Tolerance can be dangerous because as you try to achieve the rush and subsequent high, you increase the chance of an overdose.

Other consequences of heroin addiction include:

  • Abscesses
  • Collapsed veins
  • Constipation or stomach cramps
  • Infection of heart lining and valves
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Lung problems, such as pneumonia

Heroin addiction can also cost you in the form of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When you form a physical dependence on it, you may experience adverse physical symptoms when not taking the drug.

These can include:

  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Cold flashes, with goose bumps
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Extreme cravings
  • Involuntary leg tremors
  • Sleep troubles

While heroin may seem to come with a relatively low financial cost, the cost to your health and your life can be vast. In comparison, the cost of treatment will seem low when you consider it can help you rebuild your life after heroin addiction.

How To Treat Heroin Addiction

So how can we treat heroin addiction when it can be such a complex addiction? To ensure the best treatment outcomes, you need an integrated approach.

Heroin addiction affects your physical health (like lungs and immune system) as well as your mental health (because of how it works in the brain) and even behavior. This means you’ll need a treatment program that addresses all aspects of heroin addiction.

Many people who enter treatment for heroin addiction may also need help with detoxification, a process that allows them to rid the body of toxins. This can be a grueling process, and might require medication assisted therapy, and should be medically supervised.

The following are some of the best, evidence-based treatment modalities offered by the rehab centers in the United States:

  • Counseling: to work through thoughts and emotions, and rebuild confidence
  • Behavioral therapy: like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to help implement positive behaviors for change and manage long-term sobriety
  • Medication assisted therapy: to help manage symptoms of withdrawal and aid in your detoxification
  • Dual diagnosis treatment: for those who come to treatment with mental health issues as well as substance abuse issues
  • Gender-specific treatment: tailored for the specific treatment needs of men and women
  • Adventure therapy: a unique therapy approach that utilizes nature and skill-building to build confidence and foster life fulfillment

Is Treatment Worth The Price You Pay For It?

Of course treatment outcomes vary for each person, but the overwhelming answer is yes, treatment is truly worth the price you pay for it. And in the end, the cost of treatment will seem small compared to what a heroin addiction can cost you.

The NIDA explains that people who get into treatment, and complete a residential treatment program, will see great outcomes. These include sobriety (stopping substance use), lessened criminal activity, and overall increase in social and workplace functioning.

If that weren’t enough, consider this: treatment can be the difference in overcoming heroin addiction, lessening the chances of adverse outcomes from it. These outcomes can include overdose, which can be fatal.

In light of this fact, as well as all the repercussions a heroin addiction can cost you, the cost of treatment will be worth every penny.

Find Treatment For Heroin Addiction

We can connect you with every resource you need to find heroin addiction treatment, including custom, individualized plans that address all your treatment needs. We can also guarantee that your call will be made in confidence. If you’re struggling with heroin addiction, don’t let it cost you any more of your life. Find treatment right now.

American Society Of Addiction Medicine - Opioid Addiction 2016: Facts And Figures

National Institute On Drug Abuse - DrugFacts: Heroin

The Washington Post - Why A Bag Of Heroin Costs Less Than A Pack Of Cigarettes

U.S. National Library Of Medicine - Heroin

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