The Cost of Drinking

Customer buying beer in supermarket

How Much Does Drinking Alcohol Cost Us?

Recent NHS figures on the cost of problem drinking made even our team spray their morning coffee. Nearly £4.5 Million on prescription pills to stop drinking problems. £1.7 billion a year in total.

The cost to the taxman is all very well. But how much does a drinking problem cost an individual and their family?

A well-used shock tactic in rehab centres and alcohol change courses is to tally up how much you personally have spent on alcohol.

The result can be staggering. One of our team shared his number, and it was in the hundreds of thousands!

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Paying for The Drink Itself

So how do you end up spending so much on drinking? It’s not all in the trolley.

The first cost is buying the alcohol. The cheapest of course, is drinking at home. This is often the hidden form of alcoholism, especially if you live alone.

The pandemic made it the norm and left so many people throwing more and more bottles of wine to their ‘click and collect’ order.

It doesn’t seem like much until you add it up. Even a month of not buying alcohol could make a big difference to your bank balance.

1 mid-range bottle of wine a night is £56 a week but that is £2,912 a year. This isn’t even accounting for times when we buy more, like birthdays, Christmas and BBQ season.

In the end, you will be spending close to three or four thousand a year. No need to tell you this is £30,000 over ten years. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but that would be a life-changing number for me.

Take that same bottle of wine and drink it in the pub or a restaurant and you are looking at £140 a week and over £7000 a year, and yes, that’s £70,000 in ten years.

Call Taxi Application Concept. Drunker Man using Smartphone to Calling Cab in Pub or Restaurant

Lifestyle Costs

You paid for your drinks but now you need a taxi home which could be anywhere from a tenner to £30 depending on where you live. So, add at least £3,000 a year to your bill.

Maybe a takeaway because who feels like cooking after a bottle of wine? Again about £3,000 a year on the reasonable side.

These aren’t the only ones think about every time a night out has cost you in entry fees, being over-generous at the bar and of course drinking more than you should.

Drinking Disaster Fund

All these costs were familiar to me but the strangest one my colleagues came up with was paying for alcohol-related mistakes.

Property damage was a big one. Wine stains on the furnishings, breaking in their own doors, smashed up glasses, plates the list went on.

Missing work, meetings, and flight appointments can all cost a lot of money. They are hard to put a price on (apart from maybe the flights) but a heavy cost all the same.

Income Loss

Most recovered alcoholics realise after a while that everyone was aware of their problem. This includes your work, and you can find yourself passed over for promotion or losing out on performance bonuses.

The price tag depends on your job and salary, but these are costs in the thousands.

Personal Costs

One of the biggest costs of alcoholism is relationships. Whether you are in a co-dependent partnership or your family has simply had enough, alcohol can drive families and friends away. The personal cost is not something anyone can calculate.

Financially this has a penalty too. Divorce can be a huge expense, as well as splitting assets, moving home, and the tough costs of living singly.

Cost to People Around Us

It isn’t just our family that pays the price for our misuse of alcohol. Your community feels the brunt of the overuse of alcohol.

Drink driving is still a real issue in the UK, with 200 people killed in 2020.

There is the risk of destroying your car, losing your job, and legal complications on the financial side.

The Real Cost of Alcohol Addiction

Both the NHS figures and our private tally of the cost of alcohol use disorder show it is no small matter.

Paying the Tab: The Cost and Benefits of Alcohol Control, a great book, put it candidly: ‘we all pay the tab for cheap drinks’.

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Paying the Tab: The Cost and Benefits of Alcohol Control Philip J. Cook 2007 Heavy drinking costs the NHS £1.7bn a year