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How the cost-of-living impacts addiction

Posted by Youssef
on 13 Jan 2023

What’s included?

  1. Introduction
  2. What is causing the cost-of-living crisis?
  3. Why is the cost-of-living driving up addiction?
  4. What are the cost implications of addiction?
  5. How Delamere can help with addiction

Whether it’s rising fuel costs or energy prices soaring, most Brits are really feeling the pinch. Earlier this year, a national survey reported that 23% of households were finding it difficult to pay their bills. A situation that is predicted to worsen in 2023. Financial worries are one of the biggest contributors to anxiety and depression. In England, over 1.5 million people are experiencing both debt and mental health problems which is fuelling addiction. 

What is causing the cost-of-living crisis?

Most people attribute rising prices to problems in the energy sector. In reality, when you consider we’re living in the wake of a global pandemic, ongoing Brexit disruption and the Ukraine war, it’s been a financial car crash waiting to happen. The UK’s cost-of-living has been the most affected worldwide with high inflation and tax rate rises adding fuel to the fire. This uncertainty is taking its toll on mental health and having an impact on people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

Economic impact of the pandemic 

When the world first ground to a halt there were some savings to be made. Commuting stopped. Nights out became nights in. Exotic holidays were cancelled. By the time restrictions were lifted people had money to spend which drove up the demand for goods and services. But with skeleton staff and supply chain issues there was no other option for businesses than to bump up the prices. As well as cost-of-living stress, working from home and lack of physical contact contributed to a rise in alcoholism. Public Health England reported an 21% increase in alcoholic liver deaths in 2021.

War in Ukraine

Oil, gas, energy and food prices were the next to rise following the invasion of Ukraine. As well as impacting everyday living costs, the threat and fear associated with war can fuel anxiety, depression and substance misuse. Conflicts and wars are known to contribute to mental health problems among people who experience trauma and can be triggering to veterans who are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Add financial worries into the mix and it’s a disaster waiting to happen (1).

Brexit related supply issues

The cost-of-living crisis is worsening thanks to Brexit with some UK firms forced out of business due to supply chain problems, added bureaucracy and rising shipping costs. Job losses and financial insecurity often fuel substance abuse when many people turn to drink and drugs to escape stress. During the last major economic crisis in the late eighties job losses were found to contribute to a rise in harmful drinking, especially among men (2). 

Worried about the cost-of-living and addiction? Speak to the team at Delamere

Why is the cost-of-living driving up addiction?

People who are facing financial hardship or those who are already struggling with mounting debts will really feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. During the pandemic we saw increased rates of mental illness and suicide attempts. Now, with the added pressure of financial problems, the number of people turning to drink and drugs is likely to rise further. A recent poll found nearly a third of adults have relapsed into addiction and nearly two thirds cited the cost-of-living crisis as a major trigger for stress, anxiety and trauma. These are the exact emotions that feed addiction. 

Worrying about paying the bills or how to put food on the table can trigger a relapse. This general state of anxiety can also indirectly lead to mental health problems that are associated with destructive and addictive behaviours. Reasons that people may want to drink more alcohol or take drugs include:

  • Feeling lonely and isolated 
  • Having relationship problems 
  • Experiencing depression
  • Poor sleep or insomnia
  • Skipping meals 
  • Boredom and restlessness
  • Lack of money to attend therapy

What are the cost implications of addiction?

While people may reach for the bottle or pills to forget their financial woes, this too comes at a cost. Alcohol is still worryingly cheap in the UK. One health report suggests that it’s possible to drink 14 units of alcohol for the same price as a coffee from a high street chain. However, when money is tight, substance abusers will find any possible way to get their fix. For instance, heavy drinkers may be driven to purchase cheaper, higher-strength options.  Either way, the addiction costs thousands each year. 

Addiction also has a huge cost to society, in terms of the burden on healthcare. The Statistics and Alcohol Report in 2021 stated that the drugs to treat alcohol abuse cost the NHS £4.5 million each year. People who are struggling with addiction are more likely to engage in reckless behaviour which also puts a strain on the police who see a rise in burglaries and other addiction-related crimes, such as drink driving. Other financial implications which contribute to a struggling economy include an increase in absenteeism, presenteeism and job loss. 

If someone is struggling with alcohol addiction or drug addiction and is also on a low income, it can be difficult to access professional help. However, the annual cost of addiction in terms of work, family and health will always be higher than the investment in private rehabilitation. 

How Delamere can help with addiction 

If you need to escape from mental health problems associated with drug or alcohol addiction, Delamere is here to help. Set in the heart of Cheshire in tranquil forest surroundings our wellness retreat has been purpose-built to help people overcome their addiction. 

At the heart of our philosophy is holistic healing. We begin with a medically supported alcohol or drug detox programme to enable a safe and comfortable withdrawal. Then use a combination of evidence-based psychotherapies with the latest somatic techniques to unveil the root cause of your addiction and build coping strategies. 

Delamere team to help with prescription drug addiction

You will have a focal counsellor who works with you to understand your physical, emotional and psychological needs. Our three-stage approach will help you to stop cravings for alcohol or drugs, start the healing process and, ultimately, grow beyond addiction. 

If you need help to cope with alcohol or drug addiction, call us confidentially to speak to a member of the team today. Contact Delamere

About the author: Youssef

Youssef’s understanding of addiction come from time spent working in the recovery mentor role and his own personal experience. Alongside work, he is completing a degree in psychology at the University of Manchester.

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