By Courtland Adams
In three short years, from 2014 to 2017, the U.S. saw an increase in drug overdose deaths, from 47,055 to 72,306. (1) It was enough for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to declare a national opioid crisis. (2) Now, opioid addiction is so prevalent that more than 115 people die every single day from a related overdose. (3)
For every death, there are countless more people struggling with addiction. In fact, studies have found that up to 29% of patients who take prescribed painkillers abuse them. Such abuse can lead to heroin addiction as well. About 80% of people who use heroin said that they abused opioid medications first. (4)
The Financial Effects of Opioid Abuse
Opioid abuse can affect personal finances in a myriad of ways. First of all, drugs cost money. Whether they are prescription or illicit drugs, they are not free. Once addicted, a person will often spend unwisely and beyond their means in order to have them. This can lead to draining savings and running up debt.
Once a person’s own resources are depleted, they may try to get money from others. As such, the opioid crisis has led to an increase in elder financial abuse. It has become so prevalent that the North American Securities Administration Association is now providing resource material to investment professionals in order to help them identify the exploitation and manipulation of seniors by drug abusers. (5)
Those who wish to get clean (and their loved ones) face another set of financial challenges. In-patient drug rehabilitation can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $60,000 depending on the type of program and duration. (6) These treatments are not guaranteed and it’s not uncommon for someone struggling with addiction to end up in rehab multiple times. Even after rehabilitated, some former drug abusers require ongoing medication, which can cost thousands of dollars a year.
Things get even more complicated if the opioid user has dependents, such as children. Many grandparents are unexpectedly becoming guardians for grandchildren whose parents cannot take care of them due to addiction, imprisonment, being in treatment, or having died from an overdose. Many seniors are spending their savings and mortgaging their homes in order to pay for treatment for their adult children and provide financially and physically for their grandchildren.
How To Prepare Your Financial Plan
While no one hopes to be affected by opioid abuse, about 1 in 5 adults say they personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids, (7) so it is wise to be prepared. The first step is simply to educate yourself on the issue. Reading this article and others like it will help you understand how opioid abuse occurs and affects users.
Next, it is important to watch for warning signs in your own household and among those you care about. Sudden changes in spending habits or sudden, inexplicable debt can be red flags. An abrupt divorce or child moving back home, while commonplace, can also result from opioid abuse. If a friend or family member unexpectedly begins expressing interest in your financial accounts, that could also be a warning sign and often precedes elder financial abuse.
You should stay alert to any uncharacteristic behavior in order to be proactive. If you suspect someone you know may be struggling with opioid addiction, learn about the resources that may be available to them. From hotlines to addiction counseling services and rehabilitation centers, the sooner the problem is addressed, the better the chance of resolving it before physical and financial lives are devastated.
Finally, meet with a financial advisor to create a plan. There are steps that you can take to protect your portfolio in this and other unconventional situations. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org call 801-676-4570 to schedule a meeting with one of our advisors and be proactive about your family’s future in this time of national crisis.
About Coign Capital Advisors
Coign Capital Advisors is a fee-based investment advisory firm based in Draper, Utah. Specializing in serving retirees, business owners, and entrepreneurs, the firm provides holistic wealth management that goes far beyond investment consulting and strives to attain suitable performance combined with solutions that make clients’ financial goals achievable. Led by J. Matthew Zundel, ChFC®, Robert P. Welch, Adam G. Lefler, R. Zeb Lowe, CFP®, Daniel R. Zundel and Courtland Adams clients receive a high level of service from a team with more than 90 years of combined experience. To learn more, visit www.coigncapital.com.