The True Cost of Drinking Is Much Higher than You Think

The True Cost of Drinking Is Much Higher than You Think

Thursday, October 8, 2020 | By Cooper Samp

We know that alcohol affects us in a variety of ways, from our physical health to our psychological health. We are most likely taught these dangerous effects in school when we’re young, but that rarely stops us from using alcohol or drugs and destroying our bodies. 

It might surprise even the casual drinker how much they spend on drinks. Going out to dinner often requires a beer or a cocktail, often doubling what your actual meal costs. For people who go out end up spending upwards of $100 a night. As they drink, they lose their control on spending and drink out of craving. 

Breaking Down The Direct Costs

For instance, for an individual who goes out to eat or out for a few drinks 3 times a week, their spending would break down into something like this. 

$50 x 3 nights = $150 per week

$150 x 4 weeks = $600 per month

$600 x 12 months = $7,200 per year

$7,200 x 10 years = $72,000

72,000 is an astonishing number, considering this would be over $100,000 if invested. These numbers are around the number of drinks an average person drinks. 

What About Non-Direct?

This number doesn’t include the other costs like ubers and entry fees often associated with these nights.

This number does not reflect the times we “surprise” friends with shots, so we can justify taking another one.

This doesn’t reflect the additional drinks bought for friends’ birthdays. 

This number does not reflect the amount of tickets bought for concerts and music venues to have an excuse to drink. 

This doesn’t include the costs of “necessary drunk food” delivered late at night because, “onion rings sound amazing right now!”

Speaking of impulse buys, this number also does not include the late night amazon purchases that sounds like such a great idea at the time but end up sitting in the cardboard box until you either keep it for no reason or return it, wasting time and resources. 


In economics, one of the first things you learn when making assessments are the opportunity costs. These costs are just as important as money as they can often be a substitute for spending more later on. 

For many individuals, alcohol influences their decisions in life. 

“Should we live here without close bars and restaurants?”

“What if my new coworkers don’t like to party?”

“This college doesn’t look fun”

Why do we let the illusion of “having fun” distract us from authentic happiness; the kind only achieved through health, productivity, memories, and deep relationships. These things cannot be gained when we’re drunk. They cannot be gained unless we are responsible with our spending. 


The next time you spend $15 on a Moscow Mule, think about the opportunity costs of that money. How much that could be worth by time you retire if you invest it. 

For those using these crutches to “loosen up” after a long day and escape reality, maybe consider tackling these stressors with real solutions like therapy and traveling. 

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