The (Financial) Cost of Drinking

Drinking Not Only Impacts our Health, but Also Our Finances.

Bank notes in fire

You may be wanting to improve your physical or mental state, save money to buy something important or travel. Whatever your goal is, there are many chances that a healthier lifestyle will help you get there. But when we think about one of the things that impact our lives the most, alcohol is one of the most impactful ones – health, and pocket-wise.

Alcohol isn’t budget-friendly

Alcohol consumes a big part of our budget: in 2013, those who consumed roughly 25 drinks per month, spent an average of $1500 per year. For the 19% of people who have more than 15 drinks a week and thus fall into the spectrum of heavy drinking (in 2016, in Canada), the number more than doubles to over $3900 per year.

A habit that may cost you a lot more than you think

The reality is that for many, weeks are paced with drinking: get-togethers after work on most days, wine with dinner, Friday weekend celebrations followed by Saturday night extravaganzas. With such a routine, the alcohol bill jumps to the roof – as does the toll on health, with an average of 10L of pure alcohol consumed per person per year in Canada. Alcohol can be a hole-digger in our wallets, even more so when we consider the consequential costs of heavy drinking (such as drunk shopping) and the overall costs for society. In 2014 in Canada, health costs due to alcohol were more than $300 per capita, while lost productivity cost Canadians more than $400, according to the Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms study. In other words, whether you drink or not, everybody shares the bill.

Drink less for more money and better health

Rather than moping about the house we’ll never buy or the exotic vacations we never take, why not reduce our drinking? Cutting down by a few drinks a week can be a great way to save money and spare ourselves some nasty alcohol-related health issues, such as cancer, liver and heart problems and self-harm under the influence.  

That being said, cutting down is not an easy thing, especially when drinking has become a habit. So, to get started and bring the motivation in, begin by making a list of all the projects you have for the year, and how much money you need to achieve them. Then, think about your usual alcohol consumption and its financial cost. You can use this tool to calculate your spending on alcohol.

A family holding a piggy bank

Our guide to cut back on alcohol

The money saved from drinking less can make a significant difference in achieving a goal. Whether going down to 10 drinks a week, or choosing to drink during weekends, our bank account, body-shape and overall health would only improve. And that’s not all; productivity at work, relationships and sleep are also likely to improve by drinking less. With so many good reasons to reduce alcohol consumption, it can still be difficult to take the leap. Here are a few tips on how to get started:

  • Set a goal: a weekly or daily drinking allowance, or a set amount of money to spend on drinking are good ways to concretize your objective. The more specific your goal, the easier you’ll reach it.
  • Make a plan: planning drinking days, staying in rather than going out, setting a weekly budget for drinks, and only using cash when drinking in bars are all strategies that can help spend less money on alcohol.
  • Tell a friend: when telling people about our goal, we become accountable, and are more likely to stick to our plan.
  • Ask for help: seeking support is sometimes critical in order to achieve an objective. By reaching out for help, we’re committing to our goal and taking actual steps in the process of drinking less. Whether through a friend, family member, support group, medical practitioner or counsellor, giving ourselves the chance to get help can make the journey towards our goal a lot easier.
  • Celebrate: baby steps, big steps, small changes and new habits all deserve to be celebrated when adopting a new behaviour. Being positive and proud of our achievements increases the chances to commit to our objective, while lessening the impact of a ‘bad day’.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself: We learn from mistakes, so rather than blaming yourself for one slip, reflect on it as it is also part of the process. That way, you’ll be ready to make the right decision next time you’re in a similar situation.

One last thing, whether it’s to save money, get in better shape, improve health, productivity or relationships, there’s no good or bad reasons to drink less, as long as we do it because we know it’s going to make us happier.

Alcohol costs calculator

Choose a solution that will best suit your needs

If drinking less is what you want, but find it hard to do on your own, there are a lot of options available; public, private, inpatient, outpatient, it is up to you to choose what best suits your needs. In case you prefer a program that is private, convenient and tailored to you, we can help. Thanks to a combination of therapy, medication and easy-to-use technology, we help those who struggle with heavy drinking to achieve a healthier relationship with alcohol, without having to commit to abstinence.

Cost might be a barrier to getting support. Fortunately, there are different paths to choose from, depending on the program or method one decides to go with. At ALAViDA, for example, it is possible to obtain insurance or employee benefits coverage with the help of our team. The program is also tax deductible as health expenditure, we accept FSA/HSA accounts, and offer a Low-Income Subsidy program, in addition to our payment and financing plans. You can find out whether you’re eligible here.

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Alavida is an outpatient treatment program that helps people to get back to a healthier relationship with alcohol, thanks to the combination of medication, therapy and technology. On our blog, you will find stories, testimonials, evidence-based information and useful tips on how to prevent and overcome heavy drinking, while sustaining a healthy body and mind.