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Have you ever taken a second to stop and think about how expensive an addiction really is?

If you have a food addiction and you go eat out every single night, or go splurge on a large triple chocolate milkshake every night, you would be surprised to find out just how much you are spending. In fact, you could probably buy yourself enough groceries for a full day or more of food, if you would just use the money you normally use to feed your addiction. Or if drugs are your addiction of choice, most designer drugs cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. What else could you do with that money? Pay a mortgage payment, pay off a credit card, put back for your child’s college fund. Addiction can really take a toll on you physically, but it can also take as big of a toll on you financially.

Let’s take a minute to look into the cost of alcohol addiction.

With opioid addiction and overdoses on the rise, this has remained at the forefront of many people’s minds in British Columbia. However, one of the biggest addictions that remains on the rise in the province is alcohol – and it is a legal substance. In fact, British Columbia has the highest rate of hospitalizations caused by alcohol in Canada, and those numbers are rising faster than anywhere else in the country.

The Stats

Considering British Columbians who drink, they consume an average of 9.4 litres of pure alcohol every single year. To break it down into something more tangible, this is roughly two and a half bottles of wine or 14 bottles of beer each week.

This number has continued to rise since 2012, and it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Taking a look at emergency room visits to St. Paul’s and Vancouver General Hospital for substance abuse, last year at least 36 percent were alcohol-related. And a researcher at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, Dr. Keith Ahamad told CBC that this is a conservative number. The 36 percent only relates to cases where excessive drinking was the cause.

In comparison, looking at the same hospitals and same time period, 24 percent of emergency room visits related to substance abuse were caused by opioids. And we think opioids are a major problem in our society? It is, but let’s not forget about one even worse than it.

People every year, and likely every day, are suffering severe and negative consequences because of alcohol addiction. It is time we got this under control. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out today.